Lake Louise

We made two visits to Lake Louise Falls! (Well actually it was three! On the first trip to Lake Louise we had arrived at the car parking when Laetitia realised she’d left her boots back in Canmore. So we drove home and back again!)

Laetitia and Pete made the first visit on the second day of our trip. Then Pete, Rob, and Pete made a second visit on the last day of the trip. It hadn’t been our chosen destination for the day, we were heading for the Tokkum Pole in Marble Canyon. But the Radium Highway was closed off when we got to the junction from the Trans-Canada highway – there had been an avalanche that had buried and killed two snow-shoe walkers! Sad.

Pete exiting the ice cave on Lake Louise Falls
Rob getting in to the cave belay on Lake Louise Falls
Rob, Pete, and Pete at the bottom of Lake Louise Falls

Field – Carlsberg Column & Circus Circus

We had a couple of days in the Field area despite the high avalanche danger! We’d heard that Circus Circus, a rarely formed classic route, was in good condition. Then, after the Park Service had done some avalanche control on Mount Denis, we stole a day on Carlsberg Column…

The first pitch of Circus Circus
Laetitia abseiling from Circus Circus
Laetitia approaching Carlsberg Column

Johnston Canyon

We also visited another easily accessed and close by (to Canmore) venue, Johnston Canyon…

The entrance to Johnston Canyon
Pete climbing some funky ice at Johnston Canyon
Eyeing up the hanging ice above the cave to see if any was likely to break off before committing to the climb out of the cave
Pete climbing out of the cave on to the steep (WI 5+) ice above

Pete Frost dropped his crampons on the walk out – so if anyone finds them you know where to get in touch … comments below! 😉

Grotto Canyon

After a ten year break (!) we returned to Canada to get stuck in to some of what is likely the world’s best ice climbing… The trip was advertised as a joint Alpine Club and Climbers’ Club meet. But there was a surprisingly low take up, just 5 of the 9 available spaces were taken. This wasn’t a problem though as the gang were a fine bunch and we thoroughly enjoyed Terry’s superb hospitality in his wonderful Canmore home!

Our first day of the two weeks of ice adventuring was in Grotto Canyon. As well as climbing the classic Grotto Falls (where we bumped in to the local hero Margo Talbot) we also had some fun on the well used Hers

Grotto Canyon – Pete climbing the hooked out Hers

NHL – Calgary Flames vs Montreal Canadiens

Many years ago I used to play ice hockey in Oxford, for the the Oxford City Stars, and I have thought of making a trip to see the Calgary Flames play at the Saddledome every time we have visited Canmore. Calgary is only an hour away from Canmore and finally, after 10 years of thinking about it, we actually made the trip to watch a real live NHL hockey game – Calgary Flames vs. Montreal Canadiens!

We had the cheap seats, way up at the top of the stadium, but at least we had a good unobstructed view – almost in plan from directly above – of the rink. And we were seated at centre ice too. The Saddledome seats nearly twenty thousand people. A fair bit bigger than your average UK rink. Tickets can be super expensive too. While our seats were $65 each we could have spent around $500 to get seats in the first rink side level. This would have been good to be close to the action, hockey stars, and fights (there were three), but it was just way too much cash for us.

The atmosphere was great. Everyone we met, from both sides of supporters, was super friendly. It’s a great night/day out. Highly recommended, and entertaining for a whole family. There’s the typical North American fast food on offer all around the stadium to make a complete event of it. But stay clear of the NHL merchandise, a Calgary Flames jersey will set you back nearly $300. I was tempted but managed to resist.

A shot from the warm up before the Calgary Flames beat the Montreal Canadiens 5:0
Calgary Flames
Calgary Flames face off the Montreal Canadiens

Aside: the booking experience was shockingly bad! Laetitia and I spent an impossibly frustrating and long time on the phone trying to book tickets. First the Saddledome only takes bookings for season ticket holders so they passed us on to their booking partner, Ticket Master. What a joke! It was so bad it could only have been a joke. But it wasn’t a joke, it was real. Who knows how much that phone call will cost! We were on the phone for over half an hour trying to get the stupid voice recognition system to understand us. Laetitia even tried putting on a false Canadian accent to make progress. A total waste of time. So here’s the big tip for anyone unlucky enough to have to experience this awful service for themselves… After another call to the Saddledome they told us that one simply has to say “Agent” to the voice recognition system and you actually get to speak to a real person. So back on with Ticket Master we spoke to an agent. This was much better – we actually got our tickets – but it was still really tough work. North American customer service is not at all what they like us to think it is!

…and for those who might be interested here’s a shot of the Oxford City Stars. I wonder which one is me?

Oxford City Stars

Chamonix CC & Birthday Skiing

Last week we were visiting Chamonix for a week of winter sports. We weren’t sure the skiing would be up to much as this year as there has been very little snow. So we had prepared for what might be ideal alpine winter climbing conditions. However, as it turned out there was a large dump of snow over the first weekend of our trip, and there is nothing that beats skiing fresh powder! More “Chamonix CC & Birthday Skiing”