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Barb Clemes

First Canadian Women's Team to Successfully Climb Mt. McKinley

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Barb Clemes: First Canadian Women's Team to Successfully Climb Mt. McKinley

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Barb was a member of the first Canadian women's team to successfully climb North America's highest peak, Mt. McKinley. (Denali) Barb and partner Ann Campbell of Scotland, did the first female ascents of many of the Rockies greatest frozen waterfalls. Setting a high standard for Canadian women rock climbers, Barb was the first to climb the difficult grade of 5.12, both before and after having a baby. As a member of Canada's National Sport Climbing team, she competed on the World Cup Circuit from 1989-1992. Barb is one of only a dozen women who are members of the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides.

Barb has accomplished most of this while balancing a career and a family. With a B.Sc.(P.T.) from the University of Toronto, Barb works as a Physical Therapist in a sports injury clinic in Canmore, Alberta. She and her husband are currently enjoying the challenge of raising their young daughter.

Barb is enthusiastic and articulate. Her adventures have taught her about setting goals, taking risks, facing adversity, working as a team member, and about commitment. She has participated on panels and on radio as a spokesperson for women adventurers. One notable interview by CBC Radio's Peter Gzowski took place while Barb climbed the frozen ice of Banff's Cascade waterfall. By tailoring her style to corporate, youth, or female audiences, her talks are enjoyed by such diverse clients as Canadian Pacific Railway, Alberta Treasury Branch, Petro-Canada, Mobil Oil, Centennial Academy in Montreal, Branksome Hall, Toronto, Oracle Corporation, and the Whyte Museum of Banff. An inspiring slide show highlighting Barb's achievements accompanies this motivating presentation.
Changes and Choices:  Mastering our Fears
Fear in climbing as in life comes in many packages. Fear of failure, fear of what other people think, fear of change, fear of the unknown and fear of choices. Fear could rule our life. - but have courage......
As Mark Twain said "Courage is not the absence of fear but the mastery of fear". This is never so clear to me as in ice climbing where fear constantly hovers around me. Decisions must be made within seconds, or minutes and the success of the endeavour and the ultimate success, your life, may depend on it. There is a constant need to evaluate the reality of the situation, real fear, based on real objective danger, and real fear, based on lack of confidence, unclear goals or cluttered focus. Ice climbing is one way I feel the fear, and continue on to overcome it, or back off and analyze if that was an appropriate decision - and learn from it. 
Balancing our life:  Priorities and Focus
Clarity of the goal helps to create the focus needed to achieve; to set up priorities and to use them to make the often difficult decisions needed for balance, commitment and achievement.
Mt. McKinley (Denali) One mountain, one summit, one goal. -but many paths, and many challenges along the path. The ultimate, simple clarity of the goal keeps me on track, helps me keep important detail handy, and clear my mind of irrelevant, extraneous clutter.
World Cup Competition -  One competition route, one chance only - when you fall that is your high point, and there is no second chance. The intensity of the focus, facilitated by the clarity of the goal allows me to give 100%.
Self imposed Limits
I have seen the potential of a shared vision with a team, small as in rock climbing or larger as on a mountain. The opportunity exists over and over again to combine skills, drive and enthusiasm to discover just how far you as an individual can go, just what your team can achieve. Discover your strengths, stretch your limits, and realize your dreams.
Achieving Big Objectives Through Small Steps
I have seen the value of small goals that sustain my energy and motivation as I invest the time need to achieve my greater objective. Each progressively more difficult achievement is one step beyond your previous experience. Soon that big objective is just one step away.
I didn't start on vertical ice, overhanging rock, and north face solos. That would have been overwhelming and probably fatal. Climbing taught me to begin with what I could manage, and make each new goal slightly harder. I found that each small triumph stimulated me to dream big and one incredible winter I had a dream: a legendary ice climb, 2000 feet high, 200 stories of ice, only climbed by the hard core ice climbers of the era. Never by women. That was my dream...and I began with the local easy climbs and just headed upwards.  
Attaining Personal Goals Within Group Goals
Barb has learned through her climbing, the power of combining the vision and the strengths of individuals within a team. While pursuing group goals, the opportunity is created to discover, develop and achieve the potential of each individual.
Mt. McKinley (Denali)
-One woman had the vision, the organizational skills
-One had the determination and clarity of goal to stand fast through the storms
-One had the skill to keep the team members communicating
-One had the skill to keep the team members laughing

We each wanted the summit, we each had different skills, and strengths, some of which we didn't even know until we were put to the test. Four individuals struggling to respect not resist the diversity. Together we could achieve far more than alone.
"Barb's presentation meets or exceeds all my previous experiences and for our event was perfect. We needed someone to reinforce - challenge, breaking goals into steps, personal readiness and choices, personal growth, value and challenges of team."

"Barb gave a presentation that left all of us - teachers and students alike - feeling stimulated and empowered. Her talk focused on setting appropriate personal goals and identifying the qualities needed to achieve them. By showing slides and recounting her own experiences in mountaineering, she captured the audience's attention and was able to illustrate her theme most effectively."
 Branksome Hall

"The learning’s gained through your mountaineering accomplishments and shared with us through your excellent slide show and discussion were both applicable and inspirational. In particular your emphasis on breaking goals into manageable steps, the importance of clarity of both personal and team goals, mastery of personal fears, acknowledgement and celebration and success along the way and your emphasis on continued personal learning and growth are of particular value for us in our current work environment. Last but not least we also greatly appreciated and enjoyed your warm, empathetic, down to earth and humorous way of engaging the entire group."
Apex -Canadian Pacific Railway