Youth: Outward Bound Mountaineering School in Keremeos, B.C.

Crevasse Crossing

I’ve been sorting through stuff.  This afternoon, I was looking for a missive I had written some years back about the Woolen Mill and finally found it.  Interspersed with ‘stuff’ was this photo and I have to say that it represents one of those moments that I will always think of as ‘magical’.

I trained for a year to be ready for Outward Bound, this particular 30 day course in 1974, outside of Keremeos B.C…it was my first year of teaching and I submitted my application at the beginning of the year.  By June, I was running ten miles in hiking boots and was in my personal top form.  This was 31 years ago!

The photograph represents one of my ‘hang-ups’.  Everyone, in 30 days, had some sort of hang-up and this was mine!  The crossing involved dropping forward, across a wide open abyss 500 feet straight down…reaching out my hands to grab onto the rock wall and then, using core strength, bringing my body across.  Of course, I was on belay, but the rope didn’t give me the confidence that I needed to REACH OUT and DROP FORWARD, not for ten slow and agonizing minutes.  My toes clung to the inside of my hiking boots.  I remember the feeling as though it was yesterday.  As Liz called out, “Drop forward, but don’t look down!”, what do you think I did?  Uh huh!  Well, in the end…someone took a shot of the moment and I’m so grateful that they did!  For me, it was momentus!

A long while ago, I had someone print a photo from the slide that was shared with me and so you see the imperfections…but there was no way that any of us had the capacity and equipment to take and edit zillions of digital shots along the way…not ‘in the day’.  I am so grateful to have this simple reminder of a day shared with nine other Canadians atop a beautiful mountain.

‘Not I, nor anyone else, can travel that road for you. You must travel it for yourself’ 
Walt Whitman, Song of Myself

8 thoughts on “Youth: Outward Bound Mountaineering School in Keremeos, B.C.

      • I was a kayak instructor in Keremeos OBMS in the late 80s as an 18 year old. It was a pivotal moment in a young mans life. Truly a magical and memorable summer on the Similkameen river. It seems so long ago I question if it was really me.

      • Did you know an instructor named Liz? I would love to track her down. I did my course in 78 and pulled out backwards from an eddy while receiving instruction on how to get through Devil’s Gulch. Liz rushed out into the center of the river and shouted to punch like hell, when she turned back to the group. I punched like hell and made it through the rocks and white water, unscathed. Lol

      • I recall a small British woman of about thirty or so, an engineer with an oil company I assumed in Britain who dropped it all to live a very different life working at OB. Very strong cockney accent. Charming. Its possible her name was Liz. A man named Adrian ran the place and seemed to be about mid fifties at the time. The lady I am referring to was an excellent kayaker. She was able to eskimo roll without her paddle, just using her cupped hands. Unreal.

      • I think I have a photo of her in my archive in this post. I’ll look. But, yes, you are describing her voice. She had strong shoulders, but was very soft spoken. I’m sad that I have lost names/addresses of the participants and also misplaced the big group photo. I’d love to see that.

      • I do not recognize anyone in these photos so I think we are talking about different people. It was after all about 15 years from your coarse to my arrival in Keremeos if I understand the timeline correctly. I am glad to have run across your article. A thread that runs through us both and a few others it seems. I suspect others will comment in the years to follow.
        I too have forgotten names that would love to look up but time has taken them from me.

        Your art is wonderful by the way. Good luck to you.

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