Ladies: Perfect snow capped mountains, Mexican blanket, beautiful girl with long perfect hair gazing out over a perfectly blue alpine lake… we’ve all seen it. The mountain girl. It’s taking over your social media channels. You’ve gone to those places yourself, you’ve hopped out of your car and seen the beautiful sights, or maybe you’ve been that girl. However, something has left you wanting more now. You want to climb those mountains!
The outdoor adventure industry is BOOMING, and I mean growing like a wild fire. Chances are, if you’re reading this, you are part of it. Hiking, biking, scrambling, climbing, mountaineering, stand up paddleboarding, kayaking, you name it, the list goes on. I see people on social media doing crazy things a million times a day. If you’re like me, you see this inspiration, you see people pushing their limits and you start to dream. You want to learn these skills, do these adventures, test yourself mentally and physically. Maybe you’re wondering how, and this is where I want to help.
Five years ago I didn’t even like to hike. I moved to the mountains with the aim of pursuing a healthier lifestyle, and I can happily say I did exactly that. I’d like to share with you the steps I took and the things I did to get me to where I am today. So, if you want to be more than the typical “sit beside a lake or mountain view with perfect clothes and hair”, and you’re ready to truly get your hair messy and clothes dirty and get down to business, than here we go! Welcome to the world of the Canadian Rockies!
1) Everybody hikes. What next? #backpacking
Chances are you’ve hiked. Whether this is a personal passion, or something your parents made you do as a kid, most people have experienced going for a hike. If this is something you love to do, maybe you’re wondering what’s next. If you’re ready for a step up from your weekend hikes, I highly recommend trying backpacking. Do a multi day hike. This could be two, three, four days or more. Carry your tent, carry all your food, carry your supplies, and go for a hike! This will add a challenge to your routine hikes as there is more weight to carry, further distances to go, and more planning and preparation required.
Here are a few incredible backpacking trips I would recommend:
- Mount Assiniboine provincial park
- The West Coast trail
- Berg Lake trail
- Tonquin Valley
- Skoki Valley
These are some local trails, but should you find your passion in backpacking it can take you to some absolutely incredible places. I had the fortunate opportunity to travel and backpack to Everest Base Camp with my dad and it was a life changing experience that I will never forget.
2) A scramble? Huh? Do you mean eggs?
I remember the first time someone told me I should try scrambling, and the first thing my brain went to was eggs. If you’re in the same boat, let me introduce you to the wonderful world of scrambling!
A scramble is a step up from hiking as you are required to use your hands and feet, yet you don’t need a rope like you do for climbing. Steep sections, exposed rock, funky moves, it has it all! I fell in love with scrambling and it still has a good part of my heart today. Scrambling is a great next step up from hiking and backpacking as it requires a more technical aspect and often times more route finding. You are off the beaten trail, and which trail you take is yours for the choosing. Scrambling will take you to some mind blowing mountain summits and will really test your physical and mental strengths.
If this sounds like something you’d like to give a shot, here are some resources I suggest and some scrambles to try:
- Scrambles in the Canadian Rockies by Alan Kane (buy it here: https://www.mec.ca/en/product/5048-163/Scrambles-In-The-Canadian-Rockies-3rd-Edition?org_text=scrambles%20in%20the)
- Mount Baldy (good, easy place to start)
- Fairview Mountain
- Tower of Babel
- Eiffel Peak
- Mount Edith
- Mount Wilcox
3) I am a scramble master and need some more spice in my life!
You hike, backpack, and you’re basically a scramble pro who is craving a little more. You love the hands on aspect of scrambling, but are feeling ready for more technical skills and knowledge. Well, say goodbye to your skin my friend, its time to become a rock climber!
Rock climbing has awesome exposure, pushes your limits, and gives you more technical knowledge with rope skills. In order to start climbing however, you need to understand the ropes. How do you learn this you ask? Well, here is are some great options:
- Sign up for a course at your local climbing gym. They offer top rope courses, lead courses, and sometimes even intro to outdoor climbing courses. The bonus is you will meet some awesome new friends taking these courses as well.
- Sign up for a course with the Alpine Club of Canada. If you are an ACC member, they often do introductory courses at an incredibly fair price. Check out your local section to find out what they are offering in your area.
- Sign up for a course with a guide. This is the route I have gone with and it has been amazing and I cannot recommend enough. You get hands on learning outdoors from a professional and often times the group sizes are small. I highly recommend Rockies Ice and Alpine Specialists based out of Banff (http://rockies-ice.com/)
Once you learn your skills, make sure to put them to practice. The best way to feel comfortable and confident is to use them often. Climb with friends at the gym. If your friends aren’t the climbing type, check out local Facebook groups. People often post looking for partners, so this is a great resource too.
4) Rope skills, check! I’m ready to suffer!
You’ve dedicated your time getting comfortable in the mountains, you’ve learned your knots and rope systems, now you’re ready to climb Everest! Ok, maybe not Everest, but your feeling ready to tackle some mountains on a larger scale but aren’t quite sure how. Here we have the wonderful world of mountaineering! Mountaineering involves hiking, scrambling, rock climbing, snow, ice, glaciers, OH MY! My experience with mountaineering is not much, but oh boy does it make my heart pound.
You may see this and think, wow, that is a lot of new things to learn! The best bang for your buck is to take a general introduction to mountaineering course. Here, they will cover everything you need to know and then from there you can practice and hone in on your skills. I personally took a 6-day introductory course with Cloudnine Guides based out of Canmore. We did a little bit of everything, and since then I’ve had some amazing adventures! I feel confident in my skills, now its just time to get out and there and give’r!
If you are interested in this, check out the course on their website: http://www.cloudnineguides.com/
THE WORLD IS YOURS.
Seriously though, it may be cheesy but its true. You can really accomplish anything and experience more than your wildest dreams if you set your mind to it. Local groups, local guides, local gyms, books, websites, trail reports, the resources are there. Put in the time, learn new skills, push your limits physically, test yourself mentally, and the adventures you will experience will change your life. I can certainly attest to that.
If you have any questions beyond this article, let me be your resource. Pursuing outdoor adventure has changed my life radically for the better, and the more people that can experience the same thing will only make me happier. Reach out, I would love to share what I know!