This past weekend for one of my days off work, my friend Yanick and I decided to climb Heartline. Heartline is a multi-pitch sport climb on a nearby mountain called Heart Mountain. Heartline is graded at 5.9 A0 and is 17 pitches. Needless to say, I was looking forward to an amazing, big day out climbing in the beautiful weather with good company!
The climb took us roughly 8.5 hours, including a beautiful 45 min summit, soak in the sun and eat a sandwich. For those looking to climb this route in the future, we did it in less than 17 pitches by linking a few and soloing a few as well. Overall, it was an incredible day out in the mountains!
The reason I want to write about this route though, is it had a specific sense of accomplishment and gratification for me. Though not technically hard grade wise, this climb signified something special for me.
I am not from the mountains. I moved out west to Banff five years ago on my own. I pretty much hated hiking, but I knew I needed a change and a push in my lifestyle so I came to the mountains to do exactly that.
As I started my first job and made a few friends, two of my now close friends, Tom and Glenn, said “you should try scrambling!” My instant reply was “what the hell is scrambling?!” and from then on I dove head first into a mad love affair with scrambling. Since then, I have done roughly 52 unique summits, with repeats adding me up to nearly 100 summits in the last five years. For someone who used to hate anything to do with hiking, I think that might just be short of a miracle!
Once I was comfortable with scrambling, and started to push myself to do harder scrambles, I felt like I was ready to extend my skills and knowledge further and dive deeper into my mountain passions (another good push was after reading the book “No shortcuts to the top” by Ed Viesturs… if you haven’t read it and want some mountain inspiration, go read it NOW!).
I started to do research on guides in the area offering intro to mountaineering courses that didn’t cost an arm and a leg to sign up for. This led me to an awesome company called Cloudnine Guides, based out of canmore (check them out in the link at the end of this post if you’re interested!). The course I signed up for consisted of 6 days covering snow, ice, glacier travel, rock climbing, and two big summit days. Disclaimer: I had tried rock climbing once and I think I nearly shit my pants I was so terrified.
When it came time for the rock climbing day, I gave our guide a good heads up that I would probably have some sort of meltdown on the wall. Much to mine (and probably everybody else’s surprise), I did not have a meltdown and instead spent the day absolutely smiling and laughing and loving every second of climbing rock! WHO WOULD HAVE KNOWN! After my course was done, I tried to get out climbing as much as I possibly could. I have some amazing friends (you know who you are) who generously shared more of their knowledge with me, and helped me develop my stoke for rock climbing.
This may seem like a long story, but here is where I am going with this. Flash forward 5 years to this past weekend, standing on the summit of Heart Mountain after 11 pitches of roped climbing. Heart Mountain was one of my first scrambles I did when I moved out here all that time ago. I was standing in the exact same place atop the mountain, but instead how I once hiked/scrambled to its beautiful summit, this time I had climbed it to the exact same spot.
Society always tells us we should be working towards something. We set goals, we achieve them, we set new goals, work towards those, etc. We get so focused on where we are going that sometimes (and I feel most times) we forget to look back and appreciate how far we have come. Standing on top of Heart Mountain, I did exactly that. I thought back to five years ago, and everything I’ve accomplished over the course of those years to get to where I am today. Everything I’ve learned, everything I’ve been challenged with, every experience I’ve had. I smiled, and I was proud of myself. I was stoked for myself!
Along the course of chasing your dreams and working towards new goals, make sure you look back once in a while and appreciate how far you’ve come. How much you’ve learned, how hard you’ve worked, how much you’ve grown. You should be proud of yourself! Feel happy, feel successful, feel that sense of accomplishment and truly appreciate it and let it soak in. You deserve it…you know you’ve earned it.
This summit was literally my heartline. I found a passion, followed my heart, and that line led me right to where I was the other day and where I will keep going in the future. Keep chasing your passions, but make sure to appreciate the journey along the way. It is just as important (if not more so) than the end result. Learn, grow, achieve, reflect.