Feb 19th

Today was cold. Milou was plugged in and that always makes her happy. I woke up and hung out with the gang as they got ready to get back to school after a three-day weekend, never easy to do. After everyone left, Nelle, Calla and I went and checked out the Bozeman Library with. A really cool place with lots of awesome art sculptures! Then I packed up my things, started Milou and hit the road. Headed for Canada!

Devitt’s you guys made me feel right at home. Thank you for feeding me, housing me and letting me drop in on your family scene. I had blast with you and hope to see you again soon!

Feb 20st

Made it too Great Falls Montana. I was going to stay a bit father south on the Missouri river but the campsite I found was snowed in. So off a to another Walmart ;/. This Walmart was surprising to me. I think there was about 4 full time RV’s there. These rigs looked like they had not left the lot in a long time, they had their personal cars parked along side. Here’s to living at Walmart? I headed north today for the boarder!

Walmart full of full time RV’s

I made it through the boarder no problem, the boarder control Agent seemed amused with my choice of vehicle but other than that I was on my way! Pretty wild ride to Calgary today, I saw about 10+ cars off the road. The wind was kicking up the snow, causing complete white outs. It was a bit stressful and decided to stop in Calgary tonight rather than forge on to Banff. Good call too, because I saw later on the news that the highway was closed! Ahh I can’t wait till Banff and Canmore tomorrow!

Headed over to CAD!
Feb 21st

WOW!!! The Canadian Rockies might be the coolest place I have ever been! The storm had cleared, and I drove into Canmore to an epic site. The mountains are huge here, with almost no foot hills leading up to them! Pure excitement as I drove down into the valley of the white giants. I was off to meet my new friends at an ice climbing spot near 3 sisters parkway. A place known as Grassi Lakes. I missed the turn for the parking area but luckily (Marty my new friend from the interweb) saw me and pulled up alongside and redirected me to the right parking area. I hopped out and met his friends Rose, Jaime and Rose’s cousin Grace. We dawned our gear and headed up the trail to the cliff. The cliff is right above a hydroelectric damn that uses mountain run off for power, similar to the ones you see in the alps. The spot known as the Junkyard wall had amazing views and although a few other guide groups were there, there was plenty of ice for all! We had a great day climbing with the sun at our backs and the amazing mountains all around us!

The gang putting on their Crampons
Having a blast!
Rose and Jaime trying out ice climbing for the first time
Teaching Grace how to swing
Marty Cruising up over the hole!
Me getting on some vertical ice as the sun dips behind Mnt Rundle

After we could no long swing our tools, we packed up and headed into downtown Canmore for a hot cider and a snack. Then I followed Marty and his red Grand Mini caravan into down town Banff, where he lives and works. I lucked out and was able to park in the lot where he lives! Power at every spot, yahoo for Milou starting on cold mornings! To end the evening we snuck into a hotel and enjoy a large outdoor hot tub.

So happy 🙂
Power at every spot!
Enjoying the hot tub!
Feb 22nd

Marty met me outside at 8:45 today. We were off to Banff/Jasper National park. This is a really beautiful park rooted in the Canadian Rockies! Among the big mountains, ice fields and glaciers we found the Weeping Wall. A large ice curtain stretching maybe 400 feed wide and 300 feet tall before a large ledge and then it continues even higher. Our plan was to head up the Sniffling wall into the Sniffling gully. However, the ice on the lower section looked sun baked. So we headed up the harder Weeping Wall. Prior to starting a large Raven tried to steel my lunch! Not sure if thats a good sign 😉

Weeping wall
Marty and the Weeping wall approach
Marty on Lead
Come on up Marty!
Enjoying the views!
Very Happy

We made it up about two pitches, when we both chickened out. There was a large flowing river ripping down under the ice and it appeared as if you either had to climb up some steep ice and cross it or walk across a 1 foot ice/snow bridge to another ledge. Both looked sketchy and we had enough and so we lowered off a V thread (a piece of rope threaded through the ice for an anchor).

Headed down!
On my way!

Back on level ground we headed for the car and kept on adventuring towards Jasper National park. Marty showed me Athabasca Glacier which was very big and cool looking. Amazing to think that most of these mountains were sea reefs that were pushed up from under the ocean!

Athabasca Glacier

Next stop Panther falls. Marty had been down them before but never successfully climbed them. We had to do some detective work to figure out how to get in to the chasm without falling through snow bridges! So we walked up the road a ways from the main parking lot. Bushwhacked through waist deep snow, over the river on a big snow bridge then found a rap station (Rope slung around a tree). We set up a rope and lowered into the unknown J It was a really cool lime stone slot canyon of sorts, covered in ice and snow. Once Marty came down we built an ice anchor and prepared to lower down into the Panthers throat! I was feeling a bit nervious but it looked really cool and the sun was setting so we had little time. Given Marty had been here before he let me go first! Lucky me :/ Down I went through the little slot that opened up into a huge amphitheater of ice! I got lowered about half way down and realized I probably would not reach the bottom on my rope and it was getting dark. I snapped some pictures for future recognizances and told Marty I was coming back up. We climbed out and roped up one final time to cross over a snow/rock bridge to get back to the car! It was dark and we were hungry. We missed the concert we were supposed to attend, oh well the adventure took president. We made it back to Banff, had a nice dinner and headed to bed!

Looking around the top of Panther falls
Headed over the river
Bumbling through deep snow
Dropping in!
Marty in front of the Panthers Throat
Being lowered down the Panthers Throat!

It’s cold in Milou when she has been sitting empty all day but I turn the heat on, bundled up and I was fast asleep!

Feb 23rd

Marty had to go back to work today, and I decide today would be a good day to check out Banff Sunshine resort. About 30mins from downtown Banff.

It was cold today (starting to say this a lot 😉 maybe high of 11F but at this point I am pretty used to it J Sunshine is a strange resort. The base lodge is small, and you have to take a long sort of horizontal gondola to get to the village. I found this to be confusing and got stuck in a cabin with some annoying people form LA and decided to get out half way up. This was somewhat problematic, but I found some good skiing here none the less. I further screwed up as I did not know the village was at the top of the gondola so when I saw the signs for village access only over one gondola door and the other one said downloading only, I wrongfully assumed you could only ride the gondola down the mountain form this point. So, I skied down the flattest slowest ski out ever, only to ride the gondola again and realize I could have just got on half way up… oops.

The top of the resort was beautiful, and the sun was shining J The lifts were short and for some reason they have about three lifts that bring you to the same elevation. Beautiful views and the sunshine made up for the mediocre skiing.

Takin in the views!

Marty got off work at about 2pm we met up and discussed trying to sneak a climb in, but we had dinner plans with Rose and realized that our climbing plan was a bit ambitious. So back to our favorite hotel for a soak in the giant hot tub and few beers and gorgeous views of the Canadian Rockies! After a delicious dinner and beer off to bed!

Feb 24th

Today is the day for Lake Louise. Located about 1hr from Banff. It was very very cold when I woke up -11F outside, 65F inside Milou. Looks like my insulation is working!

Even with being plugged in she was not happy about starting. Although she roared to life after the second try. Puffing white smoke, it took a long time for her to warm up. Which was okay because I was in no hurry to get outside J I took my time heading over to Lake Louise and the sun was coming out! I parked along the road which seems to be typical at these resorts. My feet where cold but my body stayed warm and my feet where soon numb. I skied all over the mountain and even hiked up over some cliffs to drop into a really cool bowl on the backside. A pretty wild spot with a lot of terrain! However, I felt a bit like I was skiing in the east with all the ice on the trails. Over all a great day skiing and very fun mountain. I spent the later afternoon in the lodge defrosting my feet and catching up on my blog.

Preparing to Drop in on Upper Boomerang!

Well all looked as if it was going to be a good afternoon until I got back to Milou and the starting issue was back! Oh no. My heart sank, not only was I in Canada but I was also a good hour from any real town. I stayed calm and went about replacing the solenoid that I thought was the issue back in Idaho. I had never got around to replacing it, as the issue went away… Upon removing the old solenoid I broke one of the terminals off, so there was no turning back now… New solenoid in… still no start. F**K… was that the wrong part? Did I install it wrong!? I went back to my tried and true method of praying and wiggling wires. After several attempts with no results, she came back to life! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! At this point I was an hour late to meet up with Marty for our night climbing accent of Cascade Falls. Oh well..

I made it back to Banff around 6pm. Met up with Marty and headed to Cascade falls as the sun was setting. We new it would be cold but due to avalanche risk from above this climb is often done at night.

Cascade Falls during the day

It was getting very cold as we left the vehicle it was maybe -10f and dropping. We donned our head lamps and started out. The first pitches were easy snow ice fields, that we made our way up. The darkness made us a bit slower but we were making progresses.

Marty Getting his jam on before the climb! ft. OutKast

We finally got to some real ice and it was my turn to lead. It went up an awkward slope that ended in a nice snow shelf with various tracks going various directions. At this point my feet where getting numb and I was cold and was wondering why I was doing what I was doing (this is normal when Ice climbing). I headed up the right side but could not see any anchors and to my dismay realized I needed to traverse over this snow ridge. I did my best to protect my traverse, although the ice was not good. I made it to the apposing wall, with 5 feet of rope to spare and found a good bolt to build an anchor and brought Marty up. We made the decision to bail. The ice was not great and it was getting colder and nearing 10 o’clock pm. I belayed Marty around another corner where he found a rappel station and we made our way back down safely. We made it back to the car cold and tired, the digital temp gauge read -26c roughly -15f. We headed off for a nice dinner and then bed.

Marty rappelling

If only my cold adventure ended there. Milou’s diesel heater would not start 🙁 I accepted the facts and burrowed into my -20f sleeping bag with all my clothes on and rested my head on a rock hard memory foam pillow 🙂 Luckily it softened up thru the night.

Feb 25th

I awoke to a frozen breath covered blanket and a temps of -13F. Looks like I was not going ice climbing today. I had made plans to climb with one of Marty’s friends Jaime yesterday but after last night I decided I didn’t want to be cold! We met up for coffee at a local spot and then decided to head to the Rock gym in Canmore. Milou again would not start but after wiggling wires and hammering the starter we were back in action. I wish this issue was consistent. Maybe it’s the wires or maybe the starter. I hope I can get to warmer weather before digging in further!

Coffee with a view

Canmore’s rock gym is not big, but fun! We got a quick burn in, then I took a shower at the aquatic center and we headed back to Banff to meet up with Marty and Rose to go skating on Lake Louise.

Jaime getting ready to get on some plastic!
A cool spot “Elevation Place” Rock gym, pool, cafe and library

Skating was a blast and the views were breath taking! I felt like I finally really mastered my hockey stop, I wonder if the issue all along was dull skates 😉 After the sun set, we headed back to Banff to sneak into our favorite hotels hot tub for a nice warm soak and a beer. Then shower and bed.

Dream team
Practicing my moves
Marty doing the double slide thru!
Marty contemplating his decisions
First place ice sculpture

The night was cold, about -7F at nine pm projected to be -15f by morning. Milou’s heater took four attempts before starting but I sure was excited when the warm air started to flow!