BMC 2021

BMC 2021

Nearly every summer since 2014, I’ve attended a week-long mountaineering camp in BC. There are two similar camps, one fairly big and the other more intimate. The larger camp is organized by the Alpine Club of Canada and it’s really quite impressive the logistics that go into hosting 25+ climbers. Given the ongoing pandemic and just because I prefer smaller groups, this year I decided to join the smaller camp organized by Pierre Hungr and his wife Natelle. After missing out on both camps last year due to the pandemic, I was pretty excited for the whole experience.

Desde 2014 acudo a un campamento de alpinismo que tiene lugar cada verano en las montañas de Columbia Británica. Hay dos campamentos. El Club Alpino de Canadá organiza el más conocido y más grande. He acudido a cinco de los del ACC y me han gustado todos. El campamento más pequeño lo organizan Pierre Hungr y su esposa Natelle. El año pasado se cancelaron los dos por culpa de la pandemia. Así que, este verano estaba muy contento de tener otra vez la oportunidad de escalar con amigos apasionados de la montaña.

– Taking off from our staging area. Photo by Lindsay Put
– El helicóptero nos lleva a la montaña en un santiamén

The best part about this style of mountaineering is the helicopter ride up to base camp. This takes the suffering out of the climbing.

Lo mejor de hacer alpinismo de esta forma es que aprovechamos un helicóptero para llevar todo el equipamiento y comida pesada a un lugar rodeado de varios picos. Te tiene que gustar sufrir para hacer alpinismo, pero si llegas en helicóptero, toda la experiencia es mucho más divertida.

– Landing at the camp
– Aterrizamos en el sitio del campamento

I’ve read some trip reports about ascents of Mount Odin, the largest peak near our camp. Six days is pretty standard to get to the summit and back down. With the helicopter we get to climb not only Odin but a different peak every single day. The experience couldn’t be more different.

He leído algunos relatos de alpinistas que han subido al Monte Odín, la montaña más grande en esta zona. Sus viajes duraron seis días. Aprovechando el helicóptero, logramos escalar no solo el Monte Odín, sino muchas otras cimas también.

– Pierre (reluctantly) putting his feet up for a rest
– A pesar de un tobillo roto lesionado, Pierre sigue organizando todo

Unfortunately, Pierre broke his ankle a few weeks ago. Despite the injury, he manages to organize everything and hops around camp better than most people would with intact ankles.

Por desgracia, a Pierre se le lesionó el tobillo unas semanas antes del campamento. A pesar de la lesión, organizó todo sin pensarlo dos veces.

– Hanging out by the dining tent
– Relajandonos fuera del comedor

Our base camp is located at the foot of a glacier that gives access to several peaks. There’s a kitchen, a dining tent, and a tent to dry out gear and clothes on rainy days.

Nuestra base se sitúa justo debajo de un glaciar que da acceso a varios picos. Hay una tienda para comer, una cocina y otra tienda para secar equipamiento y ropa en el caso de que llueva.

– On the way up to Mount Odin
– La subida al Monte Odin (El pico en esta foto no es la cima. La verdadera cima es mucho más alta)

When the helicopter arrives, Pierre directs everyone to their tent to settle in. In the afternoon we all go to “snow school” where we refresh key mountaineering skills, like how to walk on ice and how to self-arrest an unexpected fall. It’s always good to practice after a break from climbing.

Al llegar el helicóptero, Pierre dirige a cada persona a su propia tienda de campaña. Por la tarde todos vamos a “la escuela de nieve” en la que repasamos varias destrezas como subir y bajar por el hielo y la autodetención con piolet. Ya que no hubo un campamento el año pasado, estoy contento de actualizar mis habilidades.

– Ascending the glacier on our way up Mount Hugin
– Ascendemos el glaciar bajo la cresta del Monte Hugin

In our first climb I luck out and get to stop for a few minutes right at the bergschrund, a gaping crack that separates the glacier from the mountain above. It’s impressive but I sure wouldn’t want to fall in.

En la primera escalada tengo la suerte de pararme unos minutos muy cerca del bergschrund, una grieta grande que se forma entre la parte superior del glaciar y la montaña. Es impresionante. No me gustaría caerme aquí.

– Crossing the bergschrund
– Atravesamos el bergschrund

The climb to the top of Mount Hugin follows the glacier but we have to climb up onto the summit ridge to reach the summit. There’s a short rock step that we pitch out (the leader climbs first, belayed from below in case of a fall, then brings everyone else up on the rope). I enjoy the challenge. My favourite climbs are like this: lots of variety – glaciers, snow, ice, steep rock, even turbulent stream crossings.

La escalada al Mont Hugin pasa por nieve y hielo, pero hay que subir a la cresta para llegar a la cima. Hay un pequeño largo en roca (así se les llama a un tramo de una escalada que corresponde a la longitud de la cuerda, es decir al máximo 60 metros). Me alegra el desafío. Me gustan más las escaladas con mucha variedad: glaciares, nieve, hielo, rocas, incluso arroyos turbulentos.

– A quick bit of rock climbing just below the summit
– Escalamos un paso divertido para acceder a la cima

The view from the summit isn’t exactly as we’d hoped. This summer there have been a lot of forest fires due the the heat wave and a lack of rain. There’s a lot of smoke. Even with the smoke, it’s impressive to be on the summit of a high mountain, looking down onto the immense glacier below.

La vista desde la cumbre no es tan hermosa como esperábamos. Este verano ha habido muchos incendios a lo largo de Norteamérica occidental. Por eso, hay mucho humo. Aun así, es impresionante estar en la cima de una montaña y ver la inmensidad de los glaciares que hay debajo.

– Enjoying the views from the summit of Mount Hugin
– Nos impresionan las vistas desde la cima de Monte Hugin

The camp is pretty comfortable. There’s an icy little lake just beside camp and the bravest jump in. For the rest of us, there’s an on-demand hot shower. In the mountains, surrounded by ice, a hot shower is quite the luxury.

El campamento es bastante cómodo. Hay una laguna justo al lado y los más valientes se bañan al regresar de la subida. También hay una ducha con agua más caliente. En la montaña, rodeada de hielo, una ducha caliente es un verdadero lujo.

– Relaxing after a day of climbing
– Nos relajamos después de una buena escalada

We all eat together in the dining tent. The food is excellent, thanks to Natelle, who is a talented cook.

Comemos todos juntos. La comida es excelente, gracias a Natelle, a quién se le da muy bien cocinar.

– Dinner time
– La cena

The tents are comfortable too. Mine is new and huge – big enough for four people. That gives me lots of room to stretch out. What a nice change from my usual half-person ultralight tent.

Las tiendas para acampar son cómodas también. La mía es nueva y grande, suficiente para tres o incluso cuatro personas (personas muy cercanas, es decir).

– This tent “peg” isn’t going anywhere
– El viento no va a estropear esta carpa

It’s hot everyday except the morning I climb Mount Odin, the highest peak in the area. Even though it’s 35C in the valley, only a few km away, a strong wind whips across the summit. Glaciers make their own weather.

Hace calor todos los días excepto el día en el que decido subir al Monte Odín, el pico más alto. Aunque hace 35 grados en el valle a solo unos veinte kilómetros, hay un viento fuerte en la cima. Los glaciares crean su propio clima.

Mount Odin

After reaching the summit, we descend along a ridgeline that extends for miles, eventually rearing up again into sheer rock towers. It’s super fun to traverse along the ridge, dropping down and climbing back up over endless undulations.

Después de subir a la cima, bajamos por la cresta que se extiende muchos kilómetros hasta las torres de rocas en la distancia. Es muy divertido seguir la cresta, bajando y subiendo sobre las olas de la misma.

– Contemplating the long ridge walk ahead
– Contemplamos la larga caminata por delante

Receding glaciers leave behind the most unexpected things. Look at this boulder precariously balanced on top of three pebbles, for example. That seems super improbable to me, but there it is.

El retroceso de los glaciares deja atrás cosas inesperadas. Por ejemplo, mira esta roca grande que está parada sobre tres piedras pequeñas. ¡Qué improbable y qué inestable!

– Some very improbable things occur on glaciers
– Se pueden encontrar cosas bastante extrañas cerca de los glaciares en retroceso

The camp has a mascot, Pierre and Natelle’s dog, Debbie. Debbie is sharp. She likes to spend the day relaxing in the sun but she often disappears for hours at a time. She comes back wet, dirty and panting. Who knows what adventures she gets up to!

Pierre y Natelle tienen una perra muy inteligente. Le gusta pasar el día relajándose al sol, pero a veces desaparece por muchas horas. Vuelve mojada, sucia y respirando profusamente. ¿Qué aventuras vivirá?

– Debbie monitoring her camp
– Debbie vigila su territorio

Normally, the ascents that are easily accessible from such camps involve a lot of glacier crossings and snow travel. This camp is different. There are many more technical rock climbs than snow walks. Lindsay, Christian, and I climb the most striking feature on the horizon, Frigg Tower.

Normalmente las subidas accesibles desde estos campamentos implican glaciares y nieve. En este campamento hay muchas escaladas más técnicas. Lindsay y yo subimos con Christian a la torre más impresionante, la Torre de Frigg. Frigg y Odín son dioses de la mitología nórdica. De hecho, muchas de las montañas canadienses llevan nombres de dioses nórdicos.

– Lindsay and Justin climbing up the east ridge of West Frigg Tower. Photo by Christian Schlumpf
– Lindsay y Justin subiendo por la cresta oriental de la Torre Frigg Oeste

The climb is fun and challenging and takes us all day, exploring our way up the surprisingly steep ridge.

La escalada es muy divertida y lo suficientemente desafiante.

– Lindsay powers up the cliff
– Lindsay sube por el acantilado

Even though the tower is steep, the top is flat and relaxing, a perfect place for a picnic. It feels great to reach the summit. But best of all is taking off my climbing shoes.

Aunque la torre es empinada, la cima es plana y relajante. Lo mejor es quitarme los pies de gato (así se les llama a las zapatillas para escalar roca).

– The summit of West Frigg Tower is surprisingly flat and relaxing. Good place for a picnic. Photo by Lindsay Put
– La cima de la Torre Frigg Oeste es sorprendentemente plana y relajante. Un buen lugar para un picnic

In our week together, I manage to climb five peaks and really enjoy each of them. I’m really looking forward to next year’s camp! I hope there’s less smoke, but I’m sure it will be fun no matter what.

En nuestra semana juntos, logré hacer cinco escaladas y disfruté mucho de la experiencia. Tengo muchas ganas de regresar el año que viene. Espero que haya menos humo, pero sé que va a ser divertido de todas formas.

– Sunset over the Gold Range. Mount Hugin in the background. Photo by Christian Schlumpf
– El anochecer con Monte Hungin al fondo

Edziza – A Volcanic Backpacking Trip

Edziza – A Volcanic Backpacking Trip

Part 1: Edziza Spectrum Range Traverse
Part 2: Crossing the Edziza Plateau
(this post)

Three years after our first trip to Edziza, Jim, Calder, and I are back. This time we’ve got a bigger group. Marilyn (Jim’s partner) as well as Meg and Manrico (Marilyn’s friends) join us for what promises to be another exciting adventure.
Continue reading “Edziza – A Volcanic Backpacking Trip”

Argentina Is Closed

Argentina Is Closed

Argentina está cerrada

I don’t like to give up. For the last two years, I’ve been planning a trip to Argentina to see the December 14 Total Solar Eclipse. When COVID exploded in March, Argentina closed their borders and I realized that it was going to be very difficult, if not impossible, to see the eclipse. In spite of this seemingly impossible situation, I never gave up hope. In the months and weeks leading up to the eclipse, I got in touch with anyone and everyone who might be able to help me get in. Everyone told me the same thing: it was simply impossible, the borders were totally closed, and my dream was crazy. Finally, with only a few days to go, I got in touch with a travel agent who had contact with the Argentine Ministries of Tourism & Immigration. Long story short, that’s how I found myself on an international flight for the first time in nine months. Continue reading “Argentina Is Closed”

2020 in 12 Photos

2020 hasn’t been the best year for travelling, which has been my main theme and focus for the last ten years. Despite that, I did manage to visit five new countries at the beginning of the year before the coronavirus turned into a pandemic and I’ve also learned a new language – español. While I couldn’t travel during most of the year, staying put in Canada gave me the opportunity to explore my own backyard and to spend time with my loved ones.

El 2020 no ha sido el mejor año para viajar, lo que a mí más me gusta hacer. Sin embargo, logré visitar cinco nuevos países y he aprendido a hablar un nuevo idioma – el hermoso español. No pude viajar durante gran parte del año pero eso me permitió conocer mejor mi propia tierra y pasar más tiempo valioso con mis queridos familiares.

– January – A tea ceremony welcomes us to Kinosaki Onsen, Japan
– Enero – ¡Bienvenidos a Kinosaki Onsen, Japón! Una ceremonia de té nos da la bienvenida más cálida

Continue reading “2020 in 12 Photos”

How a pandemic brought me back home

How a pandemic brought me back home

Cómo una pandemia me trajo de regreso a casa

Sometimes life takes us in directions we’d never anticipated. Eight months ago I thought I’d be travelling through South America right now. My plan was to visit all the Spanish-speaking countries on the continent. But that was not to be. All of a sudden, a now infamous virus appeared, completely changing my plans. That’s how I found myself back in Canada, surrounded by beautiful mountains and one of the most celebrated mountain biking trails in the world. Continue reading “How a pandemic brought me back home”

Valhalla Climbing

Valhalla Climbing

After spending a fantastic week canoeing on Slocan Lake, I really wanted to explore the mountains higher up. Valhalla Provincial Park is an alpine paradise that few people ever visit. The interior of the park is hidden by big hills that block the view from the lake and road below. But, believe me, it’s worth the effort to hike up and explore this enchanting place. Continue reading “Valhalla Climbing”

Escaping to Slocan Lake

Escaping to Slocan Lake

While we’re all stuck at home and unable to travel, I’m learning Spanish. This is my first post in that beautiful language. Wish me luck 🙂 Español enseguida…

After three months in “quarantine”, back home in Canada, I really want to travel. At a minimum, I want to go somewhere new, to explore undiscovered hidden gems, even if they’re in my own backyard. So, when Jim invited us to join him for a week on beautiful Slocan Lake, I was delighted.
Continue reading “Escaping to Slocan Lake”