Interview/Biography of your dedicated (ex)Board members – Andy Strangeman

Interview/Biography of your dedicated (ex)Board members – Andy Strangeman
August 13, 2017 Nathalie Drotar

Andy Strangeman is no strange(r)-man to many of us. He was at the helm of the T&L – Training & Leadership Committee – for over 15 years (who can beat that!?), has dedicated many Many volunteering hours for our favorite club – and received a few awards Yay! – so here is more about him if you were curious. To Andy, I say Congrats on your mountain resumé, you are an inspiration to many of us!!

Written by Andy Strangeman in December 2016:

It was way back when I was seven that I first learned to climb, as my dad roped me up to scale a small exposed peak in the Bavarian Alps. When I was sixteen I took it upon myself to repeat all of the local climbs that my father told me about when I was a kid and found that they were well within my reach. When that summer I stood on Germany’s highest mountain, I realized that this was going to become my passion and never looked back. I had read the book about the conquest of the Matterhorn and it had been my childhood dream to embark on such an adventure. On September 4th 1984 I realized that dream, as I scaled that peak with a friend in very unfavourable icy conditions.  

After finishing university in Ontario, I decided to move to Calgary to be closer to the Rockies and joined the ACC in 1985 to get to know other fellow alpinists. Now I was able to get out most every weekend and to lean from the best in the sport. I joined the climbing committee in the fall of  85 and along with Paul Stoliker, Carl Nagy and Althea Shaw, looked after organizing the trip schedule and rock review for several years. During that time I led many alpine trips for the section to locations as: Mount Victoria, Mount Assiniboine, Edith Cavell, Hector, Forbes, Columbia, Sir Douglas, Joffre, Snow Dome, Kitchener, Deltaform, Hungabe, as well as Yamnuska trad climbs. 

Hanging out with a group of intrepid ice climbers on couches at the old MEC on 11th Ave. I joined them and got into some serious ice climbing. For me it was the dangerous 20’s, where risk taking is second nature and so often brawn wins out over brains. I was lucky to make it through those years more or less unscathed and had a few close calls. Compared to today, the gear was rough and the technique still under development. We pounded in snargs, rapped off conduit,  banged our knuckles with straight shafted tools and froze a lot.

During the 88 Olympics, I was part of a team of four ice climbers that demonstrated the sport to an international audience.

Shorty thereafter the four of us headed up to Alaska for the “Big Mac Attack”. Then in the 90’s and early 2000’s I headed out on expeditions to Nepal as well as Tibet to scale some higher peaks and learned that on the biggest peaks most of the time is spent waiting and that patience is a virtue which I am sorely lacking.

In 2001, I became involved in the sections T&L committee to coordinate rescue and leadership courses and have been the chair of the T&L committee until the summer of 2016. During that time I organized and gave workshops to the Calgary section on Trip leading, Meteorology, Winter scrambling, the use of specific gear, and expedition planning.

Today I still love to get out on climbs and try to get up at least 50 mountains per year. The peaks do not have to be hard, and I find as much joy in tackling a moderate scrambling peak as I do on bigger more technical trips. To me it is simply being out in beautiful country with good friends and keeping in shape. On account of my spending half the year in Europe, I spend a fair amount of time climbing in the Alps and really do love the hut infrastructure over there. 

I have always taken a lot pleasure from leading trips for our section, as it allows me to practice leadership skills and share an activity that is dear to my heart with friends as well as people new to the sport that have become friends. All the years of trip leading have enriched my life and taught me some valuable lessons. I can only encourage all of you to get involved with our section an join in the adventure.

Note from our Breeze Editor: Andy is not on the Board anymore but was for so many years that I certainly think he deserved an article in The Breeze! 




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