Every time I'd hang with my good buddy Zack Smith from Colorado, he'd always ask me about climbing in the Canadian Rockies. He was really keen to make the trip north and check it out. We never managed to hook up though. Living on the coast, I was close enough to the Rockies to watch the weather and blast for a weekend hit when conditions were right. It was too far from home for Zack to do the same, and I was unwilling to hang out in Canmore for a couple weeks waiting for good weather.
Finally, I agreed to meet him out east. We'd chill and climb together on whatever was good - alpine, big or small, sport climbing, or Yamnuska.
I drove to the Bow Valley and was greeted by fresh snow, lots of it. We were on a holding pattern for a few days. The weather looked good for most of one day. With considerable concern for the avalanche hazard, we opted to try something steep. Asteroid Alley on Mt. Andromeda had been recommended to me countless times but I had resisted climbing it. It seemed like a lot of effort to get up early and make the long drive up the Parkway to climb a short, moderate route, no matter how seemingly classic it was. Zack hadn't done much limestone climbing though, and was keen for a warmup. It seemed a good objective considering the touchy conditions.As it turned out, the route was quite enjoyable and with all new snow, the snow mushrooms on route made the climbing entertaining. The route was a total spindriff factory all day long, we were getting constantly battered by sluffs which gave it a real 'alpine' feel. I didn't want to soak my camera, so I only took it out to snap pics in between the spindriff.
|Andromeda. Asteroid Alley at centre.|
|Zack leads pitch one: low angle snow-covered rock.|
|Following pitch one.|
|The hallmark of the route: pitch two start with a vertical chimney choked with ice. Quite enjoyable. the uberhanging snow mushrooms on this pitch made for entertaining mixed climbing around them.|
|The spindriff was quite intense. I was glad to have my hood up.|
|I was having a lot of fun so I just kept climbing and climbing on the second pitch. I went about 80m before I put in a belay. I didn't bring enough screws but luckily you pass under a couple of chockstones. Bomber pro.|
|Slack nearing the belay.|
|Zack was having fun getting used to the unique nature of Rockies mixed climbing.|
|"I feel like I'm learning how to climb again".|
|Zack starts pitch three.|
|Steep climbing, good rock.|
|The last pitch was more awkward than expected.|
|Zack negotiates a tricky snowed-up slab.|
|Zack likes to stick his tongue out.|