Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Whatever you do. Don't Compromise the process.

"The whole purpose of climbing something like Everest is to effect some sort of spiritual and physical gain. But if you compromise the process you’re an asshole when you start out and an asshole when you get back." ~Yvon Chouinard

The last illuminating rays of light escape the clouds for a brief moment, making a stark contrast on every surface and startling my eyes before they slide beneath the Tantalus range to the west. That is my sign. I have been sitting in the cafe too long.

" We are treading water" I say to one of my partners as he slides into the seat across from me. I am staring wildly at him over the top of my laptop. "I am making calls, I am researching but we are going nowhere. We need to move on something but it feels like there is nothing I can do right now".  He wraps his hands tightly around his coffee cup and lowers his eyes to meet mine. " It is going to happen. We just have to be patient". 

Patience has never been something I am good at. When it comes to action, and progress and setting goals I am unstoppable. Not to toot my own horn, but that is what got me this far. I have spent the last 6 months educating myself on business and finances and the law just to own something that in reality strays so far from my life path in the last 4 years. I have done over 700 hours of research on the uncomfortable topics of economics that I had sworn off in university to explore all avenues that will allow me to live my dream. I have been so focused and dedicated that the apparent stagnation of our progress, this vacation from meetings and momentum, is the most terrifying struggle I am facing.

The veil of evening softens the light and reduces contrast in the cafe. I watch as people come and go, as if in waves conducted by an invisible caffeine tide.  The steep green slopes that lead to echo lake devolve into a murky fog that reveals then obscures fragments of the landscape. I click on different windows within my computer screen; looking at drafts and proposals and necessary development documents and photos of places that hold hope for us. Nothing has stopped. Nothing is actually without motion. I too must remain active and present.

To wait, is to be patient. But patience is not a passive verb. In fact it is from the latin root " Pati". Passion is also derived from this same root. Mark Danielewski. The author the critically acclaimed novel, House of Leaves, writes that “Passion has little to do with euphoria and everything to do with patience. It is not about feeling good. It is about endurance. Like patience, passion comes from the same Latin root: pati. It does not mean to flow with exuberance. It means to suffer.” 

Suffering has a correlation with hope. Suffering, waiting passionately, involves believing that something will come. As I research the flowery and romantic interpretations of the task I have recently been charged with, I have realized that the exercise I must practice, is intent. Wait with intention, with hope and with observation. Patience is not idle. 

As I sit here. I can admit honestly that I am uncomfortable with where we are right now. I am uncomfortable with the uncertainty of where I will be in a year. Not because I fear uncertainty but because I have for once thrown a lot of energy at one thing, and I am fearing failure. 

Even as I write that my inner climber is kicking me. " HAVE I TAUGHT YOU NOTHING!" the fear of failure creates failings. You have to go for  it. You have to plan appropriately and move with optimism. You have to take risks and above and beyond all, you have to take the necessary time to get to where you need to be. Maybe I am not ready yet. When we are ready... what we need will present itself to us. 

I have to stay passionate.

Passionately waiting. 

Monday, August 5, 2013

Barter System for the win!

I recently traded some local pilots, Ashley Keenan and Eric Lightfoot, climbing lessons for air time over the Squamish valley. Probably one of the more memorable days of my summer. These are pictures from the high times:

Friday, April 19, 2013


Well Folks,

There is a lot to update the world on. I have been slacking in that sense. I am okay with that though, bigger things have been the focus of my energy and time lately. More on that later, for now, check out this ode to wagon that was published today in the National Post.

It seems only natural that my first national newspaper clip would be from a wagon tail. If you scroll back through this blog you can find more heart warming stories of those lovely gravel roads I traveled.

Cheers to health and happiness.
A Wagon Tail for the Nation

Monday, January 7, 2013

Stelly's secondary school and Boulders climbing gym in Victoria

I was recently whisked away from work and home by my visiting parents who wanted to see the island. At the end of our trip together, travelling by wagon, we ended up in Victoria, BC which happens to be the home of the infamous 'Boulders' at Stelly's secondary school.

I heard about Stelly's from the competitive youth climbers in Toronto, and then again when I was researching Canadian climbing education for an article written in Gripped Magazine last year . I cannot believe what a gem this school is, and how much the students and climbers of Saanich and Victoria owe to Kimanda Jarzebiak.
“We wanted to meet our current demands and give Canada what it needed to get to the next level of international competition.” Says Jarzebiak, the Chair of the Board of the Boulders Climbing Gym Society, as well as the founder of the Boulders Climbing Academy at Stelly’s Secondary School. In January 2011, the Central Saanich, BC district school board approved the proposal. 

The climbing gym, known as 'The Boulders', is a not-for-profit that has been supporting youth and disability programs since 2005. In 2008, their programs had outgrown their facility. Along with a waiting list for all of the after school, they were also starting to produce top youth climbers. 

Today, the facility is more than double the size with competition-approved 60ft overhung walls and 15m official speed wall. The new gym is one of two facilities in North America capable of hosting the world youth championship, and will be doing so in August of 2013. It facilitates over 90 participants in after school programs, public access and also provides a climbing academy for 30 secondary school students.

The gym is organized so that a bouldering cave, and short top rope routes are in one section of the gym and through a different set of doors you enter a lead climbing environment, with 60 overhanging routes set, anchor clips hanging from the roof and a speed wall which is set up for international competitions.

For 13 dollars I rented a harness, was tested for top rope and lead climbing abilities and was let loose to enjoy the space. It is a welcoming atmosphere and the staff are all very enthusiastic about climbing and devoted to providing safe experiences. The climbers in the lead room were strong, but not intimidating. It was obvious that everyone knew how lucky they were to have this state of the art facility.

 One staff member who gave me my top rope test had been the youngest person to be certified with the ACMG climbing gym instructor (level one). He plans to continue through his levels as he continues through his highschool education at Stelly's. Another instructor was excited to tell me that preparations for the youth world cup in summer 2013 have already begun. 

Needless to say, the gym lived up to every expectation I had. I am excited that Canada is progressing towards a more well rounded and integrated perspective of rock climbing. I am also very interested to see what opportunities like this will do for the mind sets and motivation of future generations.

A view of the lead climbing roof at The Boulders.

For more information and photos check out The Boulders' website HERE

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Never blame the mountain.

Where am I now?

It has been an uncomfortable few weeks. Physically, I have been housed, fed and warm. Outside the sun has been shining like some endangered creature allowing the people of Squamish a rare privilege of its presence.

Mentally, I have been trembling on a gully wall, watching rocks whip down from pressures and the winds around me. I have been getting cold again, shivering and soaked to the bone.  Multiple events have added up to produce that horrible and helpless black hole question of why? which when spoken just floats away, stolen from your lips. Why me? why now? Why at all?  For the first while I assume that friends can give some kind of solace or maybe science can explain these things, but at the end of the day, the 'why' monster remains. Creating this fragile and cowering being of myself.

I rolled over this morning after some really strange and realistic dreams about trying to surf on a flimsy board in an ocean with no waves and I flipped up the screen. On a different kind of surf I came across this video: Echoes, in which Nick Bollock explains with great conviction his choices in life.

It reminded me of what is and what isn't.

You can never, ever blame the mountain. That will get you no where. Events in your life do not have soul, or intention. The people do, or at least you might hope they do, but none of them are within your command, most of the time outside my understanding too. The only choice that I really have, the only question I really need to ask; is how? How will I deal with this? how will I build from it? How can I react, analyze, learn, grow and inevitably callus.

I am attempting to run that whole track. If I was on a physical mountain, would I just curse at the rain and the wind and allow those happenings that are outside my control? Would I allow them to stunt my growth and my progress? or would I take control of my battered ego, and alter my direction and my goals to find a new way, a new challenge in this storm. Getting down seems too easy, I have to find my way back up.

Game on.

This is not me, as I took it. But it is a perspective I value.

Friday, August 10, 2012

taking flight.

I like to believe that if I were to pick up a child who is screaming beyond reason on an airplane, sit them stiffly on my lap and stare deep into their young eyes, that I could connect with their soul. If I was to keep my focus, really stare them down, I could access a level of understanding that adults tend to dismiss as luck. Through this wizardry I could make them quiet, satisfied and curious.

 But, alas, social hurdles prevent me from trying; the parents, the stewards, the small aisle ways and the misinterpreted kidnapping.  For now I will just have to turn up the lumineers and drown the chaos. My ears the victims.

The woman across the aisle from me is clutching a rosary. The beads indent her wrist as she squeezes and her french nails turn white as the plane drifts up to altitude. She makes the sign of the cross and closes her eyes. She has her faith somewhere else right now. Mine remains firmly planted on the pilot's java fix this morning.

I am on a flight, en route to San Fransisco and then Wyoming. I will be performing my duty as a bridesmaid, with due honor and respect for my friend who is brave enough to follow her dreams. So where is my mind? It bounces like a slow motion pong ball between pending goals, obligations to friends and a strange guilt from getting what I wanted.

Why must we crave to be the things we are not? Who am I speaking for anyways? ...or is it just me. I am about to go celebrate a union between two people who were brave enough to commit to eachother and although I just passed customs I feel a world away.

In my haste to smash my eardrums and silence the children through jedi mind tricks I must have missed the safety briefing.