Canmore to Exshaw the long way, Maso Chix.

Start - Canmore at Cougar creek
Finish - Exshaw
Route - along Cougar Ck & up to 3 high passes via Banff Park and Exshaw
Distance - around 40km with over 2000 meters climbing
Time - 21.5 hours
Date: Nov 27, 2004
Team: Lisa Lee-Johnson, Shellie Jober, Sim Galloway, Istvan Hernadi


Team Maso-chix completes historic traverse

Nov 27, 2004 - 6:10 am to Nov 28 3:40 am (21.5 hours)

Start - Canmore at Cougar creek
Finish - Exshaw
Route - 3 high passes via Banff Park and Exshaw Pass
Distance - around 40km with over 2000 meters climbing


Kiwi Lisa - "I crawl into the office Monday morning
completely wasted, so I can get a rest" - chief navigator & expedition
food supply

Shellie J - "I just love that feeling when my body aches
all over" - keeps navigator on course - supplies her with emergency

Sim G - "I run up the tallest buildings every day
just so I can keep up with Lisa" - trailbreaker, communication expert

TM Coach: Istvan H "Dont ever do a trip with him - he is an animal"
- occasional trailbreaker, organizer, captain,
laughs hysterically at all the poor suckers who join him on insane


Lisa handed out high-energy pink girlie bars, while IH
made sure they all had pink shower caps.
Lipstick and nail polish were optional. Lisa packed a
few 100 sandwiches & 20 layers of clothing, just in
IH brought orange garbage bags and a couple of fruit&vegie bars.

Expedition planning:

Legend has it that a place exists high in the
inaccessible front ranges where a lost tribe of
mountain people live in a town called "Ex-Shaw".
Nobody has ever found that place; previous explorers
report they were turned back by the high passes and
National Park wardens on the way for illegaly camping
or biking over the passes.
Others have perished in the valleys inhabited by
cougars and man-eating willows, just the bravest of
backpackers ventured across in search of the remote
Only Team Maso-Chix was man enough to rise to the
challenge of leaving the metropolis of "Can More" on a
mission to find Ex-Shaw on a cold and snowy November

Support crew and sponsors:

Rocking Ruthie O. - our rock-solid supporter and supplier of cookies
UltraMan Ian H. - heroic journey to build campfire for TM
Awsome Martin of MapTown who printed us great maps and did a 3-d
fly-by of the route on his computer.
Rick Collier & Bob Saunders - provided inspiration for our epics.
Nancy F - who stayed up all night waiting for successful return of TM
"Can More" hotels - suppliers of shower caps

The Trip:

Creek of a 1000 crossings

Deep water in Cougar creek, ice covered rocks & logs, lots of
crashes and wet feet.

Pass of the Cougar into the Promised Land (noon)

Lunch at the pass in good weather and descent into
the dark valley beyond.
Following cougar tracks & elk bones in the Park -
deep snow & some bushwhack to reach scree slopes
towards the next pass.

Horny Goat pass (2pm)

Exit from Banff Park, ready for hunters - 3 chix pose for picture
with ski poles as antlers
(IH "I wouldn't want to be anyplace else than here with 3 horny

Canyon of a 1000 waterfalls (3pm)

After a frozen alpine lake we descended to the
valley where a trail traversed the steep slopes.
Eventually cliffs and gullies block the route, the
creek and canyons need to be followed, with
bumsliding down frozen waterfalls.

Valley of the Blizzard & impenetrable bush (5pm)

The rest of the valley and up to the next pass was
deep bush, a snowstorm for several hours and
very tough slippery trailbreaking on a steep
traverse and occasional cliffs.

Joy and Misery at Ex-Shaw pass
- kicking steps into knee deep snow to reach the
last pass
- we saw faint lights on the horizon at 10:30pm,
was it the elusive town of Ex-Shaw or just another
smokestack in the mountains?
- calls to our loved ones to announce the success
of reaching the pass and sighting the distant Shangri-La.

The Death March out

Hours spent walking along Exshaw creek and falling on the slippery

The carnage:

Lisa: crash through the ice - elbow smashed - cannot use skipole any
bumslide down waterfalls
SJ: fell and smashed her head into a tree - loss of sight for several
IH: bumslide into rocks and crash hips and knees into ice
SG: skating on creeks, sliding down the ice on her back

Motto -

"If you're not living on the edge you're taking up too much space"
- Jim Whittaker (first American to climb Everest)

What have we learned -

Nothing - maybe take a satellite phone next time.
Cell phones only work on top of Exshaw pass.
Take snowshoes if there is expected to be knee-deep snow