It was 1:33pm on May 16th and I was still working my last full time job in the Durham veterinary clinic, ambling along between treatments and doctor’s requests. The screen lit up on my phone sitting inconspicuously between the AVMA magazines and Pill Pocket treat bags. I did not think anything of it- probably a text message or a What’s App alert from one of my overseas friends in our group text. The AAC had said they would announce the winners of the Live Your Dream Grants by May 15th. As it was May 16th, my hopes of being chosen had died with the setting of the sun the evening before.
I finished drawing blood for a heartworm test on an oversized German Shepard, deftly puncturing the rubber vacuum of the lavender-colored collection tube with the tip of my 23-gauge needle and expelling the sample. I twisted off the hub of the syringe and reached to throw the dirty needle into the sharps bin, offhandedly glancing over at the lit screen of my otterbox enclosed iPhone 6. The Gmail icon was visible in the top left corner along with the first few lines of an email. “Congratulations! You have been awarded a 2016 Live Your Dream Grant from the American Alpine Club!”… I almost stabbed myself with the needle.
Trying to hide the excitement on my face with a giant swig of coffee, I disposed of the needle, picked up my phone and deftly crept down the hallway to the office, forcing my legs to walk slowly. I closed the door behind me. My favorite clinic cat Truffles plopped down from his sunny resting area in the window and rubbed up against my legs. It was just me and him to absorb the unrestrained energy now flowing freely from my body.
I typed in my passcode and pulled up the email, heart beating out of my chest. The sender read Jeff Deikis, manager of the AAC grant program. I double checked that MY email was the one actually listed in the recipient line. I forced myself to breathe and reread the opening passage. “Congratulations! You have been awarded a 2016 Live Your Dream Grant from the American Alpine Club!….”
The Live Your Dream Grant
A friend on Facebook had first brought the grant to my attention back in March. The deadline for submitting an application was April 1st, so if I wanted a chance at receiving a grant I knew I would have to act fast. The Live Your Dream program is a yearly grant allocation provided by the American Alpine Club, the most popular climbing club in the country, in part supported by The North Face. Its purpose is to help climbers of all ages and experience levels grow and push their limits by providing funds for selected expeditions they find the most interesting and challenging. In exchange, the chosen climbing teams have a year to complete their goals and provide trip reports back to the AAC so that the organization can then choose to publish them online or in their magazine, further alluring readers and enticing the climbing world.
The first step for me after deciding to submit an application (it doesn’t hurt to try, right?) was to establish a big climbing goal in a remote destination. My climbing partner (also my boyfriend) hit the guide books searching for the perfect route. We were both drawn to the immensity of
the Bugaboos in the Purcell Mountains in eastern British Columbia, Canada. Their vast granite spires and undulating ridges attracted us like miners to gold. He originally conceived the idea to summit the Northeast Ridge of Bugaboo Spire, a 10-pitch 1500ft ascent, in one day. The Northeast Ridge is one of the most popular remote alpine climbs in the world, traffic reduced by a long, grueling hike across glacier and rock to the base of the climb. While I was thrilled at the idea, I remember the trepidation that crept in alongside the excitement. The closest thing to an alpine objective I had accomplished was Trap Dike, a 1200ft scramble that involving occasional bouts of climbing in the Adirondacks the summer before. I had never done any ice or glacier travel; I did not even own a pair of crampons. It was going to be a grand adventure.
I submitted my application on the evening of March 31st, just hours before the deadline. It was a very simple process and involved registering as an AAC member then submitting a piecemeal essay within limited word space answering questions about the objective, my experience, and how I would write the trip report. I figured the odds of being selected were slim due to the volume of applications one would expect from such a simple process. I did not actually believe a click on the touchpad of my MacBook would lead me to this moment on May 16th…
I returned from my thoughts and read through the remainder of the message. “Award amount: $400.” Awards ranged from $100-$1000, and evaluating the other recipient’s award amounts I knew earning $400 was a formidable accomplishment this year. $400 was enough to purchase my roundtrip ticket to Calgary and back. Being a seasoned, broke, money-conscious climber, I knew the total expedition costs would be minimal otherwise because our goal involved daily camping, cooking limited supplies over a camp stove, and eating light-weight, high-calorie power gel packets throughout the day. Thank you, AAC! My primary expense of travel was now removed from the equation. WE ARE REALLY GOING TO DO THIS.
Today is May 26th and Jed and I are going to purchase our tickets to Calgary this evening. We have picked our dates and planned out the trip route. Along with the Northeast Ridge, we have decided to embark on a full week-long trip of climbing the Bugaboo classics. I will keep you posted!
Thank You, American Alpine Club!
A big shout-out to the AAC. THANK YOU FOR ALL YOU DO!