Sunday, 4 August 2013

Canada trippin

Canada July 2013

Vancouver and Squamish :

At the start of the summer I was asked by my good buddy Finn McCann to join a four man team consisting of Murray Smith, Andrew Wilkanson, Finn and myself on an expedition to Canada, with the main goal of climbing The Lotus Flower Tower. I jumped at the offer and we flew out to Vancouver at the end of June.  We hired a car and drove an hour up the road to the granite mecca of Squamish, a huge chunk of rock in a beautiful location. We then spent the next couple of days ticking off some of the classics and getting used to climbing together as a team.  We managed to climb the amazing crack line Exasperator (5.10c or E3) and then brushed up on our big walls skills with the awesome and world class The Grand Wall (5.11a or E3/4) on the Chief. A 10 pitch, 300m line all the way the main face with incredible exposure.  To finish off was great to see Dreamcatcher and I managed to send a cool route just to the right of it called Young Blood (5.13a/7c+).  I had remembered seeing a video of it a while back, of some nutter soloing this above some crazy netting system! Shhhhit that must have been scary! It was all a perfect start to the trip and was a great place to hang out for just a few days. 

Exasperator 5.10c, Squamish 

 Young Blood 7c+


The Grand Wall on the Chief 

Muzz high up on the Chief

Belly Good Ledge..scariest part on the whole climb!

Whitehorse, Whatson Lake and the Cirque of Unclimbables :

Next stop back to Vancouver and a flight out the next day, 2 hours north to Whitehorse in the middle of the Yukon.  After two days and a lot of food shopping we caught the Greyhound bus travelling 5 hours east to the small town of Watson Lake and it was definitely feeling like we were heading out into the middle of nowhere!  After a slight delay while trying to track down our Pilot we jumped on his Float plane and flew an hour into the Nahanni park reserve. This was quite a challenging ride, my stomach feeling like it had been turned upside down! Luckily it wasn’t just me who felt so shitty (Wilky!). We were  more than glad to land on Glacier Lake and were dropped at a beach by a little shed. We then left half our food rations there and headed on up. The walk up to our basecamp, the Fairy Meadows was horrendous! It made the Ceuse climb look like a walk in the park. It took us about 7 hours the first time mainly due to the ridiculously heavy bags we were carrying. It was quite a sight to see those meadows, when we arrived later that day I can tell you! This was our home for the next 14 days and we pitched camp.  The weather was awesome and we decided to have a crack at the tower the following day. After a slightly delayed start due to some rain and an hour walk up to the Tower we were heading up the first few pitches of the route. We got to the half way ledge late that day and decided to spend the night on it. Unfortunately the weather turned for the worse and it ended up being one of the coldest nights of my life! Early the next morning we were engulfed by a snow storm and were all frozen to the bone, so we decided to bail and abseil back down. 

This was taken at about 1am in the morning! Was as dark as it ever got

The Team! 

Finn showing his skillzzz

The stunning Cobra boulder

Cobra's initial corner

Finn using them palms!

Norwegian mates taking a shot of us at the top of pitch 3. Gives a good scale of the wall! We look tiny!

The Lotus Flower Tower from the meadows 

Our climb!

The Fairy Meadows! So beautiful...

The next few days it snowed and rained quite a bit and we used that time to make a visit down at the lake, to stock up on supplies. The weather then cleared up and we decided to attempt the wall again but this time a lot earlier with a nice 12:30am wakeup call! A rather cold and dark few hours of climbing on the first pitches we were then greeted to a beautiful sunrise.  We climbed well and made it back to the halfway ledge in good time. A rest and quick bite to eat we then attacked the awesome looking headwall. This consisted of a system of cracks running up the wall as far as one could see. We made slow progress while trying to pick the right crack system and eventually made it to the top after quite a lot of effort! The Lotus Flower was in the bag. All we had to do now was get the hell down. By this time it was pretty late and we were spent, so had a forced rest/ freeze on the summit! By around 3am with just enough light we then started the long abseil back down the whole route. Thankfully the sun was out again. We made it back to solid ground a few hours later completely knackered but so happy to have made it. The last few days we all just slept, ate, relaxed and then enjoyed some of the great bouldering and sport climbing in the meadows. The highlight being the incredible “The Cobra 8a” boulder. Our time in the Cirque had come to an end and we packed up and we headed back down to the lake. 2 days then followed waiting for our pilot to arrive and we flew off to The Inconnu Fishing lodge which was all part of the deal. It was an amazing place and was soooo good to have a hot shower, sleep on a mattress and eat some good, fresh food again! The next day was spent fishing for lake trout from a boat. A perfect end for me!

We then gradually retraced our steps and made our way back to Vancouver and caught our flight home. 
It was one awesome and epic adventure to one very special and remote part of the world!
Looking forward to more of these...

Bolt pose in the Cirque

Looking down the headwall above the roof

Pitch 15

Pitch 17

Bouldering in the Meadows

Arrrh! Glad we weren't up there!

                                                         The Cirque plastered with snow 

Rappin down the tower

View from the top of the Lotus

Top headwall

Our Float plane

Me and Wilky...eeeeeh

Our kitchen area

Leading a yoga sessions!

Horrendous mosquito's!   

Our haul of kit up to the meadows! How did you manage that Finn??

Finn leading pitch 5

Caught in a rainstorm!

Our little furry friends

Team psyche!

Frozen night on the ledge!

Two and a half weeks worth of food

Hot cakes and French Toast for breakfast....mmmmmm

Norwigian guys having just skydived into Inconnu Lodge...Amazing moment!

Muzz finds a friend

Catching my first Canadian lake trout!

10 pound trout caught by Norwegian Tag! Psyched!

Inconnu Lodge transport

Games room at the Inconnu Lodge

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