I apologize in advance for the long post.

The majority of rock climbers freak out when they hear the words homemade or free solo. I like them. I like climbing too. I live in the prairies. Prairies have no rock. I still like climbing.

After being introduced to gym climbing two years ago, i got the bug. The problem is, gym climbing cost $. I then started climbing trees last winter. That was interesting. I found these two old 6mm polypro ropes in my dads garage (originally bought for tying canoes to the roof of a minivan from Canadian Tire), some of that “general purpose” yellow nylon cord, and two steel quicklinks, and thought to myself, wow, i got me some quality climbing gear. So i went off, put a monkeys fist in one rope, heaved it over the lowest branch of a large poplar, tied a swami with one of the ropes, and spent the next 45 minutes trying to prusik up ten feet, then did a (painful) body rappel down.

My methods slowly evolved, the Peavy Mart screw links were replaced by black diamond ovals, the yellow cord was replaced with 7mm accessory cord, and the painful swami was swapped out with a harness i sewed myself on my mothers singer. Although, my crazy-fast munter rappels did give that garage rope a severe beating.

I climbed like that for several months, aiding my way up every tree in the park, but then realized that as long as i can loop my rope over the next branch, i am guaranteed to reach the canopy. Enter free climbing.

So, then i start using aid only to reach the first branch, and tow my garage rope up behind me so i can rap down. This is super cool, i am much faster, can move more freely, and just feel like as soon as i start moving on a vertical plane, not a whole lot else matters.

As i become increasingly comfortable in the vertical world, i move to the underside of branches, essentially, long overhanging routs filled with jugs. This is too fun.

Soon, i convince a friend of mine (also climbs at the gym with me on occasion) to come try out this “extreme tree climbing). So, i tie him a harness out of 1” webbing, and we top rope an overhanging branch that i set up before he got there. The two of us have been wanting to take up sport leading for a while now, and so i tell him about this thing called a “dynamic belay” and how you can reduce impact forces by letting yourself (as a belayer) be lifted up several feet by the leaders fall. He thinks this sounds cool, so we try it out. We left the top rope set up, but had him climb up about 15' and then gave 5' of slack, and he jumped. Everything went perfectly. I was lifted up 5' and he didn't even feel the catch it was so gentle. So, then i wanted a turn jumping, so explained to him what he needs to do, then went and did my jump. We kept on doing this for over an hour, steadily taking bigger and bigger falls, on my garage rope.

I miss the technical part of rock climbing, but don't want to be limited by height deprived bouldering walls, or top ropes that were placed by someone else, so I have taken to buildering. I climb on a few low routs on my school, and some larger ones on the backs of buildings where i won't be seen. I have a few multi-story routs that i have scouted, but am waiting for warmer weather. With the likelihood of camping near some large rock this summer being high, and my dad's growing concern for my life, i have replaced my well loved (worn out) garage rope with a quality 10.5mm dynamic rope (although all forseen buildering will be sans rope), my munter with an atc, and i am looking for a replacement for my home-sewn.

What I mean by all of this, is that it doesn't matter what you climb, where you climb it, or how you make it to the top. What matters is that you are out there, living in the vertical.

just climb it