Canada 2003

July 25 – August 3, 2003

To me it seems that “alpine” climbing is the most adventurous type of climbing one can do. It also seems that no beginner or even intermediate climber would refer to themselves as an “alpinist” like they might call themselves a trad climber or a sport climber. No, it seems that the moniker, the title, actually, of “alpinist” seems to be reserved for the upper echelon. Hence, I don’t refer to myself in such terms, but I do like to dabble in the alpine realm occasionally.

Mark Twight wrote “Alpinism defines mountain climbing reduced to its purest essence.” This from a man who typically eschews summits. So what is alpine climbing? It is climbing up mountains, as opposed to just on cliffs. It is climbing while carrying all your gear and not using fixed camps and other people to assist you. The mountains we sought in Canada were mountains that we’d typically need more than a day to climb, but there are always options to compress things. How long is a day? In Canada there was currently 17.5 hours of daylight. That would be useful.

The Canadian Rockies are home to countless beautiful, interesting mountains. Even narrowing the choices down to ones with routes I could manage would still leave a lifetime of routes to choose from. Hence, I used Fifty Classics Climbs to narrow the field further. I’ve done thirty of these routes and really enjoyed all of them. The final requirement was that no one in our party (myself, the Trashman, Loobster, and Homie) had done them before. The only hurdle here was the Trashman’s prodigious climbing record in Canada. We were left with just three choices: Mt. Alberta, Mt. Edith Cavell, and Mt. Robson. The latter is a monstrous mountain, the largest in the Canadian Rockies, and one that is rarely climbed. It frequently goes a year without a successful ascent. Plus the Trashman had attempted the 50CC route on it and thought it was horrible.

The Loobster flew out to Colorado from the Bay Area on Thursday morning so that he could join us for the RV trip north. The Trashman was already in Canada, having gone a week earlier with his wife. We made a plan to meet him at Sunwapta Pass at 7 p.m. on Saturday night. We drove 24 hours straight to meet him, rotating drivers every 2-3 hours. We’d sleep most of the time when we weren’t driving, but eating and reading also occupied us. The Loobster was driving when we crossed the border. He’d make a great smuggler because he’s such a smooth customer. The border patrol asked him, “Are you carrying any alcohol or firearms?” The Loobster hesitated in his answer, knowing about the refrigerator stocked with beer, and then said, “No.” There was another pause and he thought better about lying and then said, “Well, a couple of beers, I think.” He had personally bought and placed a case of beer in the RV. He must have looked harmless though, as they waved us through.

Mt. Alberta

Mt. Edith Cavell