I was first introduced to rock climbing when I was 15 years old; in a semester-long Outdoor School Program called EarthQuest.
On the day we were introduced to rock climbing, the teacher asked “who wants to rappel first?”
Even though I was relatively shy I volunteered to go first.
How coincidental that I was the first to try climbing so long ago – and now it’s my job!
After high school I moved from my home-town in the Okanagan to the city of Vancouver to attend College.
It didn't take me long to figure out that College wasn’t for me - I fell asleep in class like every day!
Fortunately I met a guy around this time who was just getting into rock climbing!
Jesse and I began climbing together indoors, building our love for the sport and each other with each session.
We soon moved to Squamish to follow the alive feelings of rock climbing.
He was a successful entrepreneur and was able to work remotely and support us both financially so we could climb more together. I was pretty lucky!
I decided to drop out of College and follow the good feelings climbing gave me.
Leaving the certainty of college caused tension between my family and I; it scared my parents and they didn’t understand what I was doing with my life, and neither did I! But somehow it felt right. and I continued on this alternative path.
Jesse and I spent 8 years together on the road; getting the most of the Canadian climbing season and enjoying almost every single bluff on the West Coast.
We spent most of our time in Skaha, Squamish and the Rockies. And during the winter we relocated to Montreal to stay fit at the amazing climbing gyms there.
A couple years into the whole climbing thing, I had the vision of becoming a Rock Guide.
I didn’t see how it was going to be possible for me… because even though I climbed a lot, I was a super nervous leader! So I shelved the dream for a while.
Years passed and I continued to rock climb, wondering how I was so lucky to be living this unique climbing-dream-life.
As his girlfriend and main climbing partner, I didn’t have work obligations; other than to focus on climbing. So I had the unique opportunity to focus solely on rock climbing.
I trained and climbed and ate healthy and read books. It was any climbers dream, and I appreciated my life all the time.
It was odd though, because I knew my dream wasn't to be an elite climber – pushing grades was never my reason for climbing. And with the timid mind-set I had, I didn’t think I could be a guide. So how did I end up here, what was the point?
In the summer of 2014 I had several extreme experiences in the mountains that shook me up.
They were so scary I swore I’d never climb big mountains again.
Somewhere inside me I understood that these experiences were signs for me to step away from climbing for a while.
The message was clear; get your mind right!
After eight years of full-time climbing, I needed a break. So I did what any self-identified climber would do in crisis; I left climbing and attended a Spiritual School!
Deciding to split from Jesse and rock climbing was hard. But I vowed I would not go into the mountains until I was more stable. So I sought stability.
I wanted to develop myself in other realms and take care of aspects of my life I had been neglecting in the pursuit of climbing.
To help me ease into the life stuff I decided to learn about meditation.
One of the lessons I learned from the Spiritual School was the idea that;
“there is always another way”.
Applied to rock climbing I realized that there must be another way to navigate the vertical world.
I realized that the scary experiences I had in the mountains didn’t have to be that way; that there was a better way; Knowledge was available to make mountain travel more safe and efficient.
This led me to attend rock climbing school; a formal rock climbing education with the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides.
After a couple of one-day specialized clinics, I decided I wanted to go deeper.
I already had a background in teaching to groups; I’d taught yoga and fitness for several years. So I took the Top Rope Climbing Instructor Course and Exam.
The top rope instructor course was the perfect introduction the rock guiding industry.
With these ACMG experiences I learned more about anchors, rope management and rope rescue.
After the course I felt more empowered and was eager to share what I learned with others who were looking for the same.
After a two seasons of teaching as a top rope climbing instructor in the beautiful bluffs of Penticton, I applied for the Apprentice Rock Guide exam.
I was really nervous for this, but deep in my heart I knew it was the right move. Something internally was inspiring me to pursue the full rock guide exam, even though I hadn’t been climbing nearly as much since I had taken time off to develop myself.
After being accepted into the program I returned to Squamish to prepare.
I had more instruction opportunities in Squamish which I enjoyed, and from there I began to meet other guides in the industry.
Finally it was time for the springtime course portion of the apprentice rock guide process.
Each day we learned so much – I was like a sponge. I felt like I was at the right place at the right time. It was the perfect challenge for me, and I was thriving.
But then things took an unexpected turn…
Right in the middle of the ARG course Jesse died.
I was shocked. I couldn’t believe the timing…
I owed the very fact that I was in the course to Jesse! And he passed away right in the middle of it.
I didn’t know how I was going to continue with the Apprentice Rock Guide course, I felt emotionally drained. But I knew Jesse would WANT ME TO CONTINUE. I knew that he was so proud of me for following my dreams of becoming a guide – he wanted me to succeed.
So I pulled it together and made it through the course.
That summer I practiced rope rescue, solidified my physical endurance, and worked on my mind state through meditation and spiritual readings.
I focused, prayed, practiced and preserved through it all; balancing a job, preparing for the exam, taking meditation courses, building my small business, and grieving the loss of my climbing partner.
Finally it was autumn and time for the exam; and I was ready.
The experience was dream-like; living something I once deemed impossible for myself felt amazing.
I had overcome doubt in pursuit of inner inspiration - that is a cool feeling.
Weeks after the exam, the results came in.
I took a deep breath and opened my e-mail in the middle of a parking lot.
Congratulations, it said – Freya, you’ve passed your rock guide apprentice exam!
It really was a happy moment in my life, and it felt so wonderful to share the experience with my family. My parents were so supportive of me through the whole process. And I certainly showed Silent Gratitude to Jesse for all I learned from him.
I’ve now been a rock guide apprentice since 2017 and have had some wonderfully fulfilling work days.
My favorite mentor in the game has been Russ Turner in Skaha; I’ve never met a more dedicated, kind-hearted, hard-working person. The lives he has touched is innumerable! What a gift his teaching has been for so many.
Rock climbing is such a deep experience, and to be a facilitator of that feels like part of my purpose in life.
I have a unique ability to connect with people so they feel seen and heard in their totality. I also have an intuitive ability to know where people’s comfort edges are, and support them to expand their boundaries in a safe environment.
That’s the gift!
Climbing is a practical experience of taking calculated risk and moving through fear – which is a skillset that can be beneficial to the success in all areas of life.
I love how my training in yoga, meditation, positive psychology, physical training and nutrition, all work together in my delivery as a rock guide.
My experience working as a guide with the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides is a dream come true --- and it’s only beginning!
I appreciate all of my fellow guides and the climbing community, and my vision is for all of us to work together in harmony to create the best educational platform for the people who climb; to empower the people who climb to feel supported on all levels.
It’s my greatest honor and duty to serve the public interest and provide empowerment through education.