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.

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.

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.

Frankie say RELAX.

Finding the time for yourself. It seems a laughable task. Opening up to the world is difficult when the daily grind shuts down that part of our brains. It is Friday, and those of us who succumb to the work week lifestyle, it is time to relax.

What is relaxing? I am non-stop. Even when I lay down at night to ‘sleep’, I know my day is not over. The learning, the sorting, and the connecting that goes on at night can be just as tiresome as the day. So what is relaxing? I struggle to truly ever relax. The truth about relaxing is the comfort. You need to find where you are comfortable. Whether it is chatting with friends, or walking in the woods, there needs to be a time in your day when you can truly give in.

Relaxing may be about doing less work, and taking the break from the physical. It may also be taking a break from the mental. The spiritual world seems to choose when you get your breaks. The truth in relaxing is giving into your intuition. The programming that goes on in today’s world is shutting down this part of the mind. You work, you come home and shut off the brain with alcohol and TV. Then you repeat. There is truly no time to let it flow.

That is what I love about climbing. I am not a climber at all, and do not pretend to be. I am on a journey. Bagging peaks does not even begin to describe my motivations. Relaxing does. That may not make much sense as the body is under stress in alpine situations. Any bid for a worthy objective will push one to the limit. It is also when I feel the most free.


Currently I am in the woods. Surrounded by the burnt trees of last summer’s forest fires here in British Columbia. I have a ton of work to do this weekend felling trees. I will be trying to squeeze in some fun on a new cliff nearby as well. I am always striving to find the Balance in my life and this weekend I feel blessed.