Limitless – Climbing the Seven Summits

Written by Laura Bridgman for CLUBLIFE Magazine.

In November 2011, Dave Albano won the 40+ division of the Calgary World Health Games with his highest brag being an age group high 405 lbs. weight in the three-repetition max squat.

An impressive feat, but Albano’s sights are set much higher; on average they are 6,189m higher. The 44-year-old is on a mission to climb the Seven Summits, the highest mountains on each continent. He’s already tackled two of them: Kilimanjaro in October 2009, and most recently Aconcagua in January 2012.

“I was fortunate to win the World Health Games,” said Albano. “It was part of my training for the three weeks I spent climbing Aconcagua. My training also included regular gym workouts, and climbing at least a mountain a month, which was an easy task with the Rockies in our backyard.”

With a go-big-or-go-home attitude, his next Seven Summits challenge will be Denali in Alaska.

“It’s my goal to climb Everest by the time I am 50, but I need more high-altitude experience. Denali is a lot more technical than the two I’ve already done.”

If climbing mountains weren’t enough, Albano has tied charitable endeavours into each summit.

“I climb for kids,” said the father of two. “I fundraise for an organization called Little Warriors that focuses on the education and prevention of child sexual abuse. It is close to my heart because my wife is an incest survivor. We are trying to raise $1 million to create Be Brave Ranch, a sanctuary of support and hope for these little minds, so they can go from just surviving to thriving.

“Our goal is to change the conversation around child sexual abuse. Look at Theo Fleury; he is still going through the trauma of what was incited upon him. If the conversation about abuse was open, and not a taboo subject, not hidden or buried in a closet somewhere, but one where kids could openly approach adults and come forward, it could change lives. Those who are victimized can go to Be Brave Ranch to get tools, and gain life skills and developmental progress to show them there is a better life.”

It didn’t start this big. His first mountain, a dormant volcano in Japan, ignited a passion in climbing that hasn’t dulled in almost 20 years.

“There wasn’t much thought to that first one; I climbed it on a whim,” said Albano. “When I got to the top, I was standing above the clouds and looking down on my accomplishment and felt the power of that, and the energy, and camaraderie of accomplishing that with friends. It was life-changing.”

Since then, he’s travelled to 40 countries in six continents, climbing as he goes.

“There are so many transferable skills I can bring into my own life,” said Albano. “Think of the climbing analogies like reaching your peak potential or one step at a time. How does one get up a mountain? I never know how, but I know exactly where I’m going, and I know my objective is the summit. I then commit to that decision and figure out how to get there along the way.”

He continued, “with climbing, like any task, as long as you have the tools, the experience, the mindset, the preparedness, it’s not as daunting as it seems.

“It’s about the power of potential and believing in our unique abilities. We really are limitless.”

Never climbed a mountain, but want to try? Dave suggests starting with Sulphur Mountain in Banff. The steady grade hike will take about three hours and provide breathtaking mountain views. If you’ve used all your energy to get to the top, you can take the gondola back down to the base.