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.

Community, and extension of self, from within.

Waking up to the new light is hard. Comfort is cherished in this life and nothing can change that fact. Type II fun, is still fun in my book. I know it is the Left side in us that feeds off this. As a Cancer, I get off from being wronged naturally. Shedding that ego layer was more than just a tad bit of work.

Community from within? What do I mean by this statement. If you havr ever had the chance to share a trail with me, you will immediately come to realize that my speach is full of contradictions. This is done intentionally. I am not confused. Opposites are really just extremes of the same thing. Hot and cold are both describing temperature. Up and down are both descriptors of your vertical position. Sometimes to describe a feeling, you need both of these opposites.

The same goes with the solo (or small group) aspect of alpinism. This pretty much sits well with any sort of isolated venture. The more of a isolated venture, the more support is needed. Even the off-grid mountain liver, they rely on the community of non-human life around them. A community of human life with only offer more support for trade of goods and labour.

This may be a round about way of getting to my point here. I want you to think today. I want you to relate. Relate what I just said to your experiences. Your experiences are due to the concious energy withing you, giving you life, that you call your soul. All concious life is connected to the grid. I call this energy N. We are all N. We are all sharing the same concious energy here. All concious life. We are all the same. We are one.

The implications of this is that everyone is experiencing the same thoughts, it may not be the same train of thought as we are all individuals with our own ‘soul’ and set of experiences. The issue with thinking individually is that we are all of one energy. The more we work on ourselves individually, the more we share. Inspiration for the uninspired is not what I am talking about. I am talking about shared experiences.

Alpinism is about finding yourself. Some call it masochism. Some call it dangerous. I will not say it is not. The internal struggle that comes when making choices, life balancing ones, is the same in us all. The more we can be open, and in the ‘zone’, the easier we can flow and make these descisions correctly. The unseen result is the concious energy we all use to animated these bodies of dust gets enlightened, and we all benefit.

Go forth in your training. Community or solo. Go forth in your ventures, more than likely in groups, and know we are all at stages of the same growth. I will be doing the same.

Community

This post was a long time coming. Thought about it on Thursday. Started it and lost it twice now. Community and alpinism.

Alpinism, from what I understand as a newbie, is the next level to mountaineering. Less gear, less time, and often solo or with the smallest team possible. Alpinism is a spiritual journey of self then? The true aspect of any solo venture of this nature is not just the, “I am leaving my car here and will be back on…”. It is about a community of like minded individuals, that you trust and know. Actually know. These people need to count on your judgement as much as you trust theirs.

Beta sharing is the start of it, then outings with others. You begin to learn who you can trust and who can learn to care enough to be safe in the backcountry. Route finding is not necessarily a key factor in someone’s ability to survive. Mountaineering is about survival first, technical climbing second. The majority of the objectives you would want in our Canadian Rockies are obtainable with a 5.6 rating ascent. That being said, climbing a 5.6 in the gym or crag is far different than doing a 12km approach, then scrambling and that 5th class wall with all your gear, possibly including a bivy. Weather condition not mentioned.

Community is necessary to have the support needed to stay safe. Information on conditions and routes is essential in order to be successful. Being sucsessful is also important due to that fact that being unsuccessful can mean death. Ultrathon runners need support more than any other, yet are on their own the most. There is a balance to be found in any venture of this nature.

The balance to what I am saying here is that, I, Happy Alfano, am a person who shares. And that sharing is necessary. When someone in a community gains experience, the resulting understanding of the world around us is not added to our conciousness, it is multiplied. Conditions, routes, safety tips, training, ect., is only the start of it. The inspiration that can spark the life in others is immeasurable.

I hope that my new understanding of community while venturing on backcountry ventures allows me to be safer and help others in a sustainable manner. I know that your support in your mind for solo athletes will be in a new light as well.

Meditation to centre

Finding the centre. Finding the Balance. It all begins with self. For most of us it is about dropping the ego. For few of us, it is about learning the worth of preservation.

The aspects of alpinism that involve the psyche are hard to train. The more you try, the further you will be from achieving the zone that is required to move with elegance. The ‘zone’ is the same as opening your third eye.

The ability to open yourself to the life around us is within. It can be trained, and it lay within the subconscious. When in the zone, movement becomes fluid. Anticipation becomes second nature. And the intuition to solve problems and move on is provided.

After I had wrapped up my duties for the day, I went to the local park. It was dead. The date dawned on me and it being the last 4:20 where cannabis would be illegal in Canada, I knew that the majority of the people I would want to reach today, would have their head’s full of crazy ideas about sticking it to the man.

I grabbed Black Beauty and headed up Fox Mountain. It has been a few days since my runs have taken me up there, as I am holding off for more snow to melt on those trails, and was not even in search of a view. I was seeking solitude.

The chilly Spring breeze that provided me with the spark to dig into myself was there. The smells of flora breaching the litter was around me. The sounds of the town below were muted. I found my peace.

Looking within leads one to let go of the experiences holding us back. Letting go is a huge part of the cycle. Life moves on. Move with it, or you will be left behind. Relax, for whatever you left will be revisited. You will not be the same, and that is always a great thing, as it provides us with the ability to grow.

Challenging yourself in the gym, on the trail, or at the crag, is only part of alpinsim. I am training my mind. I am also training my fingers. It has been 3 hours outside, and I am writing. Barely moving and meditating, but now it is time to write. It is time to share.

I don’t know about having a gift of anything in this life, but I do believe that training and determination goes a long way. I am training myself to stand high, and write about my journey. I hope it reaches you, as it reaches within me.

Humble beginings

Step 1 in learning alpinism; The mountains are always going to be bigger than you.

Jokes aside, I have nothing that I can be proud about. I have ran my life into the ground. Literally. I have exhausted every lifeline that I didn’t even know I had. I lost my car, I got layed off, and I had nothing to fall back on. I was thinking too many steps ahead, without any firm ground at my feet. I turned my life into canadian choss.

That being said, I have awoken my mind to the reality that surrounds us all. Starting off fresh is the only choice I left myself with, and I can only go up from here.

My body may be ready for taking the next step in my venture towards the heavens, yet the mountain game is two-fold. I learnt that spending most of my 2017 winter outside, meditating alone in the mountains. The mind has a lot to deal with in those situations, and the consequences are severe if one fails. I have been out enough to see someone crack, and not downplaying ropeless adventures, but I have not been in a situatuon that is pushing the limits to the extent I plan too in the near future.

Humility is not a strong aspect of my previous life. I know it, and if you knew me, you know it. On the plus side, I changed more than I thought possible, on the down side, I am no longer the same person at all. I am happy now, and not just in name. It is time to move forward in this life. I thought I was on a bonus round, I am just at the starting gates.

I ended up meeting a rad dude in William’s Lake. I am currently hired to help an old band put out a new album, and have chosen here to set my roots. There is a crag nearby, tons of trail running, and I am surrounded by the best mix of quiet beauty. The people in this place are awake, smiling, and it is a community.

Volunteering in this community lead me to meet this man named Eric. Eric works at the Salvation Army in William’s Lake. During the fires in BC last year, he was evacuated, and his home burnt to the ground. He has been unable to make it back to his plot until today. His fear that it remained standing was zero. He knew it would more than likely be gone. His hope to rebuild. His hope to move on. And his hope to grow a new community on this land was only strengthened.

The conversation we had as we walked the perimeter of the place he once called home humbled me. I have been trying to learn to be humble, but it is not something to learn. It comes with the awakening of our mind. It comes when you can breath in your own skin.

A few hours out in the woods, with another human, was the best medicine for me as well. Being mostly solo for the longest while had got to me. I enjoyed the trek, the sun, and the memories I created today. I enjoyed the fellowship I have begun in this place I now call my home. As much as alpinism can be a solo game, a community of like-minded support, is what I have been missing.

Trying to fit into any game is not ideal. Trying to be the best out of a lot is silly. I am trying to be the best me. I am training for it daily. I dedicate my life to bettering myself, because the better I am, the better we are. And we are team.