Category Archives: Ice Climbing

As Good As it Gets- Howling at the Moon


I had some profound refections yesterday that I want to hold onto.

I am in Colorado, tomorrow I compete in the 20th Annual Ouray Ice Climbing Competition. I just spent a week in this neighbourhood with my boyfriend Tim McAllister enjoying some classic ice and mixed climbing in the San Juans.

Mostly my life is awesome, I just don’t realize it some of the time.

I am very goal oriented and I often have to remind myself that the ‘Joy is in the Journey. Its a mantra I use on long belays, arduous approaches and when falling off my project.

A few days ago I had a really low day emotionally. I caught a very brief glimpse into the world of mental illness and depression.

I was aware that I was having “stinking thinking”, but I still was seduced by its dirty and naughty ways. Luckily, I managed to just pout my way through the day, rather than having a full wobbler (temper tantrum).

In hindsight, I attribute this insanity to several things:

1. Full MOON (my favourite)


The Werewolf inside

A friend of mine directed me to a website called the Power Path that called out strong energy around this recent full moon:

Beware of potential conflict when differences in opinion are activated and beware of blame that can occur around personal disappointments. If you find yourself in anger or argument, shift towards a neutral discussion. If you find yourself irritated or impatient, move that feeling towards acceptance and just “let it go”.  If you find yourself lethargic or depressed or strangely emotional, move toward gratitude and anything that raises your frequency.

2. My addiction to hard movement. I was working a route where every move felt strenuous and required my brain and body to work hard. On this particular day, I was on an easier climb and I almost felt like a junkie not getting my hard drugs, having to just get by without! crazy!!! I really don’t like this one!

3. Expectations. I had some high expectations on this day and there were many challenges logistically, etc that slowed us down and made the day more work basically. I also felt the pressure of the upcoming competition and performing at a high level ALL the time.

3a. Beginner’s mind (a lack of). This ties into the previous one, but its super important. My first time on a route or in a new area, I am full of gratitude and low/no expectation. I approach everything with a beginner’s mind. This is a rewarding way to enjoy the journey and I want to bring this mind to old projects and routes, etc.

FINALLY, I just realize that despite all my goals ( there are a lot of them, there always will be, and new ones will fill the place) THIS is AS GOOD AS it gets. THIS is IT! we are living the DREAM. We are healthy, able, loved, eating good food, breathing clean air. What an opportunity to travel the world, climb, compete, meet passionate climbers. Feeling the support of loved ones, etc.

Despite all the pressures and expectations: I APPRECIATE where I am at TODAY. This is as GOOD as it gets. and its better to realize it NOW than when its gone!


Resting between Burns. Faking it. These ARE the good times. They aren’t around the corner. They are RIGHT here, RIGHT Now! oowwwwww!



Filed under Friends, Ice Climbing, Multi-pitch climbing, Sport Climbing

We did it! (athletes, family and friends…)

Team Canada representing at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia

Team Canada representing at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia

I was in Sochi from Feb.14-24 with several other athletes from all over the world. The countries that were represented by ice climbing athletes were:

Russia, Canada, USA, Japan, Ukraine, Switzerland, Germany, France, UK, and Iran. The Venue in the Olympic park, coastal cluster was sponsored by a major Russian Bank called Sberbank. There were three stations/exhibits:

  1. A place for learning knots, signing your name in a guest registry and taking your photo in front of rugged mountains using ski or snowboard props.
  2. A 60ft high tower with refrigeration and frozen ice on 3 of the 4 sides. These panels were insulated with a foam curtain if the sun was directly on the panel. Amazingly,   despite +20-30ºC temperatures, the ice wall was open almost every day for the public to try ice climbing. Hundreds of people each day, lined up to give it a swing.
  3. A demonstration by the athletes of their physical prowess climbing overhanging panels onto dangling “ice cubes” – see photos!

Everyday we would meet with the public and talk about our sport of ice climbing, belay at the ice wall and take a lap or two on the ice cubes.


The spectators loved learning about ice climbing!


Nae Yagi of Japan, demonstrating competition style ice climbing.


the station for learning knots like the figure 8 and your common noose 😉

ice cubes jo

me, giving the ice cubes a whirl


Alexey Tomilov showed us how the Russians do it

A big highlight of attending the Olympics was connecting with the other athletes. The Russians were open and friendly, we spent more time getting to know each other than we do at the World Cups where the stress and intensity of the competition prevails. I was especially inspired by Zohre and Masoud from Iran. They have improved so much despite coming from a country with not much ice. I hope to visit them one day 🙂


Zohre crushing the demonstration


An inspiring team from Iran


Looking from the coastal cluster to the mountains!

I also visited the Mountain cluster to watch/blink at the bobsled with my Mom, we also watched the Canadian women win gold in curling.

My mom, Cheryl and I at the curling rink

My mom, Cheryl and I at the curling rink called the “ice cube”

For the Canadians, the Canada Olympic House, provided a refuge of comforts like beer, wine and a healthy lunch or dinner. We also watched the gold medal hockey games, met athletes and shared Canadian Pride with the family and friends of the athletes and Olympic sports. I did my best to spread the word of ice climbing to the other visitors of the house and convince them to come try ice climbing at our venue.


Canada Olympic House, a refuge of good food and friendly canucks!


Watching hockey at the Canada Olympic House

Watching hockey at the Canada Olympic House

We were filmed by CBC and CTV, as well as NBC and many other countries’ networks.

Here are some links:

After Sochi, my mom and I enjoyed a couple days in Saint Petersburg, here are a couple photos of this beautiful city.

mom sp

The gates to the Winter Palace and The Hermitage


The Russian Ballet


No shortage of amazing architecture. This is called The Church of Our Saviour on Spilled Blood.

I then flew to Ufa for my final World Cup competition. I came 12th in the competition and 11th overall in all the world cups. The reason my overall ranking is higher than my individual placing is because not all athletes compete in all the competitions. Generally, the more competitions you compete in, the higher your ranking. My ability to compete in 5/6 of the competitions is because of my fundraising. Nonetheless, I am in the top twenty female athletes competing in this sport in the world. I am grateful to of been able to pursue this passion over the past six months (training, fundraising and competing). I am also especially grateful to of promoted the sport of ice climbing.


Cool format in Ufa where the athletes climb 5 routes for each round, qualifier, semi-final and final

Learning new tricks!

Learning new tricks!

During my time in Sochi, I came to my own realization about what the olympics are about. The olympics in the media appear to exist for economics. In my opinion, the most valuable (and rarely discussed) benefit of the Olympics, not unlike religion, is to inspire, create and guide people’s lives. These sports give individuals and their families and friends purpose and meaning to their lives. Olympic sports create not only excellence in humans in the physical realm, but in a spiritual and social way of life, as well. They provide a structure by which many of these families can contribute to society and connect.

Its unfortunate that we measure the value of the olympics only by dollar figures instead of individual and community well-being.

Spectators were really excited by seeing and experiencing ice climbing.

It is really unclear what the process is for whether a sport will be in the olympics. There are no longer demonstration sports. For ice climbing, both Russia and Korea are big supporters of the sport. The next winter olympics, 2018 will be in PyeongChang Korea.


There was a lot of support at these olympics for “x-games” type sports like the slopestyle and snowboarding- it doesn’t seem so far fetched that ice climbing could be the next addition.

The cool thing about competition ice climbing is we can create the structures in the middle of big cities like Manhattan or Toronto. The spectators loved watching the excitement.

The competition format in Ufa russia allowed 5 climbers to climb at once in the difficulty portion. Please see this video showing the men’s final. Hopefully it gives you a taste of how exciting it can be.

I am so so so grateful for the opportunity to compete in and promote ice climbing in the past few months.  I couldn’t of done it without every single donation big or small. I especially want to recognize the constant support by my mother Cheryl and my boyfriend Tim.


with gratitude and love,  jen

Thanks to my equipment sponsors:

MEC, LaSportiva, Petzl

and ACC for the administrative support.

Also, a shout out to Gordon McArthur who introduced me to the quote below and this crazy game of World cup ice climbing.

“So many of our dreams at first seem impossible, then they seem improbable, and then, when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable.”

–Christopher Reeve

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Filed under Friends, Ice Climbing, inspiration