Single tear for Ontario

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It’s been a long year and we’re all itching to shed the masks and hit the road, or jump on a plane for anywhere not in North America. Luckily, those of us in the Bow Valley have mountains, rivers and crags to play on, most being world-class destinations. This past week alone, I rock climbed at a sunny sector, ice climbed on a north face, paddled a river and skied on sunny resort slopes with thousands of people. Shoulder season rocks.

Like many people in the Bow Valley, I’m from Ontario, born in Scarborough and raised just north of there. I grew up in a melting pot of urban sprawl on the doorstep of Canada’s biggest city, but only an hour away from the dense boreal forest where cottage country exists. Weekends were spent waterskiing, fishing and hiking, while weekdays centered around metropolitan life, busy highways and packed pubs.

Say what you want about the province, but I’ve always loved the diversity, adventures, culture and vast expanse of wilderness dotted with rarely-visited lakes. Not to mention, there are thousands of amazing rock climbs from Kingston to Milton to Sudbury to Kenora.

So, like many, at least those who don’t call it “onterrible,” I was bummed when my family was told they couldn’t leave home, again. The out-of-control Covid-19 situation is ugly and everyone is suffering from the lockdowns. I’ve stopped sharing photos of the good times out here in the mountains because I could see them crushing the last shreds of stoke my buddies had.

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The six-week stay-at-home order in the “heartland province” seems to have everyone confused about whether they can head out to recreate or not. From 1982 to 2020, every license plate said “Yours to Discover.” I grew up being told that the ultimate outdoor experience was at your fingertips, you just had to reach out and grab it.

But Ontario has cancelled backcountry camping permits for this spring and summer – like come on. Tell your Ontario family to move west if they can, it could be the decision that saves their sanity.

Ontarians have been coming to the Bow Valley for over 100 years. Mount Louis is one of my favourite summits. There are no trails to the top, so it’s a true climber’s peak. You won’t run into punters stumbling around with bear bells up there, just a big iron cross, soaring ravens, amazing views, and sometimes another climber.

There are a lot of climbs on Louis, including the famous Kain Route, first climbed in 1916 by Conrad Kain. It’s around 500 metres of trad climbing up to 5.6. It might surprise you to find out that in 1929, it was free-soloed by Roger Neve, a visiting climber from Ontario. It was one of the first rope-less ascents of the tower.

Thank your lucky stars that you’re in Canada’s Rocky Mountains during this pandemic. And do what you can to support people in Ontario, they need the love right now.

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