Saturday, December 12, 2009

From one extreme to the other

Feeling great after my few days up North I logged on to catch up with news on the web and my heart sunk. Guy Lacelle, the Canadian ice climbing guru, had died in an avalanche at the Bozeman ice climbing Festival.

I bumped into Guy over the years on the festival circuit and had the privilege to share a rope with him for a couple of days ice climbing in the Canmore region. His skills as an ice climber were truly the stuff of legend. Aged 54 he'd racked up an incredible list of first ascents and repeats of seemingly every top ice route. Extraordinarily many of those climbs were done alone, unroped solo. Name a world class ice route and it's quite likely that he had soloed it Hydenfossen, La Pomme D'Or and The French Maid all tough grade 6s for example.

Guy would often work through the summer as tree-planter so that he could climb for 60-80 days each winter. I climbed with him at the beginning of one of his mammoth seasons and it was notable what a calm and cautious approach he took, wanting to build up a base of moderate routes well within his ability, to fine tune his "feel" for the ice. Guy reminded me of both a master craftsman with his deep love and understanding of the medium, and of a high-dan martial artist in his humble respect and dedicated preparation. By mid season this dedication would yield phenomenal results such as his solo enchainement of Terminator, Sea of Vapours and The Replicant in 5 hours.

But Guy will be remembered by those who knew him not just for his climbing but his exceptional qualities as a human being. Softly spoken he would draw you in with his warmth of spirit. During our short time climbing I appreciated his generosity and support as I was feeling my way (i.e. climbing badly) on moderate routes, down playing his own efforts to raise my confidence. Guy made many friends where ever he went on his extensive travels around the world in search of the perfect line. He will be deeply missed by the whole ice climbing community.


Will Gadd said...

Nice Ian, thanks for that! Long live the idea of Guy!

PeterZ said...

Couldn't have said it better. His family will be in my prayers.