Wednesday, September 24, 2008

BACK TO BANFF

Finally i was back in Banff. It had been two years since i was back but that was only for a night. Banff is close to my heart as I have family that lives there, Kevin, Sharon, Jonah and Avril and I had spent two summers living there and working for Kevin at Abominable Sports. During these two summers I explored, climbed, biked, skied and scrambled up everything I could on my time off. I had a great partner back then, Johnny " Eye Spy" Stewart and if i wasn't with him I was off on my own. So it was good to get back. It was a short weekend and I went with a friend of mine from Squamish. We had the chance to blast up Tunnel Mountain on Friday beneath a great sunset and then spent the evening at Guido'. Saturday I got into an area that I had never explored before due to Grizzly problems. It was Larch Valley, Sentinel Pass and Paradise Valley. We ran this route, about 25 kms under incredible conditions, sunny and warm. This run was fantastic. We passed along Moraine Lake in the Valley of the 10 Peaks looking at a sick ski line Kevy poached years ago. The Larches were turning colors and the backdrop was stunning. As we dropped into Paradise Valley we left the crowds behind and had most of the valley to ourself stopping at Annette Lake underneath the massive north face of Mt. Temple first climbed in 1966. I have always wanted to scramble up Temple but have not had the chance since you needed a group of 6 for the grizzlies and usually i was by myself. I stared at Miss Temple for most of the run, hoping that she was reading my mind understanding I would be back to climb her at some point in the near future. That night we had dinner at St. James gate. I have fond memories of the gate as I had spent a New Years there happy to be in the warmth and safety not thinking I was ever going to get out of a bad backcountry situation just hours before. That was when i was new to the mountains and very inexperienced. It is those Ontario guys who come out west with no experience and a lack of awareness that get themselves into trouble and worse in the mountains. You see it a lot every year in Whistler. I was lucky that time and trust me, the Guinness tasted good that night.  I think I slept for the next two days. Sunday's activity took us up Sulphur as the weather started to change which was okay since we were leaving that afternoon to head back to Squamish. It was really good to see Kev and Sharon. Jonah has lengthened out and has the Hann body type passed on from Grampa Hann. He is turning into a fine athlete and skier. Avril, is a special young woman with amazing artistic talents and a beautiful way about her. The last time spent with her was in my arms as a baby. That was a long  time ago. Thanks to Kevin and Sharon for the great hospitality. It was also great seeing my cousin Greg and Shirley Anne. I will be back in March for my Avalanche Level 1 course and I hope the boys will show me some old backcountry stashes.