..our ACC Training & Leadership Committee Chair:
I joined the Calgary Section of the ACC in 1985. An 8-year hiatus had me living in Ontario between 1988 and 1996 when I did a few Toronto Section trips to the Bon Echo crag. You have to love an 11 AM ‘alpine start’.
I started into the outdoor world in a high school outdoors club that had us white water rafting in Pennsylvania and winter camping in the Adirondak Mountains of New York State. This lead to three of us high school buddies attending a 26-day expedition style Outward Bound course in 1978 that met at the bus station in Cranbrook and was constantly on the move. We explored Gargantua cave back when the exit had not yet been found; necessitating a 56-foot Jumar ascent to get out.
My favourite aspect of the mountains is the friendships that have developed over some 30 years. Some of these treasured friendships are less than 10 years in the making. My focus has been on western Canada, however, I have immersed myself in a cloud on Mount Fuji, I have been lost in a cloud on Ben Nevis, I have been mildly mountain sick going from sea level to 13,000 feet in less than 24 hours on Mount Ritter in California, I have hiked high but have not climbed in the European Alps, and I have discovered while coasting on a scooter down from Doi Chiang Dao (2,000 m above sea level) in Thailand, that you need the motor running on the scooter for the brakes to work! My heart will always carry me back to the woods, crags, creeks, and waterfalls of the Niagara Escarpment that formed my backyard playground growing up in southern Ontario.
My longest, hardest, most epic mountain adventure occurred on the Mount Crowsnest climb during Outward Bound. During the camp at the base of the Seven Sisters, after climbing Crowsnest, I cooked supper for about three of us in the pouring rain, tripped and accidentally launched our supper into the fire. Being hungry and sick of trail food, I then ate too many of the only semi-fresh item we had; prunes. So that night was spent purging myself in the pouring rain! Just retribution for destroying dinner! Kidding aside, although there have been extended days of great discomfort, I would not identify any of these as epics. My goal has always been to have fun and play safe. So far so good.
Admittedly, my preference at age 57 is to get out on trips with people who I know well. One of these retired individuals, who maintains a house only because he needs a ‘place for his stuff’, has encouraged me to retire early so “we” can get out more often. Sadly, unless said individual wants me living in his basement when I am old, I need to work a few more years!
My favourite meal when staying at and cooking in a hut IS NOT PRUNES!
One of my favourite mountain quotes from Chris Bonington; to paraphrase; during a Himalayan ascent, residing at the top camp after months of build-up and poised for the summit, and needing to light the stove to melt snow to rehydrate, he could not believe that the expedition might fail “…for want of a match…”.
Written by Ken Baxter