Feckin' Trekkin'

Matt and Krista's Awesome Travel Blog

Month: September 2009

September ’09 Training Summary

September didn’t really get started in earnest until the 13th as Matt’s parents were in town. Then we both got a cold which didn’t help. Hence we’ve managed to pack quite a bit in really. We’re definitely both getting much better at integrating activity into our daily routines so it’s not really feeling like work. Let’s hope we can keep it up during October (or even take it a step further?) as the weather starts to get chillier and the days get shorter.


  • 3 or 4 hikes with the parents
  • 26 (full circuit) + 11 (just the steps) circuits up and down the Baldwin Steps (+/-22m per climb)
  • 7 times up and down the steps in the office (+/-44m per climb)
  • 278km on the road bikes, plus a couple of hours on the MTB.
  • Climbing at The Academy – 2 1/2 hours
  • Climbing at Rock Oasis – 2 1/2 hours
  • 3 x 90 min volleyball games
  • Garden camping at Whitby
  • Multi-Stage Fitness Test score of 9:1

I think, all things considered we’ve both done really well this month. The best bit is that none of it’s felt like work. I’m doing a greater variety of exercise, feeling a lot stronger in general, and recovering more quickly after a big workout. The MSFT test was better than I expected too. I’d really like to get up to level 11 one day, cos that’s the level the Royal Marines require as part of their entrance criteria. Can you imagine desk jockey Matt being fit enough to join the Marines? Ha!

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I think I did well this month. The cold and flu sucked the life out of me. All energy was drained and slowly coming back. I think the fear of the CN Tower Climb has me going 😉 Overall I am happy with what I managed to do for the September month. Hoping to pack in some more outdoor adventures for October. Hikes, bikes and all around outdoor shenanigans. 4 stars for this chick.

  • Climbing at The Academy – 2 1/2 hours
  • Rock Oasis – 2 1/2 hours
  • 4km hike Hilton Conservation area
  • Garden camping at Whitby
  • Baldwin steps so far – 5 times up and down
  • Steps at work -Total 2128 steps (there are more; I haven’t written them down. boo)
  • Biking – to and from work and other places mainly MEC or Rock Oasis –  58.84km
  • Multi-Stage Fitness Test score of 5:3

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Barry Blanchard’s Recommended Reading

Cover of Conquistadors of the Useless bookWhile we were sitting around in Bow Hut on our last evening, our head guide Barry suggested a few books that we might like to read to satisfy our craving for alpine action when we’re stuck indoors. Here’s the list. Many thanks to Chris Dunne for having the presence of mind to write it down and pass it on to the rest of the group. Those with a star next to them are considered definitive, unmissable, you MUST read this.


  • Conquistadors of the Useless – Lionel Terray *
  • Feeding the Rat – Al Alvarez *
  • No Picnic on Mount Kenya – Felice Benuzzi
  • The White Spider – Heinrich Harrer
  • Seven Years in Tibet – Heinrich Harrer
  • The Seventh Grade – Reinhold Messner
  • Solo Faces – James Salter
  • Karakoram – Fosco Maraini
  • The Shining Mountain – Peter Boardman
  • Great Days – Walter Bonatti
  • On the Heights – Walter Bonatti
  • Pushing the Limits – Chic Scott


  • Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills – The Mountaineers *
  • Climbing Ice – Yvon Chouinard

So far we’ve only read The Freedom of the Hills (which is so well known amongst alpine types that it’s often abbreviated to just TFOTH) but I’m sure we’ll end up getting stuck into a few more through the winter. Maybe we’ll even get round to writing some book reviews.

Yamnuska Rockie Mountain Photo Gallery

I finally went through my photos from our Yamnuska Introduction to Mountaineering course and picked out the [cough] 120 or so best snaps. I’ve got a few more favorites that I want to do a bit of post-processing on before I post them, but these give a pretty good flavor of what we got up to…

Backpacking Safety List

We’re planning our first backpacking trip so I wrote up a quick checklist of things to think about to make sure the trip is a safe and enjoyable one. Most of this is widely known and fairly common-sense but I love a good checklist cos it makes it easy to make sure you’ve got all bases covered.

  • Plan your trip well. Select a trail that matches your conditioning, the amount of time you have and the type of terrain you enjoy. Get a topographic map or a hiking guidebook. Know where you’re going, where you’ll camp each night, what the terrain is like, where you will get water, etc.
  • Check the weather forecast before you go, and at any opportunity whilst traveling. Watch out for sudden storms.
  • Have a plan for what you’ll do in the event of:-
    • Lightning storms – Stay off high, open ground & away from isolated trees. Find shelter among small trees in low areas or lie on the ground. If you’re above the treeline, try to get back below it.
    • Cold weather – Get dry and out of the wind. Find/create a heat source. Hot drinks.
    • Extended rain storm – Make camp somewhere that won’t flood. Make a cooking shelter. Play cards!
    • High temperatures – Drink extra water with electrolytes, find shade, cool off near water. Cover your skin. Avoid exertion during middle of the day.
  • Research any known hazards in the area. That could include weather, terrain, other people (!), dangerous animals or poisonous plants.
  • Leave a copy of your itinerary with someone you trust to call the authorities if you don’t come back when expected. Sign all trail registers.
  • Don’t travel alone!
  • Drink plenty of water & eat high-energy food. Carry an extra meal or two.
  • Carry the Ten(ish) Essentials.
    • Map & compass
    • A first aid kit (incl moleskin, basic medicines, insect repellant)
    • Sun screen, chapstick, sunglasses.Knife or multitool
    • Water and a way to purify it
    • Flashlight and spare batteries
    • Matches or lighter
    • Whistle
    • Extra food
    • Extra clothing (incl waterproofs)
    • Tarp
    • If there’s any chance of being near cellphone coverage, take a cellphone too.
  • Turn around occasionally to see how the trail looks when you are heading the other direction. If you think you are lost, stop and take a break. Sit down, relax, get calm, don’t panic. Make a snack to help you relax. Try to figure out where you are by looking for landmarks, using the position of the sun for direction. Check your map and compass. Make sure you have a good idea of where you are and where you’re going before you set off again. If you really are properly lost, don’t go any further. Put out a distress signal of whatever type you can manage. Three blasts signifies that you need help. If you fail to make contact with whoever you left your itinerary with, people should be looking for you within 24 hours or so. If you keep wandering, you risk making it harder for them to find you.

Stair Climbing

If there’s one thing we learnt from our trip to the Rockies last month, it’s that hiking up and down hills, glaciers, snow slopes and valley sides is a very different challenge to running or hiking on the flat. I’m in pretty good shape from a cardiovascular perspective, but 4 or 5 hours trudging uphill over uneven terrain really took it out of me. I’m just not used to it. So it’s time to get used to it. Toronto’s not exactly over-endowed with mountainous terrain though, so finding somewhere within easy reach to train is a bit of a challenge. Having done a bit of research on how other people overcome this sort of challenge, trail-running and stair-climbing seem to be the closest we’re going to get to real mountain climbing. So where to go in TO? There are numerous ravines and river valleys but the paths tend to run along them rather than up and down the sides, and they’re not very safe after dark when I do a lot of my training (mostly due to not being able to see where you’re going). I thought that some of the multi-storey parking lots might have some good staircases I could run up but then I couldn’t actually think of any suitable parking lots nearby. Christie Pits Park has a bit of a hill, but it’s not really big enough to work up much of a sweat. The best spot I’ve come up with so far is the Baldwin Steps near Casa Loma, a five minute bike ride from my house. There are allegedly 110 steps, although I always seem to count less than that, which works out to just under 20 metres of elevation if you run up the stairs and carry on to the end of the short path at the top. So, putting that into mountaineering terms, if I climbed them about 185 times that would be equivalent to climbing from Everest Base Camp to the Summit. Which I may do one day (the steps that is, not Everest). But not today. I climbed them 10 times tonight (which is the equivalent of about 1/4 of the way to Camp 1!) and that was enough.

Here are a few links that I found whilst reading up on the subject that you might find interesting…

August ’09 Training Summary

It’s a tough month for training, what with Matt busting his toe up and lots of things going on at home. However we still managed to fit in the following, including of course our first proper taste of the mountains:-


  • 6km running
  • 150km cycling, including 66km trip to Whitby
  • 6 day Yamnuska mountaineering course, including ascents of Mt Gordon (10,503ft) and Mt Olive (10,270ft).

Although the quantity of training was a bit lacking, the qualitywas excellent so I’m awarding myself…   [drum roll]…

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  • Extreme vacuuming – I rule at it. End of.
  • …It has been so long I’ve forgotten what I did prior to the trip!!! Bad, Krista… Bad! Slap on the wrist!
  • 6 day Yamnuska mountaineering course, which humbled me in a HUGE way. Course included a 5 hour hike up to Bow Hut, ascending 2,000 feet. I topped out on Mt. Gordon at 9,990 ft and completed the Onion at 9,300 feet.
  • Crevasse training. It has to be included here! The best part was being the main gal to put in the ice anchors when Matt was lowered into the wicked ass crevasse! Mind you, it took the group a while to pull him up 🙂
  • Not showering for 6 days! The best reward was getting on the shuttle bus back to Calgary and to have a lady move to the back of the bus due to my lovely aroma (I’m sure Matt’s lovely odor helped as well).

I agree with Matt. Quantity was lacking but quality has surpassed all training to date. I worked my butt off! I have the sweat, tears and bruises to prove it! This trip showed me what I am capable of and what I need to improve on and showed me how awesome of a team Matt and I are… Sooooo… 5 stars!

Hey Matt, change your bloody star rating to 5. Totally and utterly deserved.

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