In march of 1992, the cop who busted Margo Talbot stood outside her cell door. He was throwing his keys into the air and catching them, over and over.

We know who you're involved with,"; he told her. "And we know why you take all those trips out to the coast. You're not fooling us. We've got enough information to put you away for a really, really long time.";

Knowing the cop could be bluffing, Talbot stayed silent and watched. This humiliating predicament helped her realize the keys for her escape were not in his hands.

And so Margo Talbot's memoir All That Glitters: A Climber's Journey Through Addiction and Depression (Sono Nis, $19.95), describes how being marooned in jail, facing drug dealing charges, triggered her ascent of slippery slopes to health.

To avoid captivity, Margot Talbot would have to accept that her troubles with the law were not her greatest challenge. The key for her revitalization and rehabilitation turned out to be the competitive sport of ice climbing.

With candour and eloquence, she has described how risking her neck climbing frozen waterfalls has helped her rise above and beyond a childhood of neglect and abuse.

Neither parent was encouraging or intimate, so margo Talbot started drinking on her own, at age twelve. Her father was often absent and her mother was a nurse who worked night shifts.

"I felt alone my whole life,"; she told Shaw TV interviewer Fanny Kiefer. Attractive and popular, Talbot was a party-hearty girl, seemingly able to handle her drugs and alcohol until suicidal tendencies at age 22 led her to a psychiatrist. He diagnosed her as manic-depressive and prescribed a lifetime on lithium.

Talbot decided more drugs would not be the answer. She now believes her depression was repressed anger; and her anger, in turn, was repressed sadness. "I feel like I was like an onion,"; she says.

At age 28, in the early 1990s-just before she was arrested-Talbot was introduced to ice climbing by a friend who believed Talbot's intensity needed an outlet. Having worked at construction, she was initially intrigued by the 'climbing gear.'

Talbot has since had numerous 'close calls' as a climber, falling into crevasses, but she remains a keen advocate for women to confront their fears through physical challenges.

"I moved through a lot of my fear in life through the arena of ice climbing,"; she says. "It's like a meditation. The world falls away. You have to be in the moment.";
Talbot now runs an adventure guiding company for women called The Glitter Girls, based out of her hometown of Winlaw. As well, Talbot often speaks to mental healthcare professionals, social workers and addiction counsellors.

"I feel there is a conspiracy of silence about growing up in dysfunctional homes,"; she says. "There's a conspiracy of silence around child sexual abuse. And we tend to marginalize people who are drug addicts and live on the street.

"I cleverly hid all these things about my past. But I wanted to give a voice to the voiceless. I wanted people to know there is a context to addiction. And I wanted people to know there is a context for depression.";
Her partner, Australian-born Warren Macdonald, is also an inspirational speaker having lost both his legs in a climbing accident and written A Test of Will (Greystone, 2004).

At her hometown book launch, talbot told her friends, "For years I dreamed I could somehow turn the story of my life into something beautiful and I feel that I now have.";

Dressed in funky jeans, wearing a pink boa, Talbot started crying as she recalled her ascent of Antarctica's highest peak, Mt. Vincent, at minus 50 degrees.

"Novelist Tom Robbins said it is never too late to have a happy childhood. And I'm living proof of that. Now I go to drugstores to buy glitter make-up and bubble gum. I spend my leisure time actively in fresh air and dance for hours at parties because I'm just happy to be alive."; 978-1-55039-182-4


All That Glitters: A Climber's Journey Through Addiction and Depression (Sono Nis, 2011) $19.95 978-1-55039-182-4

[BCBW 2012]