Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Final Countdown

It's only ten days until I depart for Argentina. I love the pre-trip process of planning, packing, ordering gear, everything. Vancouver has to be one of the best cities in the world to be based in for expedition climbing, it really has it all. These past few weeks of city life have been about training, preparing, family, seeing old friends and making new ones.
I was poking through photos and video from the '08 trip to the range with Will Stanhope. Wow, fun times. The experiences we shared mark some of the most intense times of my life. Here is a couple candid shots of Willy in the thick of it all:
My partners this year, Matt and Jon, have never met each other. Both are bad to the bone - I am sure they will get along famously. Matt is a professional climber, 5.14 trad monkey, and strong little mofo. Jon is a Patagonia veteran, former Yosar dude, and a MOG (Man-of-Girth).
Segal's $400 haircut in the Utah desert
Gleason saving lives in Yosemite
This is the playoffs

Monday, December 07, 2009


After Yosemite, I drove straight to Boulder, Colorado, to meet up with Matt Segal. I was excited to be in town the week of the Adventure Film Festival, an amazing celebration of mountain culture with many good friends. This was an especially important year - we all miss Micah, Jonny and Wade and I was honoured to be able to celebrate their lives with family and friends and the Colorado climbing community.
After the festival, Matt and I drove out to Indian Creek for some splitter training. I was excited to be on a stress-free rock climbing trip, something I haven't done in a few years. Over the weekend, half of Boulder seemed to come and join us for a truly special Thanksgiving dinner in the desert. The Turkey tasted even better than at home (sorry Mom) and everyone contributed their favourite side dish. There was so much food you could only sample one bite of everything before your plate was overflowing! The following day Phyllis and Jon Copp Sr. literally drove for hours around the desert trying to find us on their way back home to southern California. We convinced them to spend the night out in the desert with us. Jon brought out Jonny's guitar and played around the campfire. Renan was ever present with his camera and took about 3000 photos, editing them into a beautiful video on his drive home. Jon Copp's rendition of Take Me Home, Country Road provides the soundtrack:

Indian Creek t-day from renan ozturk on Vimeo.

Back in Boulder I got the news: Will Stanhope bailed on our expedition to Patagonia that was coming up in a month. At first I was quite bummed as Willy is definitely my best partner and we seem to be able to pull off amazing stuff together. But I immediately asked Matt Segal if he wanted to go. After 5 minutes of phone calls to the North Face, Matty was in one hundred percent. Then I managed to convince Big Jon Gleason to be a third. I am really happy now with the team we have lined up for our objective.
Segal toasting the booking of our plane tickets with a bottle of Basil Hayden's Bourbon.
I forgot to mention how much fun it was to shoot guns in the Utah desert with Pete and Jose... I'm a nice Canadian boy so had never done this before...
It was so, so hard to leave Boulder, and when I finally did I accidentally ran out of gas somewhere in Wyoming. That was a cold, cold walk...
It's good to be home in Vancouver. I was really excited to get ice climbing and skiing upon my return, but conditions were perfect for rock climbing and little else. Conditions were so good I even went up to the roof pitch on Freeway to check out a hard project with local badass Jer Smith. That was a bit optimistic as although it was clear, winds were gale force and tried their very best to blow us off the mountain while chilling us to the bone. Needless to say we didn't send, and I had nightmares of Patagonia for days after.
December bouldering at it's finest! Magic!
Coastal ice was slowing creeping in so on thursday I got out with long time Canadian ice climber and sender of Everest, Michael Down to see what we could climb. We stopped at Carl's Berg on the Duffy. It looked climbable, but certainly not in its classic WI5 shape. I was keen to try though, and found lots of steep and technical aerated ice with little pro for the bulk of the pitch... It was a good first pitch of the season for me... sort of...
Full value on Carl's Berg

Friday, November 06, 2009

The Most Fun

Will Stanhope and I made a one-mission hit to Yosemite Valley at the end of October. Upon arrival in the Valley we immediately packed our haul bags and jugged and hauled to Heart Ledge. Our plan was to set off the next day and intercept our bags after climbing the Freeblast and continue on the 42-pitch Golden Gate route (A. Huber, VI 5.13-).

I was climbing this route totally off the couch, having done zero real climbing since my trip to the Bugaboos in August. Most of my summer was spentwalking around the Canadian Rockies training for my alpine exam - not conducive to hard rock climbing. In the months of September and October I worked exactly 40 out of 43 days with many 12+ hour days. In the week prior to the trip I got two days of training in at a climbing gym in North Van. Otherwise my life consisted of rigging rock and roll shows, slaving on film sets, or doing safety for the vertical dance troupe Aeriosa.

Hot day time temps meant redpointing in the sun was out of the question... at least for us... Early pre-dawn mornings were standard for trying the hardest pitches, while most of the day was spent hiding from the sun under the portaledge or climbing and hauling the easier pitches. I was really, really happy with our effort. Will managed to send every pitch and I failed only on the final 5.13 - the A5 Traverse - on our 7th day and exactly 6 falls off the very last move! Heartbreaker!

This route is totally amazing and without question one of the most fun experiences of my life! Now I am fit from crushing my body for 7 days on a bigwall and ready to learn how to climb hard again this fall/winter!

Willy on his first try on the henious 5.12+ down climb pitch. I figured out some trick beta, and about 60 tries later the lanky kid managed to send the scrunched crux.
This is why El Cap freeclimbing is the coolest thing ever!
Willy on the 5.13- 'Move Pitch' at sunset.
Kinda worked! Joes O's on the portaledge. Day 4.
Worked again. Willy demonstrating how NOT to clip in on the Tower to the People.

Friday, October 23, 2009


Willy and I just rolled in hot to Terrebone, Oregon, after training hard in Kelowna, BC. Ktown's Beyond the Crux climbing gym is without question, Canada's premier bouldering and training facility. Will and I went there for some final tune-ups before a mission to Yosemite. We trained under the strict tutelage of Mike Shannon, owner of BtC.

Tonight we are giving a slideshow at the new climbing gym just south of here in Bend, anyone who can make the trek over should help us out with the keg...

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

A different kind of success in the 'pine

I just returned from 10 days of time in the alpine... more accurately, exam time in the alpine. The ACMG assistant alpine exam was held in the Rockies and Rogers Pass this year at the end of August. Luckily, I was grouped for the duration with two strong candidates: Josh Briggs of Canmore, and Jeff Bellis of Revelstoke. In addition to being good guides, these two happen to be world-class shit talkers, which helped to keep the mood light during the stress of the exam process.

Day one saw me lead the relatively complex descent off Unnamed Peak in the Lake Louise group. This was without question my hardest lead of the exam, and is known to have been the cause of failure for a few brother candidates in years past. The glacier was in lean, late August conditions and involved lots of lowers down the ice, chossy short-roping, and a couple of rappels. It was good to get this over with, as the rest of the exam was cake in comparison!

The last two days were so enjoyable they were almost sweet bonus exam days. We moved camp from the southern Rockies to Rogers Pass - home to fantastic quartzite ridge climbs. After dealing with the 'sub-deal' rock quality of the limestone, it was a real pleasure to haul-ass up a couple thousand feet of quartzite buckets and splitter cracks.

Sketchy log-crossing on the way to the Neil Colgan hut via the Perren Route
Josh in the hot seat on Mt. Little
Crosby in action during a crevass rescue scenario
Step cutting evaluation below the hut
Jeff on a mock rescue pulling me out of a slot
Topping out the ice face approach to the west ridge of Mt. Fay
Seracs on the Chouinard Route on the north face of Fay
Examiner Rich Marshall looking down on us candidates...
Jeff sending the crux pitch of the Gmoser Route on Mt. Louis
Briggs on the Perren headwall on Mt. Louis
Jeff gives Marc a hip belay while descending the awesome northwest ridge of Sir Donald in Rogers Pass
Here's a short video of a couple fun moments on Mt. Fay and Louis:

ACMG Alpine Guide Exam '09 from Jason Kruk on Vimeo.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Bugaboo Free Mission

I just returned from a very successful trip into the Bugaboo mountains with Matt Segal and Will Stanhope. New free ascents were the objective - a tricky conditions-dependant business that can all come apart with the absence of a single key foothold or wet splitter crack. Luckily, things came together and we added two significant all-free routes to the range.

We began the trip based out of the Eastcreek Basin on the west side of the range, camped below an inspiring 'rocketship of granite' the Minaret. The hallmarks of this area are the imposing west faces of the South, Central, and North Howser Towers. The South is home to the ultra-classic Beckey-Chouinard, a 20-something-pitch 5.10-. The North Howser plum is the great All Along the Watchtower, a 900 meter all-free 5.12- first freed by Topher Donahue. The west aspect of the Central Howser wasn't climbed until 1999 and has only two routes up it, both multi-day aid-job affairs. The features on the route Chocolate Fudge Brownie looked the most promising for a free passage as we squinted through binoculars, and we would succeed in freeing the line via a 3-pitch variation at V 5.12+.

The North Vancouver/ Miami variation to Chocolate Fudge Brownie
I recently dropped my camera off Mt. Fay in the Canadian Rockies, meaning I had an excuse to get a new Canon G10. I used the shots and video footage from it to edit my very first movie. Check it out:

Central Howser Tower Freeclimbing from Jason Kruk on Vimeo.

After the Howser mission, we popped back over the col to Applebee camp for the remainder of the trip. Will, Hazel, Matt and I decided to try the still un-free Sendero Norte on the east face of Snowpatch Spire. Dry conditions worked in our favor and Will managed to pull through the tips finger crack crux at 5.12+.

Does this look like alpine climbing? No helmet or shirt on the crux pitch of Sendero Norte (V 5.12+)

Saturday, July 11, 2009

ACMG Alpine Guide Training

The guide training course for the alpine program was in the Rockies in early July this year. Of course, I didn't turn down work until the day before the start of the course. My last day on the coast consisted of a day of work with Will, dropping my new friend Sandra off at the airport, then back to work - this time to de-rig an enormous show at GM Place. I was up early the next day to pack, then I swung by my buddy Sonnie's new home. He needed a ride to Canmore to teach a youth climbing camp. Off we went in a straight-shot to the Rockies.

The course was based out of a campsite near Banff. I lucked out and got two of the best instructors in the business - Colin Zacharias and Marc Piche. For most of the week I was paired up with Kris Irwin, a rock-solid dude and fellow hooligan, so spirits were always high.

Kris lowering Colin off Castle Tower

Crossing a river at 6am on our way up the mighty Mt. Lorette in K-country

Kris on some righteous rockstone partway up Lorette

Lowering Kris and Colin down some glacier ice on the Icefields Parkway

Kris posing between glacier slogging on Mt. Huber

Kris and Olivier doing what I tell them on Mt. Victoria

The rock is soo good here I hardly miss the granite...

Icefall navigation

More icefall nav

An unnamed instructor being placed supine during a rescue exercise on the last day

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Twin One Couloir

Work had sidelined me from skiing for a few weeks, but I had a few fine days of climbing on Squamish's sacred rockstone.

A contract finally ended, meaning I could get after some spring coulior skiing! I met Craig and Alex in Whistler for a day mission to the Duffy. Our original plan was to ski Mt. Howard, but our view from the Vantage col gave a spectacular perspective of the Twin One Coulior on Mt. Matier.

Craig and Alex break for lunch after the descent, visible behind.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Time for Traverses

It is amazing how much winter terrain can be covered by a skier in one day. This winter I have been training for skiing loong endurance days in the mountains. I am really motivated to push my limits to see how far and how fast I can possibly go. As a teenager I was really into ultra-distance running. In-a-push ski traverses give me as much satisfaction as running did, except now the downhills are way more fun!

Here are a few photos for you to get psyched on spring ski traverses: