Saturday, April 21, 2018
The Bow Building
500 Centre St SE, Calgary, AB

24th annual event draws climbers from elite athletes to toddlers to raise funds and awareness for Wild Alberta

Written on April 18, 2015, by

April 18 2015 (Calgary, AB) – A trumpet fanfare by local musician Chris Morrison and a few words from City of Calgary Councillor Gian-Carlo Carra and Liberal Candidate for Calgary-Mountain View, Dr. David Swann, kicked off the 24th annual Climb and Run for Wilderness bright and early this morning on a crisp spring day. The more than 1,200 participants included ten elite athletes from across the world competing in the Towerrunning World Cup, babies in backpacks, Calgarians from all walks of life taking part in a fun Saturday family event, as well as dignitaries including Vice-Consul Lee Wilbur from the U.S. Consulate General and long-time climb supporter Richard Guy, who turned 98 this year.

“The 24th climb and run for Wilderness has been without a doubt the most exciting and rewarding Earth Day Celebration we have had the honour to present. Our newest element, the power hour, was an outstanding success and we continue to spread this event’s reach around the world,” says AWA Executive Director Christyann Olson. “We could not realize this success without the Calgary Tower’s amazing staff and the more than 100 volunteers that bring a vibrancy that is Calgary.”

For the past 24 years the Climb and Run for Wilderness has been celebrating Alberta’s wild water, wild lands and wildlife. This year 1,000 people ascended the 802 stairs of the tower, raising awareness and money – $100,000 and counting – for the conservation of Alberta’s wildlife, wild lands, and wild waters. Event supporters West Direct Courier and The Carbon Farmer have teamed up to plant a thousand trees in northern Alberta, one for every person who reached the top!

This year the AWA and The Calgary Tower were proud to celebrate the addition of an exciting new component to the event – the power hour! This elite event challenged competitors to see how many circuits of the tower (up the stairs and back down) they could complete in one hour. The Climb and Run for Wilderness power hour is the only event in Canada to be recognized as a Premium Event qualifying for the Towerrunning World Cup, the worldwide acknowledged ranking for stair racers. The power hour attracted participants from across Canada, the United States and even Germany. Winners Görge Heimann (the #8 ranked tower runner worldwide) and Veronica Stocker each took home a first prize of $US 500.

This elite component added an appealing new dimension to an event that is already long-established in Calgary, with the first Climb for Wilderness having been held on Earth Day in 1992. Since then the day has grown from a simple ascent of the tower to incorporate 5 athletic events including a 1km road race, a family-friendly “fun climb”, a four-hour endurance climb, a team challenge, and now the power hour. Teams in the team challenge ranged from corporate teams including teams from Suncor, Tetra Tech EBA, and four teams from Cenovus Energy, to family fun-climb teams such as “The Winded Whiners” and “The Young and the Breathless.”

There was also an eco-fair – the Wild Alberta Expo – plenty of music, games and entertainment, and cultural aspects such as a poetry competition and a mural painting competition that have turned the stairway of the Calgary Tower into the “tallest art gallery in the west” with nature themed murals all the way up the tower’s 802 stairs.

There were also more than more than 30 booths transforming the base of the tower into the wild and imaginative experience that is the Wild Alberta Expo, where everyone young and old was able learn about all the groups working hard to protect Alberta’s wild spaces and wildlife.

For more information contact:
Brittany Verbeek, AWA Conservation Specialist  (403) 200-4622
Christyann Olson, AWA Executive Director  (403) 863-2412
Fast facts about the 2015 Climb and Run for Wilderness:
•    $100,000 (and counting) raised for wilderness protection in Alberta
•    Nearly 1,500 ascents of the stairs over the course of the day
•    Over 1,500 people came out to support Wild Alberta, including climbers, racers, volunteers, entertainers, participants in the Wild Alberta Expo, friends, family and other spectators.
•    1,000 volunteer hours
•    20 teams, including corporate teams from Suncor, Tetra Tech EBA, and Cenovus Energy.

•    Fastest racers: Melissa Currie (10 min 15 sec) and Garry Beer (9 min 27 sec)
•    Endurance climb winners: Mevlut Kont (17 ascents) and Joanne Schmidt (15 ascents)
•    Team challenge winner: Team Happy Feet (50 ascents total)
•    Power hour winners: Görge Heimann (from Germany, 5 ascents) and Veronica Stocker (from USA, 4 ascents)
•    Oldest climber: Elek Szabo, 96
•    Oldest racer: Nessie Hollicky, 83

Stair-climbing “Power Hour” Challenges Athletes from Around the World

Written on April 14, 2015, by

On Saturday morning elite athletes will race up and down the 525 vertical feet of the Calgary Tower, vying to become champions of the only Premium race event in Canada recognized by the Towerrunning World Association.

Alberta Wilderness Association (AWA) and The Calgary Tower have invited international top athletes to participate in a “Power Hour.” This Power Hour adds a new dimension to the 24th annual Climb and Run for Wilderness, one of Calgary’s premiere Earth Day events.  During the Power Hour, 13 of the world’s best stair-climbing athletes from Canada, the U.S. and Germany will be competing to see how many circuits of the tower’s 802 steps they can complete in one hour.

These athletes are ranked according to the Towerrunning World Cup. Established in 2009, the World Cup is the worldwide recognized ranking for competitive stair climbers. Events take place from Dubai to Beijing to Vienna. AWA and the Calgary Tower are proud to host one of the premiere World Cup qualifying events, and the only one in Canada.

Participants include Calgary favourite Jonathan Heinz, who last year won the endurance climb event with an astonishing 28 ascents of the tower and went on to compete at the World Cup Final event in Austria. Shannon Magee, another Calgary favourite, will be back this year challenged by 3 other women in the competition for top female competitor.  The event features categories for both men and women, each with a chance to win $500, sponsored by AWA.

A reception for the athletes is being held at the AWA offices (455 – 12th ST NW) from 5pm – 7pm on Friday the 17th of April.

Media are invited to attend both the Friday April 17th reception and the Saturday April 18 event.

About the Climb and Run for Wilderness

The Climb and Run for Wilderness is a premiere community event celebrating Earth Day. It is suited to folks of any athletic ability and of any age from babies in backpacks to 98 year olds. It regularly attracts participants from across North America. We expect more than 1,000 registered participants and in addition many more accompanying parents and supporters to attend. The Climb and Run for Wilderness is a family oriented athletic event which includes major additional components of education about the environment and the creation of public art. A family “fun” climbing event, a corporate team challenge, a 4-hour endurance event, and a serious opportunity to test one’s personal best in the Power Hour are all combined in this Earth Day event. This is the 24th annual climb.

Mural Painting Competition Winners

Written on March 29, 2015, by

On March 28, 2015, AWA held its 13th annual Mural Painting Competition and the judges were met with some very fine work, well worth the wonderful prize baskets the Calgary Tower is providing for the upcoming awards ceremony.  We look forward to unveiling the new murals to the public on April 18, 2015 at the 24th Climb and Run for Wilderness.  Register now for a chance to enjoy the more than 160 murals that grace the stairwell walls.

Elementary Category:  Sarah Baxter;  Landing 13 B

Elementary Category: Sarah Baxter; Landing 13 B

Family Category:  The Two Lagores;  Landing 14 B

Family Category: The Two Lagores; Landing 14 B

Senior High School:  Westmount Wild;  Landing 41A

Senior High School: Westmount Wild; Landing 41A

Adult Category:  The Awesome Twosome; Landing 49A

Adult Category: The Awesome Twosome; Landing 49A

AWA thanks The Calgary Tower and its awesome staff and our judges for their careful consideration and commentary on these new murals.


Tallest Gallery in the West!

Written on March 26, 2015, by

13th Annual Wilderness Mural Painting Competition at the Calgary Tower offers great photo ops and community stories

Mural Painting at the 2014 Competition

Mural Painting at the 2014 Competition, photo credit K. Mihalcheon

On Saturday, March 28, 2015, talented artists of all ages will get creative on the walls of the Calgary Tower’s stairwells as part of the 13th Annual Mural Painting Competition, hosted by the Calgary Tower and Alberta Wilderness Association (AWA).

The murals depict the artists’ visions of Alberta’s wildlife and wild places and will be judged in four categories – Family, Junior and Senior High School, and Adult. Seven teams are expected to brighten the tower’s stairwell this year. With more than 150 exceptional murals depicting Alberta’s wild creatures and landscapes, the tallest gallery in the West is a kaleidoscope of colour. The murals are an expression of the value of wilderness to Albertans and are a wonderful public art legacy for the city of Calgary.

There will be opportunities for photographing painters between 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. Camera crews will need to bring portable lights for filming in tower stairwells as there are no electrical plug-ins.

The Mural Competition is part of the best Earth Day celebration in the West – the 24th annual Climb & Run for Wilderness, to be held on April 18 and the only time the public can view the murals. Participants climb the Calgary Tower’s 802 stairs in support of the conservation work the AWA does to protect Alberta’s wild lands, wild rivers and wildlife.

Read more

Power Hour Challenge

Written on February 4, 2015, by

Do you think you have what it takes to compete with the best? Then why not sign up for our Power Hour Challenge and put it to the test!

We’re super excited to welcome back past Climb and Run for Wilderness champions Shannon Magee and Jonathan Heinz, who took home top prize for the most number of climbs by a female and male, respectively, in last year’s Elite climber competition. (Jonathan also came in 29th at the World Towerrunning final event in Vienna Austria last month, climbing the 779 steps of the Donauturm in 4:51 — way to go Jonathan!)

They will be joined by San Diego climber Zivadin Zivkovic, as well as other top towerrunners from across Canada and around the world.

And maybe you!

Competitors in the Power Hour will have one hour to climb the Calgary Tower’s 802 steps (and then back down again; no cheating and taking the elevator!) as many times as they can. The top male and female climbers will take home a cash prize of $500!

Competitors will also be invited to join us for our meet and greet reception to be held prior to the climb

Interested in signing up for the Power Hour Challenge? You can do so using our secure online web service. Registrations are $150 until February 19, then $250 afterward.


Not quite sure you’re up for something that intense? There are plenty of other events as well that you may be interested in!

The Fun Climb is a great family event – climb up the tower at your own pace and be sure to take in all the murals inside the tower that make up the “Tallest Art Gallery in the West.” Prizes for epic fundraisers, fancy costumes, team spirit and more. $40 to climb once or $125 for any number of times.

The Race for Wilderness is one of the most unique events on the world towerrunning circuit, and an old favourite. Race 1km at street level, then climb up the tower as fast as you can to bask in that warm glow of achievement at the top of the tower as you gaze out over the waking city. $40 per racer.

The Endurance Climb will give you a different kind of work-out as you compete to see who can climb the tower (both up and down!) the most number of times in 4 hours. Come as you are, or gather a bunch of friends together, pull on your climbin’ shoes, and get ready to show Calgary what you’re made of! $150 per climber, or register a team of four for $500.

Click here to register for any of the above events.

Registration is Now Open

Written on January 15, 2015, by

Welcome to the new and improved Climb for Wilderness website!

Registration is now open for the 2015 event on April 18, 2015. We have adopted a new system for registration and fundraising that will make the process more seamless for everyone involved in the event.

Join us in April for the Fun Climb, Endurance, Race for Wilderness and World Towerrunning Premium Event. Visit the Climb & Run page for more details.

Register online and begin fundraising for the event today!

Registrations for the 2015 Climb and Run for Wilderness Will Open in January

Written on December 2, 2014, by

Hello, eager climbers!!

We have some exciting changes in store for the 2015 Climb and Run for Wilderness, including some new and revamped events, and a brand new website!

We can all hardly contain our excitement… but we have a few more details to work out until we’re quite ready for “the big reveal” and to open up registrations for the 2015 event.

We hope to have registrations up and running sometime in January, and in the meantime hope you can sit tight for a couple of more weeks.

If you’d like us to send you a reminder notification when registrations are open, feel free to give us a call at (403) 283-2025, or you can sign up to receive the C4W newsletter — we will be sure to send out an alert as soon as everything’s ready.

Thanks for your interest, and as always, hope to see you on the stairs!

Climb for Wilderness 2014 Wrap-up Report

Written on June 13, 2014, by

As we wrap up another successful Climb and Run for Wilderness, we want to close out the same way we kicked everything off all those months ago… with a giant

Thank You!

Thank you to the sponsors, to the climbers and the runners; thank you to the entertainers and volunteers; thank you to the spectators and the media;thank you to the friends and family and other valued supporters; and thank you to you!

Every one of you was a vital part of the success of the 2014 Climb and Run for Wilderness. There were about 1500 folks involved on the day of the event, not counting the hundreds and thousands of online sponsors and other supporters… and everyone came together to help make this, once again, the Best Earth Day Event in the West!

What a great event!

Here are a couple of highlights and firsts from this year that deserve a special shout-out:

  • Our new partnership with the Carbon Farmer was a great opportunity for climbers to have a tree planted in their name in the AWA forest, gain a little carbon credit, and lend a personal helping hand to maintaining the health of our boreal forest. If you made it to the top of the tower this year but didn’t get the chance to stop in at the Carbon Farmer booth, drop them a line to let them know and you can have a tree planted in your name too!
  • Our Zero Waste initiative was a pretty big challenge for this event and we almost did it! The single bag of refuse was the extent of our garbage; all other waste was composted or recycled! This meant that our diversion rate was 89%, which is pretty close to zero waste; our continuing challenge will be making it to 100% in 2015.Congratulations everyone for participating in our Zero Waste initiative and thanks to Green Calgary for auditing the waste and helping us meet the challenge.
  • Together with our partner the Calgary Tower, a member of the World Federation of Great Towers (WFGT), we participated as one segment of the WFGT Towerrunning Challenge 2014. An amazing 5 hours of endurance racing and 28 repeated climbs of the 802 stairs saw Jonathan Heinz take the Calgary Tower’s prize of a return airfare to Vienna, Austria, to compete in the final race of the WFGT Towerrunning Challenge, up the steps of the Danube Tower.

The day was also filled with the inspiration of many folks including:

  • Dr. Richard Guy, 97 years young, who climbed the stairs twice
  • The Fricke Family, who were awarded the Margaret and Jerry Hall Outstanding Family Award for their years of participation and involvement in the event and with AWA
  • 4 year old Abigail Hadden, who raised more than $2000 from family and friends and many trips to the bottle depot
  • Sue Verbeek, who was awarded the Will Farrington Memorial Awardas our Outstanding Volunteer
  • Erin Beattie and the Calgary Tower staff and Security Services, who provided invaluable help throughout the day and in the weeks leading up to the event
  • Shannon Magee, who completed a gruelling 22 climbs in 5 hours
  • The Overend Family (Bill, Patti, Sam and Alex), who raised more than $10,000
  • Zivadin Zivkovic, who travelled from San Diego just to participate
  • Megan Bankes, in the youth 15-18 category, who completed an amazing 19 climbs
  • The Pink Panthers youth team (Jasdeep Sandhu, Balijot Parmar, Harmeen Mander and Harsimran Sandhu), who completed a combined 20 climbs and took home the Youth Team Spirit Award
  • The Markit Lynx Team (Mike Cullingham, Chuck Herr, Ian Graham and Matthew Moore), who completed a combined 49 climbs
  • The Cenovus Energy Team A (Kirsten Pugh, Monica Ludwig, Erin Madro and Cindy Bakala), who raised $2,180 and won the Team Fundraising Award
  • Matrix Solutions Inc., who put together an awesome 7 full teams of 4
  • And so many more wonderful folks!

The prize inventory for this year was supported by more merchants than ever before. The prizes were outstanding and we hope all who were awarded prizes will take time to let our prize donors and corporate supporters know how much they are appreciated.

Entertainment at the Top of the Tower

While we are still waiting for a few more matching funds to come in, we have raised more than $110,000 at this time. More than 1,600 receipts have been issued to sponsors! These are important funds that will help us this year as we work to help others learn about wilderness and wildlife in Alberta and how to help make a difference in our environmental health and wealth in years to come.

We hope you might do one more thing to help us wrap up this year’s event. We have a short survey (it will only take 2 minutes to complete) that we hope will help us find and reach out to more people who would be interested in climbing the Calgary Tower. We want to give you a chance to let us know what was good and what you would like us to make better for the 2015 event.

Please take this link to complete the survey: All responses are anonymous; we do not record your name or any other personal info.

Jonathan Heinz and this year’s Elite Climbers.

This and the rest of AWA’s websites have many more details about the event and about our work throughout the year as well as opportunties to become involved.  You can sign up for regular news emails that will keep you posted about events and wilderness conservation concerns at the main Alberta Wilderness Association website: the sign-up form is at the bottom of the right-hand column.

“You made it!!”
Little Smoky the Bear greets climbers at the top.

From all of us at Alberta Wilderness Association, we wish you a wonderful summer and hope you will have plenty of chances to get outdoors and be active.

See you on the stairs next year!


Registration Open Dec 18, 2017

Registration Closed Apr 21, 2018

Event Day Apr 21, 2018


Registration Desk 8:00am

Climb 8:30am - 11:30am

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