Overall the experience so far has been as incredible as I had hoped. Canmore is the right place to work on and improve my ice climbing skills which I feel are coming along nicely. The climbing is truly world class, the setting is absolutely stunning and the community strong and supportive.
The climb went well. We didn't move fast and had a very enjoyable day, topping out around 6pm. Rappelling down in the dark we hiked back to the car, picked up some Indian food for dinner and got back to our hotel room around 10:30pm. Tired yet elated we packed out bags ready for the next day's adventure. Then the adventure neither of us were looking for started
Taking a moment to have a drink and eat some food we decided on our descent route. James and I were both overjoyed with how the climb had gone. The Weeping Wall was by far the longest, most sustained pure ice climb that either of us had completed. It was a long day out and one that neither of us will forget.
After such a long build up I am stoked to finally get underway. The climbing is still ahead of me as are countless moments of joy, fear, respect, comradery, fun and suffering. Several relationships and climbing partnerships are yet to be formed, many existing ones strengthened. So as I venture into the unknown, what are a couple of the challenges at the forefront of my mind?
The concept was simple. A climbing relay where teams of between two and six people climb for twelve hours in an effort to cover as many vertical meters as possible. Though the event was successful in raising $3200 for charity, it was the energy and passion that every individual contributed to the event that I am most proud of.
For almost 15 hours I climbed 48 pitches at Kangaroo Point to cover 800m of vertical ground. This challenge was about turning a simple single pitch urban crag into a more adventurous environment. Through the addition of elements such as fatigue, strategy and climbing at night it was going to be as much a test of mental capacity as physical. A more accurate reflection of what it is like to climb in the mountains.
Death and the mountains are inextricably linked. As climbers we expose ourselves to fear, anxiety and sometimes the very real possibility of death more so than the average Joe. I am resolute in my belief on the benefits of doing that, however I don’t think this makes us immune to mental illness. It is not a cure and we cannot fall asleep at the wheel. Hayden’s death is evidence of that.
Like many people I enjoy listening to podcasts. From feats in the climbing world, technological developments, social issues and ancient history; I find them a great way to explore new topics or keep up to date with whats happening in the world around me.
Earlier this year I heard a friend of mine being interviewed about his journey. He had recently transitioned from a successful career as an engineer at a world leading chemicals company to owning his own business. Something a lot of young people think about but few do. The discussion was powerful, insightful, intellectually stimulating and incredibly inspiring. This was my first introduction to the podcast series - Binge Thinking, Expert Perspectives from Millennial Minds.
A few months later I met the host of the show, Caspar Roxburgh at a house party in Brisbane. We talked about the Vertical Year, what I got out of climbing and my motivations for placing the project in the public arena. Thankfully Caspar was impressed with the concept and agreed to have me on the show as guest.
Obviously we talk about climbing. We also talk about mental health, environmental stewardship and other concerns facing our society.
I hope the episode provides some further insight into how this whole project came to be. However I really hope that it, along with the other 21 (and counting!) amazing episodes in this series encourages people to have more open discussions about a wide variety of topics, open themselves to fresh perspectives and being challenged. We are all guilty of viewing things with our own conscious and sub-conscious bias (myself included) and challenging that is a great way of making progress.
I was super stoked to be on the show. Since listening to that first episode I have become an avid fan and thoroughly enjoy the way the conversations go off on these sometimes weird and wonderful tangents. The process was definitely more intimidating that I thought it would be, and immediately afterwards I wasn't sure if I communicated the messages clearly. However, doing things that make you uncomfortable is something I encourage people to do - it is after all one of the key messages of the Vertical Year.
So please have a listen and as always - reflect on the discussion in the context of your own life. Talk to your loved ones around you and challenge yourself to take those first steps towards the future you want to see.
Link to Binge Thinking Episode is here.
Since the first ascent of the East Face, a number of lines have been put up. Many await a second ascent, though it is the Original Route that has made it onto the tick list of the Vertical Year. With more than 750m of varied climbing over clean granite, with finger cracks, hand cracks, chimneys and overhung laybacking, the route offers many challenges. In preparation and for a bit of fun, on November 14, I will attempt to climb 750m of KP tuff in a single session - the equivalent vertical distance as the Original Route on La Esfinge!