Climb on

 

The Banff Mt. Film Fest never fails to inspire. A series of films showing athletes, adventurers, and residents of remote locales who promote “mountain culture,” the film fest has fed my wanderlust for three years in a row and nudged me toward new outdoor pursuits.

I saw this year’s tour two weekends ago, and even though it was filled with amazing sports footage, magnificent scenery, and even a great film about conserving the habitat of hellbenders, my favorite was about British rock climber Mina Leslie-Wujastyk’s quest to place in indoor climbing competitions.

Mina’s words resonated with me, and I felt so invested in her story. When she talked about how she loved her sport because she loved the feeling of being strong and fit, it was as if her words were lifted from things I said myself during marathon training. Her story also resonated with me because, as I’m faced with another year of resting my knee, I’m focusing more on climbing.

In fact, after the film fest, which I saw in Burlington, VT, I took a walk up to Smuggler’s Notch to watch some ice-climbers in the annual “Smuggs Ice Bash”. It was a beautiful day and made me wish I wasn’t so susceptible to cold. (Unfortunately, Raynaud’s Syndrome makes winter activities difficult.)

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Some climbers at work. Notice the tree top below them. They are very far up the mountain, and I was zooming in from across the other end of the valley.

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Pippin is ready to climb, too. can you spot him?

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This is unofficially the “Rivendell” part of the Notch. Straight out of Middle Earth.

After returning home from Vermont, I continued a new tradition of meeting a coworker at the climbing gym once a week. I had previously been climbing once every other week through the spring and summer. I didn’t see much progress though, and after I took a skills class in August, I found it hard to fit climbing into my schedule.

The new year has brought some new incentive, though. Having a buddy to go with after work is motivation to go all the way to the climbing gym, and we haven’t missed a week since we started.

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Working on a bouldering route

 

The progress is coming slowly, but I can make it farther up routes than I could in previous weeks, and my confidence and skills are building with the practice.

I have two climbing-related goals to shoot for at the moment:

  1. Sign up for an outdoor climbing class with REI in the spring.
  2. Train myself to do real pull-ups without using my legs for momentum.

I’m really looking forward to climbing outdoors. The more I practice now, the more comfortable I’ll be when it comes to scaling real rock. And learning to do pull-ups can only help. The pull-up challenge will involve both upper body and core work and will involve both pressing and pulling exercises so I don’t develop imbalances. (I’m completely over those.) I’ll keep you posted on how that goes.

In the mean time, climb on.

 

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