Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The 11,000ers of the Canadian Rockies: Slideshow.

Hi Climbers!

It isn't very often that an official event regarding climbing happens in our region, however Thursday July the 4th is an exception!  At the Mara Hall at 7:30, there is a slideshow by author and climber Bill Corbett showcasing his experience with the "11,000ers" in the Canadian Rockies! Hope you show up!!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Syphon Creek fall

I witnessed a graphic, 60 foot fall from above the Syphon Creek waterfall last Friday evening, while I was just about to climb with my 11 yr old niece and my spouse.
Two 18 year old females decided to go for a Friday evening hike up to the waterfall, they were there when we got there. I had one climbing shoe on and I was tied into the rope at the base of Iron Cross when I heard a scream. When I looked up I saw a body plummet down from 50-60′ above the waterfall hitting the ledges on the way down and landing on some logs at the base of the waterfall. It happened in a split second. Luckily, 2 other middle-aged hikers were at the waterfall soon after we were. Myself and the other male hiker quickly got to the girl, who at the time was getting soaked by the the falling water. We moved her out of the creek and onto the far bank where I did a quick assessment of her condition (I’ve held a level 3 FA ticket for several years). I found that she had some severe head injuries and was barely coherent. She could not speak very well at all, but I was able to get some information out of her like her name and where she was from etc.
Meanwhile, my spouse and the other hikers’ wife had called for paramedics and met them at the parking lot. Eventually myself and the other male hiker moved her to the ironcross side of the creek, where we waited about 20 minutes (the longest 20 minutes of my life!), for paramedics to arrive with a stretcher. Just after we got her on the stretcher, Gord Bose arrived to assist in the evacuation, along with more Paramedics, a few RCMP, and Search and Rescue volunteers. By the time we got her to the upper parking lot, there was also a helicopter waiting to lift her to the Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops. The assessment that the paramedics made on sight involved severe head injuries, and a problem with one of her lungs’ capacity to breathe. I have not heard how her condition is this morning but I hope – hope – hope that she survives.
This experience has left me with a few insights that I thought might be relevant to climbers: First, double check your knot. Every time. Even though the poor girl was not a climber and was not roped in, her fall is what we, as climbers, would take if we make a mistake. It was disturbing to see it, and we do not want to have that happen to us or our friends. Do not compromise the pre-climb ritual!
Second, as local climbers I feel we should advocate for putting signage up at Siphon creek warning hikers and climbers of the dangers of hiking/scrambling/ climbing around the cliffs (If anyone is interested in being apart of this effort, let me know). I feel a proactive roll on this front would be good for climbing and the community in general.
Third, have a plan in place as to what you would do if a situation like this happened to you. Those 2 girls would have been alone up there but for the luck of having us and those other two hikers happen along. What would be your plan if one of your climbing partners took a bad fall like that? How would you contact help? Do you have a cell with you? Does anyone know you're there? Be prepared.
Food for thought. Feel free to contact me if you want to get in on the signage proposal, I am not sure how to go about it, but we can figure something out.
Climb safe,

Update: I have heard that she will make a full recovery. She will be graduating this year from Salmon Arm High-school and she will be healthy enough to walk the stage. She got away with 2 skull fractures, 2 broken ribs, 2 severly sprained ankles, a cracked vertebrae, and a severe concusion.  However she is going to be okay!! :)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Updates to guide books

Thanks to Allen Rollin for sending me the links for the update Rock Guide Books to the left. Special note to the new Bouldering guide "Secret Garden".


Updated Cougar Canyon - Cougar wall Topo

A. Don Cougar Melon Cap 5.9 - Gear
B. Cougar Crack 5.10d - Mixed
C. Cougar Arete 5.10c - Sport
D. Cougar 1 5.9 - Gear
E. Dirty Old Men 5.9 - Gear
F. Paving Paradise 5.10a - Sport
G. Gear For Fear 5.10c - Gear
H. Stellar 5.10a - Sport
I. Mantle Breakdown 5.11b - Sport
J. Tres Amigos 5.9 - Mixed
K. Planet of the Apes 5.10c - Sport
L. Pocket Toss 5.11d - Sport
M. Thor's Hammer 5.7 - Gear
N. Bonsai 5.7 - Gear
O. Afterglow 5.10+ - Sport
P. Skilled or Killed 5.10b/c - Gear

White lines- Sport
Red line - Trad

Special Thanks to Lyle Knight

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Mythologic, WI6, 140m, Enderby, BC

After approximately 4.5 Billion years of tectonic activity and land formation, Enderby Cliffs has finally seen a first ascent. Done by Lyle Knight and Marc Piche.

Mythologic, WI6, 140m, Enderby, BC

The following text interview was done by The Morning Star asking local experienced climber, Lyle Knight, about this incredible first ascent.

"...The Morning Star is doing an article on the climb and asked [about the climb] via email. Lots of words, here’s my response to the reporter (and some words from Armstrong climber Rick Cox):

How do you know that it has never been climbed? Has it ever been climbed in the summer (minus the ice)?

The ice climbing community in BC has been, and remains, relatively small and close knit. I have been in contact with Rick Cox, an Armstrong ice climber who have been keeping an eye on the feature for upwards of 30 years and has made several attempts at the route with various partners, see Rick’s comments below.

Also, if someone were to have climbed it in the past, it is likely word would have passed through the community. Also, most significant ascents are reported to the Canadian Alpine Journal as the central reporting mechanism. There have been a couple of attempt to climb the wall in the summer as well, however the rock is very loose and dangerous and parties have rappelled from the wall after climbing up only a short distance. It’s somewhat ironic that it’s safer to climb Enderby Cliffs in the winter on ice.

Why do you think no one has ventured onto this route?

One main reason would be the lack of proximity to ice climbing centres. Places like Canmore, Banff and Golden are populated by folks keenly interested in climbing as that’s where the resources are located for recreation and guiding. Therefore, there’s a good supply of people in those areas looking out for these features (ice climbs) and there’s lots of partners to tap on the shoulder when you want to go climbing and attempt routes like Mythologic. Not so much in the Okanagan valley.

By my estimate, there may be less than 20 active ice climbers living in the Okanagan Valley and a small percentage of those climbers would be interested/ capable of climbing Mythologic due to the difficulty of the climb.

The other main reason it hasn’t been climbed to date is the location. There is a very short window of opportunity most years to climb the route as it is exposed to the afternoon sun. Also, the route lies between 850m and 1000m above sea level and the temperatures in the Okanagan are quite moderate so it breaks down quickly following a cold snap. Therefore, it took lots of monitoring over several years to find the right window, which would be difficult to do if you didn’t live in the area.

Also along this vein is access. It’s approximately 2.5 hours hiking to the base under good conditions and it takes some research to find the best approach. Ice climbers travelling through the area and noticing the climb would have to commit considerable time and effort to the project, to determine best access and monitor conditions for the right window of opportunity.

When you bring together all of these factors it came down to being in the right place at the right time with the right knowledge.

Here’s some words from Rick Cox, Armstrong ice climber:

“I have been living and climbing in the Okanagan valley since 1983. 'Back in the day' other than myself, there was virtually no one seriously interested in shall we say, more 'serious' ice climbing. I have made a number of forays into this waterfall over the years, but for various reasons was never able to do this climb.

The last time I was up there, was about 12 to 15 years ago. We were a very strong team, consisting of Court Ashbaugh of Vernon, Cary Jaeger of Revelstoke and myself. We soloed the first grade 3 pitch then roped up for the next pitch, which ended in a cave. At this point we were turned back by a torrent of water that was cascading down the climb. We (I) could never quite seem to get all the stars aligned: good conditions, the right partner, up early enough etc.

This climb stands as very significant achievement, and had it been done before Lyle's attempt, the climbing community would know. To accomplish a first ascent of this magnitude, you need the right conditions, personal commitment, physical fitness and a well-honed degree of skill.”

How did you learn about this route and why did you decide to tackle it?

When we moved to the Okanagan Valley in 2003 I didn’t know any local ice climbers and would meet up with friends in the Rockies on ice climbing trips. This meant I drove by Enderby Cliffs and watched the ice form and disappear over numerous seasons. Around 2006 I started packing my binoculars and found a good viewing location on the east side of the river. I started taking pictures of it through my binoculars so I could compare year to year how it looked at different times in the season (December through March).

Typically the route is on the cliff face from December through February/ March. However, it faces west and the upper reaches of the climb get sun-baked later in the afternoon and the ice delaminates from the rock on the upper portions, especially where it enters the trees at the top.

I ice climbed in the Malakwa area over the Christmas break and noticed through the binoculars the climb was forming nicely. I went out for a hike to the base on January 2 and confirmed that it was climbable and that I would need a technically strong partner to alternate leads with (each climber takes a turn ascending with the rope to the next belay). I knew Marc through mutual friends and that he would be the ideal partner for the route due to his experience and fitness.

Why hadn't you done so before?

As above, the climb really needed to be in ideal conditions. This meant a month of temperatures below 0C, some daytime warming is okay to consolidate the icicles and the long cold nights associated with the longest nights of the year. In addition, it was predominantly overcast through December so the climb hadn’t broken down much due to the sun effect.

Marc was heli-ski guiding north of Revelstoke until January 9 and came out that evening to climb with me on the 10th.

I guess another factor was I didn’t know the best access to the area before hiking the Enderby Cliffs Provincial Park trail the previous summer. When I hiked in on January 2 it was apparent the trail was being used by snowshoers and trail runners as it was nicely packed in."

For an excellent article written by Lyle Knight covering the route itself, follow this link to Gravsports-Ice and read this exciting article.

All photos taken from the Lyle Knight collection posted on Facebook.

Spring is here

After seemingly one of the longest winters ever, the snow is now evaporating and the birds are singing once again.

I have had reports that Kelowna and Penticton is open and ready for climbing (at the lower elevation crags for sure), I haven't heard anything about Boulder Fields in Kelowna. I have confirmation that Vernon's Cougar Canyon is good to go, just needs some good weather to make it more enjoyable. No word on Syphon Creek or Haines in Salmon Arm.

Some things that are in the works (but not guarenteed) for the Shuswap rock climbing scene this year include the official updates for Syphon Creek's rock climbs in Salmon Arm and a possible release of an updated Haines Creek in the same town. There may also be a re-release of Mara Crags that includes the new development and first ascents that happened there last year.

I hope you enjoy your winter and have a great rock season!


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

New Route in Syphon Creek

Work has taken a huge chunk of my mental fortitude this summer; however, as the summer has been winding down I have managed to drag my blubbery forearms out to the rocks and managed to earn a First Ascent at Syphon Creek in Salmon Arm. Its a great route although short:

The School of Commitment- 5.11c

I would have liked to send my Rock Whisperer project at Mara Crags first, but that one is going to require more time and even more "calm assertive" energy then I originally thought.

I haven't been keeping up with the local scene during the summer but I have given a good day at Cougar Canyon trying the new boulder problems and I'm intrigued. I have also heard of some bolting being done in cougar to open up some routes that were previously avoided due to run-out adventures.

At the Aberdeen Columns, Jacob Doyle achieved an On-sight-first-ascent a C1 route originally put up by the Wizards of Aberdeen: Lyle Knight and Gary Wolkoff. Not sure the Grade or the name (I'm fairly sure its on the Aberdeen Wall) but being a C1 must be 5.11 someting(?).
This On-sight/First Ascent is Jacob's second this year. *** It IS Noteworthy that hard routes are being sent in good style but it should still be noted that MOST of Aberdeen was climbed in this way. Good on the Region!

If you are interested in finding climbing partners in Salmon Arm the Shuswap Mountaineer's Club is meeting up every Wednesday to climb around at the local areas and they are going strong. Email Gord Bose: bose"at" and ask to have yourself put on the email list.

I'm Sure there were plenty of other new routes, firsts and other news I haven't heard of and I apoligize for not staying up to date. Either case It doesn't matter as long as you keep climbing.