Happy New Year to All!

Greetings from a snowy Sunday evening. After an adventurous holiday season, I’m back in my chair and ready to be a more regular blogger for the next while. After a fun visit with my family, Marian and I headed south to Canmore for five days of ice climbing. I wanted to spend some time working on my vertical ice climbing skills and the five-day workshop did not disappoint.

We began at the beginning with how to walk in crampons and finished the week on a mixed route (one that combined rock and ice) that was harder than anything I’d ever done on rock. The ice tools became an extension of my arms and I soon learned to love the “thunk” of a good “stick” of the axe in the ice. While I was climbing Pumori, there were a few vertical ice moves to make on the ice fins near Camp One. I am now confident that I could surmount them with much greater aplomb. I’m continuing to build skills, competence, and confidence for my return to Everest.

My next adventure may surprise a few…I’m heading north to Iqaluit (on Baffin Island) to participate in a Polar Training program with one of Canada’s preeminent polar explorers, Matty McNair. I’m going north because, in November when I drove to Clarenville to present to a meeting, they were running 45 minutes late. The delay gave me the opportunity to crack the latest issue of Explore magazine, which featured an article about Matty’s program. When I checked her website, the limited number of places in the program were filled. I almost gave up then but decided to drop Matty an email.

Cutting a long story short, on the first morning of my ice-climbing program I was desperately trying to find a CIBC bank to wire funds up north for my flight, buy some lunch food, and find my way to the “junkyard” for the first session. So tomorrow, I’m back in training…I have seven weeks to prepare my body and mind to pull a 150-pound sled on skis. I’m hoping the polar training program will give me more “cold weather” camping and travel skills, cement my polar dreams, and prime my teaching pump for my winter courses.

Last night, I was sorting through a box of Smurfs (yes, I did collect them as a kid…I counted 135 of them in the box) and found some other mementos as well including the program from my high school graduation banquet. The theme of our graduation was “Never Give Up On Your Dreams.” I was moved when I reread the song that one of my classmates sang for the occasion.

Never Give Up on a Dream
By Rod Stewart

If there’s doubt and you’re cold
don’t you worry what the future holds.
We’ve got to have heroes to teach us all,
To never give up on a dream.

Claim the road, touch the sun,
No force on earth could stop you run.
When your heart bursts like the sun,
Never, never give up on a dream.

Shadows fall, daylight dries,
Freedom never got a place to hide.
Search forever, photo finish line,
But never give up on a dream.

Crazy notions, fill our head,
you’ve got to break all the records set.
Push yourself until the end,
But never give up on your dream.

Inspiring all to never lose,
It’ll take a long, long time
Before they fill your shoes.
It’ll take somebody, somebody,
Who’s a lot like you
Who never gave up on a dream.

No, you never gave up on a dream.
No, you never gave up on a dream.
You never, never, never, gave up on a dream.

So, I wish all you the very best in 2009 and may it be a year where you find or rekindle a dream!

With gratitude and appreciation,


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