I have to say that Day 9 was probably the grumpiest of all the days on the trip. We were still settling into a “what should we do now” mode and the decompression feature of the holiday mode hadn’t quite hit. Besides that I really wanted to climb and it just wasn’t in the cards.
Anyway we woke up and packed up the camp. We were getting pretty good at it by now and the truck was quickly filled to capacity. Doug wanted to head into Fort Steele so off we went back through Cranbrook and up the highway. At his point I hadn’t much interest in walking around an old “fort” as I had spent many a weekend at Fort Edmonton and was really thinking “same old, same old”. But it was Doug’s turn to choose and that’s what he choosed. We wandered in and headed over to the old RCMP barracks and read about the history of the fort. As we left there, we came around the corner, and the view was quite spectacular; you started to get a feeling for what it must have been like to be in such a large valley but still be isolated almost completely by the mountains.
After a while the mood mellowed and we had a nice time visiting the various buildings and displays. One of the nice things about traveling with Doug and Zak was if it was worth a look but not a long look, you could visit but still clear out at a reasonable time. So we did.
After we left the Fort we headed back into Cranbrook to visit a rail museum we had seen on the way by. Doug and I both like trains (personally I think it’s because of our many visits to the National Science Museum on Ottawa when we were young) The Candian Museum of Rail Travel is off mainstreet and features tons of old railcars and maps and stuff. The bad thing was it was by guided tour only and consisted of a tour guide taking you to a car and playing a tape. Needless to say this did not appeal to Doug at all. I talked him into staying for at least the next short tour and we took a gander at the Soo-Spokane Train Deluxe (1907). The cars are still in pretty bad shape, but the luxury was apparent. Doug tried to enjoy himself but I think in the end it was more a disappointment than fun.
Well then it was time to hit the road with Doug at the wheel.. off we went down the #3 towards Creston and beyond. I pretty much zoned out on this portion of the trip and did a bit of reading and resting. When next I started to pay attention we were just outside of Creston in a town called Erickson and I saw my first ever orchard. A cherry orchard to be precise…very Chekovian I thought, but there was no sign of Russian aristocrats slowly decaying. We decided to head north and take the ferry across Kootenay Lake from Kootenay Bay to Balfour. The 3a north is one of those twisty windy roads that a posted speed limit is really redundant because betwen the curves and the slow traffic you can’t really maintain any sort of headway. On that route north we did pass the house made out of glass bottles that you often read about in the “backroads of…” books.
Well we arrived in Kootenay Bay just in time to see a ferry pull in, but unfortunately there were enought people in front of us that we had to wait until the next one. It was a gorgeous day so we wandered a bit and then sat in the shade reading.
After a couple of hours we boarded the ferry and were crammed on there like sardines. I am totally amazed that there weren’t scraped sides down every vehicle on board.
Standing up top was interesting, listening to people talk nonsense about the lake or the one guy who was sure the markers on an electrical line that crossed the lake in the distance were float planes as he tried in vain to convince his kid that was what he was seeing. There was obviously a forest fire just over the mountains and the smoke streamed across the sky and it made a awesome sight as the slowly lowering sun hit it.
Well I took over driving in Balfour and we made out way toward Castlegar without stopping. There was some beautiful country and I would love to go back (especially with a boat) but eventually we pulled into the outskirts of our destination and started looking fora campsite. A sign directed us north of the city to a small privat-ish campground with showers called Pass Creek Regional Park Campground. So we pulled in, met the custodians, and set up camp.
The place had a bit of a wasp problem, but was nice enough. One of the custodians came by to collect some cash and we asked about climbing. She had never heard of any, but I showed here my map from rc.com and she pointed out the basic directions to me. I opted for a hot shower, but the rest decided to wait until morning. After a bit of high quality Zak-chopping, dinner and a fire ensued followed by the old folks retiring to bed for a rest.
Day 10 started with breakfast and a shower for some and we hopped into the truck to head off and see what we could see. After a bit of loop-de-looping we found the visitor centre and picked up some maps of the area and then it was climbing time! I had found a reference to Waterline Wall online and was anxious to climb on something not limestone. We head up the hill bit and turned towards a school. A couple of hundred yards down the road it ended at the start of a walking path. The was a long ridge to the right that I’m pretty sure the was gneiss. We followed it down a ways looking for bolts and trying to match thngs up with the guide book sheets I had downloaded. We chatted with a few climbers and got the beta and eventually found the “Big Boulder” area I wanted to climb.
So we walked back to the truck to gear up and Doug decided to follow the path and see what was what. Zak and I set up on Deep Throat, a 5.9 sport climb the went up a big chimney to emerge around an arete and finish on a short low angle face.
It was a scorchng hot day but an awesome climb. I lead it first and then Zak lead it after. Unfortunately as I was pulling the rope, something went wrong and the end tangled or knotted itself. This meant we couldnt’t retrieve our rope. Zak refused to volunteer to head back to the truck, so I manfully headed out into the hot sun to get the 2nd rope.
Me up at the finish of the climb
When I got back we set up again and I lead the whole thing all over. Still, it was an awesome climb and well worth doing twice. Doug had showed up agin during the climbing and spent his time experimenting with shooting pictures through his binoculars and the results were pretty darn good.
Zak working the chimney as seen through Doug’s funky telephoto system
All the excitement and heat tired us out so we called it a day and headed into town. There is a suspension bridge that crosses the river to an old mennonite site so we stopped for a quick walk and a photo-op.
That pretty much ended the day as we headed back to camp for a quiet night with a reprise of the dinner-and-a-fire theme before calling it a day.