Vic is our climber of our 22/23 Team FBC. She grew up in the West Kootenays where she discovered her passion for climbing. When she is not sipping a Campout West Coast Pale, she is probably hanging on a rope somewhere in the mountains.
Read all about her beginnings as a climber, what challenges she faces and what goals she wants to fulfill in 2023 in our second episode of our Team FBC interviews.
FBC: You are the climber of Team FBC and one of four Fernie locals. When did you first get into climbing?
Vic: I grew up in the West Koots and had a high school teacher in grade 11/12 who ran an outdoor program. We had three trips that we did through this program and the last trip was always going to Skaha (Bluffs), which is just outside Penticton. So, I just tried climbing for the first time there. Then, when I went to university, there was a climbing wall so I got involved with the climbing community.
It’s been like over 10 years on and off, and ever since I moved here four years ago, I met my two really good climbing partners, and I really dived right in.
FBC: For all the rookies out there, could you quickly explain the different types of climbing?
Vic: Sure! Bouldering is the easy one. You don’t need ropes and it’s shorter, and closer to the ground. You use pads, so if you fall, you don’t hurt yourself. The College of the Rockies (in Fernie) has a little bouldering gym which is open twice a week, that’s where I train too. But the stuff that I mostly do involves ropes.
When you’re top roping, the rope’s already up for you, which is a good way to check out new areas or if you’re new to climbing, that’s definitely the way you would start out. Top rope is in the discipline of sport climbing where you only have to bring the rope up with you, and bolts are already in the wall, and everything’s already there. You just clip into the wall as you go.
Then there’s trad climbing where there’s no bolts in the wall, and you have to bring your own equipment and plug your own pieces of gear into the wall. That’s kind of a bigger subdiscipline and where you start getting into alpine climbing as well. It’s very expensive and heavy to bring bolts and bolting gear up into the mountains, so often you have bolted ankers to make things easier, or bolted repels for getting down bigger routes.
FBC: What is your favorite climbing area and your favorite climbing route?
Vic: The local one we go to is Lakit Lake. It’s just outside of Cranbrook, north of Fort Steel. It’s only a two-minute walk in, with a higher concentration of harder routes, so we go there a lot! But I also have three trips planned for Squamish and two trips to the Bugaboos twice this summer as well.
Which means I’ll get to do all types of climbing – hard sport climbing close to home; multi pitching and trad; then big mountaineering which involves a lot of hiking, which I’m not good at.
FBC: How do you train in winter?
Vic: This is my first winter training because my climbing partners who are much stronger than me are training and I’ve got to keep up – while recovering from a nerve injury in my glute.
This winter I do lot of the physio, squats and one-legged squats and plunges, a lot of mobility training, continuing to try and work on this injury. Last year when we went to the Bugaboos, I really couldn’t do very much, because by the time I got up there, I was just destroyed from the leg and couldn’t walk. And then I’m doing heavy lifting to try and work on good body tension and building some more muscle. I hang board multiple times a week for physio for my fingers because I’ve had a lot of finger injuries. And then bouldering, usually once or twice a week and going to ARQ in Cranbrook once or twice a week as well.
FBC: What are your goals for 2023?
Vic: I want to get more confident on 5.12 and I have some vague ideas for Lakit. With all this hip physio, I’ve lost the ability to do certain moves very easily. I don’t have anything that’s super calling to me, but I do want to get more confident with trad. I’m not sure yet, but I’m thinking it would be really cool if I could send ten 5.10.
I don’t like to talk about it online a lot, but I am very scared of being on lead, when I’m bringing the rope up the wall, and I used to have panic attacks climbing. I still get afraid, but I’ve got much better realizing what’s going to trigger me to get that afraid and working in my comfort zone and slightly outside my comfort zone. So, I think the bigger thing isn’t necessarily where I’m going or what route I’m doing, but how much time and effort it takes to train the mental aspect.
FBC: Any advise to anyone who wants to start climbing?
Vic: They should come out to the College. People are very friendly, and they have ladies’ night once a month. Don’t be afraid to climb with people who are stronger than you because that makes you a lot better. If you can find someone who knows more than you, be nice to them and try to learn as much as you can. I’m very grateful to have met the people that I have met in my life and I have lots of friends everywhere who climb and it’s very inspirational.
That’s it! Just go to the bouldering gym, have a good time and be nice to yourself, because it’s hard!
Massive thanks to Vic for sharing her passion with us! Be sure to give her a follow on Instagram and check out which amazing route she is sending next: @vic.fearless