Trip Report: Elizabeth Parker
While the last two ski adventures to Hilda Creek and Wells Grey where safe bets having been to them before for our next trip we decided it was time for something a little more involved and decided to head Lake O'Hara which includes about a 12km approach and we'd never been. The Lake O'Hara area is renowned for it's scenery, and is often mentioned in the same breath as Mt. Assiniboine and Mt. Robson when it comes to the most impressive and beautiful places to visit in the Canadian Rockies.
Unintentionally, however fittingly, our first self powered hut trips with out 2yr old daughter happened to be into two area's named after Elizabeth Parker who is one of the influential Women who left and impact on Canadian Mountaineering. We stayed at the ACC's Elizabeth Parker Lodge on this trip while our previous trip to Hilda Creek Hostel is located below Parker's Ridge named after Elizabeth Parker as well. Elizabeth Parker put her stamp on the Canadian Mountaineering landscape as Journalist who was instrumental in setting up the Alpine Club of Canada. In 1902 Arthur Oliver (A.O.) Wheeler had a vision to start a Canadian Mountaineering Club similar to those in Europe. Hopefully we've started these trips leave her with some inspiration that will help form her into leaving her mark on the world as a someone special.
To try and gain support he reached out to Elizabeth Parker who at the time worked for the Winnipeg Free Press to help garner support through the press, and ultimately she became on of the 6 founding members of the Alpine Club of Canada with the Role as the Clubs first Secretary. She helped lay out the philosophical foundations of the club in the opening article of the first Canadian Alpine Journal (1907): "she saw the club as a protector of the environment, "a national trust for the defense of our mountain solitudes against the intrusion of steam and electricity and all the vandalisms of this luxurious utilitarian age; for the keeping free from the grind of commerce, the wooded passes and valleys and alplands of the wilderness. It is the people's right to have primitive access to the remote places of safest retreat from the fever and the fret of the market place and the beaten tracks of life." She envisioned the group promoting scientific study and cultivating mountain art. It was Parker's fondest dream that mountaineering would promote conservation, patriotism, and moral discipline among Canadians." *wikipedia
We booked into the ACC's Elizabeth Parker Lodge and started to plan our trip. Logistically this trip was a little more involved as the approach is 12 Km's up an access road maintained by Lake O'Hara Lodge groomed for XC Skiing with the ACC hut being located less the 500metres from the groomed trail. Without children I would classify this trip as an easy trip/approach into a stunning area. However 12KMs with a fair amount of elevation in the last 4 KMs made the planning a little more intense.
The main factors to plan around where 1) Keeping toddlers warm and entertained enough over the 3 to 5 hour approach. (With a fairly good likely hood of having to call of the trip due to being to cold as we find much colder then the minus 10 to 15 range is difficult to keep a toddler warm for a long period in a Chariot) 2) Packing in all the necessities for a family result in quite a bit of gear to take along.
The first piece of planning was how to get the gear and kids up. After discussion with a few friends that have hauled their kids around in the backcountry the decisions (which I think turned out be the best options.) was for Mike to pull a double chariot for the kids. It's comfortable, closes up well to keep them warmer and since the track is groomed 95% of the way it would pull well. Then I was going to set up Pulk to pull the gear and the kids around the cabin where there wasn't a packed in trail. The Chariots are great on a Groomed trail like you'd find at a Nordic ski center however anyone who's tried to pull a chariot off trail through some fresh snow knows they become the equivalent of a boat anchor and love to tip.
In regards to Pulks I looked a few options from Ground up Builds to ordering Expedition Pulks and after exploring the cost of a home build I settled on a mid road option of buying a Paris Expedition Pulk from Home Hardware for the $25 and then ordering a pole kit from
The extra cost of purchasing the kit from Skipulk.com was minimal in relations and machine time to do all the work myself, and owner the amazing to deal with ensuring what had exactly what needed in time for our trip.
As it appears with all the family adventures with a toddler some surprise challenges always pop up with previous trips being nearly cancelled for Chest Infections, a Scratched Retina, and this time the lead in to the trip featured was a 6 to 8 week chest cough/infections for both Rae and I slowing us all down. However with everyone recovered just in time we headed for the Lake Louise Alpine Club Hostel to shorten the drive the next morning. We explore the ice sculptures and played in the snow the kids around the Chateau Lake Louise for the afternoon, before grabbing a dinner and Pint at Bill Peyto Cafe at the Hostel before getting everyone tucked into bed.
It should of been expected that a few more surprise where to come surrounding this trips with A toddler, a 4 yr old, Mike having only been cleared from his surgeon a couple weeks prior for the trip as a result of a back surgery and Jess being almost 7 months Pregnant but hey *shrugs shoulders* where's the fun in a trip without a little uncertainty thrown in.
Well surprise number 1 of the trip arose before we even woke up that morning when Rae decided 3AM was a good time to wake up that morning and in attempt to keep everyone else from getting alpine start I took Rae out to the common area to play until everyone woke up in the morning.
After breakfast we loaded everyone up and headed for the trail head.
A few tips we learnt early on, is if you plan to try and have a toddler sit in a Chariot for 3 to 5 hours.
a) don't make them sit in the car for 2 to 3 hours first.
b) plan it through nap time and cross your fingers they sleep a little.
c) Bring Cheerios..... LOTS OF CHEERIOS!!!!!
If the stars align and they get a good nap, and they snack on Cheerios for a good half hour you may be lucky and experience minimal crying behind you (or in this case behind Mike as I may or may not have strategically choose to pull the load that didn't cry, ask questions, or get hungry.)
Ultimately Rae waking up early may have worked in favor as she feel asleep shortly after we left the parking lot and slept for probably 2/3rds of the trip. Allowing Adam to ski the first couple KMs with a little tow assist from his dad behind the chariot till he was tired out and wanted to jump in the chariot with Rae.
I'm not going to lie the approach to cabin with the load turned into a long hard day. To head into Elizabeth Parker on Nordic Skis with 50Ltr pack would be beautiful 3 or so hours ski at a relaxed pace. However with hundred plus lbs of gear in tow for each of Mike and I, where Mike choose a mix of snow shoeing and Nordic skies while opted for my Ski Touring Gear Skins and we had a 5hr slog into the cabin.
Ultimately it was worth every step as once we arrived at the EP Hut we where greeted to stunning vista's, with perfect temperature and everything we love about the "Hut Life".
EP Hut itself is a gorgeous log cabin which features a well appointed cook area, then a principal sleeping and lounging area in the Main Cabin and a second sleeping cabin. With kids the second sleeping cabin worked perfect for us a we could have a separate sleeping area and not disturb others at the cabin if the kids woke up. Heat in both cabins is by wood stove, with the options for creek water or snow melt for drinking.
After you've arrived at the hut there's a lot of terrain to explore, all of which is stunning no matter the direction you head out on. However I'd struggle choosing what gear to take in as the approach to the cabins lends itself best to Nordic Gear, however once you arrive at the cabin there aren't set trails meaning adventuring will enjoyed much more on Touring Gear or Snowshoes. As much the touring gear slowed me down on the approach it was ideal for pulling the kids around in the pulk through powder or narrow tracks set by others. If I was heading back in the winter I assume it would be with a few days to explore and as result would would focus on my Touring Set Up (Ideally a light touring set up vs. 115mm skis) to maximize the exploring potential.
The area's views lived up to expectations, and if someone asked would you return the answer is definitely. If someone asked if I will return with two kids I'd say probably not till one can get up on their own power unless I had a team of Sherpa Friends without kids joining me to share load ;).
Trip Report: Hilda Creek
When we began planning Family Backcountry Adventures for the winter with Jess being pregnant again and Rae being more mobile. We here looking for some slightly different adventures then the last winters family Heli-Drop into a backcountry cabin with the family and some friends for some backcountry skiing.
First and foremost Jess and I are expecting an addition to our little adventure family in the spring and Rae being a lot more mobile we wanted to plan a few trips that had lots to do close to the cabin.
Secondly we wanted the opportunity to test and refine some backcountry access/travel options with kids and no mechanical access.
After having spent a New Years at Hilda Creek Hostel a few years back we figured it would be an ideal location to meet the first requirement.
First a note of caution the terrain around Hilda Creek features a lot of Avalanche terrain, so please ensure you know basics to at least be able to identify where is safe and where isn't safe to play in this area. Hilda Creek is about as perfect a location I can think of for family winter backcountry adventures located in a gorgeous area along the Icefield Parkway only a few KM's from the Icefield Centre. In the summer this is an extremely busy area due to the Grandeur and Beauty of the area. In the winter however this area transforms to your own private backcountry playground with minimal traffic.
The hostel itself is a great size for two families with just the right amount of amenities to remain comfortable in the winter but simple enough to allow you to experience the backcountry cabin experience. The cabin is just the right size for two families with a small cook cabin and eating area and a separate bunk cabin that has 5 single and 1 double bed.
In regards to amenities the cabin is heated by propane, has some small LEDs connect to a solar power system for evening light, and water is generally snow melt in the winter (there is a creek that is accessible as well a little further from the cabin that was open however melting snow was more convenient.) To keep your food fresh there's "underground cooler storage"which is accessed from inside the cabin, a propane cook-top for your cooking needs, and a kitchen stocked well enough that you can leave plates, pots, cutlery at home.
To tie all of it together the ski in is only a few hundred meters from the highway being just the right distance for kids to appreciate the adventure of getting in to the cabin, but close enough to justify bringing fresh food and making doing a couple Sherpa trips to bring the gear in nice and easy.
In addition to the amazing scenery, and balance of just enough comfort what really sets this hostel apart in the is the ease of access to having fun. For younger children you can toboggan right by the cabin, the Strang family who was with us put in a near Olympic level luge track, the 2 Meter snowpack allowed for some EPIC cave building. The mellow trees above the cabin would allow for adult rope tows for some older kids to ski as well as some relatively mellow terrain on Parker's Ridge that can be accessed from the Cabin.
For the older ones in the group there's some great ski laps to be had off of Hilda's shoulder or exploring Parkers Ridge provides some great views for a couple adults to sneak away for some Adult fun and there's some bigger ski and mountain objectives a short drive away from the cabin if a couple adults are looking for more of a challenge for a day.
If your adventuring heart desires some more exploring I recommend getting into car and driving the short distance to the Icefield Center Area where from there you can ski or snowshoe into Wilcox Pass or even head up to the toe of the glacier from the Icefield Center to which is in stark contract with the summer months you will most likely have the entire valley to yourselves.
A colleague recently inquired after looking at these albums "how do you keep the kids from getting bored and driving you crazy." Which is an interesting questions to me as it's never crossed my mind. I'm used to all the usual questions about logistics, and generally quick to answer. However this left me to pause and think. First I think that is one of the greatest things with taking kids into these areas as you quickly realize that leaving the kids to explore and use their imagination 100% unplugged with limited toys is they don't need all the stimulation and organization we often plan for them as parents. Secondly, is what some simple craft ideas can do to keep kids entertained for hours. Which I have the say we are quickly learning from the Strang's as they have mastered the art of backcountry craft night.
Another plus is finding other families with similar aged kids to come along as the kids imaginations combine together to create all sorts fun you couldn't imagine yourself.
With another great adventure filed to our memories Rae on my back Yelling faster daddy, catch mommy while skied..... The laughter that followed after throwing her into the deep powder around the cabin...... The smiles as she tobogganed with Mommy or watching her first backcountry ski on her skis you realize that in many ways the adventures have changed and may be a less "extreme" but the reward of exploring the mountains remains the same. I may even argue a little more rewarding sharing the love of the adventure with your child.
Trip Report: Canada Day on Maligne Lake
When we dreamed of the adventures in parenting, we didn't only dream of adding a wonderful child, the energy, the sincere smiles, genuine laughter, and the innocent happiness a child brings to our lives. We dreamed of how those moments would add to our mountain adventure and how special sharing these amazing places we connect with, the serenity that exist in the world outside of our busy lives society teaches us is the norm and the life skills adventuring in the wilderness provides.
Backcountry camping is one of those place where we both feel the happiest and has been one of the activities (maybe even defining lifestyle choices) that defined us and our relationship. Case in point our honeymoon was a 10 day 220 KM backpacking trip through the Rockies.
However multi-day backpacking trips with a baby, diapers, clothes for a 3rd person is quite the endeavor, so when we started talk to Sean and Jessie and about Canada Plans and they mentioned paddling on Maligne Lake with the families we jump to tag along. I apologize in advanced to the avid canoer's out there, but really canoeing is like the car camping version of backcountry camping making it a perfect way to test waters for backcountry camping with our little girl. Plus what would be a more Canadian way to spend Canada day then Canoeing in mediocre weather in the Canadian Rockies.
So we loaded the car and trailer and headed towards Jasper for a a weekend of camping at Hidden Cove Campground - Also known as the Mike Wynn Family Paddle Camp.
Hidden Cove Campground has only been available for reservation for the last 2 years. The new campground on Maligne Lake was created with the goal of providing some easy access backcountry camping for families or new paddlers and they've hit the nail right on the head.. Navigation to the campground is straight forward with options to follow the shoreline for safety and added comfort, the distance is only 4KMs from the boat launch which is about an hours paddle at a leisurely pace, and 4 good size and level tent pads keeping the population density nice and low ;), the 4 wall Cook Shelter making it easy to deal with inclement weather and of course the stunning views Maligne Lake is known for.
The wonderful cook shelter proudly displays, Mike Wynn Family Paddle Camp as parks canada remembers a warden who lead the parks Water-Rescue Program in the early 2000's. Warden Wynn passed away in an Avalanche incident while doing some Avalanche Risk Assessment work in 2002 after 13 Years working for parks. The campground and enjoyment young families are getting from this site is certainly a fitting honor for someone who was an avid paddler and father.
Our biggest challenge when planning this trips is always the drive. The idea keeping our Daughter entertained outdoors is generally easy with a the big world to explore. She seemed excited to try the boat after a few dry runs playing in and around it in the backyard, and we knew once at the Campsite there'd be plenty to explore. However, strapping a 1.5 year old into a car seat for 1000KMs over the period of a long weekend can sometimes be a challenge. We planned to take a whole day to complete the 500KM drive each way and stop a lot to play, stretch and run and all in all I'm glad to report the drive went fairly well with the odd burst of tears but nothing a few books, stuffies, and stops couldn't solve.
As much as the drive wasn't as difficult on our daughter as expected the first unexpected challenge of our trip happened as we stopped for an Americano at Trailheads in Lake Louise and to let out Rae run around by the river where she managed to scratch my Cornea with waving hands. I managed the finish the drive and set up camp however in the morning I awoke to an extremely irritated eye resulting in visit to emergency delaying our departure for a few hours. Our adventuring friends for the weekend of Sean and Jessie with their two children where also accommodating and took advantage to check out the Canada Parade in the rain with their family as I got some antibiotic eye drops and eye freezing goopy stuff to take care of my problem.
The rest of the trip went smoothly with calm waters for the paddle to camp which did in about an hour and to the signing of Row Row Row your boat from the our captain sitted in the front of out canoe between my wife's legs, in time to set up camp and have dinner. Hidden cove proved to be a perfect place to camp with a couple families with plenty of room for the kids to play and a well set up campground. The older kids enjoyed exploring the campground, fishing from the dock, and playing games. While our little adventure to a liking to picking pine cones to throwing them off the dock.
"Daddy...... More Pine cones..... I Like Pine cones"
The campground is also situated with many little picnic area's and enclaves to explore a short paddle away, while you are spending time at the campsite to get away from camp and explore. The piece that never seems to be able to be ignored on trips like these are the people and families you meet and spend them with at the camp. Adventuring not only with your family, but our friends Sean and Jessie who could compete for the Alberta Adventure parents of year awards as well as meeting new friends (it's amazing how easy it is to make friends with a bottle of Scotch.) who happened to be friends of Jess' Aunt and Uncle in Edmonton who where out celebrating a birthday.
When all was said and done and the camp was packs one moment summed up the weekend as a success when I asked Rae if she was ready to go home and the reply I got was.....
"No Daddy.....More Boat... More Tent"
The moment was sealed the that extra effort in doing this trips as a family are well worth it.
What suggestions do I have for families look to complete a similar trip.
1) For backcountry lovers who haven't tried Canoeing with their families, do it. It's a perfect bridge between front country camping and backcountry hiking as you can bring books, diapers, more luxurious food (we even brought the Coleman and stove top espresso maker.
2) As much as I describe this trip as a nice easy family adventure don't underestimate that you are paddling on a large body of water that the weather can whip up quickly, and you are still backcountry camping in mountain weather patterns.
3) Plan and Book Early, this site has already became a very popular site and Sean booked this minutes after the booking period opened.
4) Make sure to pack sufficient extra's for your child, i.e. lots of layers, two pairs of water proof pants, at least two sets of toques and mittens maybe three. But don't over pack on the toys and distraction. Let them enjoy their imagination and the outdoors. We always travel with couple books, a couple stuffies, and paper and crayons. But that's about it.
5) PLAN A FLEXIBLE Schedule, when travelling with toddler nothing goes to plan ha. Make a plan with a lot play time and buffer time and go with the flow.
6) Stick to a schedule, changes in environment will be a lot easier if your toddler is still getting meals, and naps on the same schedule as home.
7) Remember how even the simple things can be EPIC, like picking Pine Cones at a campsite 4KM from the boat the launch... "More Pine Cones Daddy..... I like Pine Cones.
Trip Report - Family Hut Trip to Wells Grey
Transitioning to fatherhood has created many new adventures, however staying committed to our backcountry lifestyle we love was a priority of Jess and I's when we started planning a family. One of my goals was to go on a backcountry ski trip, to an off the grid cabin before our daughter turned two. Having previously stayed at the Trophy Chalet in Wells Grey Provincial Park and knowing the terrain and cabins, we decided to plan our first big backcountry adventure to the Trophy Chalet, knowing the layout and sleeping arrangement could be managed with an almost toddler. The cabin has with Solar Lighting, Propane Stove and Heating to keep things comfortable, water comes from melting snow and the setting gorgeous and remote with great ski terrain out the door varying from Mellow Glades to Steep Chutes. Add in a dependable snow pack and sounded like a slam dunk. The other piece puzzle is we knew the area well enough that if the something went wrong and we needed to get Rae out for any reason and the weather didn't allow for a helicopter, I was confident I could manage the ski out Rae in a chest carrier safely.
Before the trip even started we ran into our first challenge almost forcing us to cancel the trip. Rae caught a bad chest infection and had to be on antibiotics till the day before we where supposed to fly into the Chalet. A quick re-evaluation of our plan to make sure we felt it was safe to take Rae in, and confirming that we where still comfortable with our ability to ski Rae out in an emergency as the risk of needing to do so had just increased. After a follow up visit with our doctor and convincing both the doctor and pharmacist to let us take an un-mixed prescription into the backcountry in case it was needed we decided to go ahead with our plan.
We set off on the drive, the plan was to split it over two days to keep things relaxed and allow little Rae plenty of time to stretch her legs. We armed ourselves with three toddler sing along CD's , a stack of books, more stuffies then a toddler can snuggle we where on the road.
After an overnight in Revelstoke and fueling on Espresso and food from La Baguatte, we headed to Clearwater.
A lot of questions where asked of us on the logistics of having a young child away from what many call necessities we live with today. But in reality what are children's needs; food, love, a bath once in a while, and play time. They don't need electricity, phones, cars, computers, and all the other things.... and to be honest if most adults are like myself this holds true for us as well. Nothing's better then letting the stresses of life disappear and replacing them with simplicity, good company, adventure and excitement that comes from disconnecting and heading into the wilderness with friends.
For those curious about the logistics of what was brought: Rae's Playpen to sleep in as the sleeping area is a semi open common area, two snow suits, two sets of winter boots, gloves, hats, daily clothes, the Tupperware bin we brought our food in doubled as a bath tub, Rae eats what we do so that was easy, a few books, crayons and a note book to color in and couple stuffies for her to play with and that was about it. As creative as most almost toddler aged kids minds are they find fun in anything new in their surroundings. Rae trying to phone Grandpa through my Altimeter was one of my favorites.
Trophy Chalets terrain close the chalet provided an ideal playground for us, as half day laps where easy to do and switch of between who had the privilege to stay and play with Rae, and enough terrain near the cabin void of avalanche risk to play outside in the ... "Iiiiiiccy" world according to Rae... As she would caution us in her little concerned voice whenever we went outside to ski.
And for the question many of you are begging to ask about is... how was the skiing.... and the answer's SHREDTACULAR. This is our second time in Wells Grey and both trips are ranked as some of the ski days and snow I've skied. We arrived to two days of consistent snow to bury the previous groups tracks and first tracks everywhere with 30cms of new "champagne" powder and another 10 or so CMs fell after our arrival. Leaving us of Lap upon Lap of high fives, woots and hollers, and generally the stuff ski dreams and ski movies are made of. Here's a few photos that will do more for your then my story telling skills.
Part of this trip was to prove to ourselves our dream of living a life of adventure in the mountains with a young family, wasn't only possible but rewarding and nowhere near as hard as many people try and tell you it will be. Looking back on our trip I can confirm it was worth every extra bit of planning required. I can't think of anything that would make for a better day then being greeted by that big smile and little voice from my little Sunshine waddling towards the door going "Daaaadyyyy" in the backcountry after chasing powder in the mountains. With winter at it's end, I can't wait for a summer to be filled with the adventures ahead.
2016 Ascend Splitfest
The Ascend Splitfest is always one of the highlights of my winter. The event isn't only organized by a great team but it seems to draw in a group of amazing people and somehow for the last two years in the middle of the winters draught of snow Geoff and Lukas must make a packed with the devil cause they seem to find a Pow Days to shred.
Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 2.8, Nikkor 70-200 F4, BCA Float 32
The last bike shoot of the Year was with Wreckless Racing. Southern Alberta's Enduro team. I met them in their back yard of Crowsnest Pass to shoot on some of their local trails. With Riders the 2nd place finishers in both the Pro Men's and Pro Women's overall of the BC Enduro Series, combined with some old friends I used to race with I knew I'd be in for be in for a fun shoot.
Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 2.8, and Evoc Photo Scout Pack
2015 Okotoks Cyclo Cross
2015's Cyclocross Season Kicked off with some great racing and after a gorgeous week leading into the weekend, traditional cyclocross weather greeted us with over 30mm's of Rain in 24hrs. This made the challenge of the day keeping myself, Camera Gear and the front of the lens dry. After 10 Hours in consistent rain and fighting both the rain and the humidity under the Rain Cover we ended up with a great album capturing the event and spirit of Cross.
Nikon D750, Lens Nikon 70 - 200 F2.8
Full album can be found at
Aiden Greanya 2015 Shoot
Part of what I love about the photography business isn't the pictures but the people you get to be involved with. The Greanya family who contacted me to do a shoot with their 11 yr son Aiden and having had a soft spot with helping youth grow and develop having coached mountain biking on and off for many years I jumped at the opportunity to work with this young ripper!
Gear Used Nikon D750, Lense Nikkor 24-70 F2.8, Pack Evoc Photo Scout.
Prairie Girls Racing Team Shoot
Got out for a team Photoshoot with the Girls from Prairie Girls Racing. If you haven't heard of them check them out PGR's Website and follow them Facebook. The PGR familly are a great bunch of girls who not only know how to have fun on a bike, but are great ambassadors for the sport, advocates of women in racing, and race bikes flat out. Luckily for me they where at ease in front of a camera as well. If there's anyone out there looking for some extra exposure for their business hook up with PGR cause these girls know how to rep a product. A snowy night prevented us from getting the riding shots we wanted and we had to rain check those till a little later in the season. Stay tuned for part 2 in a few weeks when I get to capture these girls going flat out!!!.
For those curious on technical side of the shots and what I was looking for and thinking during the photos here's a little more details.
Camera: Nikon D750
Lenses: Nikkor 24-70 2.8, (Headshot Setting: 70mm, ISO 100, F2.8, Other Shots Variable Seetings
Location Bragg Creek Station Flats.
Lighting was simply the available light, however a I should of brought a reflector or speedlight along for the headshots to balance the lighting on Girls vs. the background a little better and gain a little clarity on the eyes.
The thought was to find a location that tied in with the the Prairie Girls Racing team name, marketing and direction. Bragg Creek was chosen as a destination for a few reasons.
1) It's one of, if not the, premier riding location in Alberta, the home province of the majority of the riders.
2) I wanted a location that would allow me to get some head shots with a Prairie theme and as Kananaskis has a Cattle Grazing Lease in the area and there's Cattle Corral off one of the parking lots I knew I could some good head shots with a nice back lighting in morning.
3) I wanted somewhere with lots of room to spread out and have fun and get a variety of pictures. Such as the Bike Shots in the second Album below and allow it to look like they where shot at multiple locations.
4) The weather didn't the permit us, however if it had we could got a full spectrum of riding shots for both the XC and Downhill Racers in the same area.
If you have any questions drop me a line.
Dustin ~ RoadtoNowhere Photography
2015 Ascend Splitfest
I was invited to attend the Ascend Splitboard Festival again this year as a photographer and quickly jumped at the opportunity to be part of this events second year. The Ascend team hits the sweet spot between adventure, education, community and balancing the needs of veterans and backcountry first timers. But ultimately the biggest reason to attend this event is the amazing people this event brings together.
This year saw riders come from as far as Toronto form the East and Nelson from the west join together to share a love for the mountains and stoke to Shred some of Jasper National Parks premier terrain. I'll get you started with a few highlights photos.
This years event built on the format form last year with two days ridding in Jaspers Maligne Lake area to get familiar with the group and the weekend was capped with a climb boundary glacier. The evening events where graciously hosted by the Astoria Hotel in Jasper where 2,500 dollars where raised for the Canandian Avalanche Association.
I look forward to hearing about what this team has to deliver next year as little birdy told me there's bigger and better things in store for 2016.
EVENT SUMMARY - BC Enduro Series:KR Race 1 Canmore
My original plan was to race the first Enduro of the Kootenay-Rockies BC Enduro Series in Canmore this weekend, but unfortunately I took an awkward trip over the bars last weekend that's left my wrist, forearm and elbow a little mangled and I had to bow out of the competition. However Sunday we planned to get out for a a quick morning road ride, and then heading out to get behind the lens and cheer on some friends. Unfortunately by the time I got up to Nordic Centre post ride I missed the Pro Men and Women however the open men still gave a chance to get a few good shots!
At the end of the weekend it was obvious that these events are going to do nothing but grow in popularity! The event combined the fun and adrenaline of 5 downhill start gates and pushing your limits with camaraderie we love as mountain bikers between stages in a well organized fun event I look forward to racing in next year.
TRIP REPORT - Mountaineering Skills 2 with Cloud Nine Guides
We got out for a second weekend Mike the owner of Cloud Nine Guides in Canmore for some more practice with some rope skills around Banff and Kananaskis working on more short roping, crevasse rescue, and anchors coming away with a lot of knowledge gained over two days in one of the best classroom in the world "the Canadian Rockies". Once again Mike and Cloud Nine where amazing to work with and I look forward to getting out with him again.
TRIP REPORT - Alaskan Spring Pilgrimage (Part 1-Intro and Hatchers Pass)
I can't remember where I heard the quote "Live Vicariously Through Yourself". However it has stuck with me as one of my life motto's chasing dreams and adventures. The moto has influenced many great adventures including trips such as a week paddling trip along the Saguenay Fjord and St Lawrence River, cycling and paddling the coast of Newfoundland, hiking 220km over 10 days through some of the Rocky Mountains, and multiple winters backcountry skiing and mountaineering in the Canadian Rockies. Ultimately however, the moto reminds me to live life to it's fullest every day, chase my dreams and to continue pushing the envelope on my adventures.
After continuously reading about the pilgrimage many ski industry professional take, the visuals the ski movie industry provide us and ultimately the allure of the Alaskan Wilderness, I decided it was time to explore the Alaskan Front Ranges. Namely the Chugach, Talkeena's and Kenai ranges, known to most for many epic Heli-Skiing film segments. However our plan was to experience the area the only way you can get the true feel for the mountains, their presence, and true persona by backcountry skiing in the front range earning every turn.
As fall approached, plans where ironed out for an affordable ($1,250 approx. each all in for 10 days unguided), friends where roped into the adventure, and the planning process began. The trip came together quickly as we secured and RV for 10 Days allowing us the flexibility to chase the best ski conditions and adjust plans throughout the trip. Next I contacted a local guide and legend Joe Stock to discuss ski options and get a copy of his guide book for the Front Ranges: The Alaska Factor, and finally studying maps to get familiar with zones and we where ready to ski. With flights booked from Calgary to Alaska the groundwork for the trip was layed out for what we hoped was to be another adventure.
Jon, Jess and I flew in an a day early to take in anchorage and get everything set up. We where treated to a great city, filled with amazing, helpful and genuine people. Anchorage is definitely a city I'll recommended as a must visit to non skiers and skiers alike. The city may look a little rough on the exterior, but the heart of the city is one with a great vibe filled with good food, shops, and microbrews. A few highlights of Anchorage was the waterfronts views, The Glacier Brewhouse, Alaska Mountaineering and Hiking, SKI AK and finally Kalahdi Brothers Coffee. Kalahdi Brothers is certainly the best option to feed your caffeine addiction, serving good espresso and decent coffee. (*I wouldn't rank it in my list of best Roasters in North America but definitely the better roaster I found in the area).
Day 2 is where the real adventure began! We picked up and stocked our new 30ft home on wheels for the next 10 days, rounded up our two European representatives who arrived over night and we where off to our first two days at Hatchers Pass. Hatcher's offers lots of easy access options a short skin right from the parking lot with everything from beginner/intermediate runs within an hours climb of the parking lot, to movie segment worthy steeps off of the NW side of Marmot.
This was a great playground to get the trip started and stoke level high! However, if you are planning a trip keep in mind that Hatchers pass gets very different weather patterns then the rest of Alaska. The area gets snow early fall in copious amounts resulting in great early season skiing often as early as October. But Hatchers see's little to no snowfall in the core winter months taking this option of the map till spring season where the easy access to slopes of all aspect making it a perfect area for corn snow skiing allowing you to take advantage of the access to all aspects. Well planed tours allow for South East Corn before lunch, followed by an afternoon West facing line and completing a tour with a late day north facing line will provide full days of great spring skiing.
Our first day we arrived at 4PM and managed to get a 4 hr ski heading up Skyscraper Mountain offering our first lines of the trip, and a lap around the abandoned mine with plenty of time for dinner at RV with 2 hrs of daylight left.
The Second Day we did a tour of Hatch Peak and some laps of the Bald Mountain Ridge for a great 8 hr tour taking advantage of the ease of access to all aspects for three great runs!