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Report from Kootenay Climbing Association AGM

Nelson is one step closer to having a rock climbing gym again after the first Annual General Meeting of the Kootenay Climbing Association last night. Over 75 people came out to the meeting at Selkirk’s Mary Hall, hosted by KCA, the non-profit organization that took on the task of building a new climbing gym in the city after Gravity closed its doors last Spring.

Attendees ranged from families with young children to hardcore climbers and mountaineers from all over the Kootenay region. Everyone from Mirek Hladik (the former owner of the Gravity) to Golden resident Dave Jones, author of the new Rogers Pass mountaineering guidebook, were in attendance.

Aside from choosing Directors at the meeting (local climbers Shawn Tasker, Scott Jeffery, Larry Bickerton, Ico de Zwart, Cam Shute and Nate Smith), the group also discussed the fact the City approved its proposal to use a portion of the Mary Hall gymnasium to install a climbing wall. The KCA is now negotiating with Selkirk College regarding the facility.

Currently, the group’s financials includes approximately $20,000 in 0% loans from members of the climbing community and about $100,000 is required to build the wall. Intentions to apply for grants through the Columbia Basin Trust were shared along with other fundraising ideas including a $50 “Wall Sponsorship” program and a “Founding Investor” plan. Also, new memberships, donations, investor loans and the silent auction at the event have raised a total of $4,500.

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Guide and Nelson resident David Lussier was also in attendance and he presented a slideshow about his climbing history in the region, which includes numerous first ascents such as the first free ascent of Mt. Dag in the Valhallas, which he did with Alan Jones. He also discussed his adventure in Patagonia last month when he climbed Cerro Torre, one of the most visually stunning and yet technically difficult peaks in the Southern Hemisphere.

For the past four months Dave trained at the tiny bouldering cave at Selkirk College in Castlegar and on the 5-metre-high ice falls on the side of the road going up to the Whitewater Ski Resort. He then flew down to Argentina but because of the infamous weather in the Patagonia region he and his climbing partner (Canmore guide Carl Johnson) didn’t have a lot of expectations. They lucked out with a good weather window, however, and decided to attempt the 3,100-metre Cerro Torre. The approach took them two days of hiking across rivers and over glaciers and, when they reached the tower they only had a few hours rest before they began simul-climbing the lower half of the route in the dark. (The duo climbed the 1,500-metre West Face route on Cerro Torre a free line that involves rock, ice and mixed climbing skills with a rating of M4 and grade 5+ ice.)

To make the adventure even more interesting, Dave dropped one of his ice tools half way up the route and was facing the prospect of somehow trying to finish the technically demanding upper ice pitches with only one tool. Luckily, there was another climber on the tower who had soloed the route earlier in the day and was rappelling while Dave and Carl were still ascending. In a moment of extreme generosity, he loaned Dave his ice tool and Dave managed to finish the route, reaching the summit in perfectly sunny conditions.

“It was a climb of a lifetime really,” said Dave, who’s celebrating his 40th birthday this year. “We went there not expecting to climb that route but when we got the weather window we went for it and everything worked out.” Dave went on to say that having an indoor climbing gym in Nelson is integral to ensuring others enjoy similar adventures. “It’s really important for our community, our families and individual climbers to have a climbing gym in Nelson,” said Dave. “

There are four ways to become a member of the Kootenay Climbing Association:

1. Fill out a form at Valhalla Pure Outfitters on Baker Street in Nelson

2. Go to the KCA web site, print out a membership form and mail it to the address on the form

3. Call Ico de Zwart at 250-505-3479 and make arrangements

4. Email info@kootenayclimbing.com
For more information, log on to the KCA’s facebook page.

For more images of Dave Lussier’s adventure, log on to the Summit Mountain Guides facebook page.

Donors for the silent auction event included: Valhalla Pure Outfitters, Ridgeline Metal Works and Kootenay Glass and Mirror, Whitewater Ski Resort, Summit Mountain Guides, NRG, ROAM, Oso Negro, G3, Kootenay Bakery, Otter Books, Red Moon Gallery, Gravity Therapy, Kootenay Allergy Solutions, Shelley Adams, Brad Winter, Dave Jones and Wonow Media Ltd.

Amazing Gimli Peak Video

Feast your eyes on this great video of the classic South Ridge climb on Gimli Peak in the Valhalla Mountain Range. It was put together by photographer Paul Lapides and it documents his ascent of the route in July 2012. For more about Paul’s adventure check out the Paul Lapides Blog.

Mountain Goats Threatened at Gimli

We’ve all seen them up at the camping area near Gimli Peak: cute, white, and way better rock climbers then we’ll ever be. But the mountain goats in Valhalla Park are being threatened by our contact with them and, in turn, our access could be in jeopardy. Luckily, there are a few easy things we can do as visitors that will ensure their longevity and our continued access to one of the best alpine climbing areas in the Kootenays.

We may have good intentions but the fact is the habituation of goats is bad for goats and bad for park users too. Firstly, there’s always the threat of a goat not taking kindly to your presence and running you through, like what happened with the unfortunate goring of a hiker in Olympic Park.

That is an extreme example of what could go wrong during an interaction with a mountain goat. Typically, what we find is they’ll hang out near wherever we are and wait for us to go pee or brush our teeth and spit so they can saunter over and lick up our mineral leavings. And while a bit of sodium is good for a goat’s diet, this behaviour is unhealthy in the long run because it’s unnatural for them to linger in one location for too long and it makes them easy pickings for hunters, as evidenced when one was shot near the Beach camping area a few years ago in front of a group of hikers.

As climbers all we have to do to curb this habituation is the following: 

  • make sure we urinate in the porta-potty located near the camping area
  • brush our teeth and spit into the porta-potty
  • do not approach the goats
  • store all food and sweaty articles of clothing in the food cache or on the cable cache
  • and of course, do not feed the goats

Hopefully, by following these easy guidelines, we can lessen the interaction between mountain goats and humans near Gimli. If not, more drastic changes may have to be made to halt goat habituation in Valhalla Park and that could look like lessened access – something we all definitely want to avoid.

Currently, BC Parks is collecting information from park users to understand what the human-goat interactions are at and will use this to build a management strategy that is best for the wildlife. If you have an encounter with a mountain goat, please contact BC Parks Area Supervisor Chris Price directly at 250-354-6026 or via email at Chris.Price@gov.bc.ca.

Beware the Adorable Mountain Goat!

We’ve all seen them up at the camping area near Gimli Peak: cute, white, and way better rock climbers then we’ll ever be. But the mountain goats in Valhalla Park are being threatened by our contact with them and, in turn, our access could be in jeopardy. Luckily, there are a few easy things we can do as visitors that will ensure their longevity and our continued access to one of the best alpine climbing areas in the Kootenays.

We may have good intentions but the fact is the habituation of goats is bad for goats and bad for park users too. Firstly, there’s always the threat of a goat not taking kindly to your presence and running you through, like what happened with the unfortunate goring of a hiker in Olympic Park.

That is an extreme example of what could go wrong during an interaction with a mountain goat. Typically, what we find is they’ll hang out near wherever we are and wait for us to go pee or brush our teeth and spit so they can saunter over and lick up our mineral leavings. And while a bit of sodium is good for a goat’s diet, this behavior is unhealthy in the long run because it’s unnatural for them to linger in one location for too long and it makes them easy pickings for hunters, as evidenced when one was shot near the Beach camping area a few years ago in front of a group of hikers.

As climbers all we have to do to curb this habituation is the following:

  • make sure we urinate in the porta-potty located near the camping area
  • brush our teeth and spit into the porta-potty
  • do not approach the goats
  • store all food and sweaty articles of clothing in the food cache or on the cable cache
  • and of course, do not feed the goats

Hopefully, by following these easy guidelines, we can lessen the interaction between mountain goats and humans near Gimli. If not, more drastic changes may have to be made to halt goat habituation in Valhalla Park and that could look like lessened access – something we all definitely want to avoid.

Currently, BC Parks is collecting information from park users to understand what the human-goat interactions are at and will use this to build a management strategy that is best for the wildlife. If you have an encounter with a mountain goat, please contact BC Parks Area Supervisor Chris Price directly at 250-354-6026 or via email at Chris.Price@gov.bc.ca.

Grohman Narrows Trail Party a Success

Another successful work party was hosted by TAWKROC and CASBC on Sunday, June 9th, with volunteers giving a face-lift to the Grohman Narrows canyon climbing area near Nelson.

Kudos to volunteers Shawn, Hannah, Shane, Khaled, Nadine, Brendan, Youri and Vince for getting their hands dirty and doing a ton of work before hopping on the sweet routes there. For a list of the 11 different things the crew accomplished that day, log on to www.tawkroc.org.

Review of the SteriPEN Freedom

When I got my first SteriPEN four years ago I was so excited I almost gave away my old-school, pump filter system. Never again would I have to lug the ungainly pump with all its tubes and parts into the backcountry, I thought. Sadly, I was mistaken. I owned the SteriPEN Classic and on my first multi-day foray forgot to pack batteries. (Thankfully I had my emergency iodine tablets.) On the next trip I realized I hadn’t read the instructions well enough to discern what the intermittent flashing red LED light meant. Finally I perfected its use only to have it break (the UV lamp stopped coming on) soon after it’s one-year warranty expired. I went back to lugging around my pump until last month when I was given the SteriPEN Freedom to review. And I’m happy to say they’ve made a lot of improvements over the past few years. Firstly, the Freedom comes with a 3-year warranty. Secondly, it’s powered by a sealed lithium polymer battery that can be recharged from an AC Adapter, USB port or solar charger. (No more forgotten batteries.) Thirdly, it’s so intuitive even I remember how to use it: immerse in 0.5 litres of water until the green LED light turns solid. Easy.

For more about the SteriPEN Freedom, read the full review at Backcountry Skiing Canada.