Rock guide author finds support from Jasper
Just when Francois Laplante thought he had topped out, the climber and soon-to-be-published author finds himself lifted even higher.
The 24-year-old has seen his Kickstarter campaign surpass its goal of $5,000 in less than one week. He originally planned more than a month to raise enough funds to publish his Jasper rock climbing guidebook, Northern Exposure.
“I can’t believe it,” he said while at his kitchen table, the same spot he described, illustrated and GPS-marked more than 500 routes to be featured in the book over the past two years.
Perhaps Laplante shouldn’t be surprised. Local rock jocks, climbing bums and gear shops have supported his endeavour to pen a complete Jasper rock climbing guide since the idea first struck him. They were the same folks who welcomed him with open arms when he first started showing up at local crags, on sojourns from his post with the military outside of Edmonton.
“I got lucky enough to meet some locals who showed me all the good climbing,” the 24-year-old said.
Subsequently, he quit the army, dedicating all his time and energy to the book. The more he learned about Jasper rock, the more he realized how bountiful—and unappreciated—it is.
“There was so much more out there than I realized,” he said.
And now it’s all in his book—or at least it’s on his laptop until he can raise enough money to send the 272-page document to a printer. To keep costs down yet retain control over the publication of Northern Exposure, Laplante is electing to self-publish. The full colour book will feature hundreds of striking photos, detailed maps, drawings, historical nuggets and GPS tracks describing how to access the full slate of Jasper’s sport, alpine and bouldering routes.
“There’s never been a book on Jasper done at this scale,” Laplante said.
For two years Laplante gleaned information from every local rock climber he could meet and then scouted, sketched and measured every route himself.. Knowledge keepers such as Dale Didduck, Peter Amann, Sean Elliott and Cyril Shokoples, to name a few, bestowed their rich repository of rock information on Laplante before the younger climber would go out in the field.
But getting to know the crags was only part of the process. He received Jasper history lessons at the museum, taught himself how to use desktop publishing software and got a sense of the demand for the project from a key market group—Edmonton climbers.
“Those climbers from the city will be the main clientele for this book,” he said.
Some may balk at revealing Jasper’s hidden gems, but the idea of opening up the area’s excellent climbing to “the masses” is farfetched, Laplante said. He believes that sharing the knowledge will spread climbers out, not crowd them in. Furthermore, the chances of more crags being discovered and developed will increase with exposure to new climbers, he figures.
“There is such huge potential here,” he said. “This place could have twice as many routes as it does.”
Before that happens, however, Laplante is still looking for funders. Find his Kickstarter campaign online.