Packin’ the Fudge!

Surprise! I’m back. Didn’t think I would eh? It’s been almost a year since I’ve graced the interweb with my presence, but it’s more of a blessing for you all really. All I’ve been doing since last August when I returned from the Youth World Cup in Imst is SCHOOL. It was an insanely busy year, with way too much time spent doing unfun things on the computer (like essays, and online exams, and research…blah!) that the last thing I wanted to do was to waste precious moments filling you in on the boring moments of my life when I could go out and create some exciting ones instead. So there. Perfectly acceptable excuse done. On to more exciting news!

I’ll give you a brief little blurb on the exciting things that occurred in my life since last summer, just in case know.. you’re interested. First of all, I started back country SKIING! IT’S AWESOME! I started out skiing as a wee toddler  and Fortress Mountain was still kickin’. I switched to snowboarding around grade 6 because it was cool, and that’s what all tweens want to be, so I did it. It was fun for a few years. Never really had a true passion for the board. I gave it up entirely this year and invested in a brand new get up with 2 planks and kicked myself hard for ever giving it up in the first place. Snowboarding is fun, but skiing in SUPREME! My entire family is now back on the ‘two plank wank’ regime and it is amazing!

5/6 of the Family enjoying a stellar pow day at Lake Louise


The fam psyched after a fun day skiing Paul’s Ridge up above Squamish, BC

Other than that, I went on two short climbing trips. Over the Christmas holidays, I headed down south the Bishop with two great buds, Ayesha Khan and Matt Johnson from Vancouver. We had a blast crushing classic problems, drink beer and soaking in the sunshine.

Psyched on stickin’ the ultimate HULK move (V6). Photo: Matt Johnson


Strollin’ up Grandma Peabody. Photo: Matt Johnson

Over spring break, my boyfriend, Tom Wright, and I headed down to Smith Rocks for a week. I’ve wanted to go to Smith Rocks for a long time, and it definitely did not disappoint. Tom was recovering from a broken ankle, so I was the appointed rope gun for the week. I had plenty of opportunity to sharpen my leading headspace. Those bolts are few and far between! I was happy to send Churning in the Wake, a super classic 5.13a that keeps your blood pumping to the very last move!

Smith Rocks State Park. Beauty
Tom Tom warming up on ze buckets

H’ok, that’s the recap. Short and sweet.

Now that we are all caught up, I’d like to share a recent-ish experience I had in my most favourite of all places: Canmore, AB! I’m back here again for the summer, working once again as an undergraduate nursing employee (UNE) at the lovely little hospital with it’s fantastic staff. It’s such a wonderful opportunity to be able to work in the field that I am training in, and I am learning so much from all the incredible nurses and physicians here. So far this summer, I’ve learned how to start IVs, I witnessed a colonoscopy (oooooo, ahhhh!), I was lucky enough to witness a C-section and participate in the care of the seconds-old infant (yes, I cried, don’t judge), and I have shared spectacular moments with some awesome people; patients, family and staff alike. I love nursing, and I can’t wait to finish up with school! I just finished 2 intense specialty courses (Pediatrics and Perinatal/Neonatal) which were awesome, and I just have on more course (the dreaded Evidence Based Practice…eeeewwwww), before I embark on my final preceptorship in the fall. Yay! Can’t wait to work with kids!!

I’m currently sitting on the couch, nursing a sore tummy from a minor surgery that I just had. I’ve never had surgery before, so it was an interesting experience for sure! Lucky for me, good drugs, an amazing surgeon and surgical team, a bunch of fantastic nurses, and the most caring boyfriend in the world have made this experience not half bad. 🙂

Battle Wounds
Hiking up Lady MacDonald a couple days before the surgery with Tom (the boy) and Logan (the pup). Photo: Sarah Fenwick

I’m staring out at one of the first sunny days we’ve had here since May. The term ‘June Monsoon’ seemed to be an understatement this year in Western Canada. We had a ton of flooding through out the month, especially in Canmore. Since I’m being forced to sit for a while, and it looks like the weather gods have finally turned their frown upside down, I figure there’s no better time to give a little update on my life, and hopefully inspire a few of you to rip off the rain gear and head out and up into the sunshine!

This year, I have made myself some BIG goals. Bigger goals than ever before, which is both incredibly daunting and incredibly exciting. The two main goals I have are to send a 5.14a, and to try my hand at some hard multi-pitch climbing. The routes I have in mind are Leviathan (5.14a) and Blue Jeans (5.13b). I always love the history of routes, and I especially love the history of these 2 routes, mainly because the people involved in their creation are some of my favourite idols! Leviathan is a route located at the Upper Wall of Acephale (my favourite crag in the world). It was bolted by local hardman, Lev Pinter in the late 90s/early 2000s I believe, yet Mr. Scott Milton would be the one to snag the FA. He was kind enough to incorporate Lev’s name into the route. A few years later, Milton bolted a route to the left of Leviathan. To even out the playing field, Pinter scooped the FA and named the route Beam Me Up Scotty. Too clever 🙂

Terry Paholek working Leviathan. Photo: Zak McGurk

Blue Jeans is a route on Yamnuska that was bolted by Nick Rochacewich. I first met Nick in the RRG in the fall of 2009. He was down in the Red to gain some valuable hard sport climbing experience in order to send Blue Jeans. For those who are unaware, Yamnuska is one gigantic pile of rubble. It is the Bow Valley experience all wrapped up in one nice pile of choss. Yet it is beautiful, and in the recent years, motivated individuals have been putting in the time and effort to clean up some fantastic bolted multipitch lines. I am so inspired by individuals who dedicate so much of their own lives to develop something special that others can enjoy. Hopefully one day I can be that cool. Nick inspired me to try Blue Jeans back in 2009, and with Derek Galloway being the one and only individual to send it (please correct me if I am wrong!), I am psyched to give it a go!

Blue Jeans Topo.

In order to build up the fitness and strength to be able to be even close to succeeding these goals, I decided this summer to begin the season with a new approach. Normally, I am quite slow in working my way up the grade ladder outside. I usually begin with a new slew of 5.12s and some lower end 5.13s in order to build up endurance and stamina. However, this year, I knew that I would have to start out the summer in high gear. Therefore, in May, I set my sights on a route I had tried once or twice last summer at Planet X.

Fudge Packer is a stunning 30+ metre 5.13d located at Planet X. The route was named after route developer, Derek Galloway, the author of the most recent Bow Valley guidebook and first ascentionist of a huge port of the Bow Valley’s hard routes, after he spent a summer packing fudge at the fudge factory in Banff. Bet that’s not what you had in mind. Geez, grow up y’all.

Fudge Packer is AMAZING. In my opinion, it’s the best 5.13 in the valley. It is gorgeous to look at, you can’t see the top from the ground, and the movement is absolutely stunning. After a rather awkward and strenuous 5.12 intro, the route kicks back onto gorgeous blue limestone for a race to the top. From the break about half way up the wall, the potential for resting and recovery is very limited. I was able to grab a couple of shakes here and there, but for the most part, you just need to accept the forearm bursting pump, be efficient and get it in your head that letting go is for ninnies. When I first got on the route, I got completely and utterly worked. It was FANTASTIC. Being back on long, pumpy limestone after an incredibly busy school year and drowning in the Vancouver winter rain, I was in absolute heaven. Every chance I got, I headed out to Planet X with some very willing climbing partners and worked on the Packer.

Working Fudge Packer (5.13d). Photo: Zak McGurk

Fudge Packer was one of those routes where each day, I made progress. I went from falling at every clip, to linking more and more moves each day. It’s rare for me to be so successful at working a route. There were no days when I fell disappointed or upset. No wobblers were performed. No tears, no whines, no girly mid-air kicks. Only smiles and laughs. It’s how every project should be. Looking back, I realized it was because I wasn’t putting my pressure on myself. I was pushing myself above my limits early in the season. It was an experiment, and it was working. I was stoked!

The last 2 days working on the route, I was up at Planet X with my friend Clinton, a stoked climber with a quick wit and a bottomless pit of psych. We both had big goals. Clint had never sent a 13a before, and I was keen on making progress on the Packer. We both made great progress on our respective routes, and had fun making specific goals for each attempt. I had never really tried this before, and I found it worked really well. Instead of focusing on the top, I would say, “Ok, this try I’m going to try and get through the first crux,” or “I’m going to try and get to the last clip under the final bulge”. It worked really well, and I must have acquired some pixy dust because each time, I would make my goal and then some.

On the last day, we headed in with a few friends in the afternoon. I got a good feeling when we were walking to the crag underneath a cloud as black as ink and somehow managed to completely miss the rain. That good feeling grew and grew when I found out my friend Marshal had sent right before we arrived, and then Clint hopped on his project (Sticky Buns, 5.13a) and crushed it first try. When I hopped on the Packer for the first time that day, I felt amazing. I got all the way to the final bulge and made it far past my last high point. I pumped out a couple moves from the final rest and lowered down all smiles!

The PACKER! Photo: Zak McGurk

After the obligatory 45 minute rest/nap in the last sliver of sunlight at the crag, I hopped back on the route. I felt tired, but the good kind of tired. Back at the bulge, I felt that tiny extra bit of energy that I was hoping for. I made move after move, pumped as heck. So pumped, that each time I tried to clip, I would fumble, and give up. I did that for 2 (or 3?) draws in a row, leaving myself with the potential for a massive (yet safe) whipper. Why not add a little spice to life eh? I felt amazing as I headed to the anchors. Clippin’ those chains made my heart smile and my eyes sparkle. I love rock climbing.

With June being a write-off due to work, school, and this pesky surgery, I’m hoping for a fantastic July. As soon as the Acephale seepage dries up, I’m going to slap my draws on Leviathan and give’er some grr!

So get off yer butts ladies and gents and go out, set those goals high and push yourself! You may well be surprised with the results.


All my love!

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