After a winter spent nursing a nagging shoulder injury, watching my partners get strong and send projects, I half jokingly asked a good friend if he was interested in doing some alpine climbing in Canada in May. Now, May is not known for being the primo month for the big routes; flipping through the seminal tome "Selected Alpine Routes in the Canadian Rockies," March and September stand out as the most reliable times to send. Add to that a biblical winter and a spring snow cycle that wouldn't quit, and things were looking precarious at best!
I'm not much of a snow climber and all the routes we were psyched on looked like gothic churches in France. Not being known for our high IQ's, we made a decision, packed our bags, and went to sleep with a plan to get up early and head up on Andromeda Strain, a route etched in the minds of all aspiring alpine climbers due to it's intriguing cover photo on the book mentioned above.
Upon waking, Josh had a new plan! With a decent forecast, he thought we'd better go for the real prize and head into North Twin. As you will see in the following video, that didn't work out so great. We spent all day post-holing on skis up and over Wooley Shoulder (1,500m up and then down), then spent the rest of the day and the whole next day watching snow fall. As I mentioned earlier, 2011 was a wild spring - the snow would not stop. And so the Twin disappeared in the clouds and the rumble of avalanche filled the air. With our main objective shrouded in snow, we packed up and reversed our epic approach, this time in only six hours.
After an evening refueling in Jasper, we dried our gear and repacked for the Andromeda Strain - a healthy little climb on the side of the Icefields Parkway. The following morning found us tiptoeing around and over snow mushrooms, scratching up some of the worst rock I'd ever seen, and then digging through the summit cornice. We had splitter weather for the A Strain, but that was the last of it. The next few days were basically spent looking for free wi-fi.
Before we knew it we were back in Colorado and since we only got up one route in while in Canada we decided to head up and see what Hallets Peak and the Diamond could dish up… lots more snow and plenty of fun. You can look back on any climbing trip and wish you got better weather and more sends, but in the world we live in today I feel lucky to have spent the time with a great friend exploring some crazy terrain. And I'm going back, but this time I'll remember to check the first ascent dates!