Jessi, originally from Saskatchewan, currently lives in the Canadian Rockies, a premier destination for world-class climbing, alpine adventure and scenery. Jessi is a mountain hiker, climber and scrambler who loves to explore her new home and push her limits on every trip.
Her advice for preparing for longer climbs? “Lot of rest, a lot of pizza and a positive attitude.” Sounds good to us!
How did you become interested in mountain hiking and climbing, and how have they positively affected your life?
Being from Saskatchewan, the only climbing opportunity that was dished out to me was … wait for it … trees! So you can imagine when my mother frantically searched for me, she’d keep her sights on the tree tops. Becoming a committed mountain climber came much later in life when it was sprung upon me in Spain. Two years ago I picked a lesser known region in Spain to live so that I could learn Spanish by daily living. It was actually a date during my first week there that I was invited to go to a little dive bouldering gym! That quickly became my second home, and the boys became not only my Spanish teachers and climbing coaches, but basically family. I spent the next 10 months in bouldering fields! After my return to Canada I moved into the Rockies and quickly fell in love with getting on the ropes and feeling the breeze way up high.
It’s literally affected my life in every good way possible. The lessons it taught me in Spain were completely different than the ones here in Canada. Bouldering and alpine climbing are two different worlds! Spain taught me a lot about the community of climbing. We’d spend full days watching each other boulder and taking our turn encouraging one another. In the beginning, I didn’t know how to sit still and I’d feel like I needed to go for a run while I was between climbs! I learned patience and the importance of community with climbing. Alpine climbing in the Rockies taught me about trust and confidence. There’s no room for doubt when you’re run-out on a cliff, and there’s no better feeling than believing in yourself doing something you never would have fathomed a year ago. On top of that, the bonds I’ve created with my fellow partners will resonate forever.
How do you train and prepare for your climbs?
Does eating pizza 6 days a week count? In reference to training, I spent my winter in the climbing gym doing lead climbs repetitively and when the weather hit 4C or higher, I was out at the crag. While going into summer I thought I was going to be an avid sport climber, I got one taste of the alpine and committed myself that way. Often I’d spend my 1 or 2 days off doing a really big day, that I’d be so beat the rest of the week I’d maybe just do one other multi-pitch. The key to preparing for my longer climbs was a lot of rest, a lot of pizza and a positive attitude.
Living in the Canadian Rockies must be an amazing experience; there are endless opportunities for adventure year-round. What are some of your favorite outdoor activities, and where are they located?
It’s crazy for me to think that growing up just one province over, it had never occurred to me that I could live here! I’ve been here almost a year now (8 months longer than planned) and am 100% confident that I’ll never live far from mountains wherever in the world I end up! I absolutely loved late spring because it was warm enough to do lots of crag climbing, but got major snow dumps to keep up the snowboarding as well! I remember a few times where I’d climb, snowboard, and work all in the same day. How can we be so lucky to do that here!
This past year, being my first here, was basically my introductory to mountain life. I’m still learning new places everyday so I haven’t picked out any “go-to” spots yet. I’m just enjoying the constant exploration! When I’m not up on the snowy tips climbing, I enjoy getting out to a lake or park to do acroyoga and slackline. I got to practice my sitting stances on a couple insane highlines and due to my commitment to alpine climbing this summer, I didn’t get to pursue it this season. I definitely enjoyed walking park lines and flying into yoga poses though! Scrambling was another new one for me and I’d have to say that scrambling ridges puts me in the happiest place in the world! The exposure, good holds, and thrill is what makes me feel alive. This coming winter season I haven’t decided which mountains I’ll live in, but I plan to pursue tour skiing, continue snowboarding, and get into ice/mixed climbing!
What are some of your “bucket list” adventures?
In Canada, definitely climbing Mt. Robson in the next couple years! I aspire to try some cliff climbing in Croatia and Greece next fall (or maybe this year?!). And, of course, Patagonia is on every climbers bucket list! If I showed you my bucket list for local climbs in the next couple years, you’d probably feel like you’re reading a novel.
Who do you look up to in the travel and adventure industry? How do they inspire you in how you live your life?
To be honest, I don’t spend a lot of time reading and scrolling through social media unless it’s local. All of my inspiration comes from friends in the Bow Valley! Instagram has been an awesome source for me as I would follow other scramblers/climbers and pick out climbs they did that stood out to me. Most of my friends I’ve met through that outlet, all beginning with a bit of social media creeping and asking them to partake in an adventure! I’ve just recently started watching more films and documentaries about climbing expeditions so I’m sure my list of role models will grow. For now, a big shout out to all my climbing partners from this past year because they are truly the ones who inspire me the most. Both myself and my main partners all started our first trad/alpine climbing season- there are no words for how incredible it is to learn it together!
What are some of the best stories from your travels and adventures?
I swear everyday has been so funny that I can’t even pick ones off the top of my head. From summit dance offs, to scree face-plants, the alpine is never a dull moment. Even the moments that sucked, are funny later on. I’d have to say my favorite camp out was up on a ridge back in May. I met a new friend through Instagram because we realized we both had cow suits and a passion for puns. After I fell asleep in my tent in a cow costume, I woke up to a bright sky. Within minutes the entire sky exploded with green, purple and pink! It danced in every direction, and we literally rolled around laughing, crying and screaming at the northern lights (still in my cow suit). I’ll never forget how magical that sky was and how ridiculous it would have looked if someone was filming me.
Another special day was Mt. Assiniboine. When I had asked my friend months ago if I could come (before I had any alpine experience), he discouraged it, implying I should wait. But, as the date got closer and my experience had grown, I got the invite- only to be short lived when the park got shut down. Literally 3 days before our trip, it unexpectedly reopened and we were on our way. It was my first time in mountaineering boots/crampons and crossing a glacier. It was my first 5th class “scramble” with snow, and one of the best climbs I’ve ever done.
We at This Adventure Life want our readers to live life fearlessly in the pursuit of living their ideal life. What would your advice be for someone who wants to live fearlessly and pursue their wildest dreams?
I still find it crazy that just 11 months ago I was still learning how to tie a figure 8 knot, and now I’ve been up on the dreamy Matterhorn of the Canadian Rockies. Everything about this year has been a gift! My advice is, don’t compare your journey to anyone else’s. Do what makes YOU feel alive, and if you aren’t quite sure what that is, then wake up with an intention everyday to keep trying something new. I can’t say it enough, we literally have one life to live (unless I’m wrong, then next life I choose a mountain goat!). I have a thing where if I’m struggling with a decision, I picture myself as an elderly lady reflecting on my life. If I think that I would say “I wished I had tried that” or “I wish I gave that a chance”, then I do everything in my power to make it happen. My goal is to live with intention, live without regret, and don’t let your dreams pass by. Your timeline is YOUR timeline, it doesn’t have to line up with the books. Look back only at the good moments or the lessons that got you where you are. Now point every bit of your energy to making the present so positive that your future memories line up with your dreams. Now go get it!
Where is your next big adventure?
The next big one starts in 2 weeks! I’ve decided I’m not quite ready for winter so I’m headed to the sandy beaches of Spain and Portugal. I’m returning to the wonderful crew that first got me climbing! The rest of my trip is open ended but I’m hoping to stop in Slovenia and Croatia to climb as well. There will be acroyoga and paragliding in the plans!
Follow her on Instagram: @gloria.outdoors
Check out her blog: gloriarhodes.wordpress.com
At This Adventure Life we celebrate the lives and stories of the people who live life fearlessly. #livefearlessly