Archive for December, 2011

A Life Elevated

Posted: December 17, 2011 by bcbuzzards in Uncategorized

So about a week ago a good friend of the Buzzard, Greg Gavin, started chirping in our ears about the awesomeness that is the North Ridge of the Pfeifferhorn (5.4, ~1,000ft and a 4.5 mile 2,900ft skin in) would be all the rage this holiday season.

Our route basically takes the couloir on the far right to gain the summit via the ridge on the sun/shade line

Little did I know that another friend, Rob Duncan had done the route a week ago and described it to me as “all grins, all day!”  With recommendations like that and no new snow in the forecast for what I’m pretty sure will be the foreseeable future, the gauntlet was laid down.  The North Ridge was officially on the docket for this morning and with a solid 6 hours of drinking under my belt, my engines were revved up for an early start.

Love these thoughts looming in my head.

We made our way swiftly to the trailhead at White Pine, with a quick detour to the Great Harvest bakery where Amanda Cencak was ready to fuel us up for the day ahead.  The scene was set.

So somedays you feel like your feet are made of lead and your eyes can’t see a single thing for what it is, and other days you feel like a superman.  Today I was the Übermensch, that rarified creature that just wants to get after it.  Unfortunately sometimes when you are feeling so good and moving fast you make mistakes.  I definitely made one today that could have ended poorly but luckily ended with only some wasted time and unplanned jumping jacks.  Here is the story of why you don’t solo when your partner is not right behind you.

Tris and I made amazing time heading towards the base of the route today and had managed the 2,900ft and 4.5 miles in three and half hours included a lung busting slog up the couloir that drops you off at the base of the climb proper.  Putting in the skin track, putting in the booter, and not even feeling like you’ve even begun to open up the throttle puts you in a weird place.

Making quick work towards the start of the route.

We got up on top of the saddle where the climb would begin and began a quick discussion regarding whether or not we should rope up or if we felt comfortable soloing the climb.  We decided that we would solo but if we felt wigged out then we could pull the rope out.  Although 5.4 is and should always been peanuts for climbers like us, things change when you are climbing it on loose rock, wearing ski boots, crampons, a full pack, and skis on your back, not to mention you are also wearing gloves.

So psyched for the boot. Skis are off, day is clear.

I set out into the great beyond and after a few feet started to feel the rhythm and ended up picking up some steam.  All the while Tris was pretty close behind and we were checking in with each other and deciding we were feeling pretty good about the whole thing.  I made my way up and over a bulge not thinking too much about it and found myself sitting beneath the gendarme near the top of the climb waiting for Tris to show up… and then I kept waiting, and waiting, and waiting.  At this point I started to get somewhat concerned as he was right behind me and now was nowhere to be seen.  It tuns out what happened at that last bulge was that Tris got spooked, and it happens to all of us, but he could not commit to the 5.4 move under  the circumstances and so ended up staying on the ledge below.  By the time I began to think of down soloing to him to rope up (he had the rope) another party had offered to tag a line for him that I could belay him on once they made it to us.  I spent a lot of time thinking on the ledge that I wasn’t super comfortable down soloing some of that terrain and then thinking of options for what could be done.  I ended up doing a bunch of calisthenics to stay warm while I awaited his arrival.  Safe and sound (albeit probably a bit frazzled).

Sky Above, Earth Below (and our skin track)

Needless to say we roped up for the remainder and it went without incident.  But we lost a lot of time.  That we are sure of.

This was the first sunshine we experienced all day. On the summit.

At the summit we got to take a look at the Northwest Couloir which currently is completely devoid of snow but remains on the ticklish for the season (if it ever materializes).  A few photos and snacks up top led to less than stellar skiing back to the car.  Interestingly enough the skiing wasn’t bad because of the snow for once (as the high north faces are holding pretty good snow) but because the complete lack of snow is still making hit rocks, and lots of them, a problem.

Still no snow in the NW Couloir.

Back at the car, there was no one to look hard for.  With lessons learned, egos in check, we descended back into the smog of the city after having an amazing taste of a life elevated.

Sea of smog in the city. Sea of tranquility in the sky.

 

It’s Official

Posted: December 13, 2011 by bcbuzzards in Uncategorized

Here is the Official BC Buzzard’s logo. Arthur passed off a, uhhhh, rough sketch of the Buzzard’s vision off to Myanda Bair for a fair bit of refinement.  As you can see she crushed it, truly capturing the hyper vigilant lurking nature of the Buzzards. Always searching for scraps.