Alpine Summer

Thought I’d post a few more pictures I took this summer from a few alpine climbing days I got in this summer.  The pictures are from Mt Louis, Mt Tupper and the Avalanche-Eagle-Uto Enchainment, all awesome days, many thanks to Billie and Jeff for sharing the rope with me.

Late summer and fall turned out to be beautiful and I felt lucky that I had a (mostly) understanding pregnant wife who let me shirk off house chores to escape into the mountains.

Preggers herself sending at the Back of the Lake


Mt Victoria East Face

The South Summit is just to the right of the middle of the picture, click to enlarge for our route

With so much snow in the hills it’s tough to put down the torch, when I got the call that a strong posse was eyeing up Mt Victoria I nervously agreed to meet in Lake Louise early the next morning.

My first gig ski patrolling was at Lake Louise ski resort a number of years back where I got my first taste of the Rockies. I was keen to get out on my days off and ski many of the lines on distant peaks I could see from the ski resort.  Staring at Mt Victoria knowing people skied off it’s paired summits, left me a little bit in awe of the iconic mountain that may be one of the most photographed peaks in Canada if not the world.

Saturday morning after a less than ideal sleep I rolled out of bed at a very early 1:30 AM, kissed my pregnant wife as she looked content to sleep another 7 hours, brewed a coffee and had a light breakfast that I guess technically was more like a midnight snack.  Pulling into the parking lot I met the rest of the team Ian, Jeff and Silas.  We walked around the lake shore trail by headlamp, joking that usually there are hundreds of people milling about on a Saturday outside the Chateau. Continue reading

Eagle Pk

Photo Courtesy of

On Saturday Jeff and I made plans to climb and ski Eagle Peak at the Pass.  Conditions were near perfect on the SW face, travel was fast but firm requiring all the pointy implements in our packs; ski crampons, foot crampons, mtn axes and whippets.  Once off the top 100 ft and into the sun the corn skiing was delicious.

It’s a great time to be in the hills right now, conditions are fast and the mountains are empty.  Once the weather smartens up it’ll be time to get after it again!

Colvin below the Eagle bowl headwall

Uto and Sir Donald from the summit of Eagle

Wapta Speed Traverse 2012: Success

Pushing to the Balfour High Col

2:30 in the morning is a ridiculous time for an alarm to go off, stumbling out of bed to go skiing when the grass is green and it’s warm outside seems silly but when my alarm went off after 4 hours of sleep I was wide awake and psyched.

The idea of the Wapta Traverse done in a single push in Skimountaineering race style is something I’ve obsessed about for years.  I feel a goal like this gives the hours of training and racing a sense of purpose.  Trying to time the conditions to be just right is challenging bordering on impossible, there’s too many variables to ever guarantee success.  Snow conditions,  varying terrain, nutrition, gear, weather all need to be in order to see the mission complete.  It’s easy to not get it right.

The trip started poorly as Melanie Bernier and I skied down from the Bow Summit to Peyto Lake, navigating by headlamp and memory I attempted to cut a corner between two switch backs which ended up taking us off route skiing through a steep scrubby rocky treed section where we had to run/stumble down hill in 70 cms of isothermal snow.  It was rough going, but our stoke and caffeine levels were high enough that it Continue reading

Crested Butte : Red Lady Mtn

As part of our acclimatization the gang decided to head over to a local ski-touring area called “Red Lady”.  It’s a favorite of CB locals because it’s close and there’s abundant safe tree skiing, and with the difficult avalanche conditions around here right now we were looking for a low consequence spot to go where we could keep the exposure to a minimum.


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We slapped our skins on at 2700 meters and started up through the Aspens to a low angle ridge with sparse shrubby spruce that remind me of the south-facing slopes back home in the Purcells. Continue reading

Crested Butte

Jeff, Jules, Reiner and I have arrived in Crested Butte Colorado. We’ve met up with fellow Canadian Skimo team members and are being graciously hosted in CB by Wick and Sully of team crested butte.

The first order of business was to sleep off the fatigue from travel and check out the town of Created Butte which sits at a lofty 9000 ft above sea level. Then we got to explore the skihill and try to start acclimatizing to the elevation.




Video Pk/Bruins Ridge

Mark gaining the base of Bruins ridge

With all the snow that’s been falling I’ve been keen to head up high and check out what snow conditions were like at Roger’s Pass. Skinning from the visitor center up the Cannaught drainage we were pleasantly surprised with coverage, the trail had more than enough snow to skin and enough to cautiously ski down at the end of the day. Continue reading

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