Working as a seasonal Park Ranger has its ups and downs. Months without work can be daunting and dreary while waiting for a contract to pick back up. However, it can be a time to learn and grow in an area that’s been in need of attention.
This season I’ve officially become a full time ski bum; and not because I kill at skiing or want to just fill the time – because I seriously needed the exposure. The endless laps at the local resort (which just happens to be the biggest in Canada) and time spent on my sticks. I have always loved winter, getting bundled up and playing in the snow. As much as I am enthralled with climbing and other summer hobbies, my heart yearns for the cold. It all began with walking to the school bus in temperatures below -20. Face covered, nose running and eyes squinting through the thick flakes falling. This was the winter I was raised to know. I quickly progressed from tobogganing to snowboarding and ultimately to skiing.
For my first year on skis I got a handful of runs in as I mostly ventured into the backcountry for long days spent trekking uphill. Starting with more skinning than skiing didn’t help me “get those turns in”. I was always terrified of the downhill as I forecasted a fall or 10 on the turnaround.
This winter season happened to bring with it some real snow (less of that sloppy wet rain stuff from last year). With a ride from the unemployment train, I was able to get on my skis Monday to Friday on the hill.
Learning to truly become one with my skis was my goal this season – a promise I wanted to keep to myself.
The first month was a fury of frustration trying to remember all the advice I had been given the previous year: push down with your toes! Bend your knees! Shoulders forward! These were all the things that rattled through my head as I plunged down the nearest green run.
I made a plan to ski with people who had been going for years or since childhood. That way, I would be forced to push myself to get better, ride different terrain and to not get stuck in bad habits. I received loads of good advice and also some bad. But I took what I could get and pressed my body into the correct motions.
I skied all through November and well into the Christmas season. Just at the brink of insanity, a friend from early in the season, would comment on how much better I had gotten. Things started to look up and each morning when I considered letting snooze take over, I would dwell on those words: I am getting better. And it was true – with some healing bruises and a persistent attitude, I was going from slow green runs to black moguls. Pretty soon getting on the chairlift was followed by excitement and not stress or regret.
Keeping up with goals can be tricky. It seems easy enough to start out strong but as time goes on it becomes more of a challenge to follow through. There will come a time in your trials when you start to see and feel the difference in yourself. That is when you feel the encouragement you need to make good on your goals.
Best ski tips that helped me:
- Stay off your heels: leaning forward in your boots will give you more control and balance on your skis.
- Don’t get cold and sad: when you feel your skis having a mind of their own, wiggling beneath your boots, let yourself have breaks. They help you reset and give your body some rest for harder/longer runs.
- Keep your runs diverse: hit some groomers, get in the trees and learn to ski moguls. Don’t just ride the same style of runs, keep it diverse so you can ski anything!
Ambassador Dan Turner from Highball Productions weighs in on what it takes to achieve your goals.
How do I keep motivated?
For me, the underlying thing that keeps me motivated and hungry to reach my goals is SUCCESS.
Most of my big goals are kind of long term - meaning, there is going to be a bit of a journey to get there. Generally reaching that next level means you're going to be stretched both psychically and mentally, so don't sweat about failure. It's cool and part of the process.
To make the bigger goals more achievable, try to create little goals on the way. Whether that's a rock project or a training goal, break it down.
For your project, maybe try and do all the moves on your project individually, then try to link sections together. Next, try to link overlapping sections together, so you can do every move into one another. This way you ensure that you learn all the body positions correctly. At the end of each session look back and see what you have learnt and accomplished.
If you are like me and have a full time job and other life commitments, you are probably not going to have enough time to keep to an all encompassing training plan. Therefore, make your train goals specific to what you want to achieve. There is no point being able to do a muscle-up for your slab project. Again, break down your training goals. For instance, say you want to do a one arm pull up. Break it up into sections, breaking the straight arm, pulling up through the shoulder, 90 to full lock. Each session work on a little element of the one armer and then try and put it together. Again, reward yourself when you can do each little section.
I think by being able to measure continual little bits of success, you are able to keep a positive mindset and not get overwhelmed by the bigger goal. I also think it's kind of applicable to most of what live throws at you.
One thing is for sure, dream big. If you want it enough, you will figure it out and the world will align to help you out! Keep hungry!
~ Dan Turner
"Putting together this edit had me reminiscing of drier days spent among the boulders. In this one, I climb "Sesame Street," a very Squamish-y test piece, complete with bizarre slopers and powerful moves. Andrew Mckean finishes off his biggest project to date and first V10, "King Kong," only 1 week after climbing his first V9! Lastly, we discover a new crag of incredible quality just minutes from the road!
~ Mason Pitchel
Header photo credit: Keegan Pearson
Trip report and blog post by Dan Turner of Highball Productions
Ticino is the Italian region of Switzerland, situated in the South of the country. It is home to some of the best granite in the world. Most of the main Swiss bouldering areas seem to be located here including Magic Wood, Brione, Cresciano and Chironico. All these areas offer something thing slightly different and unique however there is one thing in common, they all have world class lines.
Brione has got to be one of the most scenic places you will ever climb. It's hidden away, high up in a traditional Swiss mountain valley. There is a real varied feel to Brione. Some boulders lie next to the beautiful alpine river, others are tucked away in the woods, and some sit proud in the meadows. This means there is a variety of different styles as well - from smooth, friction dependent, slopey affairs, to steep powerful edge battles to teetering slab test pieces.
Brione is in the Ticino area of Switzerland, situated in the south towards the Italian border. It is your typical Swiss mountain village, ripe in cultural and history, with iconic old stone built houses and stunning views. It also happens to be home to some of the best granite in the world, creating some of the craziest shapes and boulder problems, collectively providing a pretty amazing climbing experience.
We have been going to Brione for the last couple of years. The area is relatively small compared to its peers, Magic Wood and Chironico; however, you never seem to run short of boulder problems to keep you from planning your next trip. The style of climbing varies from steep powerful edge climbing to friction dependent slopey river blocks to amazing technical slabs. Therefore, if you plan your climbing days you can climb several days on. The area is packed full of world class boulder problems from the 'General Disarray' to 'Black Mirror Slab.' This video illustrates some of the lines that kept us entertained for a week at the beginning of November.
Thinking about planning a trip?
There isn't a guide book or a huge amount of information on the area, your best starting place is: here and doing some searches online to watch videos of problems your are interested in. There is a guide book, but it is slightly outdated; don't get too angry with it if you get lost trying to find your way around - it's the most confusing place on earth because every boulder looks similar! There are several places you can stay in the local villages but van life is a popular option.
It sounds a bit frustrating not knowing the ins and outs about the area, but it can be quite refreshing, exploring the area for yourself and finding these hidden gems. You get a good feeling of how it must have been like to discover the place. Brione is also within 1 hour drive from both Magic Wood, Chironico and Creseciano so you can combine it with those areas to make an amazing trip!
One word of warning: the area is quite sensitive. Climbing is accepted in the area and welcomed, but there are restrictions in place (more info here). Just be aware that you are basically climbing in someone's back garden.
A hillside of giants and another hardcore bouldering mecca of Switzerland. It seems all the legends have left a test-piece for generations to come. Big Paw, From the Dirt grows the flowers, Insanity of Grandeur just to name a few. The majority of the boulders are house sized, balancing on a steep hill side. Generally speaking, the climbing is steep on positive edges, giving one a good work out if not used to this style of climbing.
Here is a an example of bouldering you might find: