canada general

the worst thing about minus 24oC

The worst thing about minus 24oC is the frozen nostril hair.

Although I did get to go home from school early! (School being work in this case)

Colder than -30oC up on the hill = too cold to ski!

canada general

decapitated in a blogging accident

Last weekend was lovely and sunny and warm, so I was out stocking up on Vitamin D for the Winter. And climbing, and jumping into lakes, and scrambling up small mountains.


I’m not the bearded one in the water, this is just to demonstrate the fact that it really was warm. This is Lake Minnewanka, a glacial lake that probably isn’t pronounced how you’re thinking it’s pronounced, and that’s Mt Rundle hanging out in the background.

It seems like the sun has cut down on it’s visiting hours considerably over the last fortnight. Suddenly we’re getting up in the dark, and walking to catch the bus along murky streets lit sporadically by street lamps, with silhouettes of mountains hanging in the gloom on either side of the valley. And it’s actually dark when going to bed at 10pm now. It might be warm for a few weeks more, but Summer is on its way out. By the time we get back from our visit to Australia (September 23rd to October 12th), no doubt it will be cold and rainy and snowy and generally a bit unpleasant until it gets cold enough for the snow to start building up properly.

general hiking travel

parque nacional torres del paine

One morning we got up before sunrise (not hard to do in this part of the world at this time of year) and climbed into the little Toyota Yaris we had hired, and drove towards Parque Nacional Torres del Paine. The sun rose just as we were driving into the Park and got our first view of the Torres del Paine, swathed in grey cloud, but still visible.



We decided to just hike up to the viewpoint to see the Torres, as avalanche risk meant we couldn’t do the circuit hike in the park anyway. So we drove over the bridge of doom, and further into the park.



This time of the year was very much low season, and we only saw two other people the whole time we were there – a couple out on the path to Torres del Paine, with overnight backpacks.



We found a carpark, and wandered around til we found a likely trail to start hiking up. The streams we were crossing were full of rocks with little ice rings surrounding them, but were still flowing. As we gained altitude, patches of snow quickly appeared, and we were soon walking on a very snowy trail – becoming thankful that there had been other people around silly enough to come out here in the cold season.



The weather wasn’t looking promising, and the snowy path was getting deeper, and as we reached the Campamento Chileno it started to snow on us. We sat in the shelter of the verandah of the locked hut, and watched the snow and the grey clouds, and wondered whether it would be worth going on – would we even be able to see the Torres? After some food it had stopped snowing, and we decided we may as well keep going, at least for a bit, to see what the path was like – if the weather turned bad again we could always turn back.



We started trying to make quicker time, remembering how little daylight we had down in the far South here. We start slogging up the final hill, a slippery track of snow covering boulders, with big steps up, and of course snow covering everything we can use to balance ourselves or push up on. Between the snow and the pace we’re scrambling up the hill, we’re getting thoroughly soggy. But we finally make it to the top, and see the Torres del Paine, with their pet glacier and lake. Although there’s blue sky behind us, the Torres remain swathed in grey cloud – it seems they like to be atmospheric.

And then we hike out again, and the weather and the colours of Patagonia were beautiful.



canada general snow

surface hoar

It looks very pretty, but is no good for snowpack stability.

canada general

bit nippy out

I’m not sure when the temperatures were last above freezing, but I think it was a couple of weeks ago. Unfortunately there isn’t much snow looming in future forecasts, but at least all the cold will be helping the ice climbs get nice and fat.

But I’m beginning to see what all the Canadians in Melbourne were complaining about. Whether it’s the proper heating over here, the really dry air, or the fact the temperatures don’t seem to jump around so much, I’m finding the cold here easier to deal with than in Melbourne. Of course I might change my mind when it hits -30oC, but by then I can probably get away with whinging about the cold.