As a climber, my goal has always been to be as well rounded as possible. Experienced in all facets of vertical adventure.
On this trip, I would set my sights on developing my skills in the Alpine World of Climbing and testing my strengths in conditions far different than the desert environment of my home state, Arizona.
Just once before have I had the chance to climb with my long time friend and mentor, Ron Raimonde. A week in the mountains with this guy was just what I needed to lay the foundation for a set of skills that will allow me to venture off into higher, colder and more remote regions than ever before.
I’m titling this post, Learning from the Best, because in my honest opinion, there is no one else I would rather have as my partner for my first true Mountaineering trip.
Ron and I met several years ago while working a rigging job for an adventurous British television show called Freddie Flintoff vs the World. The filming was done in Sedona, AZ where Ron lives and he was kind enough to put me up at his place the night before, even though we had never met. He said he had a spare bed in his “Man Cave” which I assumed would have a recliner and a TV for watching sports of something.
I was wrong. The moment he opened up the door I was in complete awe.
A small room packed full of history, hardware, memorabilia and memories. Haulbags, Hammers, and a Huge assortment of old school gear. Most of which I had only read about in books and old magazines. Framed pictures of some of his proudest moments and a collection of American Alpine Journals told me he wasn’t clipping bolts on sport climbs for the past 2 decades, this guy was climbing the big stuff. The mountains, ridges and big walls of my dreams.
Ron was a climber, and a truly experienced one at that.
During those first few days working with Ron, I asked about a million questions. I wanted to gain as much knowledge as I could from someone with so much experience. I wanted to hear his stories and recollections from some of those amazing adventures I saw he was on. I couldn’t get enough and I was happy he was open to sharing. It was the start of a great friendship to say the least.
Fast forward about 8 years. Ron and I, have had the chance to work together on various rigging jobs over the years. We connect often but mainly through phone calls and short visits to say “Hi” while in Sedona. He has become someone I respect deeply, call on for advice, and share the psych for future adventures with (even if he can’t be there).
It was June 2018, when I got a txt message from Ron asking what I was up to in August. I assumed he needed help on a project at his distillery. He said he was thinking about taking a week off and wanted to know if I was interested in a climbing trip to the Canadian Rockies. Immediately without hesitation I said yes and blocked the dates off on my calendar. His project in mind was to finish a route he had attempted a few years back, the East Ridge of Mt. Temple. By far, bigger than any other route I’ve previously climbed.
The plans were set, plane tickets bought and now it was just a matter of time before I found myself faced with mountainous terrain unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. I was excited, nervous, and curious of how I would do. One thing I knew for sure, is that my partner is a “hardman”, and if shit hits the fan, he has the strength, skill and experience to hopefully get my ass out of trouble.
To be continued…