Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Honorable mention... Smokes, Let's Go!

Tony Touch open bivies on Mt. Waddington

I've been trying pretty hard at alpine climbing these past few years, and have been dealt some rough cards... It's just how this games goes and I wouldn't have it any other way. It's nice to get a little bit of recognition from time to time though, simply to stoke the fire for future attempts.
The North Twin is personal. I put everything into trying to climb it... twice now! I will be back ASAP for another go because I really, really want to climb on it again. I was really surprised and quite flattered when the North American climbing media picked up on my attempts and decided that they were worthy of a side note. Charitable, maybe, I'll take it. Those tries meant a lot.
Dougald McDonald wrote this very kind article for - you can read it here:
More recently Rock & Ice magazine gave HK and I honorable mention for top ascents of 2011 here:
Chris and Pablo in our local Squamish 'pine the Tantalus Range.

I forgot to post the second Smokes, Let's Go! Radio along with my Mexi fly update. I think it is pretty fun, so I'll post it now. A tad ADD, but we'll chalk that up to the bottle of mezcal drunk during it's creation. Besides, variety is good and playing out songs is lame...

Smokes, Let's Go! Radio #2 - Valle de Bravo by jasonkruk

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

¡Viva México!

I have a few minutes to update the blog from El Chalten, Patagonia. I'm here climbing with Hayden Kennedy. We are stoked.
I just spent a month in the world-class paragliding venue of Valle de Bravo, Mexico, learning how to fly my paraglider. This is something I took up this past September with great interest. I am now a full-blown flying addict, I have seen the light. Unlike BASE jumping, which requires ideal conditions and STEEP terrain, paragliding is very conducive to mountain travel. Modern gear is way light, and you can take off in higher winds and fly from point A to point B, how rad is that?
Valle is a charming Mexican village with steep cobbled streets and very friendly locals, and the flying is on almost every day of the year. There I met up with my good friend, and world-class pilot Jim Orava, and a crew of other monkies and flew for hours every day. I progressed quickly, and was eventually piecing together amazing cross-country flights that lasted for several hours.
The highlight for me was eventually flying all the way back to town from the launch site. A task not unlike climbing Squamish's Grand Wall for the first time - except I had a grin way bigger than the first time I climbed the Grand Wall. It lasted for days...
Valle is near some truly world class limestone sport climbing, so I could not resist visiting the mind-blowing Chonta cave near Taxco. Emailing for beta, my Swiss amiga Nina told me I wasn't strong enough to climb there! Ha! Turns out you don't need to be so strong when you are holding on to tufas bigger than yourself!
This part of the world is true paradise, I know it won't be long before I build a sweet mexi villa to retire to for a few month each year...
Some mexi snaps:
Life is never too stressful. The volcanic rock of the Peñon behind. Pablo and I took one afternoon off flying and summitted the torre.

My morning routine included buying a liter of juice. Fresh squeezed, whatever fruit and veg combo you can dream up...

Flying off El Peñon launch.

Getting cloud-sucked while on tadem with El Jimador. Going cross-country flying with Jimmy was a perfect way to learn.

So stoked on flying it home to Valle from the Peñon launch.

Coming in high over town.

We were invited by the Mexican government to visit the nearby town of Tejuphichu to fly off a brand new site. They threw a town-wide party and invited us on stage for some reason... The whole tour was set up by our friend Solomon. They really hooked us up!

The town mayor congratulating us....

Mezcal. Como no?

While on a cross-country bid, I stuffed it one day in the small town of San Pedro, necessitating one of the longer taxi rides back to town. Here I caught a view of the interesting colors of this bird and the wall.

Pablo orders uno round mas para todo.

We couldn't miss out on the nearby Chonta Cave and the village of Taxco, the puebla de plata.

El Jimador himself as asador.

La Chonta!

Pitch one of seven pitch Mala Fama. This cave is out of control.

I didn't take this photo from my paraglider. En route to YVR for a two day layover at home...


Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Some Men Do Yoga...

And some men do Man Yoga.
This is the lighthearted name of Jonny Walsh and Jonny Simms project on Canada's premiere alpine crag the Stanley Headwall.
Chris Geisler and I rocked into the Rockies for a few days to climb off our respected couches and see what early-season ice was in condish. We had been asked to come and say a few words at the Banff Mountain Film Fest on why the John Lauchlan award is important to Canadian alpinism, thank the patrons, and let them know exactly what we had spent their money on last year. Geisler hadn't climbed since August and I hadn't done anything except Asteroid Alley since my go at the Twin in September.
We were stoked though. Against all odds we said no to the parties and late night events that are the specialty of the Banff fest and went to bed early every night for predawn alpine starts. I was hoping to gain some much needed fitness for the upcoming season in Patagonia. This year I am joining my homie Hayden Kennedy down there for a session, so I knew I'd better get in shape.
Geisler had taken a tumble off his bike while goofing around at work a week-or-so previous and hurt his wrist, and the culmination of a few days of chipping ice had inflamed his injury. He was out. Luckily, I ran into Jon Walsh at the Fest and he was looking to hit the Headwall early the next morning to try and finish off the Man Yoga project. Simms had just bailed on him via text message. We were both thinking the same thing...
The living legend CG in his Japanese Rocket-box. My handlebar 'stache is fallout from Halloween...

The first real pitch of Man Yoga. Steep M7. perfect rock and gear.

Jonny Red styles it...

The pitch climbs through the overhanging chimney feature on amazing thin cracks that eat your tool picks.

JR follows pitch 2. Delicate M7. Attention needed for full value climbing.

JR leads the easiest pitch of the route. M5 with great holds and gear. This rock is primo.

JR follows the crux pitch. Huge exposure through a crazy roof.

Mad respect to JR for putting this rad pitch up on lead the season previous.

Fighting an intense pump to the belay.

I felt so privileged to be climbing such a high-quality route.

What an ugly 'stache... It's going to be a long month...

JR leads beyond the previous season's highpoint.

An amazing corner of thin ice and rock features, finishing with a steep ice column.

Me following with tired arms, but soo stoked on such rad climbing!

Leading out on the last pitch of steep grade 5. Bullet-hard ice and worked forearms made grade 5 harder than ever. I hung on to take Man Yoga to the rim of the Stanley Headwall.

For those waiting for the continuation of the Mystery Mountain series, I promise it's on its way soon. I was sidelined by mild tendonitis and had to recover fully before jumping back on the computer-box again. Now I'm good to go, and I am off to Mexico today for a month of paragliding (aka para-waiting) so I'll have more than enough time to finish off the series...

Monday, October 10, 2011

Asteroid Alley

Every time I'd hang with my good buddy Zack Smith from Colorado, he'd always ask me about climbing in the Canadian Rockies. He was really keen to make the trip north and check it out. We never managed to hook up though. Living on the coast, I was close enough to the Rockies to watch the weather and blast for a weekend hit when conditions were right. It was too far from home for Zack to do the same, and I was unwilling to hang out in Canmore for a couple weeks waiting for good weather.
Finally, I agreed to meet him out east. We'd chill and climb together on whatever was good - alpine, big or small, sport climbing, or Yamnuska.
I drove to the Bow Valley and was greeted by fresh snow, lots of it. We were on a holding pattern for a few days. The weather looked good for most of one day. With considerable concern for the avalanche hazard, we opted to try something steep. Asteroid Alley on Mt. Andromeda had been recommended to me countless times but I had resisted climbing it. It seemed like a lot of effort to get up early and make the long drive up the Parkway to climb a short, moderate route, no matter how seemingly classic it was. Zack hadn't done much limestone climbing though, and was keen for a warmup. It seemed a good objective considering the touchy conditions.
As it turned out, the route was quite enjoyable and with all new snow, the snow mushrooms on route made the climbing entertaining. The route was a total spindriff factory all day long, we were getting constantly battered by sluffs which gave it a real 'alpine' feel. I didn't want to soak my camera, so I only took it out to snap pics in between the spindriff.

Andromeda. Asteroid Alley at centre.

Zack leads pitch one: low angle snow-covered rock.

Following pitch one.

The hallmark of the route: pitch two start with a vertical chimney choked with ice. Quite enjoyable. the uberhanging snow mushrooms on this pitch made for entertaining mixed climbing around them.

The spindriff was quite intense. I was glad to have my hood up.

I was having a lot of fun so I just kept climbing and climbing on the second pitch. I went about 80m before I put in a belay. I didn't bring enough screws but luckily you pass under a couple of chockstones. Bomber pro.

Slack nearing the belay.

Zack was having fun getting used to the unique nature of Rockies mixed climbing.

"I feel like I'm learning how to climb again".

Zack starts pitch three.

 Steep climbing, good rock.

The last pitch was more awkward than expected.

Zack negotiates a tricky snowed-up slab.

Zack likes to stick his tongue out.