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The Incessant Draw of Something New

Updated: Oct 13, 2023

Wanderlust. Almost.

I often talk about my love of returning to my favorite locations over and over again, as it's a huge part of my creative process for photography; however I also love going to places I've never been before. Who doesn't? It's exciting and fun! Traveling and experiencing new things is also good for us; we become happier and more open-minded, among other many positive benefits.

When we're kids, we're naturally curious about everything. Every moment contains a new experience and the questions are constant. Time goes by slowly. As we grow up that curiosity wanes, or more accurately it is hammered out of us by responsibility and circumstance. We're forced to study and get degrees we might not even want. We have our own kids, we have high pressure jobs and we experience events that jade us. Time races by, slipping through our grasp like handfuls of sand while we wonder where it all goes. The curious questions cease. Perhaps more often than that not we simply struggle to get by, leaving no time for ourselves or even time to remember to be curious about the world.

I grew up devouring sprawling fantasy epics and immersing myself in virtual worlds. The sense of wonder and excitement from these activities stuck with me. There was a stretch of time where I completely ignored the world around me, content to live in virtual worlds instead. But still, that sense of wonder stayed with me and one morning while out for a walk after a sleepless night it struck me. The real world is amazing and beautiful and I wanted to experience it. Photography helped me learn how to do this. Throughout the 2010s I visited many different cities and countries, sometimes for photos, sometimes not.

It was fun, but by 2018 I was starting to realize I wanted to change my approach. Something was missing and I wanted something different. Instead of traveling internationally, I wanted to focus on exploring Canada, my home country.

Canada is the second largest country in the world, and more importantly it contains hundreds of lifetimes worth of unspoiled and beautiful places. I'm not a patriotic person and would go as far to say that all patriots are blind fools, but I do feel beyond lucky and fortunate to call it my home. However, there's something strange going on. If you look on social media and the internet without ever seeing a map in your life, you would probably assume that Canada is a small country!

The majority of travelers flock to all the same places. Even most landscape photographers are guilty of this! I can understand the motivations of the average person sticking to more convenient travel options and destinations, but landscape photographers? There is a famous place in Iceland that works as the perfect example here. Why do so many feel the need to take the same photo of Kirkjufell that everyone else has taken? For newer photographers this is a great way to learn, but what about everyone else? From my observations online and in the real world, there are two types of landscape photographers: those who prioritize the photos and those who prioritize the experience. Are that many photographers trophy hunting, caring more about the end result than the actual experience?

Of course, I went through that phase too. I am one of the many thousands of photographers who went to Kirkjufellsfoss and took the now classic photo of it and its namesake mountain. Seven years later and that photo is no longer in my portfolio because it doesn't feel like me, made during my first foray into grand landscapes. I personally enjoy the logistics involved in making trips to remote and inaccessible places happen, but that's taking it to the extreme. There are still tons of amazing lesser visited places that are perfectly accessible, yet inexplicably ignored by the masses and landscape photographers alike. I don't understand it.

What I now want is the very opposite of the experience above: places where nobody goes and places filled with the unknown, where I have no idea what the overall experience will be like; even better if no one has heard of the place too, outside of any relevant niche communities. Most people in British Columbia haven't heard of Mount Waddington, despite it being the tallest mountain entirely within the province; however any mountaineer will have heard of it. A few years ago I thought about all of this and realized it was something I could do. Instead of spending my vacation money to fly overseas and stay in hotels like so many people do, I would spend it to access these incredible remote places.

Of course, not all such places require spending money. Some of them are in Vancouver's backyard and just require some bushwhacking and creativity. There are waterfalls, canyons and ancient trees right outside of downtown Vancouver that almost nobody has heard of or seen. In fact, new discoveries are still being made to this day. What sort of wonders might be farther upstream? I love to discover the answer to that question, even when it turns out to be a dud.

Once you get outside of the popular areas here in BC, especially deep in the Coast Mountains and Northern Rockies, things get extremely remote very quickly and access becomes an issue. The Coast Mountains are like the Rockies but taller, more glaciated, more rugged and barely developed. There are places so beautiful and pristine that they should be designated as national parks with proper trail networks developed, yet they currently exist as crown land with no protections, no road access, no anything! With free time hard to come by, spending two weeks bushwhacking to these places is simply not feasible for me and literally everyone I know, so I turned to aircraft.

With the assistance of helicopters and float planes you can go almost anywhere. And even better, your money directly supports local businesses rather than some giant soulless airline that gouges its customers at every opportunity. Over the years I've made some really good likeminded friends and we're always searching for awesome new places to explore, experience and photograph.

This summer was no exception.

Matt Jackisch and I had blocked out some time to lead a workshop together, but times are tough and nobody was interested. However our friends Morgan Carmont and Cath Simard were keen to do some adventuring into the unknown, so we decided it was time to do a trip just for fun. Besides, what better reason is there to do a trip?

We had three pins on a map: one from me, one from Matt and one from Morgan. Mine was in a rocky valley bottom next to a glacier and huge jagged peaks, with no way to get up high. Matt's had incredible huge vistas and amazing hiking but was a bit too far (and therefore costly). Ultimately we decided on Morgan's spot, as it provided the best balance between cost, hiking options and photography potential.

Overview of Morgan's location. The red circle is where we agreed would make the best camp. Based on the satellite imagery the rockfall was quite obvious, but it was also clear the debris would stay away from where we wanted to camp. What we didn't expect was just how often that rockfall would occur! We also utilized up-to-date satellite data from Sentinel Hub to assist with our decision making.

Soon it was almost time for the trip! I was already near our location due to leading a workshop with Blake Randall two nights prior. We barely got into the workshop location thanks to the severe fire season and only having one helicopter operating from White Saddle's home base. It was stressful, to say the least, but we got to witness a surprise Northern Lights show which more than made up for the trouble. As a result I nearly had to cancel our exploratory plans due to the fire season, but I talked with the owner of the helicopter company and he told us he could get us in and out. He said the other helicopter was coming back to fight fires out of home base and they would have a bit more flexibility for drop-off and pick-up options.

After finishing a late dinner, the sky erupted with Aurora Borealis exactly two hours after we were dropped off. One of our clients had never seen them before, making for quite the special experience!

I was staying in Tatla Lake, relaxing at the hotel and eagerly awaiting the arrival of Matt, Morgan and Cath. Eventually everyone arrived and we hung out in our suite at the Tatla Lake Manor, a place I highly recommend staying if you ever find yourself in town! The owners, Johanna and Gerald, are super friendly and accommodating and I've enjoyed all of my stays there over the last three years. We relaxed in our living room, enjoying some beverages and snacks and good banter. I fried up some cheesy potatoes with a block of cheese that Morgan purchased for $20 at a gas station and while they didn't turn out as nicely as the ones I made during the workshop, everyone seemed to like them. I sat down and it was clear that it was going to be an awesome trip with some awesome people.

The excitement finally hit; it was officially go time!

We woke up in the morning to some moody weather. It was difficult to tell if we'd be able to make it in or not, but the helicopter company told us to be ready for 8am onwards. The thirty minute drive to the lake where the base is situated was beautiful, low clouds shrouding the local mountains while granting us tantalizing glimpses. As photographers, not being able to stop and shoot was painful!

A pre-departure group photo while we waited for weather deep in the mountains to improve.

We arrived at the helicopter base and got everything ready. The weather was still moody in the depths of the mountains and Mike King, owner and chief pilot of White Saddle Air Services, said we would need to wait a little bit for things to clear up some more. That was okay with us–the last thing you want on a helicopter trip is to fly almost all of the way there and then have to turn around due to low clouds. In the meantime we double checked our gear and supplies and had a nice chat with Mike.

We paid our fare and stored our keys and wallets in their office. When doing such trips, it's rather unwise to bring such items with you into the mountains. If you forget them on the pick-up flight it becomes an incredibly expensive mistake to fix!

The flight in was beautiful. Low clouds, but not too low. Pristine valleys, glaciers and waterfalls surrounded us; few had ever travelled here. Rain splattered the windshield of the helicopter, a refreshing sight in the midst of a dreadfully dry summer. Everything around us was how it looked on Google Earth, except way larger. I immediately recognized this area and knew we were close. We needed to go a little bit higher to reach the general area we wanted to be dropped off at. Low clouds threatened to sock us in and made me feel a bit anxious, but thankfully they stayed at bay.

We flew up and over the glacier leading to the basin above, located at precisely 2000 meters in elevation. I knew it would be rocky - it was a moraine after all - but it still came as a surprise. That was a lot of rocks, and we needed to

find somewhere the helicopter could safely land! First we flew over by one of the little lakes, where Mike found a flat spot on its far edge.

"Do you want to land here?" Mike asked. We hovered over it while deciding. It was in the middle of a rather nasty boulder field that we would have to navigate any time we wanted to leave camp, so we decided to search for a different landing site.

"That's not a problem," Mike said, "I spotted another flat area just back there."

He flew backwards and spun the helicopter around. This next spot looked good. It was a flat location amongst countless rocks and I'm not sure how Mike spied it so easily, but I suppose that's what happens when you've been flying helicopters in the mountains for almost 50 years!

Mike landed the machine and put it into whatever the helicopter equivalent of idle is, slowing down the rotors but not shutting off. We said our thanks and goodbyes and hopped out to unload our gear. After unloading we huddled over our gear and I gave him the signal that we were all good. The engine and rotors roared, blasting us with downwash. He lifted off, we celebrated, and then it was silence.

I always love that first silence and the feelings it brings. The sudden isolation from the rest of the world is cathartic, an experience rather unique to these helicopter drop-offs. My brain tuned into the lifegiving raindrops hitting my face–the world felt normal again.

We threw a tarp over our pile of gear and then set out to find suitable tent spots on the rocky moraine. The basin in which we landed would have been completely glaciated a long time ago. We found a nice sandy location to tent, however I couldn't help but suspiciously eye the boulders on the slope next to us.

"Don't fall please," I thought.

Shortly after throwing our tents up. Matt and Morgan on the nearby ridge, checking out the glacier below.

Some of them were the size of trucks and they were aimed right at us. It all seemed stable–those huge boulders had been up there for thousands of years after all and there weren't any signs of recent rockfall of consequence, unlike the mountain on the far side of the basin. We rushed to assemble our tents in the rain, not wanting the interiors to get too wet. It was an exciting start to a very memorable camping, hiking and photography trip with some truly amazing friends. Our camp was located next to glaciers and a crumbling mountain–boulders and chunks of ice fell with shocking regularity, at least every ten minutes. Sometimes they were so loud it would wake us up in the middle of the night, though our tents were located safely above the debris zone.

Soon enough we had the cooking shelter assembled and relaxed in our chairs. I loved the familiar and comforting sound of the rain. It was a huge relief to be experiencing such cool temperatures and the reprieve from the burning summer sun. Eventually we set out for a scouting hike in the rain. We navigated through the boulder field, playing my favorite game of "I hope that giant boulder doesn't move when I step on it," or in Cath's eloquent words, avoiding the "jiggly boulders." Occasionally one did move, but thankfully there was nothing too alarming.

We gained the ridge past our camp, where a stunning vista and hilly meadow awaited us below. The rain was coming down harder now, creating some beautiful atmosphere over the lake, glacier and peaks. Streams of water flowed amongst gardens of heavenly wildflowers. I took out my camera and fired off some quick test exposures, one of which I ended up loving. The reindeer moss was beautiful and perfectly contrasted all the moody blues.

"Air Not Meant For Us"

We wandered around the alpine meadow, taking our time looking for potential compositions. The heather was rather slippery thanks to the rain and I nearly did the splits when I slipped over a stream, but my trusty hiking pole saved me from the embarrassment and pain. After spending the afternoon out there it was time to head back to camp to relax and dry off. Relaxing and simply being present is one of my favorite camping activities, especially right after leading a workshop, so I was excited. I'm a huge introvert and it takes many days for me to recover my mental energy after running those trips.

Having some warm food and drinks. We found a nice rock to use as a table - it was so heavy that Matt and I couldn't lift it together, we had to roll it instead. I thought this photo was particularly funny because I managed to catch everyone at a less than flattering moment 😂

Back at the shelter we made food and told stories, our laughter probably terrifying all of the local pikas that nest amongst the boulders. After a while the weather improved and I launched my drone, scouting out a route for a potential hike the next day. More importantly, we wanted to know if the glacier at the edge of the icefield had any ice caves.

To our delight, it did. We agreed that was the big plan for tomorrow. It's always fun to do one nice group hike on these trips, since typically we all just head in separate directions and do whatever we feel like doing. The rest of the day went by quickly and soon enough it was getting chilly and dark. It wasn't until the last full day of the trip it would warm up and exceed 10 degrees Celsius!

I was excited to be going to bed; in the mountains I sleep better than I do at home. Despite occasionally being awoken by thundering rockfall, the invigorating mountain air improved my quality of sleep better than anything else could. I opted to sleep in and not bother with sunrise, which is what I typically do on personal trips. We took our time making breakfast and getting ready. It was cloudy and there was no rush to get anywhere.

Cath took a more flattering photo of us in the shelter on her disposable camera.

Matt and Cath ventured out first. I was still getting ready, plus Morgan and I wanted to gather lots of water to filter and fill our 20 liter jug. A mundane but important chore! It's always nice to have immediate access to clean water. After we - well mostly Morgan because my filter is slow - filtered enough water, we headed out too.

We took our time meandering through the meadow, scouting out potential photo compositions and taking note of the increasing amount of signs of grizzly bears. Digs and piles of scat were present, although clearly not immediately recent. The meadow near the end of the lake was spectacular, exploding in dwarf fireweed and other wildflowers. We made our way past the lake and up the boulders, following its outlet. The glacier came into view and it was breathtaking. Its sheer size made it difficult to judge how much distance we had left to cover, but it wasn't very far.

"Icefield's Edge" - Approaching the glacier with lots of beautiful dwarf fireweed on the way!

The ice caves were now coming into view, like black holes in the side of the glacier. Intimidating maws of ancient ice, all but one of them looked too dangerous to enter. My InReach buzzed–it was a text from Matt letting me know that he and Cath had gone inside the cave. From the bright outside world it was impossible to see inside.

Morgan and I donned our helmets. He went ahead while I hesitated, feeling apprehensive and contemplating my choice one more time. The cave didn't look immediately threatening. Some obvious weak points and areas of calving were present on the entry arch, but that is normal. The entry is typically the most dangerous part of an ice cave, but it's never a risk free endeavor, especially in the summer. In the cave your life is firmly in the hands of Mother Nature and it could collapse at any moment.

What would we find inside? These are the moments and experiences of the unknown we all live for! All we had to do to find out was go inside. Nothing could stop us, other than ourselves. My curiosity and sense of childlike wonder was officially at its peak and I knew I had to go in. I made my way inside, going as fast as I safely could through the entrance, while trying to avoid deeper water that would flood my boots. What awaited blew my mind.

It was a venerable chamber of sapphire blue ice with a moulin at its center, water and light pouring through from the world above. The ice cave felt like a cathedral, except it was not hewn by man, but rather carved over thousands of years by water. It was undoubtedly one of the most unique ice caves I've ever seen, not only in person but also including caves photographed by others. Mist swirled about mysteriously, both under the moulin and from the entrance of the ice cave, thanks to the sharp temperature gradients and humidity.

My goal was to check out the left side of the cave first. I could see Matt, Morgan and Cath near the far end, behind the moulin, but I couldn't say anything to them thanks to the reverberating cacophony of rushing water. Hopefully I wasn't photobombing their photos too badly! The perspective was interesting and I frantically setup my tripod and camera, still feeling the rush of entering the cave.

Looking back at the entrance, filled with mist.

I experimented with several different compositions and then decided to keep moving. I backtracked, clambering over some annoying boulders and using rocks to ford the frigid creek, trying my best to not fall in. When I encountered the perspective as seen below, I stopped in my tracks and will never forget that moment. It truly did look like some ancient cathedral here.

"Primordial Arcana" - The main chamber of the ice cave.

Hugging the right wall of the cave, I kept on moving and joined up with the crew. You could immediately tell how happy everyone was. Matt had a grin on his face, munching on some snacks next to his camera and tripod. Cath was laying in the sticky glacial silt, shooting a low angle. The sheer beauty of the cave was overwhelming in a good way. It's such an unreal environment that it feels like a dream. The question I get asked most often about ice caves other than safety is about the color of the cave, and if it's really that blue.

The answer to that question is a resounding yes.

I moved past Matt and Cath, coming up to the rear of the cave next to Morgan. Yet again the view changed and renewed the feeling of awe. The water falling through the moulin was backlit from this perspective, with the entrance of the cave glowing in the background, light from the outside sitting the mist ablaze. I turned around to take a look at the back of the cave, but there was nothing to see. The raging water simply vanished into an impenetrable void, a wall of blackness that likely stretched for kilometers under the huge glacier. The void called, like voids so normally do, and the temptation to put on the headlamp and keep going was high. I resisted the temptation, as it seemed unwise. Another day, perhaps.

The cave crew at work! From left to right: Cath, Matt, Morgan.

I moved my tripod again, trying a few more different compositions. Shooting in an ice cave is surprisingly difficult! It shares some similarities to the forest in the sense that the sheer amount of options available can be overwhelming. Next to me was a boulder with a puddle on it and I almost didn't give it a second glance.

But then I caught myself as I was walking away and backtracked. I crouched and there was the unique aspect I needed: a still reflection! It wasn't possible to get the reflection with my tripod, so handheld it was. I increased my ISO and made myself as steady as possible, firing off many exposures while rotating the focus ring. This style of shooting is far from ideal in an ice cave, and I failed to get 100% of the focus exposures I needed, but these days I'm no longer such a stickler for technical perfection. It would do.

(Thanks for making me look cool, Cath!)

"Terminus Versus" - The result of the aforementioned process.

By now there was some rumbling, but thankfully it came from my stomach and not the glacier! I was starving–it was time to leave the cave and cook lunch. Besides, it's best not to test one's luck underneath a glacier, particularly in the summertime. I made my way out of the cave and put my gear on the ground so that it could dry off in the sun. While doing this I realized I forgot my fuel at camp, but thankfully Morgan did not and I borrowed his. Mac and cheese was back on the menu!

We ate our meals and lounged about. I tried to review some of the ice cave photos but the blazing summer sun was too bright, so I took off my jacket and draped it over my head. "What are you doing under there?" someone asked.

"It was too bright to look at my photos!" I laughed. Clearly it was a good idea because then the others did it too!

Hanging around outside the glacier. Thanks for the photo, Matt!

Small pebbles and dirt occasionally fell off the glacier, surface melt carrying them away. A tiny but sobering reminder of its impermanence. It was tempting to go back into the cave, but it was time to head back to camp and perhaps shoot the late afternoon light and sunset.

We took our time on the way back, admiring the gardens of wildflowers. The clouds were determined to keep the tallest pointy peaks hidden from us.

I opted to be lazy and fly my drone instead. I have very bad knees and need to be careful not to push them too hard, particularly in such rocky areas where they're prone to being triggered. When they are triggered it can feel like they're going to explode. They nearly gave out on me near the end of a steep hike last year and I've been extra careful since then. It's not a pleasant feeling, and I'm certain I'll need some surgery to fix them in the future.

Admittedly I ended up being pretty lazy for the rest of the trip, happy to just roam around the camp area and relax. One of my favorite camping activities is to completely unwind and do nothing, something my mental health was begging for at the time. On these trips there is a decent amount of downtime, and much of that was spent as a group in the shelter, exchanging hilarious and wild stories that will certainly stay on the mountain.

The last day rolled around and the weather finally improved, clouds clearing and temperatures rising. It had not been a warm trip so far, and I was actually cold on a few occasions! With the improved weather also came the bugs, although they still weren't bad compared to past years. The day marched on by and the clouds completely disappeared for sunset, much to our disappointment. However, there was a silver lining.

The night sky was incredible, a veritable sea of stars overhead and giant Milky Way strewn across the sky. Morgan and I gazed at the stars from camp while my camera recorded everything. Matt and Cath were out in the dark somewhere, watching the stars from the ridge above the meadow. Meteors regularly blazed through the sky, often huge with impressive smoke trails. Although we didn't know it at the time, we had timed the last evening of the trip with the peak of the Perseid meteor shower! With our pickup scheduled for 8am the next morning, we were up a little bit late, but it was certainly worth it.

14mm, f/4, 30s, ISO 6400. Can you spot the green meteor?

The amount of stars visible in a place like this is truly difficult to process. The more you look, the more you see. Light pollution simply does not exist here and while it may be summer, the air is nice and cool at 2000m. The only thing obscuring the view slightly was the airglow. No smoke either! The central Coast Mountains are an excellent place to go to avoid smoke thanks to favorable winds. I've yet to be smoked out on one of these trips, though it's not outside the realm of possibility. Typically what happens is it might drift in and out for a day or two before going away.

I woke begrudgingly at 6am the next morning to begin the dreaded packing process, something I never look forward to. It never fails to stress me out, despite being easier than packing to go on a trip. After everyone packed up their gear I tried my best to remember where Mike dropped us off. "This is it right here, I'm pretty sure," I said. It was flat enough and it was away from any large boulders that would pose a threat to the tail rotor. When doing pickups with White Saddle, they land on top of you and do not shut the helicopter off, so you need to be certain it's a good spot! The exact pickup process varies by company and by type of helicopter. We arranged the gear according to where it would need to go in the machine. Cath and I were responsible for the basket and pilot side, while Matt and Morgan handled the luggage compartment and cabin side.

Waiting for Mike to come get us. Another timeless photo taken by Cath on her disposable camera.

After we arranged everything I kept eyeing it. Was that the right angle and position? The rocky environment and uneven ground was making it difficult to gauge. We adjusted things and it looked better. We waited, and I turned on the radio Mike had given us, tuning it to the channel to communicate with their heliport. Suddenly it picked up some chatter and I recognized Mike and Audrey's voices. I radioed them, double checking that everything was all good on their end. "Mike is on his way," Audrey said. She's Mike's wife and the general manager of White Saddle Air Services. "Sounds good, see you soon!" I replied.

We waited for about fifteen minutes. Suddenly I could hear the rotors in the distance, though faint. "He's here!" I exclaimed excitedly. Everyone else strained to listen. "Are you sure? I don't hear anything," either Matt or Morgan said, I can't quite remember exactly who. The others agreed.

"Yup, I can definitely hear the rotors," I replied. The sound got louder and now the others agreed, it was Mike and not the wind shifting the soundwaves from a distant waterfall around, something that happens often. We huddled over our piles of gear. Over the next minute the sound of the rotors gradually increased and suddenly Mike came flying over the rise. He flew towards us, slowing down while rotating the helicopter to line up parallel with us and deftly landed the machine between our two groups. The roar of the rotors lessened and Mike gave me the signal to begin loading. The trip had officially gone without a hitch!

Or had it?

We saddled up, greeted Mike over the headsets and up into the air we went. Instead of flying back the way we'd originally came, we flew over the valley and glacier that we had hiked to. "I figured I'd give you guys a scenic little detour for the ride back," Mike said. Scenic it was! We flew beside jagged peaks and epic glaciers, with Mount Waddington looming in the distance. What a difference a clear day made! As usual, Mike had lots of interesting stories and bits of history to tell about the places we were flying over. He pointed. There was a ridge he flew Brad Pitt over for a movie. A few minutes later he pointed to another spot. A couple farmers bought a herd of cows and let them free roam in the valley. Unfortunately they'd been doomed, becoming dinner to the local wolves.

Not a story we expected, but certainly interesting! We flew on and the terrain gradually became more mellow and less glaciated. "Hey Mike," I said over my headset. "Do you have time to take some photos with us after we land?" I'd been meaning to get some photos with him and almost forgot to ask.

"Sure thing! We can take some nice photos next to the helicopter," he replied. Eventually forest service roads came into view, and then Bluff Lake, the location of their heliport. It always feels weird to be back in civilization so suddenly, although it's still quite remote. The nearest grocery story is almost four hours away. A couple minutes later the flight was over.

We waited for the rotors to come to a stop, unloaded our gear and then helped Mike load up the firefighting gear he would need later. Bambi buckets are heavy! He didn't have to go back out for a while still, so we took lots of group photos and had a good chat. One of my favorite parts of these trips has been getting to know pilots who have been flying in the mountains for decades, due to the aforementioned stories and because they clearly love doing what they do.

Cath handed Mike her disposable camera and he gave her a quizzical look.

"What is this old thing?" he said jokingly. "Oh by the way, there's only one shot left," Cath replied. "So you're saying I can't mess it up?"

We laughed and posed for the photo. It ended up being the perfect photo of our little crew.

I really love that timeless film feel! After seeing the photos the three of us decided we'd probably copy Cath's idea on future trips. For the sharp eyed, yes my pants are duct taped to patch a hole.

We began packing up the vehicles. There was a lot of gear, especially since I had been packed for the workshop as well, and we had to figure out how to fit all of mine into Matt's Outback. I'd originally come up with Blake, so things would be tight on the way home. We managed to Tetris everything in with a surprising amount of space to spare, relatively speaking!

Loading up for the ride home. Photo from Cath.

Afterwards we said our goodbyes. It had been an amazing trip!

But there was one problem... we were about halfway through the drive home when we received a text from Cath in our group chat. She was missing her hiking poles, and more importantly her ultralight expedition tent. If you're familiar with that kind of ultralight gear, you'll also know that it can run into the thousands of dollars.

We stopped and searched the vehicle in case we'd absentmindedly taken Cath's gear with us, finding nothing. Once we were back in Vancouver we searched more thoroughly while dropping off Morgan and we found the hiking poles, but the tent was gone. I had already talked to White Saddle and it wasn't at their base either, nor in the helicopter, which meant one thing: it was still on the mountain. I felt really bad because I've done a lot of trips like this and I always am extra careful to double check when loading the helicopter, but somehow we had missed it. Well, maybe not somehow. The tent's stuff sack was the exact same color as the boulders. With helicopter rotors roaring above you it can be easy to rush without realizing it. Tent manufacturers take note: maybe don't make your very expensive mountaineering tents the same color as boulders!

A few days later I mailed Cath her poles. It's safe to say I will be extra careful when doing trips like this in the future. Either way, we're all very excited for the next trip, whenever it might be!

Morgan has the longest arms which meant he was on selfie duty!


Congratulations on making it to the end of my longest blog yet! I hope you enjoyed the read. If you'd like to see more photos from this spring and summer, I just released my new gallery! Head to the link below to give it a look:

And if you'd like, I made a montage of drone and phone video clips from the trip as well. Apologies for mixing horizontal and vertical!

Cheers, Tristan

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