I don’t know quite where to start for this blog post so I’ll just narrate how things went down last Friday. My good friend Ryley and I had been throwing around the idea of going on a weeklong ski touring and ice climbing trip at some point in the New Year, so we decided to do what we normally do when we need to plan a trip, go climbing! We were both feeling the need to get out on rock one last time, but between both of our schedules the only time we could find was a Friday night after he finished work. I picked him up from work and we were off. Our destination, Sunshine Slabs, is just off the Trans Canada Highway. Take the Sunshine Village turnoff and park after you cross the cattle guard.
Being late October we were sure that we were going to end up climbing in the dark, and somehow that didn’t bother us. We arrived at around 7:30PM and quickly headed up. I had packed my gear into my brand new F-Stop Gear Tilopa BC backpack, which enables me to comfortably bring two lenses, a flash and my main camera body when using the smaller internal camera unit, leaving me enough room for some warm layers, my harness and other climbing gear. The crag is only a two minute walk from the road, making it very accessible if you’re short on time.
Within a couple of minutes I had my tripod and camera set up about 40 feet back from the wall. Since it was only the two of us I rigged my camera to shoot continuously while we climbed. Even with each picture being 20 to 30 seconds long I ended up with a lot of photos. My goal was to end up with enough photos that I could get not only star trails, but also be able to see the light trail made by our headlights on the rock.
Ryley's goal for the evening was to tick a 5.11a off his list. I've watched him improve all summer long, from 5.10c all the way to 5.11a/b. In Skaha he nearly onsighted a very crimpy 5.11b, only missing the final crux move right between the second to last and last bolts. I've seen him crush every 5.10 route he sets himself to, so it was only a matter of time before he had a clean 5.11 onsight. Despite his best efforts and taking over a half an hour to work the moves he was only able to make it to the second last bolt. I can't say I've ever seen anyone else lead a 5.11 by headlight, in the Rockies when it's only three degrees out. You have my respect Ryley!
Hopefully I will get that photo stitched together soon, it’s proving to be quite challenging with everything going on lately so stay tuned for an update!
The photo below is Ryley prepping himself for the mental and physical aspects of his upcoming climb.