Day Three July 22, 2007
Up at a ridiculously early hour, Zak Leslie and I headed off to the overpass by Norquay to meet up with the rest of the Yamnuska group. Then all in a row, we traveled on to Lake Louise, arriving around 8:30 at the strip mall for a cup of coffee and some pastry. A quick drive up the hill to an unusually empty parking lot put us at the Chateau and the real beginning of the day.
We packed up out gear and walked past the Chateau and along the west side of the lake until we reached the Outhouse Wall. There we followed the trail along the base of the climbs and dropped out gear. Tom had us try and find the two climbs he was setting us up on as practice deciphering guide books without the aid of bolts, and then, while we practiced building anchors, they set up 2 topropes. One on Tomcat (5.3) and one on Rain Dog (5.5). Everyone practiced placing gear and getting expertly criticized by Tom and John and generally having a great learning experience.
Leslie tries out Tomcat while one of our classmates is working on Rain Dog
Zak placing gear near the anchors on Rain Dog.
After a bit the guides set up another toprope further down the hill on Pub Night (5.6) which we just toproped as ther ewasn’t gear to spare. Lots of fun with some jams and laybacks… Incidentally, Pub Night was just beside a route called Wicked Gravity (5.11a) which had a rope hung above it. A couple of weeks later I found out it was a project of Sonny Trotter’s and that he finally sent it a few weeks after, calling it a solid 5.14. See Monkey Off My Back
Since Leslie was headed home that night we quit early, made arrangements to meet Tom the next morning for our “plus day” and walked back around the lake to the car.
Right above Zak’s head is the band of rock called Outhouse Wall.
After we got back to the hostel, we packed Leslie up and waved goodbye. Doug was reading in the lounge, so we collected him and headed into town for a bite. The restaurant we decided on had homemade pop and Zak picked up a couple of bottles of wicked black cherry coke. That pretty much ended the day as we 3 (Doug, Zak and Bruce) headed back to the Hostel for a decent nights sleep.
Day Four July 23, 2007
Up early again, we snagged a quick breakfast and the 3 of us headed back to the Norquary turnoff to meet Tom. Then we convoyed back into Banff and around Tunnel Mountain to its base. Doug snapped a quick picture of us and then took the truck into town to spend the day hiking and exploring.
Tom, Zak and I at the base with Tunnel Mountain behind us.
After a pretty flat and short approach we found the base of Gooseberry (7 pitches, 5.9 trad). Tom showed us his pack, including first aid kit and radio. and briefed us on the system. He would lead the pitches and simul-belay Zak and I about 10-15 ft apart using an atc guide. So up he went, followed by Zak and then me.
Zak starts the first pitch of Gooseberry.
This went on for a few pitches of awesome climbing. We quickly noticed that the black rubber of our climbing shoes absorbed the heat quickly on these exposed belay ledges and we were soon standing around in bare feet halfway up the side of a mountain.
The view from pitch 4
One of the pitches (the 6th I believe) was a bolted 5.9. There were plenty of other interesting features and moves thoughout the climb, including climbing on some fossilized sea life which provided some great footholds. It was interesting to climb with a pack on as you are continually banging your head into it and the weight distribution is completely off. Zak and I got a good start on the sunburns we would continue to foster throughout the trip. At the top of the climb we noticed another party following us and Tom had a chat with a fellow guide from 30m above. Since there was only 2 of them they had been constantly gaining on us. There was a short scramble to the top of Tunnel Mountain and we sat, rested and enjoyed the view for a few moments.
I did most of the belaying, although Zak took a turn on one pitch
After we packed up we headed down the trail smiling at all the tourists who were hoofing it up, knowing we’d one it the hard way. We chatted on the way down about climbing and goals and generally had a nice visit. At the base of the trail on Tunnel Mtn Road, we handed the ropes over to Tom, said thanks and bid him adieu. He headed back to his car and we headed down through the Banff School to the townsite. We wandered around a bit, got a drink in the food court and then improbably ran into Doug an hour early as he was passing by.
After a bit of a visit, we packed up our stuff in the truck, stopped in at a gear shop to ogle cams, picked up some groceries and headed off to Lake Louise to set up camp. There was a long line up of cars and I was grateful I had made reservations for the first 4 or 5 days of the trip. Camp went together fairly quickly as we started to sort out systems and then after a nice fire, we retired for the night.
Night one of our camping adventure at Lake Louise.