Climbing out of Edmonton | By Shaun Weston Nystrom

I WAS ALWAYS CONFINED TO MY CITY, a complete city slicker. Growing up in Bonnie Doon, an older neighborhood in southeast Edmonton, was comfortable. I barely left. Lately I’ve been confined to the campus culture that comes with obtaining an undergraduate degree. I study hard, eat at the same food places, cut through the same buildings and head the same way home each day.

Sure I had visited many of the world’s largest metropolises but the daily routine of the city, our city, had left me stagnant. That was until I got the call on a chilly day last March from Percy Marshall. Percy is one of the most eccentric and interesting people I know. His curly blonde hair bounces with excitement as he spits out his latest one liner or spins around on his little BMX bike (Percy is one of the world’s top flatland BMX riders).

“You want to go for a hike this Saturday? See you there!” His message left on my voicemail seemingly implied that I would say yes.

I had never been hiking before. It simply wasn’t something my family did. As a child, my father a, national drag racing champion, spent a lot of his weekends racing while my mom, a banker, wasn’t keen of the backwoods. Later in life my parents would drive me to arenas around the city and everything outside the city seemed irrelevant.

After telling Percy I was indeed in for the hike, we drove nearly 3 hours west to Jasper first thing in the morning. The overpowering pyramid shapes dwarfed our car as we grew closer. Sharp points capped with snow changed to diverse shades of grey near the mid section with a green base of trees. I was in awe.

I figured we would be hiking to the base of the grey section of a mountain. As we began the hike, I was informed “that we are climbing up there.”

“Up there?” I questioned, pointing towards the flat face of mount Roche Miette.

After hours of climbing, sweat poured down my face. My arms and legs were absolutely exhausted.  We had reached the peak. I slammed my right fist into the wall of ice. A crack formed in the oval shape of my fist as frozen water compressed beneath my knuckles. I repeated the same action with my feet.

My toes, encased in the cheapest boots I could find the night before, smashed through the wall of white.

Water sure looked different 7000ft in the air. Months ago a flowing waterfall, this narrow vertical pathway was now my step ladder to the summit.

I pounded my left fist into the wall, a foot above where my right hand was.

My back muscles tensed and knotted laces formed beneath my skin. My biceps contracted, sending sharp signals towards the tips of my fingers, my weight now hanging solely by my arms.

My breathing slowed as my focus increased. Peripheral blur began to direct my vision. Using all of my effort I swung my right leg above the waterfall’s top. I pulled my exhausted body upright.

I had made it. 7500ft.

As I looked out above the mountain range’s expansive peaks, I wondered…how do I bring this feeling back to the city?

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  • Trevor

    Awesome. It’s a bit of a drive for me, but I’m still keen to go hiking with you guys, provided it is a safe and easy ascent.