About Angela Bargen

Blue bird ski day

I first fell in love with the mountains when I was a child.  We didn’t live anywhere near them but twice a year, my parents would load all three kids into the car for a road trip to the coast.  We drove through the Canadian Rockies on the way.  I recall pressing my face against the car window, trying to see the as much of the trees, hills and mountains as I could.  The landscape was so wild and natural.  Beyond the road, I could see no buildings or any signs that humans even existed.  I was mesmerized.

When I was about twelve, we were on a family vacation in the Canadian Rockies.  After a long hike through a beautiful forest, we came to a meadow with a picnic table and a tent.  I was surprised to see a tent because there wasn’t a parking lot anywhere nearby and I couldn’t imagine how it got there.  When a young woman came out of the tent, I asked, “where’s your car?”

“It’s back at the trailhead,” she said.

“Then how did you get here?” I asked, looking at the tent.  She explained that the tent, sleeping bag and everything she needed to stay out for the night fit into her backpack and she had carried it in from the car.  I was shocked.  My world shifted.  This meant that if I could learn to backpack like this young woman, I would be able to walk into the mountains for days, not just hours.  

I looked around at the peaks and the spaces between the peaks as I imagined hiking far into the wilderness, finding secret, quiet places that people rarely saw.  The possibilities filled my imagination.

Fifteen years later, I was working at an accounting firm, my first job after university.  My husband at the time and I were looking to move to a new city where he could get a job and I could transfer with my firm.  We narrowed down our choices to Vancouver and Calgary.  Both were near family and almost as importantly, near mountains.  We settled on Calgary as housing prices were more reasonable at the time.  I recall driving out to Calgary through the mountains, thinking the entire area was like a huge playground and feeling so excited to start exploring.

But my passion for mountain adventure took a backseat while I built my career and raised two sons.  Fortunately, I worked for a great company that appreciated my efforts and rewarded me amply with bonuses, raises, stock options and a healthy pension plan. I learned to save and invest this money to build the wealth I needed to quit my job, stay home with my two sons and live off my investments.

Fortunately, investing doesn’t require nearly as much time as working “full time plus” as I had been.  Retiring young gave me the opportunity to really start learning how to ski and climb.  I would drive out to the Lake Louise Ski Resort for their Ladies’ Program or head to the climbing gym to practice climbing while my boys were in school.  As my boys got older, I spent more time in the mountains on guided programs or with a mountain guide learning rock climbing, ice climbing, alpine climbing and backcountry skiing.

Nowadays, I get a lot of time for mountain adventure.  I climb rock and ice, I ski in the backcountry, I scramble up mountains, and yes, I’ve learned to backpack and spent weeks out in the wild places, seeing no people for days.  I’m pleased to report, it’s even better than I imagined it would be when I was a child.

This summer I’m looking forward to more multi pitch climbs in the Canadian Rockies, completing a project to climb every 5.10 sport climb at Moose Mountain, practicing trad climbing and completing my first trad alpine climb without a mountain guide.  

But winter’s not over yet.  Somehow in the Canadian Rockies, we manage to have a lousy snow year with very little to ski but still have high avalanche risk.  There’s still ice climbing and not all ice climbs are threatened by avalanche risk.  I want to lead some more WI3 this year and really dial in those skills.  Maybe I’ll get a chance to climb a multi pitch ice climb before the season ends.  Read more about my ice climbing here https://angelabargen.com/ice-climbing/.

I’m thrilled to share my adventures with you here, on my website.  If you’d like to know more about how I save and invest money so that I don’t have to have a job and I can fully indulge my love for adventure, visit my Personal Finance page here https://angelabargen.com/start-here/.  I hope you enjoy browsing my website and please feel free to leave a comment.  I’ll respond when I’m back from the mountains.

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