Joyless 5.8x; A Failed Attempt At Joy

August 6, 2019

Having easily climbed the route known as Joy on Mount Indefatigable in Kananaskis 3 times previously in 2017 (once solo even) I felt completely overconfident heading up it again for the fourth time on Aug 6. In my haste and eagerness to get climbing I ended up leading my partner and 2 other teams of two up the wrong slab! One of the parties that followed us up on this day had even done it this year and he still got suckered.

Long story short this is a mistake that many have made as the slabs look very similar from the bottom and start very close to each other. Ascending the first slab makes for a tedious, shitty day instead of the fun easy objective that is the actual Joy route next slab over.

None of the three parties on this day realized our mistake until we topped out 800m and 6 pitches up as the route seems eerily similar at first. Make sure when you’re on the climbers ascent trail you stay well left of the first brutal slab. For an excellent route description of the slab that has been given the very accurate name: ‘Joyless’ click here.

For a gps track of Joyless on Mount Indefatigable click here.

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Joy felt like a wise conservative choice for the first multi after 1.5 years off due to a nagging (now healed post surgery) injury. We were pretty eager and went charging up the first slab we saw, which turned out to be the wrong route entirely. Apparently what we did is called ‘Joyless 5.8x’, aptly named as everything was super run out and all the anchors were totally desperate. Don’t make the same mistake, it’s easy to do! Luckily two other parties followed us up our folly, passed us but got stopped at the very top where the ridge gets so rotten it’s basically unprotectable and too sketchy to climb due to the extreme rockfall hazard. Naturally I had to see for myself and climbed into the trap as well despite the warning from the other team…but it all worked out as we were able to combine our gear to bail and by some miracle ended up only having to leave behind slings and beaners. All in all Joyless turned out to be a great experience with some awesome people, but it could have turned out very differently as we were only ever one bad decision away from significant, unnessecary and totally avoidable hardship. It would have been a henious expensive bail as a party of two! Joyless was the perfect reintroduction to climbing in the Rockies and a sweet reminder that preparation and constant reassement of a route is a great idea, even when you think you know exactly what you’re doing.

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‘The Fold’ 5.8 Free Solo

With new snow on every peak in Kananaskis October 10, 2017 was the last chance for a solo attempt on ‘The Fold’ this season. After a restless night, a somewhat apprehensive drive up highway 40 and an intimidating approach I found myself at the base of the The Fold at around 11am. The most exciting moves of this adventure are on pitch 3 (the crux) so you don’t get much of a warm up. After pitch 3 you can relax a little because that is basically the point of no return if you haven’t brought any bail gear (which I did not).

The accomplishment of reaching the top of The Fold is a fleeting feeling as one must still make 3 long rappels to reach ‘safe ground’. The first two raps are easy but the third station is situated so that you have to swing into it, which is actually a bit tricky and unnerving, especially when you’re hanging from a 6mm rap line. Not keen to make a free hanging rap on 6mm line without a backup, I tied an extra tight prusik and began a steady abseil towards freedom. About half way down my prusik jammed on the thin, pliable rope fibers and nothing I did could loosen it, it just became tighter and tighter. With my knife stowed safely in my pack and no means with which to ascend the rope my only option for self rescue was to escape the prusik by undoing the knots, which caused me to drop far enough that the prusik was out of reach; long story short there is a 70m Eldelrid rap line up for grabs on The Fold.

Click Here for GPS link of The Fold solo

Video from The Fold solo:

Mount Louis Solo via the 5.7 Kain Route

On Sept 29, 2017 I approached Mount Louis via Edith Pass trail and scrambled up the first half of the Kain Route in trail running shoes. After making the first rappel with a 6mm 70m Eledrid rap line I switched to climbing shoes and made my way up to the base of the Perren Crack. After climbing the Perren Crack there was one more short section of scrambling before the summit. After a generous summit stay I abseiled via the regular climbers descent route and jogged the Edith Pass trail back to the car for a return trip time of 5 hours 33 minutes car to car (click for gps).

The Kain Route on Mount Louis sees significant traffic making this route a great solo. A much faster-time to complete the Mount Louis climb via the Kain Route is definitely possible, my personal goal is to complete it in less than 4 hours if it comes back into season this year.

Picture and video from Sept 29:

Ha Ling NE Face 5.6 Solo

On August 24, 2017, I set out for a prep run up the Ha Ling NE Face at a moderate pace to prepare for an FKT attempt. After reaching the summit in just under two hours it seemed prudent to just run the descent as an FKT was likely. A sub two hour time for this route is definitely possible.

There were three spots on this route that felt quite sporting unroped: the rising traverse on pitch 5, the small roof on pitch 8(?) and a couple moves on the Great Dihedral slab pitch.

My car to car time for soloing the NE Face of Ha Ling: 2 hours 19 minutes (click for gps on Strava).

Picture & video from Ha Ling solo:

CTR Peak Performance 200,000m Achievement

THANK YOU to the Calgary Trail Runners for this awesome keepsake!

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Many members of the CTR helped me develop strong endurance, I owe you all a heartfelt thanks:

Thank you CTR trail veteran Bert Starke. In 2013 when we met on Moose Mountain I didn’t know a damn soul from the trail running world or that it even existed. When you invited me out for that triple Prairie I thought you were nuts and watching you run down that slope three times in winter fairly boggled my mind. You were the reason I bought my first pair of trail running shoes, you were there the first time I ran Prairie Mountain, you and I ran my first ultra distance together and you were the reason I started trail running at all, thanks a million buddy!!

Thank you Lori Stirrett Downey for helping me break out of my mountain solo shell and making me feel welcome with the CTR. Thank you for organizing that fateful group trip on Prairie Mountain so I could meet local endurance legend Joanna Ford.

Thank you Joanna Ford for helping me smash down all the mental walls between me and what I used to think was possible. Thank you for sharing your magic mindset with me, thanks to you I will always strive to push my ‘limits’ as far as I can (with a smile on my face). And, of course, thank you for all the mountain adventures!!

Thank you Leo Fung and Brayden Hiltz (and Joanna Ford) for inspiring the shit out of me with your wild Strava activities and for taking me out for those fledgling runs, seeing you all in action having fun running around in the mountains was incredible. You helped me believe the impossible into reality.

Thank you to all of my other friends at CTR who are too numerous to name. I wish you all the happiness and success you deserve both on and off the trails. Thank you all for all of the encouragement, moral support and for helping me achieve all that I have. Without my friends at the CTR 200,000m in one year may very well have remained some far off dream.

For anyone interested, here were the 2016 summit stats that resulted in the 200,000m:

Total Summits reached 2016: 182
Unique Summits reached 2016: 123
Total Elevation Gain GPS Logged 2016:
Trail Distance GPS Logged 2016:


Best Mountain Moments of 2016

A quick trip down memory lane before we slam the door on this past year and sprint confidently into 2017:

1. Lovely Larches

When: September 15, 2016
Where: Valley of the 10 Peaks (Lake Louise, Banff National Park)
Anecdote: Running through tunnels of freshly lemoned larch trees at sunset with your partner is as romantic as it gets. The Lake Louise area love vibe is hard to beat.

Larches glowing in the sunset enroute to Wastach Peak last night (taken Sept 15, 2016)

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2. Perfectly Still

When: October 6, 2016
Where: Consolation Valley (Lake Louise, Banff National Park)
Anecdote: Calm weather in the mountains is such a rarity that when it strikes a profound sense of awe prevails. It was hard to leave the swampy shoreline of Consolation Lakes. 

Consolation Lakes (Taken Oct 6, 2016)

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3. Entrancing Inversion

When: October 12, 2016
Where: Pigeon Mountain (Kananaskis)
Anecdote: Our group had no expectations of a view at all this day, only hope. Breaking through the clouds was like entering another world, one where it was impossible to stop taking pictures.

One last pic of the Pigeon Mountain inversion last Sunday. New summit tomorrow, inshallah

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4. Perfect Light

When: June 5, 2016
Where: Mount Buller summit (Kananaskis)
Anecdote: I had just finished taking a whiz when I noticed Ruchel appreciating the 900m precipice off Buller Mountain summit. Luckily I managed to get this shot off before she realized I was done relieving myself.

Beautiful day on Mount Buller (taken June 5, 2016)

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5. Frosting on the Ridge

When: September 1, 2016
Where: Mount Northover summit (Kananaskis)
Anecdote: Views like this are why peak bagging is so god damn fun and addicting. You actually see the ridge melting away, both snow and rock.

Northover Ridge looking spectacular from the summit of Mount Northover (taken Sept 1, 2016)

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6. Crossing The Expanse

When: May 18, 2016
Where: Gap Peak (Kananaskis)
Anecdote: Fun friendships forged in the mountains are strong and enduring. Soloing is sweet, but moving quickly as a team feels really cool too.

7. Bombing Steeps

When: July 23, 2016
Where: Mount Lougheed Peak 1 (Kananaskis)
Anecdote: When I first started scrambling never in my wildest dreams did I dare to muse of running the Lougheed Traverse, and certainly not with a girlfriend willing and capable of the same. We have come so far and yet we are only at the beginning of these wild adventures in the mountains.

Looking forward to scree runs like this and temps above 0. Only 6 months to go 🙈

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8. Intense Lines

When: August 28, 2016
Where: Mount Smuts (Kananaskis)
Anecdote: Just days after her 132km ‘fun run’ Ruchel joined me for redemption on Mount Smuts (we’d been rained off the day before). I managed to completely blow the route finding and led her up a horribly steep and exposed gully that gave us both quite the surprise. What a relief to make the summit!

9. Shenanigans at 10,500ft

When: August 22, 2016
Where: Mount Stephen (Yoho N.P.)
Anecdote: Geoff Hardy’s infectious fun energy turns every peak bagging mission into a hilarious zany adventure. This pic was orchestrated by him, and he actually took my place after I failed several attempts to achieve the height he was looking for.

Summit fight club: Mount Stephen…poor Geoff didn’t know @ariellefitz22 was a blackbelt ✊

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10. Finding the Beauty

When: August 15, 2016
Where: Pilot Mountain Summit (Banff National Park)
Anecdote: After concluding that Pilot Mountain offered interesting vistas but no striking view I wandered over to the South edge of the long summit plateau. From here the connecting ridge to Mount Brett was breathtaking and made we wish for the gear and skill to make it there by a more direct means than the scrambling routes.  

Best Video

When: July 6, 2016
Where: Dolomite Peak (Icefields Parkway, Banff N.P.)
Anecdote: The sharp grey rubble of Dolomite Peak is a harsh place devoid of life and color except for this little fellow. Its always surprising to find life in some of the most extreme spots in the mountains.

Surprised to see this lovely creature amongst the rubble and scree (near the summit of Dolomite Peak)

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Thanks for looking!