Tag Archives: Climbing

Sad News in the Bow Valley (38/365)

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Yesterday while Fabio and Joe were climbing Tonka (a multi-pitch route on Tunnel Mountain), I was in Banff working on a couple of articles and putting together material for Ghost Walks. At one point as I was at the car dropping off a costume I’d procured from the Thrift Shop, an ambulance tore up the road with lights and sirens going. Not long after, a Parks Canada vehicle also raced up the road. Both vehicles turned up Tunnel Mountain Road. I’d driven down that road a bit earlier after having dropped off Fabio and Joe.

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Of course, my mind jumped to the worst case scenario. Rock fall? A miscommunication? Had something gone wrong? Were they ok? I texted to see how they were doing and … no response. That was a long 15 minutes before I finally had a reply saying they were fine and had just reached the top of a pitch where they could do things like answer texts. But, from their perch high above the Bow Valley, they were watching a helicopter and emergency vehicles in action. Something was going on but they weren’t close enough to know exactly what.

We heard today that another climber a little farther along on Tunnel Mountain had been in an accident. Sadly, the climber didn’t survive.

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Sadness (Two in boat), by Nicholas Roerich, 1939

My heart goes out to the family and friends of the accident victim. It’s always a sickening shock to the system when one hears of someone being badly hurt or killed in a climbing accident.

This evening as I turn in for the night I see the stark black silhouette of the mountain peaks outside my window. They are beautiful, to be sure, but unforgiving. Stay safe out there, my friends.

 

 

 

 

Quick Climb on Tunnel Mountain (37/365)

Another super busy day today, so I just have time for a quickie post…

 

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After another stint of Ghost Walk research and planning in Banff, caught up with Fabio and Joe and had time for a couple of quick climbs on bolted sport routes on the back side of Tunnel Mountain before rushing back to Canmore in time for a lovely evening of pizza and conversation with friends. 

 

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The view from up there? Pretty amazing… (we were climbing at The Scoop)

I took some more reference photos for my vertigo art project…

 

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The belay glove hanging off the back of my harness obviously needs to go in the final piece… 

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The perspective is a bit weird in this one. And the anatomy is odd… it looks like my knee is bending backwards… But, you do get a good idea of the scale – the belayer’s head far below and the trees from above… 

It will be good to have some time to play with this some more… I also took a whole lot of not very good shots of Joe climbing and will practice doing some little drawings of climbers in odd positions… not that Joe was doing anything strange, it’s just climbers do manage to contort themselves in strange ways to get where they are going.

 

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Lots of great clouds today – excellent for dramatic skies in photographs but, sadly, bringers of bad news as the weather is deteriorating over the next few days… There’s snow in the forecast overnight on Sunday!!

 

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A different take on contortions… this is Salvador Dali’s “Topological Contortion of a Female Figure becoming a Violoncello.”

 

The next few days don’t bode well for long posts either – lots of work (editing the Medically Assisted Dying manuscript, learning, lines, rehearsing, perhaps a climb between rain showers…) but at the very least I’ll try to get a photo or two up…

 

Ciao!

 

 

 

From On High… An Idea (25/365)

So I was pretty high up on a climb on Kid Goat (Blue Bubble) when it occurred to me it’s really hard to capture a real sense of how it feels to be up that high above the valley floor in a photograph.

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A vista like this sort of conveys scale (those are tall trees down there, and they don’t look very big). But what is harder to capture is the sense of vertigo when you are actually directly above stuff, like when you are at a hanging belay on the side of a cliff…

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So, I took a bunch of reference photos and what I think I’ll try to do is a drawing or painting that exaggerates certain elements of the composition to try to better reflect the feeling of being up there…

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Here’s a view of the climb from below, from the approach trail.

Dad has been very helpful, sending me examples of work by people like Sonja Delaunay and Andre Derain, who both used exaggerated colour and perspective to get their point across.

 

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Baker’s Hotel by Andre Derain, 1904

 

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Three Women Dressed Simultaneously by Sonia Delaunay

And then I found this one, also by Sonia…

 

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Color Rhythm by Sonia Delaunay, 1967

Which was a bit odd, because I’d been playing with colour blocks in my notebook just moments before I found her work after following a link sent by Dad…

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My blocks are a lot less solid than hers (pastels on textured paper rather than oil paints in Delaunay’s…). And my palette is totally different, of course… but on that front I was inspired by Josef Albers, about whom you will hear more in the days to come as Dad and I have had several Albers conversations and, weirdly enough, he is also featured in a current issue of an art magazine (which I stumbled across online and have now lost again… I’ll retrace my steps and try to post a link when I get back to Albers properly…)

It has been another busy day and I need to go find some grub, have a shower, and take another look at the scenes we’ll be rehearsing tomorrow for the Canmore Summer Theatre Festival’s production of Romeo and Juliet. My creative cup runneth over!!

 

 

 

 

 

Oooops… Got Very Distracted (24/365)

… so this will be short.

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We headed up Cougar Creek this afternoon for a bit of cragging. 

It was good to get back outside on real rocks again (my quick session on the auto-belays at the climbing gym last night just wasn’t the same!). In the ten days or so since I left for the coast, summer has arrived here in the mountains!

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The view from partway up one of the routes on Cat’s Eye Wall… it never ceases to amaze me how quite large trees manage to grow right out of the rock face.

IMG_4165.JPGI did snap a few reference shots of climbers as well as natural forms (rocks, stumps) for future sketching sessions, but mostly, I just enjoyed being back outside, the low murmur and mumble of Cougar Creek in the background.

Hmmm… not quite sure why my video isn’t looping after I upload it… And, too tired to figure it out right at the moment.

While I was hanging around on the end of a rope, Dad was busy sending me all kinds of interesting art-y reference material. I’ll have to digest that when I have a few minutes and I’m not falling asleep sitting up! I would say tomorrow, but we have plans to climb again, so maybe not…

It’s a good kind of tired, this… after an afternoon of fresh air and sunshine!

 

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Sleeping Woman by Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin, 1913

 

 

Y is for a Year (or so) of Travels (AtoZChallenge2018)

Yesterday I started my post with a clip from an old song… I’ll do the same today with this old chestnut, I Was Born Under a Wandering Star.

 

My mom was the one who used to sing this to me (in not quite as low a register as Lee Marvin does, mind you) every time I said I was yearning to hit the road and go travelling. I don’t know where that need to roam comes from, but for some of us, itchy feet have nothing to do with athlete’s foot.

 

The past year and a bit have been really good for finding myself in far-flung places. Strangely, though I lived there for many years, Vancouver Island has become a destination. Last year I had the pleasure of taking a couple of sailing trips with my daughter and her husband on their lovely sailboat, Easy Rider. 

 

 

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It was a little chilly lounging around on the foredeck in February… But that didn’t stop me from trying. That’s what those lovely survival suits are for, right? 

 

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Had a great road trip through the mountains in March and stopped (of course) at Grizzly Book and Serendipity Shop in Revelstoke where, it turned out, they were filming a Christmas movie (hence the Christmas decorations in March…)

 

 

After arriving back in Canmore (home, these days) I basically unpacked and re-packed and went off to Paris. But not before a late night ice climbing expedition:

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Our neighbourhood. For most of our stay we hung out in the 15th, a five minute stroll from this bridge. 

 

 

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From Paris, I took a quick trip to Montreal, Toronto and London as one of my books was nominated for a Silver Birch Award in Ontario. 

 

Then, back to Paris. Where, among other things, I ate frog legs.

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Eventually, we returned to the mountains, but only briefly, just long enough to climb a mountain or two.

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The weather was good on the coast and I was longing to get back on the water…

 

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I’m fastening on the ‘don’t lose the dog’ netting on the boat before we set off for a few days of puttering around in the Gulf Islands. I have no more photos of this trip because I dropped my brand new phone overboard as we approached Nanaimo Harbour! Note that the weather had improved dramatically so no survival suits were required. 

 

Once back in the mountains I played about with my replacement phone and enjoyed a bit more climbing

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before heading back to Europe.

There was a day in Paris…

 

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quick visit to the Centre Georges Pompidou…

 

… and then on to Madrid, where I met my daughter and Dad in Madrid…

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From there, a train to Sarria where we began a very slow walk 120 kms or so to Santiago de Compostella as part of our Great Camino Project. (If you haven’t already found it, check out @lastlegbook on Instagram for lots of photos of our journey).

 

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Santiago… that way… 

 

Because we were working on a book about the project, after our time was up in Spain, we jumped on a cruise ship in Barcelona and wrote 65,000 words or so… One of these days we will get the rest of the manuscript done and, with any luck, will eventually see a book. If you’d like to have a look at a few of the posts written along the way, here are a couple of links…

That Way!

The Kindness of Strangers

Once back at home in the mountains, I lost a bet and had to jump down Main Street wearing a pink bunny suit…

(and no… I didn’t… pass wind, that is… I did jump through town while singing the Happy song by William Pharrell… )

When all that was over, it was time to pack our bags again and head back to the coast for Christmas with family.

 

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The gang in Vancouver… 

 

You might think all that was more than enough packing and unpacking, but what did we get for Christmas? Yes!! Allegra and I received tickets to go on a cruise together! So off we went again to explore the Caribbean… but not before a little ice climbing…

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It’s kind of nice you don’t need seventeen layers crampons and ice axes to have fun on the beach… (this one in Jamaica).

 

And then, home again just in time for spring break and (this is getting a bit ridiculous) another trip to Paris!

 

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It was a wet spring in Paris – the Seine is threatening to overflow her banks… 

And finally, back home to the mountains for a bit more ice climbing…

IMG_2126.JPGYeah. It’s been quite the year, or so… I couldn’t have imagined all those many miles being logged had I tried to look ahead at the beginning of 2017. Who knows where this next year will take us?

Yikes!!

 

 

 

C is for Community (#atozchallenge2018)

 

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Carmine’s downstairs… the pizza joint in the ‘hood

 

It wasn’t that long ago that I wrote a post over on my author blog about this year being all about community. It is, after all, the year in which my book Better Together: Creating Community in an Uncertain World came out so the subject has been on my mind. But it struck me, during this past week or so in France, that creating and maintaining connections has never been easier. Yesterday I was lucky enough to share a lovely lunch with writers I met during last year’s visit. The plans were formulated while I was in Canada, the host was in Paris and one of the attendees was in Menorca. Others who couldn’t attend touched bases, someone new to me joined the group – new connections were forged while others were strengthened.

Though this type of thing is passé for young ‘uns it still strikes me as slightly miraculous that a quick bit of typing and the goodwill of friends makes it possible to enjoy a chat over cheese as we swap stories in Paris before scattering again.

What is also interesting in this new, fluid, international world is that it was in an apartment near the Bois de Vincennes (location of said lunch and gathering of friends) that I first heard of the Canadian mezzo soprano Marie-Nicole Lemieux from a choral music enthusiast (and our gracious host) Anne. Granted, Marie-Nicole Lemieux is from Quebec and sometimes I think Canada is really bizarre in the way in which we in the west remain too often are ignorant of the talented musicians, singers, and writers who do amazing work in Quebec… Anyway, for your musical edification, here is Ms Lemieux singing L’amour est un oiseau rebelle from the Opera Carmen…

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Today was my last day in Paris where it has been a delight to plug in to the local community for a short time. In the morning (way too early) we begin the long journey back to Canmore and my lovely community there. Which, as it turns out, is more accurately described as a series of overlapping communities – the mad band of climbers who help keep me fit, challenged and engaged with endless problems to solve on rock, in the gym, and less often, on ice. I’m just beginning to dive into the theatre community, which has been a fantastic way to engage with a whole new circle of friends and explore another dimension of my creative life.

 

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Theatre selfie – Ally Lacentra playing a heroin addict, me as a grumpy old woman during Theatre Canmore’s recent 10-minute Play Festivus (can’t wait for next year!!)

 

Alas, it’s getting late and I have yet to pack, so that’s where I shall leave the letter C (there were actually a bunch of them sprinkled throughout the post… go count if you don’t believe me). More tomorrow as I wend my way back to my home in the mountains!

Ciao!

Welcome to Patreon – Video

I recently decided to set up a Patreon account as a way to help smooth out the fiscal bumps and hollows of a life spent writing. Patreon guides you through the steps of setting up an account and as part of that process they encourage creators to make a short intro video… I am, for a change, playing by the rules… And so, I present to you, my intro video for Patreon:

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Enjoy the blog? Consider becoming a patron to support the creation of these blog posts, photo essays, and short videos. In return, you’ll have my undying appreciation, but you’ll also get access to Patron-only content, advance peeks at works in progress, and more – all for as little as a buck a month! It’s easy – head on over to Patreon to have a look at how it all works.