14 Adventures in 2014

So last year we did a recap of our Top 13 adventures in 2013. It only seems fitting to follow suit this year with a look back on our Top 14 Adventures in 2014.

It’s always interesting looking back over the photo albums. In hindsight an entire year can seem pretty short, it’s only when we actually sit down and remember what we did and where we went that we begin to realize just how much we packed into those 12 short months.

It was a tough process cutting down our list of adventures to only 14. In the end we decided to cut out anything we didn’t do together, which was actually quite a lot. Spring did a ton of running in 2014, mostly solo or with some running friends. She also ran 80km of technical trails in the Squamish50 race. I was there, at the Aid Stations and the Finish line, but not beside her in the fray.

Myself I got out a few times either with other friends or solo to visit some mountains I was interested in. Excellent experiences, especially the solo trips, but getting out with Spring and sharing the adventure always makes it better. If not for just the fact that I have a subject for my photographs.

I also want to point out that both myself and Spring currently work full-time, 40 hours per week jobs. Myself, due to my work requiring an odd schedule, I worked about 60% of my weekends this past year. We’ve also increased the work we’ve been doing on Pebbleshoo by working with Brands and Companies we believe in to write for them and create content. To add to this, in 2014 neither myself nor Spring took any Holidays. You heard that right. Apart from the odd Statutory Holiday weekend of 3 days, we took no other periods of time off longer than 2 days. Mostly it was 1 day adventures.

I guess the point I wanted to make is that there is 52 weeks in a year. There is no reason why you can’t make 52 unique memories from new Adventures every year. I’ve been working most weekends but we still make it work because we’re motivated. During the Summer, after finishing an 8 hour day at 5pm, there is still a good 6 hours of usable daylight to get out and explore.

The most important step, and likely the most difficult for most people, is putting yourself in a place that enables the way of life you want to live. Living in our home of Squamish means that we rarely need to worry about commuting. It’s not mentioned as an adventure in this post but we spent many evenings through the Summer running on the trails together or climbing in the forests near town. Micro adventures that would only last a few hours, but still a few more memories to make our lives feel full.

Here’s to all the new experiences contained within 2015! We hope you enjoy the following 14 pictures that sums up our 2014.

1. Winter Camping on Needle Ridge in January

Needle Ridge in January

In late January we snowshoed to the top of Needle Ridge with two close friends to spend the night. Our friend Adrian carried about 20lbs of firewood up thousands of feet, along with all his heavy winter camping gear, so that we could have a fire that night.

As we were camping in the sub-alpine we didn’t want to cut down any of the fragile trees there for firewood, but we still wanted to be warm.

A clear, crisp night under the stars. We even got to see a bit of the Aurora Borealis.

2. Skiing at Caspar Creek in March

Caspar Creek in March

We didn’t get out much skiing in 2013. Our inexperience coupled with a bad snow year led us to mainly focus on our climbing and running.

In March though we did meet up with some of our friends who had been charging hard all Winter with their skiing despite the conditions. On this weekend we encountered pretty nice snow and even managed to complete a few turns on our skis.

3. Climbing at Skaha in April

Skaha Climbing in April

We love Skaha! The climbing there is amazing. The rock is really nice and the routes are well protected with bolts to clip our rope into.

Unlike Squamish, which is mainly Traditional Climbing in cracks, Skaha is mostly Sport Climbing on sheer cliffs. Due to the presence of bolts it allows us to focus on the physical and mental elements of climbing more without having to worry about the emotional elements such as fear.

We always find we can push ourselves a little harder when climbing at Skaha.

4. Hiking Mount Harvey in May

Mount Harvey in May

In May we met up with our friend Scott to climb a peak we’d last been to the top of in 2011. Back then it had felt like a difficult and long climb but now it felt like a short day out.

It’s awesome to see how much the mountains have helped us grow, and how we can now feel comfortable there.

5. Camping on Mount Corriveau in June

Mount Corriveau in June

Since 2013 we’d been planning to camp on Mount Corriveau. I’d spotted it from another peak in the vicinity and worked out that it would offer a good vantage point on some impressive peaks nearby, Rexford et al.

For most of the day we were inside clouds and it definitely put a dent in our motivation to keep pushing upwards. But in the eleventh hour the clouds broke and lifted, casting the hues of sunset across the sky and revealing the peaks that we had come here to look at. Definitely a moment when we were thankful the weather was on our side.

6. Climbing “Star Chek” in June

Star Chek in June

Both myself and Spring had been up Star Chek before, but we’d never felt confident enough to lead any of the pitches. In June we decided to go for it.

This was our first multi-pitch climb together. We moved well and stayed efficient with building our climbing systems. More than that though there was no fear of falling. We both felt comfortable and confident.

7. Descending Box Canyon in July

Box Canyon in July

In 2013, when we first experienced Canyoneering during our descent of Monmouth Creek near Squamish, the group with us discussed how this Canyon compared to its neighbour, Box Canyon. Some believed Box Canyon was superior.

We thought Monmouth Creek was pretty amazing so we made plans to check out Box Canyon also this past year.

The BC Canyoneers have been doing a great job of introducing new people to their sport of Canyoneering and making these places safer to visit. After a group descended Box Canyon and bolted the rappel stations we knew it was time to see this place for ourselves.

We joined a Canyoneering group and were in awe through every rappel that we descended.

We can’t say if Box is better than Monmouth. It’s different. Our advice would be to take a few days and descend both. You won’t regret it.

8. Climbing Alpha and Thyestes in August

Alpha and Thyestes in August

After our difficult experience in the Tantalus Range in 2013 I was a little bit apprehensive about revisiting these mountains. But like the greek figure of Tantalus himself I felt compelled to go back once again.

I’ll be writing a more in-depth post about this trip but sufficed to say we reached the summits of Alpha Mountain and Mount Thyestes.

Even though Alpha is more prominent, Thyestes, a rather obscure peak, was my highlight. I’ve been thinking about reaching it now for nearly 3 years and it felt good to finally touch it’s summit cairn.

9. Climbing The Copilot in August

Copilot in August

The new Sea to Sky Gondola in Squamish rebooted our interest in the Sky Pilot area that lies directly behind it.

We spent a lot of time this past year exploring the trails up there. We also both ran in the inaugural Sky Pilot Race which was excellent. We both plan to run it again this year.

In August we set out to visit the summit of The Copilot. The route to the top follows a steep and loose gully. It is steep enough that some parties will choose to rappel the route rather than downclimbing it. We chose to do this also for the practice.

10. Climbing “Diedre” in September

Diedre in September

I’d climbed this route before but had never led any of the pitches. Spring had never climbed it. So in September we set out to climb it together, swapping leads and working on getting quicker with our anchor building and efficiency.

It’s a Top 100 Squamish classic and every pitch of climbing is interesting or high quality. We climbed well and fast.

This route also features some unprotected slab climbing which Squamish is notorious for. Unlike crack or face climbing which mainly relies on being able to hold onto something, slab climbing relies on the properties of friction between a climbers shoe rubber and the rock. It takes some getting used to as you have to build up a trust that you won’t slip as you are never really standing on anything that could be considered more than just a dimple in the rock.

With time we’ve actually come to enjoy slab climbing. It feels like floating across a face of rock while holding on to nothing.

11. Sleeping on Vantage Peak in September

Vantage Peak in September

In the middle of September we headed out to sleep on Vantage Peak. Due to a weather inversion it actually got warmer as we climbed higher up the mountain. By the time we reached the summit we were pretty hot.

We had difficulties finding somewhere flat to sleep but Springs keen eye spotted some ground that was just large enough to accommodate our bivy sacks. We built up some small rock walls around us so that we wouldn’t roll off the mountain in our sleep.

That night was amazing. The sunset was like a painting across the sky and the stars were crisp and clear. Our favourite night of camping from last year.

12. Trail run to Mount Price in September

Mount Price in September

We always feel at our strongest by the end of September and brimming with energy.

We decided to run to the summit of Mount Price in Garibaldi Provincial Park. The trail is amazing, lined mostly with wild blueberry bushes that we gorged on as we ran.

The views from the top are astounding. This is a less popular mountain in the park due to the fact the trail is not advertised or maintained but the views are some of the best. We definitely felt grateful for having Garibaldi Provincial Park on our doorstep. It truly is a gem and wonder of the world.

13. Hiking to Aasgard Pass in November

Aasgard Pass in November

In November, with the distinct feeling of Winter in the air, we headed South to Leavenworth to hike and do some bouldering. On our first day there we hiked up to Colchuck lake and beyond to Aasgard Pass.

It felt like transitioning right from Summer at the trailhead to deep Winter at the pass were we experienced strong, biting winds which whipped shards of ice and snow against our exposed skin.

The first chill of Winter is always a surprise after a warm, balmy Summer, but it’s amazing how quickly the body adjusts and gets used to feeling cold again.

14. Ice Climbing near Mount Baker in November

Mount Baker in November

Near the end of November, with not a lot of snow for skiing on the ground and temperatures too warm to ice climb near Squamish, we headed south to Mount Baker to revisit the broken ice and crevasses that lie near its base.

It felt good to be swinging ice tools again and lowering ourselves down into deep dark crevasses. Being surrounded by a world of ice is always surreal.

We hope to get out and climb ice more in 2015.

So, how about you? What are your best memories from 2014? Will they inspire any new adventures this year in 2015? Let us know in the comments below.

Author: Leigh McClurg

I grew up in County Dublin, Ireland and moved to British Columbia, Canada with my wife in 2010. I fell in love with being in the Backcountry and Mountains that are all around me here and try to spend all of my free time exploring those wild places. My main goals are to chase happiness, see as much of this planet and its cultures as possible and grow every day through knowledge and experiences.

Share This Post On

7 Comments

  1. Hi Leigh. I think i know your blog by heart by now. Actually your blog inspired me to make one too,maybe one day it will be up. I really like the way you present your adventures to the eye of the reader. You put a lot of soul into your writing, pictures and trip reports/stories. Not many people have the skill/talent or the patience to do that. But i say this: even if one person gets inspired by your blog, in my opinion its worth all the effort.

    For me the backcountry is the place where i go to heal the wounds inflicted by the over-civilized city life. As john Muir well put it:

    “Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity”

    One of those places me and me wife like to visit very often is the Matier Glacier Ice-fall. What a feast for the eyes the Ice-fall is. Mountaineers often use glaciers to approach a peak or a remote mountain, but sometimes the beauty is down, humble, under your feat, rather than high up above the clouds. So from mid August to mid September the Ice-fall opens up and creates those deep ice tunnels that you can go into and explore. They are not always there,depends how you find the glacier. So we carefully make our way in, your bones begin to vibrate of anxiety because you know that the seracs can collapse any time. All of a sudden you hear a loud cracking noise then silence, you rush out of the ice tunnel,you stop, you look around then it happens, whuuumpf and the seracs collapse near you. The impact of hitting the rock below sends dozens of ice cubes flying in all directions. You are happy to be alive and happy to not have been hit by one of those ice cubes. Now the Ice-fall has humbled your very existence. You are not fully recovered yet and you hear another cracking noise you look behind you and there it is, a rock fall, a huge rock fall with washing machine like size boulders coming straight towards you. God has given you few seconds time to move out of the way. You stop and think for a moment. Your friends, the mountain and the glacier decided to spare your life as they realized that you didn’t mean any harm to them, that you are merely a visitor wanting to explore and admire their beauty.

    So for the year 2015 i want to share with you guys some videos that hopefully will inspire you to one day visit such places:

    Located on the west face of Mt Hood, The Sandy Glacier Cave system is made up of two large caves, Snow Dragon and Pure Imagination, that extend deep into the glacier:

    Requiem of Ice:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=loYOkEYJPUE

    To go with the vid above this is the story how they went in and explored and mapped the caves. At the bottom right of the article there is a video from vimeo. Pls watch it also,its simply amazing:

    THIN ICE – EXPLORING MOUNT HOOD’S GLACIER CAVES
    BY AMELIA TEMPLETON AND ED JAHN:

    http://www.opb.org/glaciercaves/

    And from what “What gets us stoked series”:

    Wonderful Chill Out Music – The Alps:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=06CVd-_TEl4

    “The Crystal Cave” – Iceland Ice Cave (extended cut):

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FvzDkpYiLoI

    Alaska “Glacial” – Denali and the Inside Passage:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y-ZeBO0ro8Q

    Crystalapse: Frozen in Timelapse (Iceland):

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RIQqVqQs9Xs

    GoPro: Ice Caves:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0JWK-EDVOV0

    PS: don’t forget to watch in HD. I know there are alot but take your time and enjoy 🙂 All the best for new year,

    Victor and Anca

    Post a Reply
    • Hi Vic&Anca, Wow! Thanks for the comment and the links. We really enjoyed watching those videos. Stoked for 2015!

      Post a Reply
  2. Hi, really nice photos. I got here from article
    http://www.mu-43.com/showthread.php?s=042ba1603f4d0cfa3d60e880f2ffe783&t=72692

    I appreciate especially landscapes with people (#5,12,13). As a relative beginner to photography, I am interested how photo #1 was created. It looks great but at the same time little artificial: there is no shadow of people in direction of the fire, green tent is illuminated from an unknown source. We can see paths of sparks as well as stars, so the exposure should be long, on the other hand, one person seems to move yet he is sharp… Is that really a natural image or HDR or something like that with extensive postprocessing?

    Thanks and many great adventures in 2015!

    Post a Reply
    • Hi Jarek,

      Other than some processing in Lightroom, the image is exactly as it was shot in the camera. The light on the tent is from the headlamp of the guy that is standing up. I asked everyone to stand still for a second while the shot captured which is why the person looks like he is moving but is still sharp. I brought out the stars in Lightroom by increasing the exposure in that corner. I agree now that it looks unnatural so I will go back and reduce the exposure in that corner.

      Thanks for the comment! It’s amazing what a little m43 camera and interesting location and some interesting light can create. 😀

      Post a Reply
  3. Wow, those photos though! Always inspired by your adventures guys, looking forward to getting out there with you in 2015!

    Post a Reply
    • Definitely. We should plan a run together. Love the idea of overnight running traverses. Maybe do the Stein near next Fall during a Full Moon?

      Post a Reply
  4. Hey Leigh,

    Just curious as to which camera and lens your regularly use in your shots?

    thanks!

    Post a Reply

Leave a Reply

Do you know someone who would be interested in this?

%d bloggers like this:

Send this to a friend