Sitting in a sparkling blue Bell-407, earmuffs over our heads, microphones at our mouths, hands wrapped tightly around our printed photographs, maps and GPS, peering down at the mountain peeks below – it is hard to believe this constitutes our daily work! Even though we have settled into a groove over the past week, this adventure never seizes to amaze us. For this, and for all of the support that we receive every day, we are extremely grateful.We were delighted to have the opportunity to head into Bears Paw (ESRD headquarters in Calgary) on Friday to be put to work on a very unique task: the making of over 3,000 pancakes in honour of the Bertie Beaver breakfast. While Eric and Mary were phenomenal at sharing MLP’s work with visitors of all ages, the rest of us flipped pancakes for hours, energized by the opportunity to meet a number of ESRD employees with whom we had only communicated by phone or radio to date.
Speaking of communications, we have all become quite accustomed to constant radio check-ins, helicopter call signs and the phonetic alphabet, which I was found guilty of reciting during my sleep on one occasion. “Roger that”, “How on that” and “Wilco” are now part of our everyday vocabulary.Monday was a particularly eventful day for both MLP teams. Mary, Vladka and I made our first hover exit on the southwest ridge of Mt. Chester, which we then proceeded to climb (Summit 10,020ft). A thunderstorm rolled in quickly however, forcing us off the summit almost as soon as we’d arrived. Although there were multiple hypotheses as to where the name “Mt. Indefatigable” originated (optimists believing it was linked to hikers never becoming fatigued, whilst pessimists felt it was rather the mountain that never ended), the pessimists prevailed. Unfortunately the picture-perfect weather we experienced over the first 10 days has been replaced by haze coming from a number of wildfires in B.C. and Alberta. The work has continued in full force nevertheless, with ML1 at Mt.Kent and Mt. Brock and ML2 at Grotto Mt. and Mt.Baldy yesterday.
And if that was not enough action for one day, it was topped off with an encounter with big-horn sheep and a refreshing team swim in Barrier Lake.