As the spring of 2023 arrives, I can’t help but reminisce. Three years ago this spring, the world felt like a very different place. It was the beginning of ‘the pandemic’ and we were all unsure about … everything. After two weeks of lockdown, all the climbers in the world began to lose their sanity a bit. That is when Andrew Abel reached out to me and asked if I was interested in sneaking out to Nordegg for a bit of development and top rope ice and mixed climbing. We wanted to be respectful of any burden we might place on emergency responders and keep the risk to a minimum, but we needed to get outside.
Sometimes accessing a new route is … hard.
A new route and a new partnership were formed through those trips. Andrew and I made three or four trips out west and soaked ourselves under the flow of a melting ice climb. We were having a great time bolting a new mixed climb to the right of the ice climb ‘Nothing But The Breast’. Nate Johnson joined us for at least one of these trips. It was fun, as we would access the top of the route by climbing the famous ‘From Nordegg With Love’ via ferrata with massive backpacks. We would rappel into the route and get drenched to the bone while smiling and climbing and bolting. Those were some great trips.
We would access the top of the route by climbing the famous ‘From Nordegg With Love’ via ferrata with massive backpacks. We would rappel into the route and get drenched to the bone while smiling and climbing and bolting.
A new Route, and new partnerships
The route was finally ready for an attempt and, as was typical, Andrew stepped up without any hesitation and with great focus. Andrew claimed a first ascent, but it looked hard, he just squeezed it out. I had no choice but to dig in and follow his act. We both climbed the route clean and the route Breast Is Best (M7+) was born. To this day, I don’t think we published the route as it was clearly established in the middle of lockdowns and we were not looking for any publicity.
The mixed route was a great outcome. More importantly Andrew and I realised that we had something special together. We had clarity, likeness of mind, and a willingness to try really hard while pushing into unknown places. It was time to find a sunny slab and try our new partnership against some bigger challenges.