Sunday, September 27, 2009

Porteau Cove

Since the weather for Monday looks terrible (rain and highs of 12 degrees), we decided to get outside and take advantage of what will likely be our last "summer" day in Squamish this year. We leave for our trip on Tuesday and won't be back until early December, when the weather is likely to be far less pleasant. We had a nice time beachcombing, wading and watching the divers.
The outing was a great way to enjoy the beautiful fall weather and wrap up yet another Squamish year in our lives with Elise.

The dock at Porteau Cove.

We found lots of little crabs under the rocks, which Elise didn't hesitate to grab with her bare hands and drop into her bucket.

There is some amazing drift wood on this beach.

Detail of the wood grain.

Less than 48 hours to our departure. Watch our blog for regular trip posts and enjoy the fall!


Friday, September 25, 2009

Angel's Crest - Summer's End

On Thursday, I climbed the Angel's Crest on the Chief with our friend, Rob Price, from Seattle. Rob hadn't climbed the route before and was keen, so I offered to accompany him on the climb. This was likely my last outdoor climb in Squamish this year and it was a great way to finish a great season. The weather was perfect and the climb was very pleasant.

Rob drove up on Wednesday evening and we had dinner and socialized well into the evening. We got up early (to beat the crowds) and Pam and Elise shuttled us to the trail head so we wouldn't have to hike as far at the end of the day.

Here's a photo of the northwest side of the Chief from our house. The Angel's Crest follows the sunlit edge of the gully right of the dark area of shadow in the centre of the wall.

Here's Rob seconding the third pitch of 5.10 on the route. Rob did great and didn't fall once on the entire climb.

We discovered a memorial totem pole about half way up the climb. It honours a popular climber who died in the Squamish area about 10 years ago. Getting this large piece of wood into the middle of this climb must have been quite a feat!

The Acrophobe towers are one of the unique features of this climb. They are a collection of granitic spires in the middle of the wall that involve some interesting climbing techniques and route-finding. This is a picture looking down from the top of the first tower towards Valleycliffe. You can see our house from this part of the Chief.

There was a party behind us. This is a photo of Matthew standing near the summit of the first tower.

Here's Rob seconding the second-to-last pitch on the climb. The entire route is 14 pitches long so we are almost finished! This bit of climbing is some of the trickiest on the route.

Here I am on the summit with some beautiful rock corners in behind. I'm trying not to squint - it was super bright on the polished granite.

Rob on the summit.

Elise and Pam met us on the trail that leads back down to Squamish. Elise hiked about a third of the way up this trail, which was very impressive. This trail is very steep and rocky, gaining about 2000 vertical feet in a couple of kilometers. On the way down we stopped at one of the pools in Oleson Creek, rinsed off and enjoyed the view. Elise had to take off her shoes and wade, despite the cold. No surprise there. Afterward, we had a nice dinner, socialized some more and Rob spent one more night before heading back to Seattle. We made tentative plans for a mid-winter climbing break with him at Smith Rock.

Four more day until Greece!


Sunday, September 13, 2009

Terry Fox Run

We decided to take part in the annual Terry Fox run this morning. It seemed appropriate after what Pam went through a couple of years ago and the only reason we didn't do it last year was I was still guiding. The last time I participated in this event was when I lived in the Yukon (I was about 12 years old) and both my mother and I ran in the "race". I remember that run quite vividly and also remember going door to door in our rural neighbourhood and getting pledges. That was a long time ago...

The Squamish event wasn't super well organized. The local firefighters volunteered as coordinaters and about 80 people turned out. I was prepared for a proper 10 kilometer run, but it was pretty ad-hoc. Nothing was timed and there was a 5 km course that you could double lap to get 10 km. Regardless, we had a good time. I ran the first 5 km with Pam, pushing Elise in the stroller, and then ran the second 5 km on my own, sans Elise and the stroller (much easier). They served pancakes afterward and we sat, socialized and rehydrated.

Although I didn't put much thought into the event, once we were there and saw the photos and memorabilia of Terry Fox, it definitely made me reflect on what the run stood for. The Marathon of Hope was an incredible feat of physical endurance and really helped put the issue of cancer research into the public domain. It felt good to participate and the run raised $1500.00 locally. Unfortunately, a trail run was scheduled for the same morning at Alice Lake and many of the more serious runners in the community likely attended that event, thus drawing support away from the Terry Fox run. This was a shame and the local organizers need to get coordinated in the future, in my opinion.

Elise and I at the pancake breakfast after the run. She ate one and a half pancakes!

On an unrelated note, Pam and Elise went to the Brackendale fall fair yesterday and Elise had a great time. Here she is with her friend Josie after they got their faces painted.

Finally, Paul Iarocci's wife Cindy just gave birth to their first baby, Capriana Iarocci, on September 11th! Paul is an old climbing friend of ours from Squamish who moved to Ontario about 10 years ago. We stay in touch and have traveled with Paul (and Cindy) a number of times over the years. Paul joined us on our first "baby" trip to Europe and was a great help, which made our experience much more enjoyable. Paul and Cindy are both doing great and we wish them the best of luck!

Only 16 more days until we leave for Greece!


Thursday, September 10, 2009


We made it home from Rifle. It was a good trip and we enjoyed the climbing, the cool spruce forests, nightly campfires and, of course, the fish! We have come to the conclusion that Elise is obsessed with fish. She wants to see them everywhere we go and is hoping for great results in Greece.

We decided to take a detour on the way home and drove through Moab, Utah. It was brutally hot, but the scenery was spectacular - well worth the added effort. Pictures from the drive...

We arrived in Moab in the early afternoon and it was hot - really, really hot. In fact it was so hot, the sand burned the bottom of our feet. We found a swimming hole in the Colorado river and enjoyed just lounging around in the shade and, of course, swimming. I went in first and then Elise had to follow. This turned into a long session of splashing, swimming and "mud painting". The water was cold, but even Pam mustered the courage to get in. It was refreshing to say the least.

Later in the day we visited Arches, a national park just outside of Moab. It's an amazing landscape of towering sandstone walls and spires and holds over 2,000 natural stone arches, apparently. It was wickedly hot, but we slathered on the sunscreen, drank lots of water and set out on a couple of hikes.

Pam and Elise hiking to Landscape arch. This excursion was marred by a running fall on the way back. Elise was sick of being in the backpack and wanted to hike. We let her, but she kept running ahead and finally tripped on her own feet and fell in the gravel. You can imagine the result. But it was nothing that a "Dora" band aid couldn't cure.

Landscape arch. This formation is incredible. It's got to be at least a couple hundred feet across and is every bit as fragile as it looks.

Deer below Landscape arch. Elise was delighted by this and we spent a lot of time watching them graze on the shrubs. The surroundings were so arid, I couldn't believe large mammals could survive here.

Elise sitting in the crook of a juniper tree below Landscape arch.

Near sunset, we decided to make a longer hike to the famous Delicate arch. The walk was quite long, mostly uphill and there were lots of people there taking photographs. I carried Elise the entire way and was a little brutalized by the journey. But once I saw the arch, I got my wind It was a truly stunning setting and we hung around for an hour or so before quickly hiking back across the slabs to our van.

Delicate arch...

Pam and Elise near the arch.

Pam and Elise under the arch.

We went out for dinner in Moab that night and then drove back to the Colorado river and camped at a spot called "Goose Island". It was super warm and we just set up the tent - no fly. Still, we had trouble sleeping because it was so warm. But not Elise. She can sleep through anything, apparently.

This is a photo of the wall above our campsite in the early morning light.

On the long drive home, we stopped at a landmark on the Oregon trial called "Farewell Bend". Elise and I hiked along the Snake river spotting birds and taking pictures. This was a nice evening stretch before the drive into Oregon and our final night in the tent.

We are home for just under three weeks and then off to Greece on September 29th for two months! We'll post pictures and stories often while we are away so stay tuned.


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Rifle Part 5

We are beginning our final week in Rifle. We've had a good trip, and if all goes well, plan to head back through Moab, Utah to tour a few of the desert towers and see some different sights before pushing for home. This may also help to break up the drive a bit so the journey is not too arduous. Highlights from the last week:

We toured the Rifle Falls state park and were pleasantly surprised. It's a scenic hike with three pretty waterfalls at the mouth of the gorge and there were plenty of interesting caves to explore. I didn't have a headlamp with me, but I used the flash on my camera so Elise could briefly see the stalactites on the roofs of the caves. This is a photo of the three waterfalls.

Elise "posing" in front of the waterfalls. The spray was impressive and I had to be careful to keep my camera from getting wet. Also, all the leaves on the surrounding trees and plants were covered in a hard coating of calcium from the waterfall spray, which pours over limestone.

The roof of one of the many caves.

Feeding animals is always a popular pastime. In this instance, we didn't have any "horse" food so we had to improvise and fed the horses the last of our grapes. They were skeptical, but took a liking to them quickly. On the way home, we brought a bag of apples and fed them for quite some time!

The weather has been hot! We traveled to a state park called "Harvey Gap" hoping to spend the afternoon on a beach. The man-made lake was disappointing and, since the water levels were very low, the shoreline was very mucky - yuck! Luckily, a nice volunteer loaned us his canoe for the afternoon, so we were able to paddle around the lake, swim from another shore and watch people fish. We saw one fellow catch three large-mouth bass. Here's Elise in her life preserver getting ready to go on the boat.

This is a photo of Elise dangling her feet in the Rifle creek beside one of the cliffs she climbed at. There were trout in this pool and she enjoyed trying to spot them!

Our climbing has improved over the last week. Both Pam and I completed routes we'd been working on and Elise continues to climb short "routes" at the base of the walls. People always find it quite amusing to see her decked out in her harness, shoes and chalkbag! This is a photo of a fellow we met named Patrick climbing on Defenseless Betty (5.12a) on the Project Wall.

There's lots of wildlife around here. I woke to deer in our campsite the other morning and the racoons continue to plague us. They are so brazen they get onto the picnic table while we are still in camp! We have to watch our food like a hawk. This is a photo of a bee with colouring I'd not seen before - red!

We hope you are all doing well and plan to be home between September 8th and 12th.