Monday, March 14, 2022

Shingles, Snow, and Summit Brews

On Friday, I got shingles. On Saturday, I slogged up this steep mountain, and washed down my prescription antivirals with a beer while on the summit. The doctor, nurse, and two PhD students with me looked on disapprovingly. But really, the word ‘approvingly’ is feature in there, so let’s not focus on the negatives, alright?

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Saturday, February 5, 2022

Sunrises of the year so far

I assume your social media feeds are like mine - an endless tire fire of people bickering, and articles about shitty people doing shitty things... I don't know about you, but I don't find wading through it very fun. If we're friends here, it's because there was some common ground between us, and chances are there's more of that than what we differ on.

So a quick reminder in case you've been circling a well of anger and despair for the past while: it's okay to seek some light and levity through the darkness. We all could use some more of it.

(I don't usually wake up early enough to get out to a nicer vantage point for sunrise, but even so, there have been a few nice ones from the comfort of my upstairs window this year).

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Sunday, January 2, 2022

It's a new dawn, it's a new day, it's a new life...

Someone once joked that I eat mountains for breakfast. So it felt kind of fitting to start off 2022 with a 3:00am wakeup to go catch the first sunrise of the year from atop a summit, before most had even awoken to nurse their hangovers. We would be the only group to actually make it to the summit for sunrise, and Anita and I stubbornly stayed long enough to ensure we saw the full palette of colours from pre-dawn to fully risen colours of the sun in the sky. It was -26 degrees at the parking lot, and with the wind strafing our faces up top at 7:45am, it felt far colder than that. But while our faces and hands were frozen, I felt a sense of warmth knowing we'd started off the year exactly as I'd envisioned - in the company of good friends, with the promise of new light washing over us.

In the words of the wise Nina Simone, "It's a new dawn, it's a new day, it's a new life... and I'm feeling good"

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We got to summit while the sky was still quite dark, but the colours of the incoming sunrise were the most intense.

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Minutes later, the skies brightened up and headlamps were no longer necessary.

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There are worse views to start off the year.

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The winds were vicious as we stayed up top. We would only stay long enough to see the full range of colours crest as the sun rose beyond the horizon, before batting a hasty retreat.

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Bellwoods Brewing Roman Candle IPA

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Thursday, December 30, 2021

The Year in Photos - Pandemic, Season 2

Another year is in the books, and as we prepare for Pandemic season 3 (the TV show that no one asked to be renewed), I wanted to take a moment to reflect on the past 365. It seemed unimaginable that things could get worse than 2020, but that didn't stop 2021 from proclaiming, "Hold my beer." Between endless news cycles of climate crises, the continued erosion of public belief in science, and ever worsening societal division over Covid, masks, and vaccines, it was easy to fall into a deep well of despair over the state of pretty much everything.

But even in this darkest of years, I did manage to find some temporary moments of light, in the company of friends with a shared passion for getting up at ungodly hours to trudge up piles of rocks. I spent every free moment chasing adventures in the mountains, once again setting all new personal bests over last year's stats:
  • bagged Mt. Smuts, one of the most difficult scrambles in the book
  • 53 different peaks summited in the Rockies
  • 165,687 ft of total elevation gained
  • 593 kms trekked, hiked, and scrambled
  • 360 hours and 15 minutes total time spent bashing up peaks (21,615 minutes)
  • 150th unique peak summited (cumulative) in the Rockies during the summer
  • Temperature Range: bagged summits in as low as -27 degrees, and as high as 36 degrees C
  • 55 total days spent in the mountains
Aside from chasing summits, the rest of year consisted of working in a new and challenging role in Covid response, teaching my first in person photography class in a long time, taking my first sets of flights (one for leisure, and one for work) since 2019, catching a Raptors game in Toronto, throwing out my back rolling out of bed (but then foolishly deciding to climb a mountain that day anyways), watching a lot of prairie and mountain sunrises, drinking 159 different craft beers, and otherwise napping on the couch like the 90 year old I am.

It was hard to find a variety of photos that weren't just entirely mountains, but here it is... my annual mosaic of the year in photos.

May 2022 be a little less Covidy, and a whole lot more civil for us all. Cheers, friends!

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Previous annual mosaics: 2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009

Monday, November 29, 2021

Elbow Falls

The original plan was to bag another peak on Sunday, but a change in the forecast to a full day of rain dampened our enthusiasm, and we opted to forego a summit adventure. I really wasn’t keen on being drizzled on for 7 hours while slogging up a peak, so instead we played local tourist and checked out Elbow Falls near Bragg Creek. Normally these falls would be overrun with people, but owing to the cooler weather, and the fact that we went as daylight was starting to fade, meant that we had it mostly to ourselves.

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I like how this shot makes it look like the falls just pour into a contained pool.

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"Art" (or in this case, an accidental click of the shutter while moving the tripod).

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Trip Report - Mt. Elpoca East Ridge

I can’t find the words to describe how beautiful this minor ridge in the Highwood Pass was this past weekend. Even despite the cold biting 60 - 80km wind gusts, and some steep postholing en route to gaining the ridge crest, we agreed it was a super fun adventure. Check out the photos to see some of the interesting terrain we got to tromp around in.

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Traversing this steep snow slope just below the ridge crest was probably the crux of the day.

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Eighty Eight Brewing Co's Hydration Station Hazy Pale Ale with Electrolytes. Almost too cold to finish, but still super yummy.

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