Archive for Canmore

a ghastly ghost

Posted in Books, Kids, Mountains with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 13, 2016 by xi'an

My daughter sort of dragged me to watch The Revenant as it just came out in French cinemas and I reluctantly agreed as I had read about magnificent winter and mountain sceneries, shot in an unusually wide format with real light. And indeed the landscape and background of the entire movie are magnificent, mostly shot in the Canadian Rockies, around Kananaskis and Canmore, which is on the way to Banff. (Plus a bit in Squamish rain forest.) The story is however quite a disappointment as it piles up one suspension of disbelief after another. This is a tale of survival (as I presume everyone knows!) but so implausible as to cancel any appreciation of the film. It may be the director Iñárritu is more interested in a sort of new age symbolism than realism, since there are many oniric passages with floating characters and falling meteors, desecrated churches and pyramids of bones, while the soundtrack often brings in surreal sounds, but the impossible survival of Hugh Glass made me focus more and more on the scenery… While the true Hugh Glass did manage to survive on his own, fixing his broken leg, scrawling to a river, and making a raft that brought him to a fort downstream, [warning, potential spoilers ahead!] the central character in the movie takes it to a fantasy level as he escapes hypothermia while swimming in freezing rapids, drowning while wearing a brand new bearskin, toxocariasis while eating raw liver,  bullets when fleeing from both Araka Indians and French (from France, Louisiana, or Québec???) trappers, a 30 meter fall from a cliff with not enough snow at the bottom to make a dent on, subzero temperatures while sleeping inside a horse carcass [and getting out of it next morning when it should be frozen solid], massive festering bone-deep wounds, and the deadly Midwestern winter… Not to mention the ability of make fire out of nothing in the worst possible weather conditions or to fire arrows killing men on the spot or to keep a never ending reserve of bullets. And while I am at it, the ability to understand others: I had trouble even with the French speaking characters, despite their rather modern French accent!

beer at BIRS

Posted in Mountains, Travel, Wines with tags , , , , , , , on March 6, 2014 by xi'an


spurned once again by Lady MacDonald [ridge]

Posted in Mountains, pictures, Travel with tags , , , , , , on March 24, 2012 by xi'an

Since the huge amount of snow on the ground (plus a lack of snowshoes and an avalanche warning) prevented us (Alex, Devin, and myself) from climbing Ha Ling peak (rightmost peak on the above) on Sunday as we had planned, we crossed the valley to check whether Lady MacDonald was more welcoming than last time. (Despite highly pessimistic and eventually misinformed warnings from the lady at the Canmore information centre.) There was just enough snow to make the first part of the climb easier than on dry terrain and we reached the eyesore of the teahouse ruins in early afternoon, meeting two groups that had turned around there. Continue reading

One ridge too many…

Posted in Books, Mountains, Travel with tags , , , , on September 16, 2010 by xi'an

On Monday morning, Devin and I left Banff very early to try one more scramble before my plane (as the pouring rain of the previous night had killed any chance of doing real climbing). We arrived in Canmore at about 7am and hiked up to Mount Lady MacDonald, which was listed as difficult in our guidebook. The weather was very wet, if not exactly raining, and we went up in one cloud then in another. Past the abandoned structures that marked the end of the hiking trail (and the beginning of the scramble), it started to snow, although it was not feeling cold. The trail was not longer visible under the fresh wet snow and we went up the scree slope looking for the slabs indicated in the guidebook (since visibility was very poor…). We rather quickly found slabs and then faced a traverse on a narrow ridge with a knife edge, a very steep slope on one side and a vertical drop on the other side. There were footholds on the non-vertical side and by carefully moving along, sometimes in an undignified saddling fashion, we managed to (slowly) cross this ridge and to go down a dozen meters to another ridge that was announced as daunting in the guidebook. I was then convinced we were a few dozen meters from the summit, but, after reaching a second ridge, the clouds lifted to some extent, enough to see that there was still a long and exposed ridge to the true summit with at least as much snow… In fact, we had moved to the ridge too quickly and thus we were not on the scramble path! With no rope and no security point, this was getting too much of a gamble (dying for MacDonald?!) and we thus turned back for another ridge saddling… Even though we did not reach the top, this was a great scramble, most likely the most exposed I ever did!!! (Much more than the winter traverse of the Aonach Eagach, where my guide and I roped…)