9 days.

I am bubbling. My insides are not boiling, but there is a life to it that is more than just stirring. I am beginning to feel the excitement. I am not ready, as anyone thinking they are 100% prepared for any objective in their life, will be wrong. I can always be better, I can always be more prepared, and this can be as much as knowing what piece of gear to leave behind or bring. Intuition is key.

I am off my last ‘rest period’ on the weights, but I have been visiting the crag twice a week. I cannot say that my climbing skills have improved much. I have not been pushing it there, just focusing on leading routes 5.10 and under. I do not want to injure myself before my trip back to Alberta. I want to be more comfortable with ropes.

I spent January to March this year taking training as a job. I was off work, and decided to focus on my body and mind like I never had before. I hit the weights, trail ran, and climbed canyons in Kamloops. I spent about a month in Calgary. Bolder Climbing Community became my second home during this time. The hotel gym and pool was used, specifically the hot tub, but the bouldering gym is where you get strong.

I rehashed old injuries. I worked on my shoulder. I got the click out of my right ankle. Things felt good, and as I thought I was going to be back right then, but I wait. The timing involved with wanting larger summits is so necessary. Peak fever begins at home, on the computer screen. This temptation must be able to be settled then, for when you are sleep, oxygen, and calorie deprived, and you can see the glory staring down at you, decision making becomes a life and death deal.

I am training still. I will be training until the last breath I take. My life is the mountains, so I train and live in them. Running, biking, weights, yoga, meditation, cragging, and beta time are the tools you have to prepare. I use them. I am looking forward to hitting the road, so I train, I practice knots, I follow weather, and I will always better myself for the things I love.

Crag life can train the mind, if done properly.

Life is flying by at the moment. I have decided to branch out into the community in a new way and it is paying off.

My mountain career started with me finding a few friends in my Physics classes during my first years in university. I was invited on a few boot pack missions out to Rae Glacier in 2005, which lead to much more fun and a few glacier crossings on Robertson where I was tied in. I was not one for the social life, so I continued on my own years later, when my old partners had dissipated into the crowds. I was getting out snowboarding almost daily for many years of my life, and have clocked over half of a year on snow more before. Huge thanks to CUC in Lacombe, AB, and the summer hockey camps. Life in Calgary was different when I moved there at 18.

I thought what I had for snowboarding was going well, until I discovered REAL backcountry shreds in my adult years. Snowshoes, crampons, axe, and a board on my back was my deal through most of my University days. Having suffered a femur incident in 2004, I was done with handrails and running from security to get my shred on. I only wanted the powder. The issue was that I had no friends who shredded where I wanted to go. I was familiar with Kananaskis and had ventured to the Knob’s, Black Prince, and Tryst often. So that is where I went. Alone.

I took an in class avalanche course held at the UofC – long before actually taking my AST1, with The Snowboard Club, but missed the field day. The folk I was going with at the beginning of this had done countless drills with me, and we tested snow conditions. Ending up solo, and wanting to be safe, I would eye conditions like a hawk, dig pits, and turn around often. I found shreds that were more in the trees and not in any slide paths. This meant that I often had little baby shreds in places that most boarders, and ski touring folk, would not venture into. I stagnated my growth in the sport, but learnt a ton about mountaineering accidentally.

My solo life ventured into a quest to get my fear of heights removed again, and seeing all the easier trails and backcountry campsites in Kananaskis. I never used ropes again. I never got into bouldering again. I stopped any progression of up by removing community from my mountain life. As a result, I brought my band’s character into the mountains and blogged ridiculousness.

What is the difference now? My life is different as I have a regular community that I interact with as a human. I see the people in my life daily or weekly, in person, and hardly ever over the phone or internet. The people I get to climb with a few times a week here are amazing. I was holding on to such a large fear of not being included, for so long, that I had segregated myself from my peers and the people that I shared beta with. The community that I did not allow myself to be included in, has now become the highlight of my days.

My time at the crag, learning the craft, and practically practicing ropes is just half of the dance that climbing is about. I hated climbing with another’s eyes on me, and only liked climbing with one or two friends I knew. Now I love the banter, the coaching, and all the tips that I can get. Life at the crag is ALL at the moment. My training there has an effect on both the mind and the body. I am looking forward to my journey to the Columbia Icefield’s in the next few weeks. And I know I will be ready. Tomorrow, is another day, with more training. Train daily for the things you want to succeed at. Just find the Balance in it. Train your body as well as your soul. And reach for it with all your heart.

Adulting.

I finally feel like my life is coming together. It is clearly an ongoing process that will never cease, as I will always strive to be a better man.


My routine here is getting to feel comfortable, and I am beginning to feel at home. It has been a long time since I have truly felt comfortable and in control in a house. Leaving the ‘real world’ to go meditate in the mountains in 2016 set me back, and I still do not even own a bed. Life is good though. I have a bike, a room full of gear, my dog, good friends, and everything I need to train for alpinism.

I have not been running much in the mornings of late and that needs to change. My morning meditation and yoga routine, followed by breakfast and working out, is going well and I feel complete. Afternoons are walks, studying, gardening, and music.


I ordered internet today and aquired a kitchen table, plus some bedroom furniture, so I feel mega adult-ish at the moment. I have a bill in my name, a bank card, and a tenancy agreement. My not-so-busy life is non-stop. I am active all day long and I expect to become more active soon. Having a home, a garden, and a community to be a part of has brightened my smile to a level I never thought possible. Well, if I was on the rope more, she could be brighter I suppose.

Leading.

Moving forward in life is easiest when you are following another, following a known route, or at least knowing that someone has been there before. There is a comfort that is found in this, and it is something we all seem ashamed about.

There are cycles to this reality, and therefore nothing is ever truly new. Spring may come every year, yet it is a new spring. The shedded comfort of leading into the unknown, and moving past protections placed behind, is refreshing. The exhilaration and achievement one feels after such a venture is not just a thrill, for it is life.

I am trying to live a simple life, for I am not a simple man. I feel so thankful for being invited to climb with the locals here, and am loving every minute at the crag, even when not climbing. The sharing, the learning, and the community found here brings smiles to my face and a light enough heart to help me send.

I am skipping a few steps here I suppose. I want to be honest in my climbing, as I am new to pro. My first day at a crag ever was Sunday. On my first climb there, I attempted a lead on a 5.10, got 3 clips in, and fell on the crux… I am so thankful for the support I received from the crew there. I decided to top rope the route next to it instead of continuing to attempt to lead on my first ever crag climb. I sent the 5.10a with zero issues and realized the seriousness that leading has on the mind while climbing.

I returned to the Esler Bluffs two days later with a new mindset. I was going to lead a route. I had studied the other climbers and top roped a few more routes on Sunday and was actually ready. I had real support. People who I could trust that wanted me to succeed. I am so thankful for the belays, the coaching, and the time they put in to keep me safe while learning.

As soon as we got to the crag, I got ready to lead a route. I knew what I needed to do, and how to do it. I successfully lead my first route in a crag yesterday and it was because of patience, as much as that sounds crazy due to it being my second day at a crag, but I studied, trained, and prepared for this for a long time. I am now one more step forward on my journey.

A response to TheDihedral.com’s ‘Why #LeaveNoTrace is pointless – Prove me wrong’.

I read TheDihedral.com’s post on #LeaveNoTrace a while ago and shared it with a partner, but it has been sitting on my mind. I grew up, out of town, in the woods, and was big into trekking over the past few years. The principles I grew up with, and the experiences I have had random camping in Canada, have lead me to take LNT to heart.

Over the years I have ended up taking out many newcomers to the hiking, and specifically the backcountry camping, world. LNT is something that I pounded into thier minds. This was 90% about safety and 10% trail preservation.

I do fully agree with all the points in your blog, and have had a few hikers with me that needed an explaination like yours. For the most part, the city folk who accompanied me would have no clue about any park etiquette and some would continue thier littering habits right onto the trail. They would need LNT constantly reminded to them, and they still would be dripping food all over there clothes, or the ground, or wherever. For these people, LNT is but an unachievable dream that they NEED to strive for in order to remain alive.

My seriousness here is that hiking or climbing from Kananaskis AB, to the Coastal Ranges in BC, involves a fair bit of dangerous wildlife. We have wolverine, bear, cougar, wolf, moose, and elk as some of the larger animal friends that could potentially cause you harm. The smaller ones can be issues as well, deer can kick your dog, and I have had issues with some larger weasels other than the wolverine.

Throwing your apple into the bushes on a mountain trail may seem like a fine idea, and I love your example, yet smaller food waste discarded from a throw will bring the smaller animals to eat it. Squirrels and rabbits will learn that food is easily found near the hiking trails, and often this food will be human food, high in sugar content (addictive). It may not seem to be a big deal having a load of cute mountain bunnies on a approach trail, but cougars eat the bunnies and you just brought their food to where the humans are.

Once one of our bears in Alberta eats human garbage, it is sentanced to death. Feeding a bear, kills a bear we say. This is because the bear learns of the easy, high carb and high sugar, food that can be found near human activity. Yes LNT helps keep our trails looking nice, and a good bivy site will ensure the alpine meadows that take hundreds of years to grow will not be damaged, but not letting your beer spill at camp will save the beer, and possibly your life.

#Leavenotrace is what the people who live the backcountry tell the newbies repetitively to break their bad habits. I did not know that there was an actual society, where one could volunteer their time to propagate. That seems ridiculous, but if that is what is needed to educate the new wave of insta-pic chasers, then I am all for it.

For me personally, LNT has just been a way to stay observant on my actions while random camping. If I cut down a dead tree for firewood, I will cut it down as close to the forest floor as possible, and burn all the cut pieces of it, so the area is ‘untouched’ for the next team on the same approach. I will ensure that I spill no food, because food is precious and it attracts unwanted attention. I will also not bring soap for dishes nor myself, as all of the water sheds I venture up lead into water sources for many of the communities here.

As human’s, we destroy and build. I think this is just fine. Trails and backcountry campgrounds are made to house us in the mountains. If I toss my apple an arms throw from a trail, it may not be a big deal, but if every new hiker to Banff National Park does that this summer, we will have serious issues. We are never going to live to the code of #LeaveNoTrace, but it needs to be talked about with anyone new to the backcountry. Sadly in our current day and age, snagging a summit selfie for your Tinder bio is far more important than doing beta, training, and actually dedicating a small portion of your care to the backcountry.

One month.

I have been writing, and it has been corrupted. The blogs I write never get posted and I feel like it is not completely my fault but something screaming at me from my subconcious to wait. It is one month until I am in the Columbia Icefields, and that means it is crunch time for training.

I finally made it to the local crag, the Esler Bluffs. I was told the entire day how the place was special to the long-term locals. How it holds a spiritual meaning almost, as their centre of community. The crew there is small and they are a tight family of support and strength. I was honoured to be invited and thankful for the belays.

The life here is simple. The people work, mostly for natural resources and government/park relations, and they climb. They care about the community and the well being of the land. And I stick out as a newcomer.

I am a newcomer to climbing, and a newcomer to the town. I currently am not working, just volunteering while training for my passion and my fun. I am treating this training for alpinism as a job, and take my time at the crag as a blessing. I have not settled in a place since moving into my car in 2016, and am more than ready to be back to reality.

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I have not been discussing my physical training much here, as I am not an expert in Kinesiology. I do discuss my training for the mind. As the spiritual journey of self and perseverance associated with climbing is half of the game.

The balance I am finding daily in my life is found as I follow my intuition and instinct. I am looking forward to visiting the crag again tomorrow and working on my skills in a practical way. The cycle that brings new experiences and challenges also brings healing, and my time of solo meditation is done. It is my time to move forward with respect and an open mind. I have one month until I begin my climbs in the alpine.