By Jack Newton
Our editorial staff at Where Canadian Rockies have been writing about the 11,000-square foot climbing gym at Canmore’s Elevation Place since the facility opened two years ago. Everyone at the magazine was eager to try the wall (up to 45 feet high), and the occasion of our 2014 staff Christmas party gave us the opportunity.
Two experienced climbers in our group opted to climb on their own, while the remaining eight joined a private group lesson arranged by Where associate publisher Glenn Miles. Elevation Place instructors Brian and Mike showed us how to secure our harnesses and ropes, and to safely belay.
It was time to tackle our first route. We formed groups of two, and one person ascended the wall while the other managed the rope so the climber would be safe if there was a stumble. We conquered easier pitches rated at 5.6 in short order, and soon we were challenging ourselves on routes with difficulty ratings to 5.10. One pitch included a ledge we could scramble onto for a break before continuing.
All around was a hive of activity. On the wall (and operating belay systems) were moms and daughters, teenagers with friends and climbers in their 60s. Everyone in our group was having a blast, so much so that our one-and-a-half-hour lesson extended to two hours. Our instructors Brian and Mike didn’t seem to mind.
After climbing, we greeted the brightly lit CP Holiday Train at its Canmore stop and enjoyed the music of Jim Cuddy and friends playing atop their unique boxcar stage. Then the party moved to Where general manger Warren Mackie’s house for prime rib dinner served with good wine and plenty of seasonal cheer.
Best wishes for a wonderful holiday season!