Welcome and Intent
Welcome to explor8ion! I hope that my adventures can inspire you to complete your own – whether they are following my footsteps or creating new ones of your own. Despite seeming like a bit of a ‘brag fest’ – this site has 25 years of content and grew from very humble beginnings. I love hiking, climbing, skiing, scrambling, canoeing and many other outdoor pursuits. I also love taking photos, videos and writing blogs about my adventures. I do all this work so that someday I can look back and relive my many adventures. I love sharing my pursuits with others and love inspiring people to go beyond their comfort zones but this isn’t my primary mission in life or even the primary goal of this site.
I make no claims about being fitter, faster, more prolific or any other comparison metric with others. The hubris of self promotion is not something that I’m interested in. I simply do what I do because it gives me pleasure to do it. That’s it. No agenda, no lists, no goals, no side hustle, no grandiosity. When I feel like doing a trip, I do it. When I feel like posting a GPS track, I do it. Pretty darn simple, and simple is what I like best.
This site has always been public and free for all to use. That will likely continue but it could change at some point for a variety of reasons. A lot of folks don’t realize it, but this site costs me hundreds of dollars per year, all paid out of my own pocket. Yes, the annoying Google ads pay for some of it but not even close to the full amount. I’m happy to do this for my passion but again – likely not forever! Don’t panic, I’ll make sure to give everyone notice of any site closures or major changes before they happen – assuming the universe grants me that luxury of course.
How to Use Explor8ion
Let’s explore how you can get the most out of this site because with over 920 peaks, hundreds of hikes, dozens of canoe trips and tens of thousands of images, the sheer amount of data is overwhelming. Unfortunately it is becoming increasingly difficult to manage and present all of my many trips in an effective and easily digestible manner. Here are just some of the most efficient and sensible ways to view all of my data.
- If you’re just browsing around, take a peek at my top 10 page – there’s a lot to check out there
- If you have an area in mind but are unsure of trips I might have done there, check out my trips plotted on Google Maps and color coded by type
- You can see all my trips by their date in descending order or by the areas that they are located in (i.e., banff, kananaskis, tinda etc.)
- Another handy way to view trips here, is to look at them by effort and type of trip (i.e., hike, scramble, ski etc.)
- I’m constantly updating older trip reports with new maps, video or updated photos
- I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out the search feature – using either the small side bar on the left or the main search page
The exciting summit ridge of South Twin Peak.
Standard Disclaimer and Safety Tips
This is your standard disclaimer so that I don’t get sued when you follow one of my tracks or reports and get yourself into trouble. Use this site and the beta contained therein at your own risk! The author makes no claim of authority or relevance of any of this drivel on the successful outcome of your trip. Mountains are a dramatically changing landscape and routes that I plotted over 10 years ago might look and feel completely different today.
Please carefully read my difficulty ratings and know what I mean by them. Always travel prepared for the conditions and terrain you’re on. Just because I didn’t use a rope on a glacier does not mean you shouldn’t. Conditions, personal risk profiles and stupidity levels are different for each and every one of us. I know I don’t wear my helmet enough for example. Wear a brain bucket – the Rockies are doing their best to fall down and often they wait until you’re around to do it.
The Relative Unimportance of Fun (and this site!)
I’ve written on this topic before, but it behooves me to point out that none of what is documented on this site is very important in the grand scheme of things. I’m not really making the world a better place – you could argue I bring attention to areas that don’t need any more human feet than they already get. Of course, in the end what is the point of any of it? There isn’t much. I recognize this as the great comedy called ‘life’. No matter how big you climb or how many peaks you summit, there is always going to be someone faster, fitter and more accomplished. There’s always more summits. There’s always more hikes. In the end this is all just entertainment for people like us with enough time and money to enjoy ourselves on the weekend and destress from our regular lives.
Some basic facts about me that may or may not explain some of what you read or see over the decades of trip reports. I grew up on a small family farm in southern Manitoba – about as far from mountains or even hills as you can get! I was raised in a very strict Calvinist religious sect and grew up with a correspondingly strict and limited world view. I moved to Calgary in 1999 and my first mountain was Ha Ling on a work trip. I was immediately hooked. I didn’t know it at the time but over the next 20 years the freedom of the hills would slowly work its way into my whole life and eventually set me free in many ways I never thought possible.
I have always struggled with my weight and have a borderline eating / body dysmorphic disorder. My weight fluctuates terribly and mountains have always been the one way that I can somewhat regulate it – although eating always wins out in the end. I chuckle at well-meaning folks who think exercise is an automatic way to stay slim – I am living proof that it is most certainly not! I have managed to gain weight while exercising ridiculous amounts. The mountain community is certainly not immune from folks with eating disorders and body issues. If you thought you were alone in this fight – you are not.
I am a hiker that dables in alpinism, rather than an alpinist that hikes. I wish it were the other way around but it’s not. I never had the luxury of wandering the world when I was young. I got married and started a family in my early 20’s and have always had to work to support them. All my mountains and trips were done on top of a full time job while raising my two wonderful kids (Kaycie and Niko) with my even-more-wonderful partner (Hanneke). Sometimes the things you love have to suffer for the people you love. In case you’re wondering, Hanneke and I were childhood sweethearts and have been together since we were 13 years old which is pretty darn cool, I think. Although my family is the joy and ultimate priority of my life, I’d be lying if I said it was always easy balancing their needs and my burgeoning passions for adventure and explor8ion. When the kids were young and we were a single income family there were many tough days trying to balance the two. Now that both my kids are done college I will have more time to pursue some of my other life passions. Hanneke won’t do sketchy scrambles with me, but she’s game for canoe trips which is pretty great.
That’s enough about me for now. If you want some more of Vern’s philosophy you can check out some of my articles;
Feel free to reach out any time to discuss anything you read or see on my site or to ask me questions or make suggestions.