For my 2014 Father's day gift my family gave me the best present ever - a privately guided trad climbing course from Yamnuska Mountain Adventures. Our guide for the weekend was Cian Brinker, an affable and very knowledgeable local rock climbing guide from Canmore.
There are many different ways to learn new skills in the mountains. The most important one, by far, is the skill that only comes through experience. It's only when you put boots to rock that you really start learning. But every once in a while you realize that you're getting into territory where you could probably stand to "sit in the classroom" for a bit. After climbing 1/3 of the 11000ers, with half an eye on at least another 1/3, I started thinking that maybe it was time to learn some good trad climbing techniques including;
My three amigos from Edmonton, Ben, Eric and Steven were all keen on sharing the guide so when the weather forecast looked dismal on Father's day weekend 2014, we decided to give Yamnuska a call.
The weather wasn't perfect but Cian figured a good place to go would be under a large roof at the back of Lake Louise. This was a good choice and we spent both days there. It wasn't as busy as usual, thanks to cool weather and some light rain on Sunday. Over the two days we progressed from building anchors to lead climbing a pretty stiff 5.6/5.7 trad route - definitely more challenging than most mountains I'll be climbing in the next short while! We also learned some cragging techniques such as cleaning anchors after setting up a top rope etc.
Some pics from the weekend;
[A gorgeous Saturday morning along Lake Louise]
[Lefroy - soon!!]
[Back of the Lake!]
[We started with some pretty easy lines - learning the basics. To be honest - this is about as hard as it gets on most of our large alpine climbs so far. Most 11000ers can be climbed at or under 5.5.]
[Vern hard at work belaying...]
[Steven placing pro]
[On Sunday we moved to a different location. The holds were different than what we're used to - crack climbing techniques were required.]
[Still a nice enough day at the crag]
[Ben cleaning his route on the way down.]
[Vern's turn - Cian is giving me hands-on instruction and teaching me to climb cracks!]
[Learning to trust the rock shoes and reverse hand jams... (pic by Steven Song)]
We still have a long ways to go before we're anywhere close to rock / trad experts but this was an important safety step before putting more boots to rock as we go for more beautiful Rockies summits.