A couple of years ago, Dave and I were very much into rock climbing. We had memberships at Joe Rockheads Climbing Gym in Toronto, we learned how to lead climb and we spent weekends out at the Niagara Escarpment rock climbing with friends. We loved climbing and even spent time in Thailand climbing in beautiful Ralaigh.
When we started training for the Tour d'Afrique, we gave up climbing. It is hard to focus on too many hobbies and climbing is one of those things that if you don't go regularly, you really see your skills slide. No problem, we love trying new things.
However we have always wanted to climb in the Rocky Mountains. Finally, the day had come on the Chevy Equinox
On Day one, Dave and I drove ourselves in our spiffy to Canmore where we met James; our guide from . It is the premier climbing school in the Rocky's so we were in very good hands.
We were a bit early, but James was ready to go, so after signing our waivers, we were off. Since we had some experience in the past, he decided to take us to a different Crag with some fun climbs. We drove back towards Calgary to Wasootch and started our day.
What an awesome start to the day. As we were walking into the crag, we saw a man riding his horse along the river. What a moment!
James is an amazing climber who spends his summer guiding up in the mountains and winters as a ski guide. He was telling us stories of climbing the Rockies high peaks camping overnight in a bivy sac on the side of high cliffs and surviving snowstorms and high winds. He even camped on the top of the highest peak in the range. This guy is the real deal.
He free climbed up our first route to set up our top rope. No leading for these two rusty weekend warriors. It was a great fun climb to warm up on. The cliff had a slight incline so it was a route that was all about using our feet as we smeared our hands along the rock. Not a lot to hang onto, we just had to trust that our feet would stay connected and after a little guidance from James telling us body positioning, we got it.
Dave climbed the first route with ease and made it look like he hadn't had a day off. I on the other hand was pretty nervous. It is strange how the fear of heights comes back even when I completely trust the rope and know that if I fall I am not going anywhere.
After making it to the top of the first route however, I felt confident the rest of the day and had a blast.
We did 6 routes in all and Dave belayed James as he took the lead setting our routes. He did a mix of trad and sport climbs and made everything look so easy.
I was lazy, I admit it, and didn't belay once. I was too busy taking pictures and video. Besides Dave was doing such a great job using the belay device. No Gri Gri here. The last time I used the belay device (ATC was during our multi-pitch course in Thailand and I didn't like it. I like the security of the gri gri)
The climbs became more fun with each route and we were starting to feel really comfortable on the rock. It was then that we asked ourselves why we never went back to climbing. It is such a blast! To climb to the top, look around at the stunning views is like nothing else.
We were having such a great time with James that after all of our climbs, he said “let's have some fun and do a little multipitch. This was the most relaxing multi-pitch I have ever done. He led the whole way and then belayed Dave and I from above. He made us safe as he re-arranged the ropes for our next pitch as we hung off of a bolt on the cliff 30 meters in the air.
All we had to do was sit back, watch the pro at work and take some pictures.
I felt a little guilty having James do everything, Dave and I are trained in lead climbing and multipitching, but we are very rusty and out of shape. So on the other hand, I was happy to have my life in the hands of James as opposed to ourselves. He rocked!
After we got to the top of the cliff, we got to rappel down. We had to laugh just a little when James said…”now all we have to worry about is if the rope is long enough” It was long enough we never doubted him for a second.
After our day was done, we felt a little sad that we had to move on so quickly. It was a media tour after all and we had places to be. If we were on our own schedule we would have definitely gone out for a beer or two to get to know our guide better. We did exchange emails and we look forward to keeping in touch with him and following his climbs around the world.
Who knows, maybe we will ask him to write a guest series about climbing?!
So we said good-bye after driving back to the shop and were back on the highway cruising to our next adventure.
If you ever find yourself in Canmore Alberta, make sure to stop into Yamnuska and take a day to climb these awesome routes. Your guide will be of the highest quality and you will feel safe and comfortable as you climb the beautiful Rocky Mountains.