Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Stuck in Calgary

Over the last few weeks the winter weather has defeated our attempts to escape the city limits. We tried valiantly this weekend, but with the temperatures topping out at -30 C and our rental car doing doughnuts at the sight of corners, we gave up. So with the thought of spending another weekend indoors being too much to handle I decided to be brave (stupid) and go for a bike ride. Thankfully, due to fitting studded tyres, my bike handles the ice and snow better than most American built cars and for some reason I seemed to have the entire bike path system all to myself.

A steaming Bow River with Calgary CBD in the background.

Winter clothing from the serial killer fashion line.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009


I dont think this one needs much explaining, its f'ing cold.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Cross Country Skiing

This weekend Aleisha and I tried out one of the iconic Canadian winter sports, cross country skiing. Despite our complete lack of experience our friends decided to take us on a rather advanced trail. While there were a few moments of sheer terror and a few long strings of expletives we survived relatively unscathed, in fact we really enjoyed the day.

Winter wonderland.

Aleisha getting her glide on.

One of the truly amazing aspects of the whole sport is that its free. Some poor sucker drives around in a groomer all night, smoothing out the trail and setting the tracks and we don't have to pay a cent. God bless living in a socialist country!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Preparing for winter

For once we didn’t manage to get into the mountains this weekend. Instead we were finding, trying, buying and fixing ski gear. In the end Aleisha managed to get a pair of Salomon X-Screams and I got some Elan Fusion S12's, best of all they were both super cheap. We also had our first lesson in our eight week indoor climbing class and I think that I am now reasonably confident hanging off a knot that I tied myself.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Plain of Six Glaciers

The Plain of Six Glaciers hike in Lake Louise is normally swarming with tourists but with chilly temperatures and fresh snow on the ground we basically had the trail to ourselves.

Unfortunately the weather was not quite perfect so we couldn't quite see all six glaciers

Some famous ugly hotel on Lake Louise with the Lake Louise ski field in the background.

A Clark's Nutcracker - not much wildlife on the trails at the moment

Happy hikers

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Ptarmigan Cirque

I dont know if you can really call Ptarmigan Cirque a hike, at only 5km its more like a brisk stroll in the mountains. But with rather ominous clouds and sloppy conditions under foot we didnt dare try anything longer. In the end it turned out to be a good trip as on the way there we spotted 6 Moose and a rather large Grizzly.


My finely tuned instincts and outstanding outdoor survival skills make me wonder if bad weather was on its way.

Anyone fancy some postholing?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Winter Hiking - Forgetmenot Ridge

This last week saw the arrival of winter in Calgary with our first snowfall of the season. While most Calgarians were heading off to the mall, we decided to attempt one last hike for the season. We planned to only venture out to the front range in the hope of avoiding the snow and freezing temperatures, this idea failed. The tempeatures hovered around -10 C all day and there was a good foot of fresh snow on the ground. On the plus side, no one else was dumb enough to go out so we had the mountain to ourselves. In the end the cold and snow were not a problem and we had an amazing hike.
Aleisha enjoyed the day as much as I did, honest.

The view from the top, well close to top.

It wouldnt be a Thanksgiving hike without pumpkin pie.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Egypt Lake in Fall

Last weekend we finially overcame our fear of bears and did our first canadian overnight tramping trip. The desitiation was Egypt lake, a place we had been earlier on a ski touring trip. We timed the trip perfectly as the Larch trees had just turned a magnificent shade of yellow.

The trip started off at Sunshine Village Ski resort, we cheated and took a bus to save us a 600 m climb.

Larch trees

Approaching Healy Pass

The view from Healy Pass looking down to Egypt Lake

The frosty view after a cool (-10 C) night.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Larch Valley & Sentinel Pass

This weekends trip was to the tourist trap of Lake Louise for the Larch Valley/Sentinel Pass hike. Whilst the hikes are popular, they are popular for a very good reason. Thankfully though the crowds were minimal, surprising considering the incredible weather.

At the pass

We were hoping that the Larch trees would have turned more yellow but it looks like the warm weather has delayed the autumn colours by a few weeks.

Another hike, another view of a glacier

Friday, September 11, 2009


Last weekend Aleisha and I decided to pop over to Vancouver to hang out with Stefan and Claire. Unfortunately the weather was average and it rained a lot, but thats Vancouver for you. Despite the weather we still had a great time and managed to do a bit of sightseeing, even if the sights were obscured by clouds.

Checking out the sights in Vancouver before the rain sets in

Banana Slug, one of the critters that enjoy the rain.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Car Camping in Waterton Lakes National Park

Last weekend we decided to go a little further out of town for our weekly dose of hiking. Waterton Lakes National Park came highly recommended so we figured we would make a weekend of it and go car camping. The park is right on the boarder with the US (actually joins with Glacier National Park) and just a 3hr drive from Calgary. Its well know for being packed with bears and within 5 min of entering the park on Friday evening we had spotted a Black bear, thankfully we were safe in our car. The major hike for the weekend was the Crypt Lake trip, rated by many as a 5 star trip (for the trivia buffs it was also rated as the best hike in Canada in 1981). Maybe it was the scorching heat reminding us of our time spent in the penal colony, but we were not as impressed. However, the disappointment was some what overcome by the novelty of being able to walk into the US as the end point of the trail was technically over the boarder.

On the way to Crypt Lake

Crypt Lake

On Sunday we went for a short drive in the park to Cameron Lake. As there were no people about and the weather was perfect we decided to hire a canoe.

Pika, like the Pokemon

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

We like mountains

One of the great things about Canada is the abundance of large pointy slabs of rock that poke out of the ground. We never saw them in Australia but apparently they are called "mountains" and they are fun to hike up. This weekends trip was to the top of Cirque peak (2993 m).

The slog begins

Hoary Marmot, dont know how they got their name...

Cirque Peak - If you look really closely you can see some people (black specks) on the ridge on the left of the picture.

The view from the top was truly incredible and well worth the effort.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Burstall Pass

People say that there are two seasons in Calgary, July and winter. So far they seem correct as August has been wet and hasnt provided good hiking weather. However, bad weather never stopped us from hiking in NZ or Oz so this weekend we ignored the forecast and went hiking anyway. The trip was Burstall Pass, a very popular and highly rated hike just out of Calgary. While there were periods of rain, fresh snow on the peaks and temperatures just pushing into double digits, the hike was still excellent with scenery that would give most of NZ a run for its money and make Australia look like a B grade amusement park.

The team

The Robertson Glacier

Approaching the pass

The view from the top made the trip worthwhile

Our first Moose sighting!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Niles Meadow and Sherbrooke Lake

To counteract the consumption of excessive amounts of fat, beer and salt at the football game we spent Sunday hiking. At 20 km, the hike was a tad longer than our usual outings but considering the food we had eaten the night before the exercise was needed. While the hike was rated very highly the forest fires in BC created a lot of haze which unfortunately limited the views so the hike didn't live up our lofty expectations.

Sherbrooke Lake

The wildflowers help distract you from the climb ahead

Niles amphitheatre

Niles Meadow just before a storm rolled in

The weather here always keeps you on your toes, especially when you are walking along an exposed ridge in a thunder storm getting pelted with hail.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Saturday night's a great night for football

After putting it off for a few months we figured it was about time to try and understand American Football. This idea was made made even more tempting by a deal that a local pub was running where you could get two tickets, two beers, chicken wings and transport to the game for just $24.95. So on Saturdays we joined ~35 000 other punters to see the Calgary Stampeders play the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Despite expert advise from my brother, we couldn't figure out what was going on half the time and the other half of the time we couldn't even figure out where the ball was. Thankfully Calgary won and we had another excellent, albeit confusing, Canadian experience.

It wouldn't be Canadian Football without Canadian beer

Canadian cuisine

Friday, August 07, 2009

Stefan and Claire come to visit

Last weekend we had the pleasure of having Stefan and Claire come to visit. First up was a hike to Black Prince Cirque and while we had done the trip before the blooming wild flowers made it just as spectacular the second time around. The following day we joined a couple hundred other punters and floated down the Bow river, not quite grade 5 rapids but still a relaxing way to spend the day. On the last day we had an unseasonable spell of Vancouver (crap) weather so we headed out for a road trip along the Icefields Parkway. All and all a very enjoyable long weekend and we cant wait to visit Stefan and Claire in Vancouver next month.

Chilling on the Bow


Stefan always has to be the centre of attention