In a few days I’m heading to an annual event hosted by the Alpine Club of Canada. I first attended the General Mountaineering Camp (GMC) last year and I’ve been excited to return since.
Each year the ACC chooses a different location for the camp but it’s always spectacular, especially when you arrive by a thrilling alpine helicopter ride. We started the adventure on a foggy day and the helicopter got grounded in camp before it could make its return to pick up all the guests waiting down at the road. This just built the anticipation and excitement. When we finally made it to camp, flying low over rushing streams and cascading waterfalls, I could hardly wait. There were no trails into this pristine alpine area and getting there on foot would be exceptionally difficult, especially with a week’s worth of food and all our climbing gear. That’s one of the luxuries of the GMC.
The camp runs for five weeks in 1-week blocks. Those who joined the first week were blessed (or cursed) with hot sunny weather. We heard stories of descending big glaciers through blisteringly hot sun. The braver folks stripped down to their underwear. Awkward sunburns were a common occurrence. The weather couldn’t have been more different when my group arrived in camp. Cold rain poured down. The wind whipped relentlessly. On our fourth day the rain turned to snow, sticking to the outside of my tent. It’s not everyday you get to experience a big snowstorm in late July!
The upside of this unseasonal weather was that we got to explore some interesting places we’d probably not have gone had the big peaks been accessible. Someone discovered a cave of ice winding its way under the glacier. It felt eerie wandering through tunnels of dark blue ice as streams of freezing cold water rushed by.
Even when the heavy rain threatened to cause rockfall and the snow made everyone want to stay inside our tents, there was something fun to do. One afternoon the guides offered a workshop on crevasse rescue skills and another participant organized an impromptu talk on taking better photos.
I’m really excited to return to the GMC and I’m hoping for good weather. Mostly, I’m looking forward to spending a week in a beautiful alpine location with fun people, great food, and some challenging climbs.