Grab a cup of coffee, beer, wine, orange juice (whatever floats your boat) for this tale requires some backstory! You see, it wasn't too long ago that unbeknownst to me, I was exposed to:
McCLURG'S CURSE or (in gaelic) MacLUIRG ORT LACH.
Now I'm sure most have heard of Murphy's Law (whatever can go wrong will go wrong) but what I'm sure you aren't aware of is that Captain Edward Murphy who has been given credit for this saying was actually an irish criminal trying to escape the scales of justice. A man in disguise. A man with nothing to lose. A man with the true name of Barnabus Macluirg...yes that's right. You heard it here first. I managed to uncover this truth through extensive research on my trip to the Emerald Isle back in 1998.
I also managed to find the original words uttered by Barnabus MacCluirg:
Titim gan √©ir√* ort.
Where am I going with this you ask? Well, if you truly translate those original gaelic words you can see that they were actually generalized to refer to whatever can go wrong will go wrong
, when in fact the real translation is something more along the lines of
May you fall without rising!
- Ah ha!
And so this brings us back to the present. A present that saw me and Leigh McClurg arriving at the Joffre Lakes parking area on a Thursday morning with the vague notion of clambering up Slalok under beautiful sunny skies. Or at least that's what Leigh was thinking about. I had other notions. Notions of science. I needed to know which McClurg was responsible for the curse.
Both subjects pictured below. They seem innocent enough.
Back in 2011 I was unwittingly exposed to the curse when I ran into both subjects on an ill-fated attempt at Mt. Price in the dead of winter in deep snow. Needless to say, I fell without rising and the summit attempt was aborted.
Then later in 2011, I teamed up with the dynamic duo for yet another trip and while the summit was stood on, it was somewhat of an epicly long day that involved me changing a tire near midnight.
Usually an inseparable pair, a couple years ago in Movember Ben and I managed to convince Spring to join us on a trip to Ben Lomond. Needless to say, we fell without rising and we didn't make it anywhere near the summit of ...Capilano!
It was this trip that led me to believe MacLuirg's curse was indeed strong and Spring the source.
A few more epics over the years and I just came to embrace that fact that FSR's would be blocked, snow would be deep, whiteouts would happen, birds would eat loogies, fearing for my life cowering inside of a tent on the side of a road in the Chilliwack valley would feel normal, cameras would roll off summits, and inclement weather would be thunderous! Of course, anyone who has spent ample time in the hills will undoubtedly encounter some of these things and pass it off as mother nature getting a chuckle at your expense, but I knew different. I knew the scent, the taste, the feel of MacLuirg's curse at work!
We set out along the very nicely redone Joffre Lakes trail. I could probably push a stroller to at least the second lake now. (No complaints here)
Views were nice. Weather seemed good to go. We refilled our water just past the Capground/Tszil junction.
Its been said before. The moraine is one cool feature.
Just past the moraine, looking back down. Can you find Leigh?
The clouds started to roll in somewhere around here.
Leigh's been on Tszil a couple times so I went up as he bypassed on climber's left and we met up on the other side.
Looking down at Leigh. Slalok and our route visible behind. Our views were intermittently interrupted by clouds.
It may have been due to the cloud cover, but we were actually almost at the top of the part labeled 'crux' in Gunn's book and looking for the headwall we had to traverse around before realizing where we were. It didn't really look like the pictures I'd seen. Some scrambling shots mostly taken on descent.
The ridgeline was kind of spooky in the clouds, but fun all the same.
The bit before the summit.
Summit. I tried to cut Leigh out of the picture but somehow he made it in.
Not sure what the keys to our success were.
A couple views here and there. Weird weather. So cold and windy, to so hot and humid the next. If I was a weatherman, I'd almost say it was perfect conditions for a thunderstorm... queue foreshadowing music.
No sooner did we get back across to the subsummit when a thunderous crash from above told me that McClurg's curse was going to make an appearance. It was here, I became super glad I was wearing a helmet as the hail was large enough to sting any exposed flesh.
We added some urgency to our descent as things were getting slick and the hail didn't appear to be stopping. Add in the occasional lightning strike and thunderous crash, and the ambience was downright entertaining. At one point Leigh suddenly shouts "expletive, get down." We'd been talking about 'singing ice axes', and he'd heard it. Sure enough, upon further experimentation, pretty much everything was singing, from poles to ice axes. Throw in the thunder, the crack of hail on helmets, and things were almost orchestracious (not a word, don't look it up).
We hunkered down on a shelf under an overhang to wait things out. It seemed like every time one of us would say 'looks like its passing by,' we'd get a thunderous boom in response. It was actually pretty comical.
Leigh taking one for the team and conducting the choir.
Zoom on Taylor and its freshly hailed slopes.
The storm finally passing by after about an hour.
We finally got a few views with some nice lighting on our way down.
In the end, after several years living under the McClurg curse I only have one final variable to compensate for in order to truly decipher the origins: myself.