Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Beautiful Century (5.10a)

Beautiful Century follows the obvious buttress in the centre of the photo
Beautiful Century is a 7 pitch, 5.10a sport route on Nanny Goat. I had heard that it was an awesome climb last year, but at the time, it was out of my comfort zone and I put that idea on the back burner for a while. Last summer was spent mostly climbing some of the easier trad multi-pitch routes, but this year, we have been out sport cragging much more and I was feeling strong enough to consider this climb. It helped that I had Liam to lead the harder pitches as well! The biggest concern that we had about this route was it was put up relatively recently and isn't in any guidebooks yet. As such, there wasn't very much beta available for the approach and start of the route. The TAVBAR route description was very helpful for the actual climb, and we were able to stumble upon the start of the route with very little difficulty. To get to the start of the route, we followed the Coire Dubh approach (taking a right on the double track instead of following the road up to Kid Goat). Once you got closer to the Coire Dubh waterfall, the trail forked into the forest and took you right to the base of the route. There was a tree with a piece webbing around it which could be a good landmark. The route began right from the end of the trail and moved left up the slab towards the single tree, and the first anchor was a few metres to the right of the tree. Beyond that, the route was very straight-forward!
My interpretation of where the route went - the solitary tree is a good landmark. Note the wet rock on the far right, the Coire Dubh waterfall - this is where the trail goes from the Coire Dubh approach to the base of the route
I took the first pitch (5.8), which was very slabby initially, and then followed a really fun corner that you could stem all the way up. The route was well protected and the rock was very grippy. It took a bit to convince myself to trust my feet, but once I discovered that my shoes were sticking well, the slab was a lot more fun. Two parties showed up at the bottom between the time I started leading the first pitch and when Liam got to the anchor. I guess it was a beautiful warm day and the route gets early morning sun. It sure is popular.
Looking out from a belay station over to Yamnuska
Liam took the 5.10a pitch and made it look easy. All that training this spring looks like it has paid off! Route finding went fairly well, except when Liam got off route by climbing past the anchor and following some bolts that went out left on the 5th pitch. We ended up linking pitch 3 and 4 as the fourth pitch was very short and easy scrambling, and rockfall wasn't a major issue. We probably could have also linked pitch 6 and 7, which were both 25 m. There is an anchor at the top of pitch 7 that we used, but then Liam had to belay me the last few meters to top out at the trees. There is an anchor up in the trees that we discovered after, so on pitch 7 skip the obvious anchor and continue up to the top out instead to save time!
Me following Liam up pitch 2
Pitch 2 slab!
I think that the most enjoyable climbing was the corner at the top of the first pitch, the 10a pitch (#2) and the flake feature on pitch 7. There was lots of slab, but it was broken up with small steps and features so it made it really fun. It also gave us some awesome view of the Bow Valley.
Liam coming up pitch 6 (5.8)
Pitch 6 again
We topped out just before noon (we had left the car at 7:45 and got on the route around 8:30am) and had our lunch in the sunshine on the top of Nanny Goat. The descent was very intuitive. You traverse away from Coire Dubh (climbers left) and down a bit of a scree area, then follow a steep trail down into the creek bed between Nanny and Kid Goat. There was one steep section in the creek area that had an anchor for rappelling, but it was fine to walk down as the rock was dry. Another successful day.
Top of Nanny Goat
Bow Valley views from Nanny Goat

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

May Long Weekend - Golden Bike Trip

It's bike season again! To kick it off in style, I went out to Golden for the long weekend to camp and ride at Mt. 7 with Nick, Matt, Devin and Mikayla. We joined the traffic snake leaving Calgary on Friday afternoon but were able to get to the Cedar Lake Rec Site just in time to snag ourselves a campsite for the weekend. Matt and I went for a quick Moonraker loop after dinner to check out the trails, then we joined the crew around the campfire to celebrate 3 days of freedom.
Early morning calm at Cedar Lake
Saturday was a shuttle day. It was overcast and threatened to rain all day but it was comfortably warm and we only saw a few sprinkles of rain. The trails were in awesome shape, dry and fast! We were able to drive all the way to 10 K, only hitting snow in two places. There were lots of downed trees just above where 5 K starts, but Bris, 5 K and B12 were all good to go. The bears were out in full force, and we saw a mom with three cubs at the 10 K turn around. The cubs were all climbing around in the trees being super cute while their mom guarded the bottom. We did Mt. 7 laps all afternoon with Mikayla as our awesome shuttle driver and Nick got to finally try out his new carbon Glory. He gave everyone a try on it, what a fun bike, although Matt and I were able to keep up pretty well even on our little bikes. That evening, beers were enjoyed and good times were had all around.
Loading up the bikes at the bottom of Mt. 7
Going up for another lap 
Bear cubs in the trees at the top of 10 K
We were ready for rain but didn't have to worry about it
Sunday was another cloudy day, but again, we managed to avoid getting rained on. We decided to go and check out LSD, a black downhill trail above the Moonraker trails. After a few wrong turns on the logging road spurs, we found the trail head at the top of a ridge. It was pretty spectacular up there but the bugs were brutal! The first bit of the trail was a pedal along the ridge, before it dropped into some steeper, fast corners. There has been some work in there this spring, the berms are buff and there is lots of fun new woodwork through the top section of trail.
Views across the valley from the top of LSD
Enduro bikes rock! Awesome views from the upper part of LSD
The lower section of LSD was a bit more steep, technical and rooty with occasional stunts. It was a super fun trail for my Enduro, especially through the pedally sections. LSD joins up with the Canyon Creek Trail and works its way along a cliff for most of the trail. Some of the trail is quite exposed, but its easy and wide so that never ends up being an issue. The view from some of the more exposed bits were amazing, and we spotted a mountain goat high on the canyon wall.
Alternate entrance to LSD
Canyon Creek trail
Very excited about the canyon. I think this was moments after Devin's helmet tried to roll off the cliff
It's a long way down!
Matt is happy
There was an option to ride back to the campground on the Moonraker trail network but we decided to continue down Canyon Creek to avoid Devin and Nick having to pedal their downhill bikes on cross country trails. We came out at a trail head that was much further east than we had anticipated and had to direct Mikayla through town to come get us. When we went back to ride the trail again on Monday, we took our pedal bikes and rode back through Moonraker, which ended up being a 19 km loop and was lots of fun! It wouldn't have been nearly as enjoyable on downhill bikes though. Sunday afternoon was spent shuttling more 10 K laps on Mt. 7, and was finished off with a very cold dip in the lake before dinner.
More shuttles on Mt. 7
It was a slow start on Monday, but it was definitely the best weather of the weekend. It was hot and sunny and Cedar Lake was full of tourists! Devin and Mikayla went home early but Nick, Matt and I pedaled up to LSD for one last rip. Not a bad way to spend a Monday.
Sunny skies for our final day in Golden