adventures with Jen Olson

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Ice Climbing Seminars in Norway

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A wonderful group of athletic women who learned a little bit more about ice climbing.

One of the highlights of my trip to Norway was teaching over 2 weekends in Rjukan. I met very talented and experienced ice climbers from Scotland and Norway. We all learned a lot and had a blast exploring the frozen waterfalls of the Rjukan area.

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The fantastic venue for learning in Rjukan, Norway

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The famous tool traverse… working on our footwork and body position for ice chippin’

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Of course we had to try out some drytooling, as well
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Siri crushing the stone ;) like she owned the speed climbing competition at the Rjukan Ice Festival

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Oda figuring it out :)

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It did get hot for a few minutes and we took full advantage of the power of vitamin D

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talking about twisting our hips and flicking our wrists

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Hanna-Kajsa, a Swedish climbing guide and I, enjoyed working together :)

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Me, when it wasn’t as warm, getting the rope up

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Enjoying the sun, while cleaning the ropes and demonstrating skirt climbing ;)

I taught a lead climbing clinic to Lisa and Debbie from Scotland the previous weekend. We had perfect conditions and climbs for our objectives.

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Debbie cruising up a grade 3 at the lower gorge

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Lisa has a strong swing and complete confidence in her tools :)

This was one of my most favorite trips ever. I was so inspired by the women and the local landscapes of Norway. I know I will be back next year.

 

 

Girls day out on Kitty Hawk

Claire and Sonja in front of Kitty Hawk

I am super grateful to Sarah Hueniken for a terrific day out ice climbing guiding on one of her phenomenal weekends for chicks. I got to climb with Sonja and Claire on an ultra-classic Canadian Rockies ice climb called Kitty Hawk.

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me enjoying a relaxed day out!

I thoroughly enjoyed the company of two skilled ice climbing women who I find interesting to chat to about their successful careers. We had low avalanche hazard, reasonable temperatures, just enough clouds, a well packed trail, lots of hooks and no other traffic. WOW! beat that. ; )

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The first belay at the base of the steep climbing. A well-protected alcove.

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Claire finishing the first steep pitch

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Sonja enjoying herself on one of her ‘dream climbs’

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me starting up the crux pitch looking down on the girls at the belay. the unicorn climb in the background

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the crux pitch

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yay, we crushed it! : )

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So beautiful : )

Dolomites with Sara and Geoff

Meet Geoff and Sara, a happy couple

I was fortunate to climb with Sara and Geoff in the Dolomites this past September. This trip allowed me to experience the magic of these historical mountains in the eastern Alps.

Bad Timing

Unfortunately, we timed our trip perfectly with some of the worst weather of the summer. Every day, tough decisions were made, but we made the best of it and managed to climb some rocks!

Sport Climbing near Sands in Taufers

Our trip started with a three hour traffic jam on a Saturday morning driving over Brenner Pass from Innsbruck. In the future I will try to get an earlier or much later start. We were chomping at the bit, but by the time we found a crag in the late afternoon, we found it seeping from recent rains.

The next day we awoke to rain and we ended up making a long trip to a dry sport climbing cliff, where we got in a really good workout!

Not my photo, as the day we climbed the 3rd Sella Tower we did not have any blue sky.

Summit of the second sella tower and the famous Messner route

We enjoyed the first half of the Vinatzer route on the 3rd Sella Tower and everyone enjoyed the crux pitch up a finger crack and through a roof, even though it was a little bit moist.

Then I made the tough decision to go down, as the weather wasn’t improving, and I was worried about some technical scrambling on the descent in the rain. So we rappelled from there and found our way into the descent gulley.

arriving at the big ledge before the crux pitch on the Vinatzer route

Getting a bit discouraged with the weather we packed up and headed from Val Gardenia to Cortina. On the way I managed to get a 170 euro speeding ticket for going 11km over the speed limit while trying to pass a dump truck. I was getting passed by locals all the time as I get car sick when I drive fast on windy roads! Nice italian hospitality.

rain on Sass di Stria, we managed to climb the left hand skyline route later in the afternoon, called Hexenstien

When we got to Falzerego Pass it was raining so we headed up the cable car to the top of Lagazuoi

The information in the cable car and for tourist about WWI was fascinating

The tourist book told us to take the cable car up and hike down the tunnels to avoid going against the crowds, but on this rainy day–it wouldn’t of been an issue to hike up the tunnels (which i would of preferred).

Enjoying Italian hospitality at the Rifugio Lagazuoi before descending the mountain

I loved the ledges, trails, paths, tunnels, trenches all initially built in WWI. It was not difficult to imagine what it might of been like

Helmets and headlamps required, i kept bumping my head!

Unfortunately, i am claustrophobic (felt nauseous, and headachey) and I didn’t really enjoy this experience. when there were opportunities to go onto ‘balconies’ or walk outside on exposed terraces, i was very happy.

ahhh, the relief of getting outside, scoping climbs and ski lines : )

In the afternoon, we managed to squeeze in this climb on Hexenstein.

the second to last pitch involves climbing over a chockstone into a rock crevasse, a very cool location on the mountain. These mountains provide lots of natural hiding places.

Savouring one of our few summits on the trip before hiking off through many trenches and walls built in WWI.

The next day we through our hands up in the air and headed to Venice to escape another day of rain and indecision.

In our short time visiting Venice, we did some great sightseeing, but mostly ate and drank wonderful food and wine

And of course we went to find the Glass Blowers on the island of Murano, we missed them, but bought some gorgeous glass jewelry and vases.

The Yellow Edge in the Tre Cime was our next objective. We shared the route with a few other parties. What a spectacular location!

Fun corner climbing for the first couple pitches

Crushing the stone

Shortly after this pitch the route traverses left and up into the final crux dihedral.
We got passed by a local which was also, a classic European experience for us!

We had a good day out at the Cinqui Torri after this and really enjoyed the route called the NW corner on the Torre Barancio.

Superb classic climb on this Torre up the obvious corner in the sun (photo from mountainproject.com)

I want to thank Sara for being so adventurous and strong and trusting me on this trip. I want to thank Geoff for his patience and care of Sara and ability to be supportive through bad weather and help with the details of guiding. I appreciate them both for all the amazing wine and fantastic food we devoured!

givin’er

the Burkerts’ crush the Bugaboos

Raring to go

Maija, Ryan and I had a jam packed week of climbing this past August. We spent most of our days in the Bugaboos climbing Bugaboo (Kain route), Pigeon (West ridge), Crescent Towers (Lion’s way), Crescent Spire (McTech arete), and East Post Spire, all based out of the exotic Appleby campground (that I love!)

Near the end of our trip, we escaped some fresh snow, and went to the Rockies to climb exquisite quartzite at the Back of the Lake and on The Grand Sentinel.

Morning Sunrise climbing up the Bugaboo-Snowpatch col looking east

working hard with the mountain boots on – Kain Route, Bugaboo

miles of pristine granite ridges

keepin’ on movin!

Grand Success on the famous Gendarme crux

a perfect day to enjoy the rewards on the summit of Bugaboo

organic snausage and fried eggs for the paleos (thanks for the frying pan Matt and Will!)

the slow start is an essential part of camping at Appleby

the way of the Lion-ess

enroute to Pigeon, the Howers’ greeting us in the early morning

oh how I love the bugs…

Bad Weather weighing on my shoulders while we scamper up Pigeon

a new day on the Crescent Spire

Every day we feel the urge to jump in

then …. common sense kicks in
(ice on the upper lake, whoa!)

Time to head to the Rockies, a pair of happy campers

The Grand Sentinel. Small in a Big Landscape

The route has cracks, roofs, ledges and fantastic ‘grips’, and not a bad view either

about to cruise the crux

the chin/cheek jam gives a nice rest mid-crux ; )

the tippy top

A panoramic end to a full week of climbing. Thanks to Maija and Ryan for all the good climbs!

Climbing in Estes Park with the AAC and Iranian Female Climbers

I appreciate the folks at the American Alpine Club who believe in International Climbing Meets. I have now taken part in a few of these and they are such a great way to connect people from all over the world who love climbing in new magical venues. This past week I visited Estes Park, Colorado to join up with about twenty ladies who all love climbing.
The wonderful and generous host climbers were: Mary Ann, Chris, Tracy, Casey, Melissa, MG, Yasmeen and Kammie. These women were so talented and caring. They cooked, organized, chauffeured, translated, guided and made sure that almost no Iranian wish went unmet!

The host climbers brought some special male guests such as Jason, Chris and Arman to also help out.

Scheming Host climbers: Casey, MA, Chris, Melissa and Tracy. with my lasagnas on the oven  ; )

The Iranian climbers were: Nadia, Mahsa, Shahnaz, Sheima, Farideh, Dena, Parastoo, Shirin, Fatemeh, Afsar, Parvin, Masoumeh and  Farnoosh. These ladies were so motivated and determined to make the most of their trip to the USA.
(In a couple of the following photos their faces are blurred on purpose.)

Before coming to Colorado

In the nick of time

On our first day up in Estes, we stopped along the way, at Jurassic Park. We managed to climb 2 routes, including the super classic, Edge of Time, before the Daily Thunderstorm arrived.

Cruising a stiff 5.9 arcing crack at Hens and Chicks

The next couple days saw us at Lumpy’s ridge. In the following areas: Left Book, the Bookmark and Hens and Chicks Crag. Where we learned to jam cracks from 5.7-5.9 and enjoyed some multi-pitch adventures.

On Fantasy Crack. Everytime you were on slab…. you fantasized about a crack

Everyday we had to beat the thundershowers. They actually were quite enjoyable given the super hot temperatures we were experiencing, but tricky to climb in. I love the bellowing thunder. It was often quite threatening, but way more bark then bite.

The view of the diamond from lumpy’s

On our last day in Estes, a few of us host climbers went climbing, while the others went shopping and did laundry. We went to the magestic Hallet Peak in RMNP.

We approached in the dark, so this photo was taken on the way out…

a pro’s photo of Hallet, we were climbing on the steep mid-right hand side of the face on a popular 5.8++ route called, Culp-Bossier.

sweet morning light

This is an eight pitch route with lots of route-finding and short sections of run-outs between protection. Many fun edges to grab and endless small footholds.

Chris on the first pitch, still warming up

Chris and I were a team, as Tracy and Casey climbed together. Tracy graciously let us go first as it was our first time on the mountain. We actually got to the base of the climb before it got light out (thanks to Tracy for the blind-boulder-hopping route-finding). So we waited a little bit and I started up when I could just turn out my head lamp ; )

Nice pitches in the alpine granito

Great Exposure on this route with amazing views all around

I didn’t climb very fast as I spent a lot of time making sure we were on route and hunting for gear. We topped out around noon and found the east descent gully fairly easily.

Tracy, a very professional climbing guide, topping out on the Culp-Bossier

hobbling out from Emerald Lake

Once again, we beat the thunderstorms. We all had really sore feet from heat and many days of climbing/hiking. The highly groomed trail was a treat at the end of the day.

I hope the Iranian women have a very enjoyable stay in the USA and feel safe travelling and returning home.

I really enjoyed meeting everyone, hosts and Iranians, as well as sampling Estes Park. I especially enjoyed the little bit of Iranian dance we got to witness one evening. Thank You.

The Highest Biggest Baddest Mountain in Canada – Mt. Logan 2012

Kenneth, Juho (JS), Juho (JR), Gery and me

Thanks again to Mammut for enabling this incredible journey to the north of Canada, to climb Canada’s most wintery peak: Mt. Logan via the King’s trench. For more information on the Mammut website about the trip and all the individuals involved, please go here.

3 Finn’s, 1 Austrian and a canuck

We embarked on this journey by meeting in Whitehorse on May 23, 2012 at this fine establishment:

Good eats in the Yukon

Where we continued to ‘overeat’ in hopes of burning a few calories on the glacier. We also, supplied ourselves with lots of fuel and a few last minute groceries – the ‘heavy’ food like cheese, butter and expedition bread.

This evening also marks the change in our daily sleep patterns with the midnight sun keeping our energy high until at least 1 am for most of the rest of the trip.

We enjoyed watching a beaver play in the Yukon river after dinner whilst waiting for the sun to set……… we’re still waiting ; )

The next day we were taken in a 15 passenger van to Kluane Lake (courtesy of Up North Adventures) after registering with Parks Canada and getting a safety briefing on the hazards that are exceptional on Mt. Logan, like avalanches, weak snow bridges over crevasses and cornices.

you will never forget a trip to the North

We did get to know the road between Haines Junction and Kluane Lake a bit, as we ended up waiting a week to fly in due to either high winds or white skies.

a visual treat for us on one of our journeys to Haines Junction

We were very lucky during our first week of waiting because most days – it was obvious that we were not going to fly. This allowed us to explore the local environment. We went biking, hiking, fishing, explored the beach of Kluane Lake and used the sauna.

We had a nice day to hike to the top of Sheep Mountain.
Gery and Kenneth on the ascent.

Gery enjoying a steeper ridge on Sheep Mountain

Yes, we ACTUALLY saw LOTS of Dall Sheep on Sheep Mountain, and lots of new baby sheep too.

The amazing beach of Kluane Lake (just outside the Sauna)
During our entire trip we were able to observe the melting of the winter ice off of the lake.

We heard many different birds, but we really enjoyed watching the ravens hassle this Golden Eagle

We all really enjoyed meeting, Duncan (the cook at the research station), who graciously took us fishing…

and Duncan entertained us occasionally for our evening campfires where we made some amazing burgers, and learned the ‘canadian’ way of roasting marshmallows.

If you could stay up late enough, you could see some amazing sunsets (for hours)

We were psyched to meet our pilot Donjek and (my previous pilot) Andy Williams.

Finally, on June 1, on our second try of the day… Donjek managed to get Gery and I into basecamp on the King’s Trench on the Quintino Sella Glacier at 2750m.

Here is a little footage of our flight just before landing….

the glorious east ridge of logan on the flight in

our new home in the snow

Sooo, Gery and I flew in late on June 1, but JR and JS weren’t able to fly in until early on June 3. Kenneth decided that his time was better spent exploring the wilderness of the Yukon and Alaska before his family came to join him later in the month.

We had a nice progression up to King’s col (Camp 2) where we would carry one day and move camp the next day from Base Camp (2750m) to Camp 1 (3260m) to Camp 2 (4105m).

one of the steeper sections of the trip between camp 1 and camp 2 (king’s col)

We missed most of the teams that had flown in and out before we arrived, but we did get to spend a bit of time with Canada West Mountain school owner, Brian Jones and guides, Rich Prohaska and Tyler before they flew out. As well, we met a team of four, mostly from the Kootenays’, who summited (and got a bit of frostbite). The final team we met was from Alberta, when the four of them flew out, we were the only folks left on the mountain.

the carry to camp 3 (JS)

On about the fifth day of ‘work’, we decided to make a carry to camp 3 (4888m), as the weather was good and the next day was forecast to be ‘bad’. This was a difficult decision for JR, as he wasn’t feeling great, he was lower energy and suspected he might be getting sick. He chose to make the carry, and we moved at a very slow pace, but in hindsight, he probably got more sick due to the extra exertion and altitude.

We finally earned our ‘porridge’ and our rest day at King’s Col.

The mighty King’s Peak gave us hours of entertainment at King’s Col

We awoke the next day with the plan of moving to camp 3, if JR was ok. He wasn’t. He felt worse and his pulse oximeter reading was 65, (down from the 80’s). He didn’t feel well enough to ski down either (a common symptom of the man flue). So with our handy dandy sat phone, we managed to coordinate a rescue from King’s col with Parks Canada. (Thanks to Andrew, the park’s rescue specialist)

Due to the altitude and cloud, JR flew out, but without much of his gear. We decided to retrieve the carry from camp 3. This decision was based on the fact that we felt JR might be very sick and need assistance from JS ASAP.

The trip between King’s col and camp 3 is spectacular due to the seracs and King’s Peak. We enjoyed fresh powder skiing, as well. We did have a ‘visitor’ at camp 3. A solo raven, sampled much of our food. (He visited us again at basecamp at the end of the trip)

The following couple days were spent sitting in camp at King’s Col- waiting for weather. During this time, we found out that our dear friend, JR, was okay.  Thanks to Dr. Jeff Boyd, we had sent him off with the appropriate anti-biotics and he felt much better back at Kluane lake (after visiting the nursing station in Haines Jct.).

good times reading in the tent

Now, we had the tough decision of what to do next. There were many teams prior to us that waited many days to fly in or out of the Quintino Sella Glacier. Based on fear of missing future engagements, the team decided to head back to basecamp and catch the first available opportunity to fly out.

We didn’t have a great weather forecast in our future and we did have a lot of unused fuel, uneaten food, and JR’s extra gear to get off the mountain, as well.

down we go- with WAY too heavy loads : (

Gery and JS worked together to get 3 sleds full down the mountain whilst navigating in the WHITE!

On the way down we heard an avalanche of ice and snow on the King’s Peak side, it was a tough day with heavy loads while Gery lead us with his GPS back down the mountain.

Back at basecamp and time to break out the ‘backcountry oven’ treats like pizza and brownies

We ended up having to wait a few days back in basecamp. During this time, we exhausted our library (somethings were read twice) and Gery and JS enjoyed some ‘extreme’ couloir skiing close to camp.

Gery treated us to a workout facility in which we could work on our pullups.

JS cranking out a set. ‘Extreme’ couloirs in the background of photo. ; )

Finally, less than eight hours, before our flight out of Whitehorse, we were miraculously whisked out of base camp, by Doug (the heli pilot) and back to Kluane Lake at 10pm. We enjoyed a cold beer while swatting at mosquitoes and packing up our stuff.

Our taxi ( Woody’s Limo +1-867-668-1676 ) arrived after midnight to take us to the Whitehorse airport, where we were just in time for our 6 am flight to Calgary on June 16!

We feel so lucky to of had such an adventure in the wilderness of northern Canada.

We especially want to thank Sian and Lance of Kluane Lake and the Icefields Discovery Tours who enabled the best trip possible and were amazing hosts despite it being possibly the WORST weather in 40 years!

Sian waiting to fly in, too!

Lance, being patient and wise : )

Our pilot Doug

The Highest Height in Alberta: Mt. Columbia 3747m

Thanks again to Mammut for facilitating this fantastic adventure.

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Gery – our fearless leader

Gery Unterasinger organized us: myself and five strong men from Calgary who call themselves the White Clothed Peaks. We set off in a great weather window to summit the highest peak in Alberta. Mt. Columbia at 3747m.

off to the ‘races’

We started by meeting in Lake Louise at 6:30 am, which got us skiing by 10 am. After competing with the Brewster Ice buses at the Athabasca Glacier.

The graceful wilderness approach to the Athabasca glacier

We were happy to connect with Mark Klassen who showed us a ‘safer’ way to traverse through the three icefalls of the glacier- one of the cruxes of the route.

traversing through the icefalls

The rest of the trip had a lot of flatish glacier slogging. Where you could watch your dog run away ;)  I was grateful when I pulled up and saw the digging of our campsite — which meant I could unload the beast that was on my back.

your dog is in BC

We were blessed with some amazing weather, which made for fantastic cooking conditions and lifestyle photos at dawn and dusk.

oh, the light!

Unfortunately, there was some suffering. Ground meat surface around the feet, elephantitis around the face and one suspicious case of altitude sickness cause some vomitting:

NOT fun

This is an example of me ‘being comfortable’ winter camping in perfectly reasonable temperatures:

anyone have an extra layer or hot beverage?

The greatest rewards from this trip include: being with some quality folks who were giving it their ALL! and the amazing vistas to the west and to the north.

the vastness

I must say that I think the greatest joy of the trip, other than the fragrance of our clothes, was the relief felt when the ‘rental’ boots came off!

oh, please make it stop

I am very proud of these guys for enduring the suffering of rental equipment and naivety, but they survived a very physically challenging adventure and received the rewards of amazing scenery and a job ‘well done’!

sweet as

Aguja Guillaumet Squared

I am grateful to Saule Zukauskaite, Arunas Kamandulis, and Gediminas Simutis for this fantastic opportunity to climb in Patagonia. Saule, Aras and Gedas proposed this trip to Mammut for the 150 year project and it was selected. Thanks to Mammut for choosing me to accompany this talented team of young climbers.

For more information on Aguja Guillaumet look here.

We climbed the routes: Brenner-Moschioni  350 m 6b and Comesaña-Fonrouge 350 meters 6b+

The view from my window at my posada, Inlandsis, the day of our departure

Buenos Dias and the waning Luna

Gedas, Saule and Aras... ready to giv'er

definitely 6 tons!

Starting the grind...

We started our march to the promised land on December 12th. We ended up camping in the valley at Piedra del Fraile after taking a load up to Piedra Negra. On December 13, we hiked from the valley at ~500m, changed up our loads at Piedra Negra (~1300m) and continued up to Paso Guillaumet where the rock climbing begins, a few pitches of quality rock climbing gets you to the aesthetic crux pitch.

At Piedre Negra, ready for action

The left summit is Guillaumet

The crux pitch on the Brenner-Moschioni

Saule on perfect alpine granite

loving the shadows and the cracks

Rising to the ridgeline

Looking back at the ridge we climbed

Summit Shot ~2579m

We gratefully summited at 8:30pm after ascending a little over 2000m from the valley.

starting the descent with fantastic views

the shadow of the aguja in the valley below

We rappelled the Guillot couloir into fading light.

Finishing the rappels, back to the Paso Guillaumet for a midnight snack

We arrived back at our tents around 3 am. We spend the next day resting, recovering and sheltering ourselves from the heat and the sun. Climbers say they haven’t seen it be so hot here in previous seasons.

On December 14, we decided to head back up Aguja Guillaumet–to minimize our time on the not so frozen snow. Aras, Gedas and Saule did a great job of leading us up the approach on snow, keeping the momentum on the route and up to the Amy couloir.

Crux Pitch of Comesaña-Fonrouge

Fitzroy group shadow on Pollone

a happy guida

Gedas leading the rappels

the last rappel

Racing down to beat the heat

Gratefully back at the trailhead, without our packs on our backs

crammed into the taxi

Team Lithuania in Patagonia

Gedis, Aras and Saule

Today we went for a 5 pitch rock climb. Bolts, around 5.10 or 6a. Very fun outing. A little bit windy– good training for us to get to know each other and get into thinking about alpine climbing.

Gedis on the 1st pitch

in the rhythm

enjoying the views

the wind picks up

our 1st summit - many more to come ; )

to rescue training...

So after a day of getting to know each other and some rescue review… we are off to the mountains. Tomorrow we will hike into Piedre Negra and hope to climb Guillomet and Aguja Pollone in the next couple days….

Classic Chamonix Climbs with fellow Canucks, Joanna and Tom

get your game face on for the Aiguille du Midi arete

the Cherie Couloir on the triangle du tacul... beside the trois mont route on mont blanc

the crux pitch ~ WI 3-4

Joanna cranking out the crux

Tom is happy not to be under Joanna or any other parties for that matter : )

the last pitch of perfect ice and stone

an impressive glacier and valley far below

riding the Helbronner to the Torino hut, a mountain guide's dream of transportation

Bonjourno Dent du Geante and Torino rifugio

"getting dressed" in the morning

Aiguille de Entrevs ridge traverse from right to left

So many great ridge photos!

Joanna coming to grips with her fear of exposed places! WOW! impressive...

great views from the Helbronner

OUT OF THE MONT BLANC MASSIF AND ONTO THE AIGUILLE ROUGE SIDE OF THE VALLEY TO APPRECIATE WHERE WE HAVE BEEN….

its all about the vistas

Traverse of the Crochues follows the ridge from left to right starting at the 'V' notch

a superb ridge traverse

Next stop... Lac Blanc

the popular Lac Blanc, well worth the hike

sit down, relax, eat and drink: croute, omlette, tart, beer, wine and rose!

a tipsy bumble back to the top of the Index lift

a sweet ride down before the evening storm

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