Monday, October 26, 2020

Winter Wonderland ... in Autumn

Autumn in Calgary can be a real mixed bag. This past Sunday, it was full blown winter and -26 degrees for the start of our hike up Forgetmenot Ridge. Even despite wearing five layers up top and two layers on my legs plus gaiters and thick socks, it was still cold enough to frostbite your nuts. But hey, the bright blue skies and snow covered trees made for some magical winter scenery, so... worth it?

Snowshoeing - Forgetmenot Ridge - Oct 2020-17

Snowshoeing - Forgetmenot Ridge - Oct 2020-10

Snowshoeing - Forgetmenot Ridge - Oct 2020-11

Snowshoeing - Forgetmenot Ridge - Oct 2020-1

Snowshoeing - Forgetmenot Ridge - Oct 2020-4

Snowshoeing - Forgetmenot Ridge - Oct 2020-6

Snowshoeing - Forgetmenot Ridge - Oct 2020-9

Snowshoeing - Forgetmenot Ridge - Oct 2020-12
Summit Brew: Dageraad Brewing - Jumo. Tart Kveik Ale.

Snowshoeing - Forgetmenot Ridge - Oct 2020-13

Snowshoeing - Forgetmenot Ridge - Oct 2020-14

Snowshoeing - Forgetmenot Ridge - Oct 2020-15

Snowshoeing - Forgetmenot Ridge - Oct 2020-16

Snowshoeing - Forgetmenot Ridge - Oct 2020-18

Snowshoeing - Forgetmenot Ridge - Oct 2020-19

Snowshoeing - Forgetmenot Ridge - Oct 2020-20

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

I had a brain fart... AKA the story of how we spent our anniversary apart

Sunday was our 12th wedding anniversary. But due to a scheduling error (and by that, I mean I had a brain fart, and rescheduled a previously postponed climb up Mt. Athabasca to this day), we didn't celebrate it together. As it turned out, at around 3:45am that morning Anita and I were respectively doing the following:

  • Her: at home, playing a marathon session of Tetris, and finally deciding to call it a night
  • Me: on the road (and had been since 2:45am) to the trailhead parking lot

Mt. Athabasca is an alpine mountaineering objective in the Icefields Parkway (with an alpine start time of 4:15am at the trailhead), so I stayed overnight in Lake Louise to shave a couple hours off the drive that morning. Pro tip: when you need to get up at 2:00am to drive 2 hours and then mountain for 10 hours, it is not in your best interest to stay up late in your hotel watching documentaries like "Searching for the Abominable Snowman" on the National Geographic channel. (For those who are curious, they didn't find him)

The route up the mountain itself was interesting, involving a couple hours of hiking by moonlight, before strapping on the crampons, harnesses, and roping up for some technical glacier travel. As we got to the AA Col (the saddle between Mt. Athabasca and Mt. Andromeda), we hit thick cloud cover rolling in, with howling wind, snow, and zero visibility all the way to the summit. Despite the weather getting real nasty above the 3000m mark, and a complete lack of summit views, it was a pretty cool adventure to summit another one of the 11,000'ers of the Rockies.

Scrambles - Mt. Athabasca-1
After a couple hours of hiking in darkness, the sun finally rose and we could see the glacial terrain we were entering.

Scrambles - Mt. Athabasca-2

Scrambles - Mt. Athabasca-3

Scrambles - Mt. Athabasca-4

Scrambles - Mt. Athabasca-5
Visibility started to deteriorate.

Scrambles - Mt. Athabasca-6

Scrambles - Mt. Athabasca-7
On the summit ridge... you can't actually see, but directly on our left is a steep drop down the North Athabasca Glacier. A slip here would be bad news.

Scrambles - Mt. Athabasca-8

Scrambles - Mt. Athabasca-9
At the summit, 3480m above sea level. Searching for any signs of clearing weather...

Scrambles - Mt. Athabasca-10
Our guide thought we were crazy when we broke out the summit beers. But it was rather cold and windy, and we had a technical descent left, so we opted to save them for later.

Scrambles - Mt. Athabasca-11

Scrambles - Mt. Athabasca-13

Scrambles - Mt. Athabasca-14

Scrambles - Mt. Athabasca-16
The Icefall section of the Andromeda Glacier.

Scrambles - Mt. Athabasca-18
It's hard to tell scale from here, but the Icefall is hundreds of meters tall.

Scrambles - Mt. Athabasca-20

Scrambles - Mt. Athabasca-17
Andromeda glacier on the left, Athabasca Glacier in the distance.

Scrambles - Mt. Athabasca-19

Scrambles - Mt. Athabasca-21
A trilobyte fossil. My first time seeing one of these in the wild.

Scrambles - Mt. Athabasca-22
Summit Brew (back at the parking lot): Fitsimmons and Cold Garden collaboration - Mango Fandango White Tea Wheat Ale. Mt. Athabasca is the peak covered in clouds directly to the right of the beer.