Blake Herrington recently returned from a climbing trip to what he calls “one of the wildest mountain landscapes on the continent” in the Waddington Range in Canada. Having grown up in a 100-person town in the Cascades, he is no stranger to entertaining himself in remote places. On his recent trip, he and his climbing partners found a few ways to keep themselves busy when they weren’t climbing. Herrington shares his advice below.
I’m usually too cheap to lay down the big bucks on Starbucks Frappucinos and other frilly coffee drinks. They sure taste good, but I hate spending $4 for a few minutes of culinary luxury. But while spending a few weeks camped amid collapsing glaciers and granite in British Columbia’s Waddington Range, my partners and I had plenty of time to perfect the means of living in luxury as we refined our concept of the ideal alpine rest day.
We had flown into the range via helicopter, landing on a small ledgy outcropping surrounded on all sides by massive glaciers. From our island of stability, we managed to ascend 4 peaks, and establish a couple new routes on some of the steeper rock faces in the range. Between the single-push ascents and other less-successful attempts, we lazed around our camp and truly perfected the good life of alpine living. Here are a few of our most vital realizations:
- The Alpen-Frapp: There’s no better rest-day recovery drink than a backcountry version of an iced coffee drink. Squeeze the contents of a chocolate or espresso-flavored GU packet into a water bottle. Add in the very concentrated (and hot) coffee produced by an Aeropress coffee filter. Combine this mixture with milk powder or vanilla protein powder, sugar, and a healthy chunk of slushy snow. Shake vigorously and enjoy, knowing it didn’t cost you anywhere close to the Starbucks price.
- Everything can be fried. This premise has been the basis of county-fair cuisine for decades, but its truth was hammered home for us, time and again, as we fried up polenta, tortillas, quinoa, salami, ramen, and bizarre combinations of the above foods. Part of our impetus for experimentally-fried meals may have been that towards the end of our trip we ran low on foods and tapped into our strategic oil reserve (canola and olive), which were used to add significant calories on the trip’s final days.
- TV is awesome. I don’t even own a television at my house, but that doesn’t make me some luddite who denies the entertainment value of a little screen time, especially when you need a day to relax, recover, and fully de-stress. With 3 other guys all in their mid-20s, we had no shortage of shared pop-culture knowledge and tv trivia to fuel our conversations. Powered by our fold-out solar panel and an iPad preloaded with a few seasons of the HBO show Boardwalk Empire, we were able to watch the gangsters and G-men of 1920s Atlantic City, sharing steaming mugs of tea as we gathered for hour-long episodes throughout our trip. The brand of smuggled whiskey used for the show’s credits also provided a name for one of our new routes during our visit to British Columbia: The Canadian Club.
To learn more about the new routes Herrington and his team put up in the Waddington Range, read the Alpinist article here.
All photos taken by professional photographer Forrest Woodward.