Identity crisis as a climber

The trip to Canmore help me learn the basics of ice climbing at the road side crags such as Junkyards and Step right up, and then some more following up some classics such as ice routes on Moonlight & Louise falls, and a good intro to mini mixed-alpine setting in Coire Dubh Integrale.

I must say that I envy people who can easily identify themselves as boulderer, sport climber, trad climber, alpinist or a mountaineer. I have always had this identity crisis and a difficult time identifying myself as one of players in these specialized disciplines.

I mean I have had those bizarre moments when I focused maniacally on weighted hangs off those 6mm edges on the Transgression board, and then a few cycles later looking back wondering what the hell was wrong with me.

At other times, I have tried to focus beyond 15 moves and hone my endurance game to clip bolts. Yet at other times I balked at the same and proselytize the purity of plugging cams and sharpening the mind game to eschew bolts.

Did I mention those incessant sessions filled with bat-hangs and my woe-fully un-coordinated jumps on those colorful problems in my local gym?

I have always tried to level my game in most disciplines, but so far – despite my best intentions – couldn’t play enough with those curved spiky metal things. I always lamented the fact that I haven’t meaningfully learnt to lead ice and mixed terrain .. until last month.

After 8 years of identifying myself as an enthusiast of various forms of climbing, and accidentally thinking that I was actually good at some of these disciplines, it was refreshing to get back into a beginner mindset and actually learn a few new things, and unlearn a lot of old things.

I graduated from infancy to being a toddler now. A week in Canmore just taught me how to toddle, or may be just crawl a bit better. Now I know that I know a few things, and don’t know a lot of things. I believe that’s a good thing.

I learnt the basics at the road side crags such as Junkyards and Step right up, and then got to follow up some classics such as ice routes on Moonlight & Louise falls, and a good intro to mini mixed-alpine setting in Coire Dubh Integrale. The experience allowed to learn enough that I could gracefully lead a few pitches at King Creek crag. Some photos from the trip below.

I climbed with Jay, who owns and manages his own guiding company – The Canadian Rockies Alpine Guide

King Creek first flow
King Creek first flow
King creek third flow
King creek third flow
King creek third flow - was wet higher up and warming temperatures made it easy to get good picks, but poor placements
King creek third flow – was wet higher up and warming temperatures made it easy to get good picks, but poor placements
Right pillar variation on Louise falls - Steep right off the bat
Right pillar variation on Louise falls – Steep right off the bat
Louise falls - Despite the early start we were second in line and had to take the harder right pillar variation (WI5) - Was super pumped following that one!
Louise falls – Despite the early start we were second in line and had to take the harder right pillar variation (WI5) – Was super pumped following that one!
3rd Pitch of Louise Falls
3rd Pitch of Louise Falls
A mini-traverse on Coire Dubh Integrale
A mini-traverse on Coire Dubh Integrale
First ice pitch on Coire Dubh Integrale
First ice pitch on Coire Dubh Integrale
Calf-burner slog on Coire Dubh Integrale
Calf-burner slog on Coire Dubh Integrale
One of the many slogs on Coire Dubh Integrale
One of the many slogs on Coire Dubh Integrale
The first long pitch on Moonlight falls
The first long pitch on Moonlight falls
Topping out on Moonlight falls
Topping out on Moonlight falls

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