Thursday evening the Alpine Club of Canada’s HQ in Canmore was filled with laughter and lively stories. We gathered in the spirit of camaraderie to raise money for Michelle Katchur Roberts’ campaign to compete in World Championships in Italy this month. Michelle is a Ski Mountaineer with the Canadian Ski Mountaineering team (henceforth “SkiMo” as the other is just too much of a mouthful!) and not only will she be representing her country in the International Ski Mountaineering Federation world championships, but along with her team mateKylee Ohler, will be one half of the first all-Canadian female team to participate in the Pierra Menta.
The evening of wine and storytelling featured a selection of local adventurous ladies who shared some of their escapades from days gone by or recent events. Mountain author Lynn Martel kicked off the evening by taking us on a adventure to New Zealand and her first (and only) brush with bungee jumping. Her long hair flowed side to side as she animatedly painted the picture of her travels along the treacherous roads they traveled to reach the site of the jump. The scene was set, and the path laid for the others to follow.
Up next was Amy Puzey, a born-and-raised Canmore local who last year finished first in the Grizzly Ultra Solo Women’s division. She took us on an adventure from her traveling days in the lofty peaks of the Himalaya. With a different style from Lynn, Amy held the crowd in raptures with mouths agape with the series of unfortunate events that unfolded, and ultimately led to memories that will last a lifetime.
Moving back to Canada, Jane Whitney re-defined the phrase “bear encounter” for me through her many tales of different encounters with different members of the species. From waking up nose to nose with a black bear in her tent (minus fly-sheet!) on the Canadian West Coast, to managing hungry polar bears in the high Arctic, it really put my stumbling across one on a trail in Kananaskis into perspective! The bears in this region are significantly smaller than those on the west coast and in the arctic, and Jane has certainly had her fair share of encounters! The biggest take away from this talk was how each encounter is different, and each depends on the character and mood of the bear at the time.
Following Jane’s talk it was time to re-fill the wine glasses and mingle. We held a silent auction and handed out door prizes thanks to generous donations from many local businesses:
Glasses refreshed, we reconvened for part two of the evening which started off with Joanna Ford who kept us in awe with the account of her challenges in the aptly – named Sinister Seven . As a goal-driven individual, the completion of this race (at a whopping 100 miles) in less than 20 hours was one of her goals for 2016. If this piques your interest, you can read the full account here
After hearing Joanna’s dogged determination in the face of great adversity, I was beginning to wonder how Karen Messenger was going to follow on! She soon showed me! Fresh of the win from the Banff – Lake Louise Loppet, Karen kept us in fits of laughter explaining the origins and escapades of Team Super Woman. Following disappointment at not making the team to compete in Europe, she decided to turn that into adventure and go herself! She enjoys racing in costume, and so she won hearts and minds in Europe competing as Super Woman – a master class in how to get a crowd behind you on your solo endeavour!
Lynn Martel finished up the evening with a return to the mountains that we know and love here in our own back yard. The biggest impact the evening had on me personally was that, no matter how far and wide you adventure, the best and greatest adventures happen right here in the Canadian Rockies. The overwhelming feeling leaving the evening was how wonderful and fortunate we all feel to call this place home, and how much love we have to share this all with our friends, families and visitors. It was great to spend an evening talking about crazy, wonderful mountain women and the cool things they get up to!