2017 wasn’t a bad year for climbing. However, there weren’t many trips to far off destinations. I guess work (or lack of) gets in the way and you’re either down on money or time. However, Chris (my regular climbing partner) and myself made significant progress in improving our skills and pushing grades.
I’ve been rock climbing since I was around 28 years old (I’m now 46). I was excited to have been invited to do some ‘outdoor’ rock climbing for a weekend in North Wales with my friend Joe. He was and still is an avid climber who thought of little else. Joe was also very talented. My first climb was the slab of Little Tryfan where Joe taught me basic rope work and belay techniques. After a few laps we hit First Pinnacle Rib. A classic multi-pitch mountaineering route that went right to the top of Tryfan real! I was terrified, exhilarated and hooked.
I followed Joe for three years as an apprentice and climbed anything from grit stone to slate, Welsh mountain routes, Spanish sport and trad lines. Joe pushed the grade and I humped my way up any way I could. I spent three years being terrified until a diagonal rappel at 800 feet on the Penon in Calpe. The rappel was in open space on a route called Diedre UBSA. We topped out in darkness after a very long and hot climb and for the first time in my life I felt like I had really achieved something. The best thing – my fear of heights had been cured!!
In 2003 I moved to Ontario, Canada and after a few months of settling in started climbing locally. Mount Nemo was my crag of choice. I spent a couple of years climbing there and not venturing to too many other locations. An occasional trip to Devil’s Glen and Metcalfe rock, but little else. There was so much to climb and so few people on the crags at that time. Now, with the prevalence of over-bolting and new guidebooks, it’s difficult to get away from the crowds. Sport climbing has gained an upper hand in interest and there are many good routes in the area. But traditional climbing still remains my first love. Most of my climbing in the last few years has been toward the Beaver Valley. Old Bauldy, Devil’s Glen, Metcalf, and some of the newer crags. There are plenty of lines and grades to keep me busy for years.
Climbing trips have always been a big part of my life and living in Ontario has its perks. The Adirondacks – perhaps the best climbing destination in the East – is just down the road. I have a great love and familiarity of the area and it’s nice to visit friends and climb there often. West Virginia is a gorgeous location the head to and North Carolina and Kentucky beckon. There are so many other areas within a 12 hour drive that you can get to. The new Thunder Bay guidebook is a gem and promises to give plenty of adventure this year. Quebec is right around the corner. Why live out west when you have all this? And of course when it’s winter you can ice climb. What a paradise! You are only limited by your willingness to explore. As our license plates say, “Your’s to Discover”.
In 2006 and 2007 I was lucky enough to get to Alaska with my buddy Jason, and climb in the Denali Range. And now Chris and myself find that Yosemite is a destination to head to. My first trip there in September of 2016 was fantastic and solidified some goals in my head – climbs I had read about but never seen. The Prow, Zodiac, the Nose and others. We aim to head back to Yosemite this year. Where in heaven will we find time to go to the awe inspiring Red Rocks?