Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Snow Study and M-ing with the 'Sted

I just spent eight days in the comfortable Kokanee Glacier Cabin out of Nelson, BC completing my CAA level 1 avalanche operations certification. Each day we'd tour out to talk terrain and dig pits, while evenings were devoted to classwork and lectures. It was great to be immersed in snow science for a week without distractions. The week's temperature hovered around -25°C which made for brisk early morning trips to the weather plot.

avi 1
Our ship into the backcountry

The beautiful 'hut'

Full snow profiles

Dan on the axe

It was a very comfortable learning environment, indeed, with satellite wireless, gourmet fine-dining, and enough great people to never have to worry about cabin fever! Thanks to all my classmates for being so cool.

It was sad to finally leave. I swung by my friend Ian "the 'Sted's" place in Nelson to find him knee-deep in debris from a home reno project. 'Never buy an old house just because it has character,' he told me. Ian was still keen to go climbing, though, so we drove to Golden to search for pillars. We ended up hopping on the Asylum, a modern mixed route I had always wanted to try ever since I saw it in the Beyond Gravity movie. In the light we could see that the crux dagger hadn't come in very close to the rock. I was unsure if we had the cajones to send through this section. Only one way to find out, though!

Ian Welsted
The 'Sted at the base of the Asylum.

A sender of wintery faces the likes of the Eiger Norwand and the Denali Diamond, the 'Sted was rock-solid on the thin, scrappy mixed pitches.

Thin pillar action.

Funky, thin ice.

The 'Sted attempting the crux pitch. We failed here due to Ian's tiring forearms and my paralyzing fear the fierce dagger we were gunning for would come detached with me still clinging to it.

The 'Sted warming up cold hands before the crux pitch

Happy holidays!

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