"Canmore time," as we've come to call it, definitely parallels hyper-speed and one month here is rapidly coming to an end. The mountain education I've gained this month culminated this past week on my first and second attempts at the alpine route The Andromeda Strain on Mt. Andromeda. (See photo) Supposedly with a bit of reputation here in Canmore, as a difficult climb, the Strain did not disappoint. Skylar and my first attempt had us awake at 1:30 am and making breakfast in the warmth of a nearby hostel. While preparing, the route's first ascensionist and alpine legend, Barry Blanchard walked into the kitchen, sat down with his book and claimed that, "the full moon had him unable to sleep." Classic, and what a good way to cast off. Sunrise (see photo) had us at the top of the easy climbing and debating which way to go, an ugly rotten chimney or 150 meters of traversing that avoided the chimney and arrived at the top of it. We traversed... for five hours. It was some of the scariest, unprotected, and unpredictable climbing either of us had done. Arriving at the top of the chimney, we were bloody, beaten, and frozen. Halfway up the route, battered by spindrift, and with more pitches of hard climbing, we bailed. Repelling down the chimney, it became obvious that we went the wrong way. The chimney had possible gear, security, and was much more direct.
"Another rest day and another cup of coffee," and Skylar was back in the game. This time we camped at the base of the climb. At 3:30 am we both popped a pink Caffeine pill, made tea, and jumped out of the tent. Shit! Zero visibility, six inches of snow over night, and the rumbling of nearby slopes, the decision was easy, we bailed. Lesson learned, don't take caffeine pills until checking the weather.
Alpine climbing is rad. It's like a Dairy Queen blizzard, everything sweet all blended into one, it tastes really good but at the same time it'll give you a nasty brain freeze. It's also frustrating. Of all the types of climbing, it requires the most patience, the most perfect conditions, restrained commitment, and logistical preparation. It's simplicity, is beautifully dangerous. An ascent is natures rarest gift.
This email is getting long. Tomorrow I will be twenty five, I will be in the mountains, and I will be totally infatuated in every moment. Where ever you are, I hope you can share this day with me, breathing amongst nature and celebrating life. I have no desire to leave yet the next adventure is looming. I'm leaving here March 28th and I will be in Salt Lake City until April 10th, I hope I can meet up with you and share in the sweetness!
In the now!