I have a PhD in physics with a specialization in Canadian Rockies' choss. I am married with cats, and a physics professor in Calgary. I have a broad range of interests: besides alpinism, my hobbies include ice climbing, drytooling, sport climbing and bouldering.
Birthday? March 4, 1967
Year you first started climbing? Hard to pin down exactly, but let us say 1989. That was when I climbed my first "real" (as in semi-technical, glaciated) summits.
Three climbing achievements you are most proud of?
• I am not sure if this is something to be proud of, but I am happy to still be psyched on climbing (in some ways more than ever) 20 years on.
• More to the point, I am proud to have contributed to the development of mixed climbing and its migration into the alpine. A breakthrough experience in this respect was the first winter ascent of the Greenwood-Locke route on the north face of Mt. Temple in 2004 with Ben Firth.
• Many experiences stand out, but one I am unlikely to forget is the first ascent of the Dogleg Couloir on the northeast fact of Mt. Chephren in 2008 with Pierre Darbellay. The climbing was hard, the weather went to shit, but we still managed to pull it off. It was one of my more intense experiences.
Memory/story of the first time you ever went climbing? Lots of memories, and lots of memories of things going wrong, too. But mostly I remember the excitement of discovery: climbing classic routes for the first time, breaking into a new grade of difficulty for the first time; like the time I climbed Malignant Mushroom in the Ghost River valley for my first WI5 lead. In some ways nothing beats being a beginner.
Favorite climbing area and why? The Canadian Rockies! They have it all: ice, rock, alpine, a lot of it on a big scale and in unspoiled wilderness.
Best climbing experience? Hard to choose, there have been so many. Most recently (2009) pulling onto the summit of Mt. Chephren after a 29-hour single push ascent of The Wild Thing stands out. The summit was such a small part of the experience, but with all that lead up to it, it was pretty special, too.
Worst climbing experience? Hard to choose, there have been so many! But breaking the hanging dagger on Suffer Machine and taking a 25-meter near ground fall must rank high (or low!).
What's your dream trip? Where? With who? I am always dreaming of new trips. Right now I am already plotting a trip in 2011 to a big, beautiful objective in Pakistan with Eamonn Walsh and Dana Ruddy.
Guilty pleasure? Fruitcake and single-malt scotch. Sometimes together.
BD gear you use every time you go climbing? Where do I start?! I always wear my Tracer helmet. Oz draws. Spot headlamp. The new Fusions are fantastic. But if I had to choose one, the ATC Guide would be right near the top of the list.
Something that annoys you while climbing? I am a bit of a perfectionist, and so when I mess up, like forget the Abalakov hooker or bypass a good belay ledge and then take a long time to build a shitty anchor in the middle of nowhere, I take it pretty hard.
What/who inspires you in climbing? People who climb for the love of it, like Guy Lacelle. It is hard to accept that he is gone.
Favorite après-climb meal? A plate of pasta with a glass of red wine to go with it.
Favorite climbing flick? "Touching the Void" for the realism of it. Hollywood's usual take on climbing is amusing at first, but quickly becomes annoying.
What's in your iPod? Lots, including lots of Rammstein.
Strangest place you've ever woken up? A body-width ledge halfway up the north face of Mt. Geikie deep in the Canadian wilderness, on a picture-perfect August morning.
Strangest person you've ever woken up with? My hairless cats would have to be high on the list, but a bearded Ben Firth in a two-person sleeping bag at 6600 m in Pakistan also deserves special mention.
Three things you'd never road trip without? Sandals (Birkenstocks or Tevas, I live in them year round). Books (mysteries, biographies, science fiction). Earplugs.
Superstitions? I rather take pride in being rational and scientific about things, but I have an irrational fear of spiders...
What's your dream job? Being independently wealthy? Just kidding, at least a bit. I am actually quite happy doing what I do for a living, which is being a physics professor.
How are you training when you are not climbing? For lungs and legs, scrambling up local peaks and mountain biking in the foothills of the Rockies. For climbing-specific strength, some weight and campus training, but nothing beats plastic bouldering for specificity. I also do a lot of yoga.
If you could steal one thing and not get caught, what would it be? Time. As cheesy as it sounds, it is one of the few things that is really priceless.
If you could have dinner with three people (dead or alive) who would they be? Richard Dawkins. Voytek Kurtyka. And last but not least, Vera, my wife. I have had dinner with two of the three, so I suppose I am doing well on my wish list.
Do you have any tattoos or piercings? For better or worse, no. I think my wife has enough for both of us.