Friday, September 13, 2013

2013 Update - Finally!

It has been a LONG time since we have done an update…Lots has happened since the last one. To see the short version, just skip to the pictures below...

As of December, Krissy and I were still living in Halfax, Nova Scotia where I was finishing the last term of my Engineering Degree. After completing my degree I was lucky enough to have a connection to get a job starting February 1, 2013. The catch: we were going to move to Calgary, Alberta for it. So, after a short stay in New Brunswick around Christmas 2012, we packed everything we could into one car and started the drive to Alberta.

After visiting Calgary last summer we decided that it was probably our top pick for places to move once I finished school. The city is interesting and we have lots of friends here. Calgary also has incredible access to the mountains just a short drive away – world class climbing, skiing, mountain biking, etc. We arrived in Calgary without Krissy having yet found a job, but after about one month she landed her first Occupational Therapy job. We are now both working professionals! Quite a lifestyle change from the last few years.

We have now been in Calgary for seven months. It is definitely beginning to feel like home. During the winter months we were able to get in a few ski trips to Sunshine Village in Banff, and Lake Louise – only about one hour from home! During the winter we were also climbing and training lots with a really fun crew at the Calgary Climbing Center Gyms. We have a gym membership that allows us access to two climbing gyms in the city, so we can pick and choose the gym we want to go to on any given night. Once the weather started warming up, we started climbing outside as much as possible.

Within about an hour’s drive we have a lifetime of world class limestone sport climbing – anything from short power-endurance routes at Acephale, to 50m endurance routes in Echo Canyon. It is pretty much the polar opposite of Halifax (all bouldering - all the time).

This summer has been especially wet around Calgary – flooding etc! We decided to use the wetness as an excuse to travel to a climbing area in Ten Sleep, Wyoming. This ended up being a great little trip where we were able to meet up with some friends who we met while traveling last summer. Ten Sleep is a very small, very western town. The population is something like 270 people – most of whom seemed to be legitimate cowboys/cowgirls. There was one gas station, one coffee shop, one saloon, and no grocery store. Just outside the town is Ten Sleep Canyon. This canyon has great summer sport climbing. There was free camping in the canyon, with the climbing only a couple minutes’ drive and hike away. Due to the orientation of the canyon, you get to start climbing at noon, and continue into evening. It is a really laid back pace for climbing. The trip was a success for both of us, climbing our main goals for the long weekend and having lots of fun. Krissy managed a last day send of Great White Behemoth (5.12b) and I managed to climb The Hellion (5.13c) – both of which are best of the grade in the area. We will be returning to the area for sure! 

Back in Alberta we have been working away at various climbing projects as weather and time allow. Currently, Krissy is close on one of her projects that was left undone from last summer – Jingus (5.12d at Acephale). Krissy recently sent Spicy Elephant (5.12c at Echo Canyon), an unsent route from last summer! I have managed to tick a few routes this spring. Probably the most notable is Stone Temple Pilots (5.14a - ish) at Echo Canyon. This route is about 50m of all styles of climbing – steep bouldering, groveling corners, endurance sections, etc. I managed a surprise send of the route a couple days ago! I was planning to go up and work out a few more moves and ended up climbing the thing! Krissy says that I was probably on it for about 1 hour! We will see how the grade holds up with future repeats. Regardless of the grade, it is one of the most impressive looking sport climbs I have ever seen or tried. Most recently I was able to climb Endless Summer (5.13d) at Acephale. This route put up a pretty good fight for a number of days. We think that it is the first ascent since a key hold broke some time ago – the last ascent seems to be from around 2011…

We are definitely enjoying the lifestyle here, for instance, this past long weekend we climbed one day at Acephale, one at Lake Louise, and one at Echo Canyon. We almost always end the weekend more tired than when we left work on Friday afternoon! Hopefully more regular updates to come!

In no particular order!
Trying Prime Time (5.14c) at Acephale - Our new home crag!!! Photo credit: Josh Muller.
Prime Time (5.14c). Photo credit: Josh Muller.
Krissy's new dream catcher's!
Dr. Fox inflicting some serious pain! Our new Calgary Chiropractor.
Can't wait for next time!
Hankem Spankums in Ten Sleep, WY.
Ten Sleep, Wyoming scenery.
Krissy sending Great White Behemoth (5.12b) on our last morning in Ten Sleep!
Great White Behemoth (5.12b)
Bones in the campsite.
Ten Sleep Saloon - more or less the only eating option in Tensleep.
Krissy in Ten Sleep Canyon. We were camped about as far back in the Canyon as you can see.
Ten Sleep Canyon. So Fun! Good climbing conditions begin at the crack of noon!
Blake on Hellion (5.13c)  See video below.
How Ten Sleep got its name.
This was after driving all night! We began climbing only a coupe hours later...
All the entertainment you need
The very entertaining guidebook.
Blake on the Hellion (5.13c).
The very mellow hike (by Alberta standards) to the climbing in Ten Sleep.
So long Halifax!
Tess out bouldering shortly before our departure from Nova Scotia.
One of our last evenings in Halifax.
Another one of our new home crags. Look close and you will see Ben on Buffet Royale, a 45 meter 5.13c. We are climbing on 100 meter ropes here! Photo Naoko Mori.
Fire dragon roll at our new favorite sushi place in Calgary.
Sunshine Mountain Village.
Sooo fun skiing here!
Hiking into Echo Canyon. The Three Sisters and Canmore in the background.
Yup, cowboy country.
My work calendar...and I actually sent.
The view after another great day at the Lookout in Echo Canyon.
The damage after another graston session with Dr. Fox
Blake on Hellion (5.13c) from "New River Mike"

The drive to the mountains


Iron Ring ceremony

Our fancy night out. Krissy found the chocolate fountain!!!

Post hike...early season.

Yup, real climbing gyms here!

The girls at our fancy dinner.

Found this in our to stay and ski for free!

Ben and Jade on the hike to Acephale.

Raw beef sushi.

Souvenir from Ten Sleep, WY.

Banff from Raven's Crag. Shortly after this, the trail was shut down because a Grizzly bear ate a black bear....

There are some great roasters in Calgary.

Lake Louise in May!!!

Ben lowering off Stone Temple Pilots in Echo Canyon.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Tour De Bloc - Halifax 2012

Last weekend Krissy and I competed in the first first of two altlantic stops for the Tour de Bloc Series. The comp went quite well over-all. I ended up a close second to comp vet. John Bowles.

Krissy ended up climbing great and won her first Women's Open Tour de Bloc comp! here are a

couple short vids from finals:
Tour De Bloc - Dec. 2012 Women's #1 from Ben Blakney on Vimeo.

Tour De Bloc - Dec. 2012 Women's #2 from Ben Blakney on Vimeo.

Tour De Bloc - Dec. 2012 Men's #3 from Ben Blakney on Vimeo.

Tour De Bloc - Dec. 2012 Men's #4 from Ben Blakney on Vimeo.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Numbers Game: How Much Did We Actually Climb in 8 Months?

The following is the quick numbers from each of stops along the way. We kept track of total number of unique routes/problems climbed (not including repeating the same warm-ups), number of difficult routes and total number of classics climbed.

Lincoln Woods in early January.
Lincoln Woods, RI
1 - day climbing
7 - problems
1 - V10 or harder
3 - classics
1 - problem
0 - V5 or harder
0 - classics

Horseshoe Canyon Ranch
Horseshoe Canyon Ranch, Arkansas
3 - days climbing
24 - problems
4 - V10+
8 - classics
10 - problems
1 - V5+
2 - classics

Krissy Sending New Religion V7 in Hueco Tanks
Hueco Tanks, Texas
28 - days climbing
131 - problems
13 - V10+
55 - classics
59 - problems
10 - V5+
25 - classics

Bishop, California in March 2012
Bishop, California
17 - days climbing
69 - problems
16 - V10+
45 - classics
28 - problems
5 - V5+
11 - classics

Krissy sending Baldwin Bash V7 in Joe's Valley - April 2012
Joe's Valley, Utah
16 - days climbing
102 - problems
11 - V10 +
66 - classics
69 - problems
10 - V5 +
34 - classics

Ben sending T-Rex 5.14b in Maple Canyon - May 2012
Maple Canyon, Utah
26 - days climbing
42 - routes
13 - 5.13 +
26 - classics
27 - routes
17 - 5.11 + (one 5.13a)
14 - classics

Ben on Simply Read 5.13d - Rifle, Colorado
Rifle, Colorado
15 - days climbing
22 - routes
4 - 5.13 +
15 - classics
20 - routes
13 - 5.11 +
11 - classics

What the weather did not look like for most of our Squamish stay...
Squamish, British Columbia
2 - days climbing
7 - problems
2 - V10 +
3 - classics
4 - problems
0 - V5 +
2 - classics

Krissy on Jingus Americanus 5.12d - Acephale, Alberta
Calgary, Alberta
14 - days climbing
19 - routes
8 - 5.13 +
4 - classics
7 - routes
6 - 5.11 +
0 - classics

post trip depression staring on the last week of the trip...
Rumney, New Hampshire
8 - days climbing
8 - routes
3 - 5.13 +
4 - classics
4 - routes
4 - 5.11 +
2 - classics

All in all, we climbed our hardest routes ever and achieved our goals. Some of the highlights include Ben sending T-Rex, a 5.14 enduro roof in Maple Canyon (every single person there that day stopped to watch and cheer him on, it was quite an inspiring send). Ben also was pretty stoked to send Alma Blanca V13 in just a few tries in Hueco Tanks. Haroun and the Sea of Stories V12 in Bishop was also pretty exciting and stands out for sure as one of the best boulder problems ever. Thanks again Jason for the excellent spot (glad you didn't get hurt) and for Krissy who held the crash pad down during the 30 mph wind gusts on that send!

As for Krissy, Sprout was hands down the biggest accomplishment of the trip. Her first 5.13 (a) and by far the most dedication and hard work needed for the send. New Religion V7 and Wills of Fire V6 were two of her favourite boulder problems. One made you feel like a superhero, the other made you feel like peeing you pants it was so scary but topping them out definitely felt great.

The trip was such an amazing experience. We met so many great people, saw so many beautiful landscapes and cities, and most important, we enjoyed every single minute of it all (except dealing with the sub-tenants, but thankfully that's all over with). If we were to do anything different, the only thing we would change would be to buy a camper van. 8 months in a tent wasn't too too bad, and we miss it already, but seeing how others managed with a van made us wish we had one.

So now we are back in Halifax for one final term in school then on to a new stage of our life..real work. Ben will be searching for work as an Engineer and Krissy for work as an Occupational Therapist. Who knows where we will be in 4 months. Calgary? Salt Lake City? We've had a taste of what these places are like and are now excited to begin this new journey. Wow, 8 months flew by. 

We will keep some long overdue posts coming. Take care! See you around!

-Ben and Krissy

Now, back to reality for a few months!