I’m sitting here jittering in my seat, my head exploding with all the things I want to share with all you wonderful people! I have so many things to say, where to START?! Beginnings are always a good place, but I’m going to be a rebel and start in the middle, because the beginning can be summed up in one word: RAIN. So who wants to hear about that? Noooo thankyou. THE MIDDLE: Beginning of July and it’s soooort of beginning to look like summer in Canmore. Mrs. Sunshine is being a bit of a flake and only showing up every so often, more interested in doing her make up in her big cloud house up in the sky. (But don’t worry, when she decides to show up she looks FANTASTIC!). I’ve settled into my amazing job at the Canmore Hospital working as a student nurse, learning a lot and being mentored by some of the most amazing nurses I have ever met. It’s a wicked hospital that I have my mind set on coming back to after I graduate and become a real nurse. Canmore is a town that warm the heart and brings an eternal smile to your face. I have thrived in this gorgeous setting, and have my heart set on making it my home in the near future!
I’ve also been ROCK CLIMBING. And it’s amazing. I virtually climbed on every single one of my days off work (minus Rainy days, but those seem to fade from memory..), and it was amazing. I love the Rockies. I love limestone. Acephale, one of Canada’s premiere rock climbing destinations, is my own personal Heaven. My love for outdoor climbing was fostered here, and each subsequent visit confirms the fact that I made a very wise choice copying my big brother and sister when they began climbing. I also enjoyed a number of days climbing at Planet X and the Coliseum up on Grotto Mountain. All of these crags can be found in Derek Galloway’s new guidebook, Bow Valley Sport which arrived in early July. It’s an amazing guidebook, full of colour photos and all that jazz! Check it out here.
I’ve been really lucky to have amazing friends here in Canmore who share my passion for climbing and smilin’! I’ve been living with my big sister, Stacey, who I love to bits and pieces! She’s doing her final practicum in Canmore for nursing. We’ve worked together for a handful of shifts and had some great bonding experiences that only two sister nurses can have. 😉
I had an amazing month in July. I have to say it was my single most productive month of rock climbing EVER. I was successful in climbing a handful of 513’s, including a bunch of wicked lines at Acephale. Naissance de la Femme (5.13b) is a stellar line at the Lower Wall, with a massive heart breaker deadpoint at the very end. After sending this line, it only got better. After a few days of work, I sent Whale Back (5.13c) at the Upper Wall. This line is such a star. It contained everything from massive heel hook rock overs to a rose move to a wicked slab crux! The day I sent Whale Back, I quickly took my draws down and walked 50 feet up along the wall and stood below a dream. My dream. Since I was 13 years old I have had this single route floating in the back of my mind, waiting until I was ready. I achieved this life long dream this month. In fact, it was only a couple of days ago, and I’m still riding the high!
Endless Summer, graded 5.13d, is situated at the far right of the Upper Wall, before the Pavement area begins. It climbs up through the cave that it shares with routes such as Existence Mundane (5.14b) and Bunda de Fora (5.14d). The crux is situated at the beginning of the small roof and continues until you bust over the lip. It’s wicked and powerful. Putting the draws up that day was an epic. I could not complete a single move for the entire bottom section of the climb. My butt was handed to me over and over, and although I was laughing and having fun, a little voice in my mind was sayin’ “Hoooooooly moly, this may not be possible little miss Viks”. Yet each day, I began to link moves. I gathered beta and I worked hard to link sections together. I ended each day breathing hard and feeling an entire body soreness that I love. Soon I had it down to 3 sections. Then down to 2. Each day, as I packed the rope away, my glimmer of hope shone brighter and brighter. Next day. My body had to be fresh to link the moves through the roof and my mind fresher to hold it together though the “mono” (I stuck 2 tips in that sucker!) section at the top. On Sunday morning, my good friend Alex Quiring and I headed to the crag in the early morning. We were at the ditch by 8:00am, an alpine start by sport climbing standards. I had to be back at work for 3pm, which left only a few hours to give the project some burns. We arrived at the crag just after 9am, and immediately felt we were in an alternate universe. The Upper Wall was blasted with sun. Anyone who climbs at Acephale knows that a down jacket and a thermos of hot tea are staples up there, as the sun moves off the wall at around 11am. Al and I were PSYCHED.
Warming up in the sun felt fantastic. With the crag to ourselves, we bathed in the sunshine as I prepped for my first burn of the day. I was feeling a little slow, a little stiff, and was keen on a warm up burn. Yet something wonderful happened as I grabbed that first crimp at the bottom of the route. My mind was clear, I was still chuckling over a joke shared earlier, and the rock felt good. I did not float up this route. No. I worked hard. I yelled a bit, I breathed hard and I tried my darndest. But it went. As I pulled over the lip, the sun hit my back and I breathed and smiled at the rest. I took my time and felt strong pulling to the chains. As soon as the rope snapped in, I let out a whoop! I sat back in my harness and felt the best high a climber can feel. I sent my dream route on my 5th day of attempts, in the sunshine, with a great friend, in my own personal heaven. Yahoooooooooooooo!
But wait, the fun doesn’t stop there! Yesterday, Al and I set out on our second day of fun in the sun. Or so we thought.. We were psyched to get on a sport multi-pitch by the name of Sisyphus Summits. The route takes a prime line up the North-East face of Ha Ling Peak, a striking mountain on the edge of Canmore.
We had decided on an early start, but waking up felt tough and we bumbled around for a while before we headed out.
We left the car at 9:30am and arrived at the base of the route just under an hour later. To our dismay, a party of 2 was just leaving the second pitch. After some discussion, we decided to give them an extra birth of half an hour, hoping that would give us enough space to not have any issue. WRONG. As we reached the first set of anchors, we saw that they had not even left the third belay station. They were struggling. Worse, the sun we had so hoped to stay with us began to leave the cliff. We were left in the shade with a core-chilling wind that would stay with us all day. For the next 3 hours, we shivered at each belay station, waiting for the first party to climb. After only 4 pitches, we began to seriously contemplate bailing. At this rate, we would be climbing in the dark. What made matters worse is the following conversation, after which we promptly gave this party the nickname Team Douchebag or (TDB for short)
Al calling up to the belayer “Hey! Do you guys mind if we pass you?”
A pause. TDB “Ya”
Did we hear him right? Al “You do mind?”
Check out Video #1
But shortly after, things turned around. To our joyous surprise, TDB decided to bail! Psyched! After exchanging some pleasantries as we passed them (Turns out they were pretty nice guys, yet after much deliberation I have concluded they still deserve their nickname), Al and I were PSYCHED!
After that, it was smooth sailing. We doubled up on pitches, which made for a speedy and fun ascent, with awesome rock (expect for the death pitch #13. 2 bolts in 26 metres through complete choss). The only downside was the cold that shook up to the core. It wasn’t a wintery cold. My fingers were fine, my feet has blood in them. But my core was frozen. My shoulders are sore from shivering. It wasn’t until we ate dinner that night did my chill abate. After a total of 9 hours, Al and I reached the top, incredibly psyched and all smiles. The best feeling was the moment I peeked my head over the lip and sunshine blasted my face. I will never take sunshine for granted ever again!
After a beautiful hike down in the sun, scoping out new cliffs on the way, and an amazing dinner at the Grizzly Paw in the company of our good friend, Canmore’s sweetheart Zak McGurk, I crawled into bed, completely tuckered to the core.
I love my life.
(And the goofiness that goes with it!)