6 Peaks Lake Louise – event recap

Media coverage
Radio interview with Rob Murray from MountainFM in Canmore (2min40sec)
Radio interview with Ryan Jespersen from 630AM CHED in Edmonton (listen from 4:03 to 13:33)

Thank you
Tyler Williams – Tyler has participated in each bipolar disorder and fundraising hike that I’ve organized since 2015’s “4 Peaks”. His support, abundant energy and wealth of knowledge in many areas make him truly a joy to be with on these epic days. Thank you Tyler!

Masaki Yokota – Saki’s great humour and never-ending stories make spending a long day hiking with him so much fun! That along with his never ending support of both me and these hikes are greatly appreciated. Thank you Saki!

Jim Kwan – Jim at Defending Awesome Shirts once again generously donated his time and creative genius to design the logo for this event. He’s been doing this for these events 2015! I’m so grateful for Jim’s incredible logo designs, as well as his consistent support of both me and mental health awareness in the Bow Valley. Check out Defending Awesome Shirts here 🙂

lululemon Banff – for the second consecutive year they gifted the three of us clothing for the event, and also promoted 6 Peaks Lake Louise on their social media. I wore the pants and shirt that I was gifted during the entire hike. I was extremely impressed with how the clothes felt and performed. My shirt didn’t smell AT ALL after 18.5 hours of hiking! Thank you lululemon Banff!

Alex Howarth – Alex joined us in hiking up Mount St Piran. He took some incredible photos of us going up and at the top. It was wonderful to have him join us and I’m so grateful he took the time to come along and take many incredible photos of us. Thank you Alex!

Rob Murray – for being so supportive of both me and the various mental health awareness events that I’ve done in the Bow Valley since 2015. He has interviewed me, or friends and I, for each mental health awareness event that I’ve lead since 2015. If you require a fantastic DJ in the Bow Valley or Calgary I can’t recommend him enough!

Ryan Jespersen – it was wonderful to be interviewed live by Ryan again from 630AM CHED Edmonton. His genuine enthusiasm and support of both me and 6 Peaks Lake Louise was evident. Thank you Ryan for this opportunity it was greatly appreciated! Check out Ryan’s show here on the radio or online.

Various companies and people who donated towards our fundraising – in total we raised $1920! This was split between the International Bipolar Foundation and the Banff Community High School’s athletic department. Thank you to the following people and companies who helped us raise $1920: Banff Lodging Company, Banff Roasting Company, The Rose & Crown Banff, KDK Counselling Inc., Nak.creative, Soul Genesis, Rob Silver, Jeremy Bankes, Sharon Oakley, Teresa Atkin, John Zimmer, Don Berlyn, Jess Young, Lee Solway, Annie Caldwell, Emily O’Brien, Shayne Williams, Nick Jensen, Sean Barringer, Denisa Dorizlova, Nora Williams, Melanie Shura, Jack Cullen, Alex Howarth, Sydney Woods, Sam Chambers, Mike Crabtree, and random/anonymous donations. Thank you everyone 🙂

What the money raised went towards
Half of the $1920 raised went to the International Bipolar Foundation. They put that money towards a number of things including outreach, distributing resources specific for people with bipolar disorder, as well as the costs of hosting informative and educational webinars.

The other half of the $1920 raised went to the athletic department of Banff Community High School. Some of the money went towards assisting students in financial need on a ski day at Lake Louise. Some of the funds we raised went towards purchasing used ski pants for the school for students who don’t have them to use. The pants will be on hand at the school for future years which makes me feel really good 🙂

Presenting a $960 cheque for funds raised to Ian Higginbottom, Banff Community High School Athletic Director

Recap of the day
Distance hiked – approx 35 km (just shy of 22 miles)
Vertical gain – approx 3400m – 3500m (11155ft – 11483ft)

Tyler, Saki and I left the Lake Louise main parking lot at 4:30am. On the way up to our first peak of the day (Devil’s Thumb) in darkness, we ended up at Big Beehive first…this was not our plan! There was about 5-10cm of mostly untracked snow in this area. We then jokingly went in circles in the Big Beehive area a few times seeing our own tracks and having some good laughs. After getting our course corrected we went up the front side below Devil’s Thumb, which is more of a scramble.

Once at the top of Devil’s Thumb we were all blown away by the cloud layers! After easily descending Devil’s Thumb and going back down to the Lake Agnes teahouse area we were again amazed by the beautiful display that mother nature was putting on for us. On the way up Mount St Piran we mistakenly went to Little Beehive first. About 45 minutes from the top of St Piran our friend Alex joined us. It was great to chat with him. Alex took some incredible photos of us at the top of St Piran!

Tyler, Saki and I descended the north side of St Piran and then traversed across the lower part of Mount Niblock (Alex went back down to Lake Agnes). During this time it was lightly snowing. For part of that time we were hiking in ankle to knee deep snow. From the saddle between Niblock and Mt Whyte up to the top of Niblock was pretty straight forward. We had approx 5cm of grippy snow and solid footing.

We felt very confident about doing all six peaks at this point…maybe even getting back down to the car after descending Whyte much earlier than expected! After going down the top part of Niblock and going across the saddle between Niblock and Whyte, Whyte looked very snowy. Once we started ascending Whyte it was VERY slow going. We had mid-calf to knee deep snow pretty well the entire time, as well as slippery footing underneath. At times it was icy and we went really slow going up. Many times we weren’t sure if we were going to make it. We had to backtrack a number of times to find an easier and/or safer way up. Coming down from Whyte was treacherous at times.

Our guesstimate for how long it would take us to go up and down Whyte was much shorter than it actually took. Whyte was very mentally and physically exhausting. After getting back down to the saddle between Whyte and Niblock we all felt a sense of relief. Whyte was tough! Truly grateful that we all got down Whyte in one piece injury-free. On the way back down to Lake Agnes I did a butt slide which relieved some tension for me! After passing by Lake Agnes teahouse again, we got back down to the parking lot and had a break including drying off some gear using the public washroom’s hand dryers.

In the early evening we started going up Fairview. At this point Saki and I felt mentally and physically exhausted. Tyler was all good! On the way up Fairview the sun set and we were using headlamps. Saki started being extremely mentally exhausted and cold, and wasn’t talking to Tyler and I much. Both Tyler and I were concerned. I kept asking Saki if he was ok and he kept hiking up.

On the way up Fairview I suggested to the others that we don’t hike Saddleback. This was for a combination of reasons – how late it was, the rocks being very slippery in places, myself being physically and mentally exhausted, as well as Saki being cold and both physically and mentally exhausted. We had a short stay at the top of Fairview before descending down. It felt SO good to get back to the parking lot at 11pm! After hiking for 18.5 hours we were done 🙂

Lessons/analysis/stories
Embracing discomfort
Before doing this hike, some people told me that it was nowhere near as difficult as “4 Peaks” (Banff) or Sulphur 9.0. That was mainly based on the amount of vertical gain and distance hiked. This event was the toughest one overall for myself. My body wasn’t as physically sore afterwards as some previous events, however I was mentally exhausted afterwards. The theme of this year’s hike was “Embracing Discomfort”. The three of us definitely had discomfort at certain times during this epic day, especially while going up and down Mount Whyte.

Scary time on Mount Whyte
Parts of Mount Whyte were very sketchy. We had all gone up Whyte before and knew the route. On this day it was all untracked snow with some icy patches underneath. While going up we were moving at seemingly a snail’s pace, ensuring that our footing was holding. A handful of times while ascending we had to backtrack. While going down there was a seemingly small section that was incredibly difficult for myself. It was a steep down climb of about 7 or 8 feet (2m) with approx 20 feet (6m) before a very steep drop off of hundreds of feet. If I ended up slipping on this short section, I could tumble down and off the very steep cliff-like drop off. Tyler went first, slowly down the short steep down climb. When I started going down this I truly struggled. I could only get solid grip with one foot…the other foot and my hands felt like I was trying to grasp ice. Tyler ended up holding each of my feet in one hand, and I held onto Saki’s legs with a bear-hug like grasp. When I did this I was 100% not in control of my body. I felt a wave of scared adrenalin rush through my body. After getting down this short scary section I took a few minutes and got my breathing back to normal. Truly grateful to both Saki and Tyler for their help in that section. I literally could not have done it without them! The day after finishing 6 Peaks, Saki sent Tyler and I this screenshot from Wikipedia (pic below). If I had known that before I would NOT have gone up and down Whyte!

Mountain goats defending their turf
While ascending and traversing across Niblock we were following a couple of mountain goats for a little while. Then they disappeared. We looked up and saw them about 40 feet (12m) above us. At the time I was leading our group. At one point both Tyler and Saki shouted “look out Scott!”. I turned around and simultaneously felt a falling small rock brush my butt. Those goats were kicking rocks on us defending their turf! Maybe it was dislodged by accident…but I don’t think so 🙂

Butt slide
As mentioned earlier, going up and down Whyte was very physically and mentally exhausting for me. As we started going down from the saddle between Whyte and Niblock to Lake Agnes there was a patch of snow. Saki or Tyler (can’t remember) did a butt slide down and let out some yips and woohoo’s. I was bringing up the rear and thought man that looks fun! So I asked Saki to film me and did a butt slide of my own. It was a great way to release tension and have some pure fun! Click here to watch the short video

Seeing golden eagles soaring and circling
On the way down from Whyte we were all fortunate to see a couple of golden eagles circling and soaring in the sky above us. What a majestic sight! Perhaps they were eyeing up the mountain goats? It was so awesome to see this. None of us got photos and that’s okay.

Power bank for phone
When we saw the eagles I would have loved to have zoomed in with my phone and at least attempted to take photos of them. By this point my phone was getting very low on battery power. I stopped taking photos and preserved the battery power left for Facebook live videos. Next time around I’d like to ensure that I don’t have that limitation. I intend to invest in some sort of power bank for my phone for the next epic hike.

Too brain dead for Eminem
Earlier in our hike, Saki had told of us the incredible word play and lyrics on Eminem’s latest album. When we started hiking up Fairview I asked Saki to play some on his iPad for us. We listened to the first two songs, and then we decided to put on some instrumental music. Personally my brain felt fried at that point and found it hard enough concentrating on my footing let alone the incredible lyrics of Eminem’s songs…

Another scary time on Fairview
About 2/3 of the way up Fairview, Saki said he was cold and wasn’t always responding to questions when Tyler and I asked him. He was still hiking straight and at a good pace. Tyler and I weren’t sure what to do. Every few minutes we’d ask him different things. He’d sometimes respond ok, and at other times wouldn’t respond. We decided to summit Fairview and then call it a day after that. Looking back I feel it would have been more prudent and safer for us to turn around when he wasn’t always responding. In Saki’s own words “I’m pretty certain my body was in shock, as I’ve never felt like that in my life. And my body took about a week, if not more, to fully recover. Couldn’t move as freely as I wanted to, it was bizarre.”. Thankfully Saki completed hiking up and down Fairview safely which I’m truly grateful for.

Smart decision
On the way up Fairview just before the top it was already dark. Myself and Saki were wiped out physically and mentally. As I wrote above, Saki was not in a good state. Tyler could have kept going for a long time! Some of the rocks on Fairview were slippery. We knew that Saddleback would be a little sketchy since some of that ascent includes going over an area with just slanted rocks with no dirt trail. In my head I got thinking…it’s already dark and getting late, Saddleback will most likely have some very slippery rocks to go over, I’m physically and mentally pretty well spent, and most importantly Saki is not in good shape. Close to the top of Fairview I stated that I don’t feel doing Saddleback is a good idea. I mentioned all those reasons. Tyler thankfully agreed. I seem to recall Saki giving a head nod. It meant that we would not do the original six peaks that we had planned. That being said, we technically ended up doing seven peaks that day! Subtract Saddleback and add both Little Beehive and Big Beehive.

Weird lighting
When we started hiking at 4:30am we were all using headlamps. Saki and Tyler’s headlamps are much more powerful and brighter than mine, so I asked if I could hike in the middle between them to take advantage of their lighting. When I still had my headlamp on my eyes kept playing tricks on me. So I decided to turn my headlamp off. That was much easier. On the way up Fairview when it got dark, I again hiked in the middle. Next time I will invest in a more powerful and brighter headlamp.

Incredible sky during parts of the day
For large chunks of the day we were blessed and fortunate to have Mother Nature put on a spectacular show for us in the sky! The variable cloud layering and partial inversions were incredible. Take a scroll through the many photos in the last section of this blog post 🙂

Weird atmospheric conditions at the top of Mount Whyte
In Tyler’s words “it was crazy up there, felt like aliens surrounding us 👽 😂”. Tyler heard and felt a buzzing noise, and felt static in his ears and head! Saki’s hair was frizzing out. Unfortunately we didn’t get any photos of that! We all thought that perhaps we were feeling a bit of a storm of some sort. Once we started slowly descending, Tyler’s static feelings and Saki’s frizzy hair went away.

People supporting us virtually throughout the day
Throughout the day I did a number of Facebook live videos. It was wonderful to be supported by so many people who were virtually following along! I didn’t respond to people’s comments, however I did see all of them. It felt so good to be supported by so many family and friends from around the world at different times during the day!

Videos from the day
These YouTube videos below were all recorded as Facebook live videos during the event. As of March 26, 2019 these videos have been watched on Facebook a total of 5,363 times!

Start of day

At top of Devil’s Thumb

At top of Mount St Piran

At the top of Mount Niblock

At the top of Mount Whyte

At the saddle between Whyte and Niblock

Butt slide

About to head up the last two peaks

At the top of Fairview

Finished!

Photos from the day
Tyler’s photos

                

Saki’s photos

    

Alex’s photos

                            

My photos

                                    

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  1. […] however I know it is a possibility. The longest event I’ve ever done was last year’s 6 Peaks Lake Louise where we hiked for almost 18.5 hours including […]

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