by Ryan Cupp
About six hours into our drive from Bellingham to Canmore, Bob and I were passing under massive alpine objectives around Roger’s Pass and I became extremely nervous. Less than a month prior I underwent surgery on my big toe and it was still painful to walk, how was I supposed to ice climb on it?
The next day, after a leisurely start, Bob and I were racking up at the base of Louise Falls. Steve recommended this route for my warm-up day as it gets a lot of traffic and tends to be picked
out so if my toe hurt too bad I could hopefully get by without kicking very much. Going up the first pitch I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was no more painful to climb than it was to
walk! Even kicking in wasn’t too bad thanks to stiff climbing boots.
The rest of the trip was spent climbing classic routes, getting to know Andy and Alex and the mentors better, and even a trip to The Ghost (a dream of mine for a few years now). Every day I became more confident on the ice. I was climbing faster, improving my technique, and learning new things with every climb.
The highlight of the week for me was climbing Coire Dubh Intégrale, a mini alpine climb on Loader Peak. Easy ice steps led up a gully to fun mixed pitches higher up on the face. This was my first real experience mixed climbing. It had recently snowed, which covered many of the edges and pockets on the rock and added to the “alpine feel” of the route. I found the climbing to be challenging, and a little scary, but very rewarding. Steve and I topped out to fantastic views of the Rockies and managed to get back down to the car without getting too lost.
This week in Canmore left me even more stoked to be part of the Alpine Mentors program. Thanks to my fellow mentees Alex and Andy and to mentors Bob Rogoz, Wayne Wallace, Jim Elzinga, Raphael Slawinski, and Steve Swenson for such a great week!