Backpacking the Iceline Trail, Whaleback, and Little yoho Valley

The Iceline Trail, Whaleback, and Yoho Valley trails make for a great two-four day backpacking circuit in Yoho National Park. Beginning at Takakkaw Falls, we headed up  Yoho Valley. The first of many sights along the trail is Laughing Falls. There’s a backcountry campground here if you wish to explore the area more before you continue. Seeing as it’s only about 3.5 kilometres from the trail head, we continued on.

We trekked up towards Whaleback after stopping at a few more waterfalls. Once we gained more elevation and climbed up the Whaleback, we enjoyed the view of Yoho Valley where we came from, as well as the view to where we would be going the following day, Little Yoho Valley and the Iceline trail. The Whaleback trail descends into the neighbouring valley where we would camp until the next morning. 

With an early start, we left camp at Little Yoho Campground just before sunrise in hopes of having a nice sunrise from the top of the Iceline trail. 

The hike from Little Yoho campground ascends fairly quickly out of the trees and into the rugged alpine. The alpine reveals a number of nearby glaciers and glacial lagoons immediately next to the trail. The trail continues alongside these ancient glaciers for about 7 kilometres before descending down into the valley below. The valley eventually spits you out just east of Takakkaw falls.

Photos and words by Ryan Richardson    

                                       

Why I Treat My $5k Camera Like Sh!t

There’s a general misconception with camera gear and the photography community and that’s that camera’s are sensitive and fragile.

There it was…  standing in the dramatic backdrop of Monument Valley in Utah, I saw a mud puddle that was begging for my attention. I think Hailey and I knew almost instinctively that we wanted to photograph of our Jeep Wrangler ripping through the muddy puddle at high speed.

I knew for sure that the shot I wanted to create was going to get me soaked and covered in mud. I also knew that meant my camera was going to be soaked and covered in mud. Hailey and I paid for all our gear, no Sony sponsors here, and gear is unreasonably expensive. My camera body $3999, lens $1000, multiplied by two, but we didn’t even hesitate. I gave my buddy the signal, and he drove the Jeep through the water at about 50 km/h from about 2 meters in front of us.

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We got the shot. But both of our cameras were absolutely soaked and covered in mud. The thing is, creativity and vision is more important than anything else. Cameras are tools and it’s your job to find a tool that can keep up with your creativity. If your equipment is holding you back and your not creating your vision because you’re too afraid to scuff up your camera body, or get mud on your lens, then you’re going about it backwards.

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I’m not saying to throw your camera off of a cliff with complete disregard. I think you can be a responsible camera owner but also prioritize creativity at the same time. First of all, use the cameras that can keep up with you and your shooting needs. Secondly, insuring your gear will give you a little bit more peace of mind if the worst possible outcome happens.

There’s a general misconception with camera gear and the photography community and that’s that camera’s are sensitive and fragile. Some are more than others, but at the end of the day, these cameras are tools. They’re work horses. Start using cameras like the tools that they were designed to be. I think a lot of camera owners would be surprised to see how well their equipment fares against the outdoor elements, such as salt water spray, sand, dust, snow, and sun.

Gear Review: Arc’teryx V80 Rolling Duffle

Finally a duffle as tough as my job. I took the V80 rolling duffle with me to the desert and this is what I thought of it.

As an outdoor adventure photographer, I tend not to get too attached to material things… not necessarily for any philosophical reason, I’m just really hard on my equipment. Anything I take with me on a job is subject to falling out of a moving vehicle, taking a dive in salt water, and standing up to extreme climates.

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It usually doesn’t take too long to figure out whether or not a new piece of equipment is going to work out for me… if it can survive a few days with me on a job, I’m sold. On a recent work trip to Arizona and Utah, my Arc’teryx V80 rolling duffle did more than just survive… it thrived.

I generally have two bags that I travel with, my camera bag, and a duffle… that’s it. Traveling lightweight keeps me extremely mobile, efficient, and flexible. I was camping out of a Jeep for the duration of my trip. I used my duffle to hold all of my clothing (warm weather and cold weather) , and all of my camping equipment.

I was working with another photographer, he closed the back of the Jeep door on my bag, smashing the door into the aluminum frame around the bag… instead of the bag getting damaged from the Jeep door, the door was actually damaged instead by the bag. My friend jokingly said “Dude, your duffle bag is literally tougher than our Jeep”!

 

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Features

By far my favourite feature on the duffle are the oversized wheels intended for rough terrain. Sometimes I had my eyes set on a spot to set up camp that our 4×4 couldn’t access, that meant lugging gear from our Jeep, up to a kilometer away. At the end of a long day with little sleep for days on end, the last thing you want to do is haul a ton of gear to your camping spot. The wheels made it effortless to just grab my camp gear from the Jeep and go.

Another feature I really enjoyed were the interior compression straps. I would tear down camp, throw everything into the bag and use the compression straps to keep the contents packed down and snug.

The weather resistant nylon and the seam sealed zippers are a big deal. Believe it or not, I set up camp in the rain 5 out of 10 nights. Weather is unpredictable, even in the desert. When your bag contains all of your clothing, and your sleeping bag, it’s critical the contents stay dry.

I look forward to using the Arc’teryx V80 duffle on an upcoming assignment in Norway next month. I have no doubt I’ll enjoy it just as much in the arctic as I did the desert.

Pictures by Hailey Playfair of Life Outside Studio

 

Ian Corless Getting the Shot

“I think one of the key elements of my photography works is that I never just stand on the trail and take photographs.” – Corless

Ian Corless Getting the Shot

An Introduction to Ian Corless.

It would be impossible to introduce Ian Corless, and describe his passion for photography and his approach to getting the shot, as well as his involvement with ultra running better than Killian Jornet’s words in Corless’ book Running Beyond

To quote Jornet:

Ian Has been there to witness the stories. He knows the sport, he practices it and he has been involved involved in many different aspects of it, all of which provides him with a great overview. He has the strength and the character to work many hours, even practicing his own ultra with cameras in order to to capture the emotions and the passion from inside the sport. Ian’s photographs convey the passion of the sport, and the beauty of his images immerse you in the aura of each race. We are able to feel what the runners have felt, and it is the closest you will get without being there yourself.  – Killian Jornet

Running Beyond takes you on an epic visual journey.

Corless’ book Running Beyond, is jam packed with stunning mountain scenery and visceral emotions from runners as they experience the highs and the lows of running in these extreme environments. Corless manages to grab the reader and take them along on a journey to some of the most beautiful mountain and desert landscapes on earth. From the high mountains of the Himalayas, to the deserts of Africa. Ian’s book truly gives you a taste of what it might be like to run in these remote destinations.

Runner running through prayer flags on mountain.

How do you prepare to get ‘the’ shot?

I think one of the key elements of my photography works is that I never just stand on the trail and take photographs. I research races, I look at maps, decide on the best places to capture an image. Often, it can take me 2, 3, 4 or more hours to reach a location to get the best shots. One must commit to the shots and seek the best. I’m very demanding at a race and hard on myself to get the best I possibly can.

Runner runs through river while soaking wet.

I’d love to learn a little bit more about that process. How you’re not just a bystander, but an active participant.

I come from a racing background so I understand the dynamic of the action. The best and unique shots come when you work for them. Also, you get a shot that nobody else gets. You get out of a race what you put in. Like I said, research on the course. Try understanding the best places for images, and then commit to getting there. That may mean less shots in a race, but I go for quality over quantity.

Runner approaches cliff on mountain side.

What are some visual aesthetics you look for when creating an image at a race?

While the runner is important, often, the landscape is equally if not more important. When you combine a great runner with a great landscape, you have a winning combination. I often like to provide perspective, show how small the runner is within the place they are running. You also need blood, sweat and tears. For that, you need to get close.

Two runners race up mountain with sand dunes in background.

What advice would you give to a photographer who want’s to photograph these athletes and destinations?

Get out and shoot. Understand the sport, understand the dynamics, and research. You can start by doing any sporting event to initially master the skills required. It so much more than any one thing though.

All images by Ian Corless and used with permission.

To read more in our series of “getting the shot” visit Life Outside.

This Ultra Race in Quebec is Equivalent to Climbing Everest

Bad Beaver Ultra is located  in the rolling hills of Gatineau Park, QC. The route climbs 3480 meters over the span of 150 kilometres… That’s greater than the 3450 meter climb from the basecamp of Mount Everest to its’ summit!

Bad Beaver Ultra is located  in the rolling hills of Gatineau Park, QC. The route climbs 3480 meters over the span of 150 kilometres… That’s greater than the 3450 meter climb from the basecamp of Mount Everest to its’ summit!

The race is a 3 day stage race completely unlike any race in the region. The course runs through 150km of the conservation’s 361 square kms of wilderness. The race directors, Ray Zahab and Matt Lef’evre, strategically laid the route to hit all the highlights of the park. Over the course of the event’s 3 days, runners will climb King Mountain, run along Champlain Lookout on the edge of the Canadian Shield, visit Mckenzie King Estate, crawl though Lusk Caves, and cool off by Pink Lake.

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This is the Ultra’s third year, how ever it’s already drawn an international crowd with participants flying in from the lower 48 States, Australia, Germany, Italy, and Tokyo. The race has just recently become part of the UTMB (Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc) qualifiers, scoring 4 points for completing. Many racers have found it to be a great training ground for other stage races such as the Grand 2 Grand Ultra, in Arizona/Utah.

“What makes the BBU so unique is the terrain. Wether it’s your “goal” race or a “training” race, there’s tons of elevation gain, with an extremely dynamic mix of terrain. The route itself highlights all of the best of the best that the park has to offer. Historically, Gatineau Park is so rich with significant landmarks, and its’ geographic anomalies, and the 150km course highlights all of it!” – Leanne Richardson – 3Beavers Race Manager 

The Race seemed to have had its’ desired affect. Jean-Mathiue Che’nier is a first time stage racer and after running a couple of Ultra races organized by 3Beavers Racing, he wanted to amp up the stakes.

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Che’nier has experienced a a few 3Beavers races in the past, but nothing quite like this…

It was my first time participating in a stage race and I had the experience of a lifetime! The physical and mental challenge, the trails you discover, and the people you meet. For real, during those 3 days, I had the opportunity to do the things I love the most… running in the woods, connecting with some cool folks, and exploring the frontiers of my body and mind.

I’m telling you, the challenge was exhausting, but the rewards were priceless. The beauty of the trails we run on, the presence of the other runners lifting you up, and making you push through some excruciating pain. AND! The food at the end of the day… THE FOOD AT THE END OF THE DAY!!! A big shout out to everyone who made this whole thing possible, and especially a big one to the amazing team who captured these moments for us!” –  Jean-Mathiue Che’nier – Participant

Everyone that participated in race, from the organizers, to the runners, and the volunteers… Everyone seemed to thoroughly enjoy the entire event. So with eleven months of training until the next annual race… Will we see you there?