Winter is over, spring has sprung, and summer feels fully in the air! This is the time of year for us guides to get out there and go climbing for ourselves. The reality is, winter and summer can be very busy with work and its hard on those few days off to be motivated enough and have enough energy to go work on your own climbing goals.

I am feeling super fortunate this spring, that we are having such exceptional weather (knock on wood quickly!). We all know that weather in the Bow Valley can be super fickle. One day people are in shorts, the next in puffys, so you really have to take advantage of every opportunity you get to get out there.

Lately a climbing area high up on the benches of Grotto has become extremely popular. The Lookout has been ranked as one of the best crags in the area, maybe even Canada, and is the perfect place to get a full day of climbing in if the sun peeks out. Even on a chilly day, a bit of sun can make this crag totally doable. Stacked with amazing, long and sustained climbs, it has become the playground for Calgarians and Canmorons alike, and with perfect benches and a great hangout space, this makes the hour and a half uphill hike well worth it. Not only do you get world class climbing, but you get a bit of a cardio workout in as well.

Every year I try to create a few goals for the season, but it can be hard as we all know to stay motivated! Some times expressing ones goals is the best way to keep the mojo. Ever since I got out for a day with Will and Cory on Yamabushi 5 or so years ago, I wanted to go back. I’ve really only tried multipitches that I felt that I had the chance to onsight. This climb would be different though. It is 8 pitches, goes up the steepest line on the mountain, and has a crux 12d pitch on the second pitch along with 4 other mid 12 pitches and some spicy 11’s. I know many a strong climbers that have been up it, but I’m not sure if anyone has onsighted it, and few have done what Will did, which is lead every pitch cleanly in one day. I guess that is the ultimate goal, or atleast do every pitch cleanly with a partner swapping leads.

That goal is very far away but every goal needs a starting point, and so, good friend and Co-Outdoor Research athlete, Gord Mcarthur and I decided to go “feel” it out. Gord had never climbed on Yam, so it was an eye opening experience. Normally when I climb on Yam, I have a head set that falling is NOT an option. That is usually a pretty healthy approach to most Yam pitches, where gear is sparse, and rock quality a bit marginal. I think the hardest part about this “project” will be changing the mindset. If I am going to send those pitches, I have to be willing to push to myself to the point of falling.

Falling for the first time on Yam

The good thing, is that the route is steep and a fall in most places, would be totally into air, so it shouldn’t be a big deal. Having hundreds of feet of air beneath you though, makes it feel very different then pushing yourself at the crag.

Gord on the first pitch

We only did 4 pitches that day, but still got a good taste of what the climb was all about. I had been up that far before, but it was a while back, and this time I got to try leading some pitches I hadn’t before.

Gord on the second pitch


They felt doable, but for sure a great deal of endurance and a strong mind will be required to lead them cleanly…and then there is still 4 more seriously engaging pitches ahead! Yikes…big project. We had a great time out there though and enjoyed the scree run down and psyched that we atleast got on it.

steep rappels

The next day a bit tired, we headed back up to the Lookout. I had just been up there the day before the Yam day and left a few draws on a route, Skinny Love, I wanted to climb, so I was motivated to send it. My body tried to tell me otherwise though, as 3 days in a row of harder climbing is not always the smartest thing. Gord had only been up there once before, so i also wanted him to get the full rockies experience. First go on the route, I felt disheartened, I could hardly hold on bolt to bolt. I was pretty sure this wouldn’t be the day, and my body was too tired. As I laced up for the second go, I told myself, that there is no point in going up if I wasn’t going to try as hard as i could, and always leave room in your brain for surprising yourself! That I did! So psyched, mostly because I knew that it was not optimal conditions. This reconfirmed for me that you really can’t let prior attempts, that day or other days interfere with your mindset. You have to treat every pitch individually. Take what you have learned but also free your mind of negative or cocky positions.

It is always nice to revel in a highpoint or a send, but to truly know that you are done for the day, I believe you should keep climbing until failure, or atleast until you really know that you are done. If Yamabushi is the goal, then sending one 12d pitch can’t be the day stopper, and I need to climb several 12’s. We managed to squeeze out one more pitch and then saddled up for the hike down. Another fine day at the Lookout.

Sooo, where do we go from here? I guess the main goal, is to try and stay motivated. I know that once work picks up, I will have less energy to focus on my own goals, but that is why they are goals…they aren’t always easy! I’m looking forward to what is turning out to be a magnificent spring and hopefully an incredible summer!



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