Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Revolution Has Begun

Posted by Christopher,

As I've said a few times now, my diet has been key for me to do what I'm doing, and I really want to share some of the things that I have learned with you.  These are my secrets to success, and to top it all off, this diet and herbal medicine is not just healing myself, but the world around me.  Being a human-powered mountaineer for me is more than a catch phase or a marketing gimmick.  It's me .  It's the way I live my life, it's my lifestyle and it's a process of continual improvement that I live for.
Three weeks ago I attempted my first 3 day challenge.  I wanted to test myself and my physical strength and endurance and also I want to prove a point to myself and to other people as well.  I wanted to prove a point, not because I don't like the questions and comments that I get being a vegan athlete, but because I do like being a vegan athlete and do like being that person that can tell people about the health benefits and athletic benefits of a plant based diet.
On that first 3 day challenge I pulled my left shoulder while climbing and had to take a few days off and rehab quickly to get back in shape to keep climbing.  Rehab, the word it's self is spelled ARNICA MONTANA.  If you have heard of Arnica yet then here it is.  Arnica Montana is a flower.  And when taken internally 24-48 hours from the time of physical injury, it speeds up recovery ten fold.  I am continually amazed at how well the stuff works.  It is absolutely just amazing how well and fast the stuff works.  So what is it? and how does it work so well?
The reason it works so well for almost all physical injuries is because it promotes the bodies own healing process.  So it is helping the body repair torn  and damaged muscles, cells, ligaments, etc...
I use both the homeopathic tablets (to be taken internally) and the cream or jell forms of Arnica (that are used topically as a rub).  So no more taking ibuprofen that only reduces swelling.  Arnica reduces swelling by the fact that it is actually helping heal the body in the process.  Not to mention that ibuprofen is not good for your stomach, especially over prolonged use.  Arnica is safe, effective, speeds up recovery time so much that it is truly fantastic.  I know it sounds funny to some so I'll just say for a laugh,  Go Flower Power!!
What might have been a season ending injury three weeks ago turned into a week of rehab (spelled ARNICA MONTANA) and I'm right back at it.  Hanging it all out there on the rock.  Pain free, strong, good as new, and in fact the boast of rehab has increased the amount of training that I have been doing and I have come back stronger than before the injury.
The other things that I have been learning about have come directly from my favourite author Brendan Brazier.  Now I've already thrown his name out there and told every one to look him up and look Vega, the line of whole food supplements that he originated.
Anyways, I'm going to do a lot of paraphrasing from his book Thrive Fitness here.  First off I am done being a slave to coffee and sugar.  This is huge if you want to see significant results in health and fitness and this is not just for those looking for athletic performance.  Stimulants cause the adrenal glands to work hard which released the hormone cortisol.  High levels of cortisol inhibit deep sleep.  Without good rest and achieving deep sleep when sleeping the body does not release GH (growth hormone) which promotes muscle cell regeneration.
So now I use Mate Factor yerba mate when I want an extra boast of caffeine.  Yerba mate has a different form of caffeine than coffee and is free from the negative side affects that coffee has.  I also use maca in my post work out protein shakes.  Maca aids in the support of the adrenal glands, which helps lower cortisol levels and promotes better sleep which contributes to fast recovery from long hard days of pushing my body to the breaking point.  But again this information and is not just helpful for hard core athletes looking push themselves to the next level.  This is beneficial for anyone in the fast paced world that we live in.
One of the questions that I get a lot is, "where do you get your protein?".  A fair question for some one who is not familiar with a vegan or vegetarian diet.  When it comes to protein, as Brendan Brazier says, "it's quality not quantity that is important".   He has what he calls 'high net gain foods'.  Meat and dairy immediately fall into low net gain foods because of all the energy that the body has to use just to process those foods.  So plant based protein has a higher net gain than foods from animals.  This means that you eat less, get more energy from what you are eating and this diet is better for the environment as well.  I get my protein from hemp, chlorella, flax seed, and other seeds and nuts.
Boy I could keep going right now, but I will finish up with one word, RAW...
Raw food is a huge key ingredient.  Now I'm not saying that you should go on a raw food diet immediately or any time soon.  But what I am saying is eat raw food.  It's that simple. It really is.  Raw food digests faster, easier, and taxes the body less in the digestion process.  Eating raw food has been proven to reverse diabetes!!! Look up Tree of Life rejuvenation centre.  It's like a crazy joke that nobody told us.  A cure for diabetes just by eating raw food!!!  Yes this is the revolution that I talk about.  The modern food revolution!!
Last week I failed to complete my 3rd three day challenge of the season.  As I said before.  I feel great about that.  I pushed myself really hard.  Mentally and physically.  Climbing is such a mental thing.  It's scary.  Just the thought of a climb sometimes is enough to make me have to use the rest room.  Justene knows.  We'll be out in the mountains, and I'll be getting ready to try a climb that will be hard for myself, and nature calls.  I have to run back down the trail to the out house and relieve myself.
Even though I didn't not complete the challenge I'll post my stats; 21km of cycling, 13,650ft of climbing,  44km of hiking, in three days.
This is the revolution, and its full of vegan and flower power, now stop laughing... my comedy routine is over.  Thanks for reading.

My girlfriend thinks I have a nice axe.

Joe and Michelle on Bugaboo Spire. Best day ever!

Sitting in camp; staying psyched is half the work.

Just ask this girl what she thinks about the revolution

Cobalt Lake as seen from Brenta Spire

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Gambler's Tale

Two climbers descending off Bugaboo Spire.

Ok, fine I admit it
I pushed a little to hard
I upped the ante
Increased the wager
And when I tried a little harder;
I lost
I failed
I folded my hand and walked away

What can I say,
The Mountains win again.

Yesterday was day 3 of my three day challenge this week.  Each day of the challenge I was to hike all the way in from the bottom of the valley and climb a route that I have not climbed yet this year, and then hike all the way back down to the bottom of the valley.  As you can see in my cute little poem, I did not complete this weeks three day challenge.
How do I feel about that?  I feel great, and a little tired today.  Winning wasn't actually part of the equation.  That's never how I've viewed climbing in the mountains.  To me it's not about winning, losing, conquering, or being conquered.  To me climbing mountains is a live on stage drama.  There are characters and a plot and when played just right, there is a lot of passion and a true sense of understanding between the actors by the end.  This is what I call mountain communion.  It's also about trying, and if it was going to be easy, it would not have been a challenge.  Last week on my three day challenge I climbed 2 moderate routes first and one long moderate route at the end on day 3.  Completing the challenge as I hoped I would, but not knowing at the start of the challenge how I would do.  So this week I wanted to make things a little harder for myself, if not a lot harder.  The first two routes I did this week were definitely a lot harder than anything I climbed last week.  Ears Between on Crescent Towers and the Northeast Ridge of Bugaboo Spire together had 18 pitches of technical climbing a scary and exposed summit traverse on both peaks, and lots of down climbing and scrambling through long and loose talus fields filled with giant boulders.  While I woke up yesterday feeling good and ready to go on day 3 of the challenge, when I got to the base of the route I was bushed.  My plan was to climb the Southeast Spur of Brenta Spire.  An easier route than the two that I had done previously this week, but it is still a long approach just to get to the base of the route, especially from the bottom of the valley.  As I sat there in the talus field at the start of the climb, I just wasn't feeling good about it.  My feet hurt, the sky was grey with clouds, and the idea of the long descent that would follow this climb added up to me just sitting there for a while.  Long enough for me eat all the food that I had with me that day and say to myself, "at least I've tried".
I had tried, and there I sat.  Tired and a bit sore.  And still a long ways from camp.

Sunset on day 2 of the challenge

Hiking around in the forest in the dark is a lot more glamorous than it sounds, and it is also romantic, even when your by yourself.  Ooo, I hope that was me that just pinched me!

My rack for the last couple weeks.

Sunday, August 21, 2011


posted by CBangs
Perfect fingers, old piton

Yesterday was day two in this weeks three day challenge, and a very good day at that.  I got an early start for myself, about 8:20am and went for the Northeast Ridge Route on Bugaboo Spire.  This is one of the 50 Classic Climbs in North America, and it deserves every bit of that.  As I said earlier this week I am going to up the ante.  Yesterday I sure did.  This was the best day I've ever had climbing!  The best route that I've ever done; in the best style that I could possibly imaging doing such a great route in.  Valley bottom to the summit, back to the valley bottom!   And it was also the best day of gorgeous weather we've seen this year in the Bugaboos.    My plan was to not carry a rope with me even though I knew I would need to make several rappels on the summit traverse and on the descent.  This plan involved other people.  I would need other people on the route to team up with once I reached the North Summit.  This is one of the really nice and relaxing things about climbing by myself.  Speed.  When your not roped up you can move so much faster and freer over the rock.  The movement is unencumbered by the rope and all the gear.  Yes it can be much more dangerous.  That much is obvious.  What might not be obvious though is that it is equally that much more rewarding, and the fluid uninterrupted movement of climbing with no attachments is pure joy!
So my plan worked out perfectly.  My pace and my timing was also right on par.  I didn't catch up with any of the other teams on the route till we were all near the top of the North Summit.  The beginning of the route is long and continuous, so I didn't want to have to stop or try to pass another party on the lower sections of the route.  I started up the climb sometime after 12 noon.  With the blood still dried on my hands from the day before, I jammed my fingers and hands into the cracks and with calm and controlled steady breathing started up the crux first pitch.  Finger cracks are my favourite! and this route has so many perfect fingers on it that I felt like a teenager on ecstasy.
The summit traverse; now here's something not to be taken lightly.  The summit traverse on Bugaboo Spire involves 3 rappels and about 3 rope lengths (or pitches) of climbing.  The exposure at the top is as good as it gets.  As I already said, this was the best day every!  And summit traverse helped put that into perspective.  One place in particular had some really delicate climbing directly above the East Face.  Every step sideways bought my gaze downward towards my feet and the 2000ft of air hovering between me and the glacier below.  Just amazing.  It was so riveting that I had to stop, tighten my grip on the rock, and take a picture.  Wow!!
Wow is right.  I didn't make it back to my camp last night till about 12 midnight.  Now it's 9:30am, and I am getting ready for day three of this weeks three day challenge.  I'm feeling really good this morning and I have a couple of options of things I can climb today.  Later in the week I really want to tell you about all this amazing new stuff that I've been learning about with my diet.  It is really making all the difference for me and it is giving me so much more energy and clarity I have to share the secret with you.  Stay tuned.
Different day, same smelly t-shirt.

The Northeast Ridge is the line between the sun and the shade!
Special thanks go out to Maryeve, RJ, Joe, and Scott.  Thanks for teaming up with me and helping me get off the mountain.  Without all of you I would not have been able to climb this great route!  Your awesome, and I hope to meet up with you again some where.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Urban Mountain Legends and Modern Myths

by Dr. Muse
Double wrap your car my friend, this is serious stuff!!!
In the Bugaboo Mountains of British Columbia there’s an urban mountain legend that climbers here know all about.  It’s the legend of the car eating porcupines.  Porcupines so big and ferocious they’ll eat your car tires, brake lines, and the trim right off your windows.  These porcupines are huge, way bigger than your house cats (not yours Eric, Butters is still biggest pigeon toed walking tabby that I’ve ever seen.  Butters, you walk like a grizzly bear; be proud) and they love eating rubber.  At least that is the way the legend goes. 
So when you pull up to the Bugaboo’s parking lot and see every car in the lot double wrapped in chicken wire, think to your self, huge car eating porcupines.  They’re here man!!  No joke about it, this is serious stuff.  Just talk to anyone around here and they get all serious on ya real quick. “This is a big deal man.”  I was told.  Apparently they'll eat the tires right off your rims, peel the trim off your windows, and then they go for your brake lines.  These porcupines are like mechanics from the urban mountain hood and they can find brake lines on any make or model your driving.  That’s impressive.

Now parking in the mountains is a normal thing any where else, but not here my friend.  When you park your car here, fence that thing off, and line up as many rocks and logs as you need to hold that chicken wire in place.
These porcupines are crazy, and they love rubber, cause car tires have salt on them, so do the brake lines, and the window trim. Right?  
Climbers themselves are a bit crazy too.  Sometimes all that crack they’ve been climbing gets mixed in with their tobacco, and then you never know what they’re going to do.

To the Native Americans, the Porcupine is the symbol for innocence.  To Bugaboo climbers this is a dangerous car eating monster that will destroy you car and leave you stranded in the mountains.
The scene at the parking lot might look strange the first time you see it.

The Story of Grrock and Karn

If you haven't heard of the story of Grrock and Karn, the mystical sisters that exist high in the mountains. Then listen closely my friends, because this is a tale you won't want to forget. Grrock and Karn are close friends with the mountain climbers and will often show themselves to help you find your way home.  Most mountain climbers have seen them quite a few times, but nobody really seems to know who they are, how they got there, and how they perform their magic.  Especially Grrock.  She is one of those forgotten forest guardians.  The memory of her has long sense been heard by the ears of humans.  But people are always saying that they’ve seen Karn.  There’s Karn here, and there she is again over there. Little do they realize how much work it is for her to be in so many places at once.  But now that modern science has proven the existence of multiple dimensions (I'm not joking about this, look it up), and that an object can exist in more than one place at the same time!!!!  Maybe it will become easier for us to realize what Karn is doing and how she is doing it.

There's Karn in two places at once. Photographic proof of a parallel universe.
It’s a special task to take care of lost climber.  We come in droves.  Our numbers increasing everyday, and we are not getting any better at finding our way home.  Even with things like GPS, and radios we still get lost.  That’s where Karn comes to the rescue.  She always seems to be in just the right place, unless your totally lost.  Then you might be better off to look for Grrock.  But who is she, and where will she lead you?  She’s a little smaller than Karn and a little harder to see, and it’s not exactly your home that she will lead you to.  It’s her home.  That labyrinth deep in the forrest.  Where ever thing is alive; the rocks, the wind, the glaciers, and the mountains.  Where the wood sprites are looking after the trees, the gnomes are hanging out with caterpillars smoking on top of the mushroom. It’s a magical place that most of us have not been in for a long time, but it’s out there.  And all you have to do is find Grrock and let her know that your lost and want to go home with her. She is easy to identify and looks a little different that her sister Karn.  Usually she's in a small room, framed in with what looks like bars on a window.  The reason that she is in there, and that there is a frame around her is because she letting you know that there is a barrier that you have to cross to enter her realm.  A barrier that exist, but only in you mind.

To enter the forrest simply walk in, to enter Grrock's realm simply open your mind.


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Unorthodox style of Chris Bangs

Justene nearing the top of the snow headwall at the Bugaboo Snowpatch Col

I was looking to write a blog about being low-tech vs. hji-tech.  About camping low on the mountain  and not carrying heavy loads into a high camp.  About riding nearly 700 miles on a bicycle in a pair of Crocs.  There are so many things that I do and practice that are not usually the way someone would do things.  About the fact that when I head out on a big alpine day, I sleep in and totally forget about the alpine start.  The way I figure it is if I'm going to get up at 3am and walk up the approach to my climb in the dark, what's the difference then between sleeping in, waking up a casually hour and walking the end of the day back down the trail in the dark?  Either way I'm walking around in a forest in the dark, and I've never had a big problem with that anyway.
Now I'm not saying that I've got all these thing figured out.  There are obvious flaws in my systems; like during a ten hour day on a bicycle in a pair of Crocs, yes my feet do ache a little more than when I'm wearing my expensive cycling shoes.  But then there is the flip side to that one also.  Expensive cycling shoes are expensive, they look stupid when your not on your bike, and they walk only a little more comfortably than those Dutch wooden clogs.  Crocs may not be the most fashionable foot wear out there but they are about the most comfortable and light weight piece of gear I'm carrying with me.  My Crocs are also 4 years old, so for the price you can't beat that.
Our first climb together in the Bug; Eastpost Spire

Human-Powered Mountaineering (HPM) is the opposite of Mile per Hour (MPH).  This is another part of our so-called style.  HPM is the opposite of MPH; we're not in a hurry.  In fact we are the opposite of being in a hurry.  We are trying our hardest to slow things down for ourselves.  Non of this "car-to-car in ten hours" bullshit lingo here.  We take our time, because why did we come here anyway?  Just to be in hurry.  This place is super, natural British Columbia.  I'm not going to go around bragging about how I was in this super awesome beautiful place and I made it back to my car (or bike as the case may be) as fast as I could.  That's just stupid, and I'm just as guilty as anyone for having done it.  But I'm learning.  I'm learning that I really love being in the mountains.  Like last night walking back to camp by myself.  I was sore and tired and didn't have clue what time it was and everyone I met on the trail on their way in was looking at me like I was some sort of lost hiker, because who would be walking back at this time and with that small of a backpack there is no way I'm a "climber",  just look at those old inexpensive generic shoes he's wearing, definitely not a "climber",  just a lost day hiker posing for a rescue add.  "Climbers" have heavy duty shiny boots, huge packs, and often the judgement to match how much they spent on all that crap.  How do I know this?  Well again, I'm as guilty as an anyone for doing this.  When I first started climbing I was hooked.  I wanted to climb every mountain in the world.  But I was a young kid just starting my own business and I couldn't afford all that gear.  Even if I didn't know what all that gear was for, it didn't matter, I wanted it.  I wanted more than anything to be a "Climber".   It's funny how things work themselves out, because now days, it's what I do.  I'm a rock climber.  I'm making a documentary on rock climbing.  I'm living in a tent for months at a time.  Still can't afford all the fancy crap, and still don't know what some it is for, or if we really even need it for that matter.  But here I am, living in the Bugaboo Mountains for an entire summer.
My new friend Evan on top of Bugaboo Spire

That brings me to another of the things that I think that I have figured out for myself about style in the mountains.  Walking home slowly.  At the end of a big day I make sure to slow way down.  For me it's the difference between waking up totally cramped up the next morning because I ran down the trail to brag about how fast I went, or waking up the next day ready to do it again because I walked the last 6-10km at a snail's pace.  We all know or have heard that walking downhill is bad for your knees and your joints, but there is more to it than that.  Those last few kilometres of the day can be therapeutic if you walk slow or they can be damaging to your joints and muscles if your worried and hurried. By walking slowly at the end of the day I'm giving my body time to recover from what I have just done in a way that sitting and resting doesn't do.  In fact last night I was starting to get quite sore on the trail.  My feet hurt, my right leg felt a little crampy, my lower back was tight, but when I woke up this morning I felt great.  No lower back pain, no cramped muscles, no sore feet.  All because I made sure to walk back down the trail nice and slow.  The other thing that I think that helps quite a bit is the bicycle.  After my marathon day climbing Bugaboo Spire by myself, I got back to the trailhead to my bicycle and rode the 4km back to my camp on the river.  Cycling is great for the joints and muscles in the legs, but again only if your doing it right.  By right I mean spinning, and by spinning I'm referring to peddling fast.  It burns out all that lactic acid in your legs.  If you peddle slowly it builds up synovial fluid in your knees and makes them swell up as well as cause your legs to cramp up.  So I hike slow and peddle fast.  I don't have a shoe sponsor yet (hint hint Crocs) and I soloed Bugaboo Spire yesterday in a snow storm, kind of.  Actually it only snowed a little bit while I was on the crux pitch, the famous Gendarme Pitch, so I turned around at that point because I was not carrying a rope and I didn't not want to get stranded near the summit of the mountain.  Then I would have been the poster boy for the rescue add. Instead I started down until I met a party of 3 that was also debating whether or not they should retreat or if they would wait out the storm and keep going.  We decided to join forces and keep going.  In the end we all made it to the summit and it worked out well for all of us.  I trailed a rope up the crux pitch for  them and then was able join them on 3 rapples on the way off the summit. A great day in the mountains!!!  
Another beautiful day in the mountains

The best parts were the internal visuals that I had of seeing myself in a bright green jacket, clinging to the side of a vertical cliff with no rope attached to myself, thousands of feet off the ground near the summit of one of the most iconic peaks in North America with the wind blowing light snow around, slowly making the next move upward, testing the hand hold, taping my foot on the foothold, feeling solid and connected to the mountain in both a physical and spiritual sense, those were the best moment for me that day.  And when the guy in camp the day before asked me why I would do such a thing, I got lost in thought and don't even remember if I answered him, because I was dreaming about the sensations of timeless weightlessness that the Mountain can give to me once I've arrived at that moment of perfect connection  and union with the Mountain.  This is the ultimate!!!  So a better question than,  'why would I do it" is, WHY WOULDN'T I????  I mean really.  In a world were you can fret about everything.  Why not train myself to perfect some thing as grand as this?

A baby Ermin came up to us to say "Hi"

Then a Spruce Grouse and five babies hung out with us on the trail for a few minutes.

And finally this toad was in the trail waiting for us to come by.  Quite the day!!
Our animal friends are one of the things that make these adventures special and remind us why we live this life the way that we choose, in harmony and in love and fearless....