Crossing (half of) Canada

British Columbia
We set out from Squamish as the rainy weather arrived. Vancouver was hit as well, and we spent hours wrestling our way through the windstorm that pummeled the Metro area on August 29th.  It seems the rains followed us across BC, giving us a rainy journey for the entire drive to Canmore…
Alberta
We were anticipating warmer, drier weather in Canmore, but were greeted with a week of sporadic rain whipped by strong winds and crisp temps around 5 degrees celcius… dang.
The sun begins to peak through the clouds to illuminate the mountains
Still, we had a fun and chilly week of attempted climbing in the Bow Valley. We spent two days freezing our butts off up at the Acephale – where the climbing temps were great but the in-between-temps were almost unbearable. Kim was successful with a send of her wishlist item, “Icebox of Broken Dreams” (5.12d), and although Graham was getting closer on “Endless Summer” (5.13d), we were forced to forego another day up there due to rapidly plummeting temperatures in the forecast. We climbed our last two days in the Bow Valley at Grassi Lakes and Grotto Canyon, two places we hadn’t been before. Grassi was great fun – we got a high mileage day on steep pocketed routes. Grotto Canyon wouldhave been great, but after just one climb we were rained out. Alas, it was just not meant to be.
Graham on his onsight of “Dance me Outside” (5.12a) at Grassi Lakes
Graham on his send of “Try This” (5.12d) at Grassi Lakes
Hiding under a cliff drinking tea instead of climbing
The rain hammering down in Grotto Canyon
We eventually gave up on the climbing conditions in Canmore and headed to Calgary at the start of the long weekend. We felt so lucky to have a chance to see some great friends who were exceptionally generous to us during our visits. We stayed Friday night with Carley and Cory and had a wonderful time playing Shanghai Rummy and Pandemic. Saturday evening we headed over to see family friends Joce and Duane. We had a fantastic time visiting and catching up with them for the night. Thank you all for your awesome company and hospitality!
Pandemic: A ridiculously fun cooperative board game where you save the world from disease!

Saskatchewan

Saskatchewan was the start of unchartered territory for both of us, and despite being rock climbers with a love of the mountains, we were very excited to make the most of the prairies. We stopped at a few places throughout the drive to admire the prairie fields and sky, and we made the detour south to Grasslands National Park for a visit. Grasslands NP is a unique park that preserves unconverted prairie habitat and is home to several rare and endangered species in Canada. We were thrilled to see bison, pronghorn antelope, black-tailed prairie dogs, and mule deer among other exciting creatures in the park.
A lone gull in a big prairie sky

Prairie grasses in Grasslands National Park
Grasslands National Park
Birdie!
Bison dust baths
Black-tailed Prairie Dog
Manitoba
Manitoba turned out to be much more exciting than we expected! We crossed the border into this prairie province in the evening, and shortly afterwards the sky began to light up with an incredible showing of the northern lights. The aurora borealis of the prairies far exceeded what we ever expected – the dancing lights formed vibrant ribbons of greens and pinks that danced vertically across the entire sky from east to west and directly above us. We had some fun trying to take photos, chuckling at our inability to even begin to capture the wonder we were witnessing.
Aurora Borealis
Manitoba just feels very Canadian as well. We decided to drive in to Winnipeg to see the old buildings, visit Portage Ave and Main St (well it was 40 below in the winter…), and stop at the Red River. After leaving the city we were excited to watch the landscape exhibit more of the boreal forest – and we also stopped for some geocaching fun!
The Red River!
We were successful geocachers 🙂

Ontario

Ontario is SO HUGE. We drove over 2000 kilometres to get to Ottawa, but the drive and destination were totally worth it. On the way we stopped in Thunder Bay for a day of climbing and it was so fun! We were super lucky to meet Aric Fishman (owner and guide at OutdoorSkills and Thrills) and friends Mitch and Joe, and climb with them for the day. While we only visited one crag, Silver Harbour, we are excited to add T Bay to the list of places we are stoked to return to. 
Lake Superior… it looks like an ocean!
Kim climbs one of the warm-ups at Silver Harbour
Working the moves on “Sterling” (5.13a)
We arrived in Ottawa Friday evening and had a weekend full of great visiting with family. Graham’s Auntie Jan, Uncle John and cousins all live in town – Graham hadn’t seen them in nearly ten years and Kim had never met the gang in person, so it was super super great. We had family dinners and games nights (and days), toured downtown Ottawa (and went to Quebec!) and did a lot of wonderful catching up.
Auntie Jan and Graham in front of the Chateau Laurier in Ottawa
Rideau Falls
Russ, Annie and David carefully considering their hands during hours of board games at The Loft
We are now on our way to Southern Ontario for the rest of the month, where we will visit more friends and family and continue our sampling of the climbing that Ontario has to offer.

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