Archive for ice climbing

cascade on Cascade Mountain

Posted in Mountains, pictures, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , on March 3, 2014 by xi'an

Cascade Mountain FallI started my stay in Banff with an interesting ice-climb on Cascade Mountain, just next to the Icefields Parkway exit to the town. (So we climbed the redundant Cascade Fall!) While the difficulty of the climb was much lower [grade III] than for my earlier ice-climb in Banff, it was incredibly cold (when we started, the temperature was -27⁰C… and rose to -19⁰C by the mid-afternoon, freezing the water in my thermos bottle) and I was a little worried at getting numb fingers, which would definitely not help with the climbing. And at the ice getting too brittle. As it happened, the cold temperature did not bother us at all during the climb which ended up being highly enjoyable. (The missing thumb did not bother me either. Except when clipping gear in and out, where I was rather clumsy.) The mountain guide who took us there was Joe McKay, who was hilarious and highly laid-back. He is also involved in filming climbing tricks and advices, so I may see him again at the Banff Centre this week… (In a video, Joe states that one should not be climbed if it’s 25 below!)

Joe in the first pitch of Cascade Mountain Fall, taking it easy!, March 02, 2014

séminaire à Laval, Québec

Posted in pictures, Statistics, Travel, University life with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 24, 2014 by xi'an

On Friday, I am giving a talk on ABC at Université Laval, in the old city of Québec. While on my way to the 14w5125 workshop on scalable Bayesian computation at BIRS, Banff. I have not visited Laval since the late 1980’s (!) even though my last trip to Québec (the city) was in 2009, when François Perron took me there for ice-climbing and skiing after a seminar in Montréal… (This trip, I will not stay long enough in Québec, alas. Keeping my free day-off for another attempt at ice-climbing near Banff.) Here are slides I have used often in the past year, but this may be the last occurrence as we are completing a paper on the topic with my friends from Montpellier.

The Pinnacle [by Hot Aches]

Posted in Books, Mountains, pictures, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , on February 22, 2014 by xi'an

Last night, I watched “The Pinnacle” on my computer. This film retraces the unworldly week of Jimmy Marshall and Robin Smith who climbed in Feb. 1960 six first winter ascents on Ben Nevis. This included the great routes Orion Face Direct and Point Five Gully. The film includes a detailed interview of Jimmy Marshall as well as the repeat, 50 years later, by Dave MacLeod and Andy Turner of the six routes that were first climbed over that 1960 week. This is terrific climbing and I also loved it for following so many climbing routes on the Ben! Following Steve Dean’s description, the “pinnacle” alludes to the feat of Marshall and Smith, who re-defined Scottish climbing, all this using old-style ice-axes and step-cutting rather than the soon to come front-pointed crampons and much more manageable shorter and doubled ice-axes… The film is available for free screening on Hot Aches website for a few more days! (I also learned at last the meaning of hot aches and screaming barfies from the movies. Handy for the next winter climb or run!)


Posted in Mountains, pictures with tags , , , on June 17, 2012 by xi'an

A very personal video of solo ice-climbing by Steve House on Bridal Veil Falls, Telluride (not Provo!):

Actually, when watching the “behind the scene” movies on Patagonia blog, it appears that Steve House was secured most of the way, which is reassuring about the sanity of the film maker, Tyler Stableford. (This short movie is sponsored by Canon, promoting the new Canon EOS-1D X camera. Just forget about the price.)

Louise Falls [WI 5]

Posted in Mountains, pictures, Travel with tags , , , , , , on March 22, 2012 by xi'an

Today I went climbing Louise Falls, right next to Lake Louise, with Gery Unterasinger leading. (Gery is a local guide originally from Austria, who happens to know very well another Austrian guide, Bruno, with whom I climbed the Studelgrat route on the Großglockner a few years ago, small world!) The weather was fantastic: cold enough to trust the ice, but without the freezing wind of the past days. The approach walk is quite easy from the Lake Louise parking lot, following the edge of the (frozen) lake for about 20 minutes (the only worry being to have to step away from the horse-sleight bringing tourists to the end of the lake).

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Bridal Veil fall, Provo

Posted in Mountains, pictures, Travel with tags , , , on December 10, 2011 by xi'an

On Friday, Shane Reese (who so superbly organised the MCMSki III conference early this year and helped us so much for the Adap’ skiii workshop!) took me ice-climbing on one of the most iconic ice routes near Provo, Bridal Veil Fall. There, we met with a guide, Scott Adamson, who lead-climbed both pitches we experimented and belayed us as well.

This was a superb day of climbing where we did about six pitches each, including an attempt towards mixed climbing which was very interesting in its closer connection with rock climbing. Scott was immensely encouraging and it was only towards the end of the day that he told us about the new route he had opened on Moose’s Tooth, Denali, a story I had read in a climbing magazine at that time… (He was trying another route there last spring as well.)

Provo, Utah

Posted in Mountains, pictures, Statistics, Travel, University life with tags , , , , , , , on December 9, 2011 by xi'an

Prior to my attending WSC 2011 in Phoenix next Sunday, I was invited to give a seminar at Brigham Young University in Provo, by the department of Statistics. (This is a private religious university run by the LDS Church, named after of the founders. Students and faculty have to adhere to an “Honor Code” that prohibits, among other things, tea. As an illicit substance. Fortunately, this does not apply to visitors and I can keep drinking tea all night.) The surroundings of Provo are superb,  especially in the current crisp dry weather, the forefront of the Wasatch mountains being the actual Eastern boundary of the town. I hope to get some ice-climbing done today, as Provo is a great spot for doing this!

The visit to the department was very pleasant with a very warm welcome by all and a lot of interesting discussions. I gave my seminar on ABC model choice, using the slides already presented in Madrid last month:

which is quite appropriate given that one of the papers (about the limitations of ABC model choice) was conceived in Utah, early this year (at the MCMC’Ski conference). There were an amazing lot of graduate students in the audience and I hope I managed to get the message out to them, despite the heavy math part at the end. (I personally got a better understand of [A4] and of a way to rewrite it slightly more clearly. I also spotted a typo on mad(y) that should have been corrected weeks ago once Natesh had mentioned it!) Natalie Blades gave a very kind (if rather embarrassing!) intro to my talk and concluded with a “two truths and a lie” game with the audience, asking which one of three facts

  • I worked in a Camembert cheese factory
  • I played the trumpet in a French Navy band
  • I climbed Mont Blanc

was a lie. Producing a very interesting outcome!