Squamish is (not) Ripe Berries

16 08 2008

Because none of the blackberries were ripe! What crap!

Well, I’ve returned from a very brief excursion to Squamish with my sister Maddy. Despite the shortness of our visit, I think we managed to make good use of our time. We left Poulsbo early Thursday afternoon, reaching Squamish a little after 7pm after encountering some traffic and a little wait at the border. The border patrol guy who swiped our passports (and some people at the crag) seemed a little concerned that the 2 of us were going climbing by ourselves. Whatever, dude, I’m 20 years old and I’m perfectly capable of rock climbing without a dude to help me! (Although Luke is still my favorite climbing partner 😀 )

Maddy trying out a V4 in the woods below the Grand Wall

Anyways, we got to the climbers’ campground at the base of the Chief only to find it all full! But we decided not to stress about it and go for a short boulder sesh before it got dark. Well, it was mostly Maddy going for a boulder sesh and me tagging along and fooling around on a couple problems (I sent a v1, woo, haha). At our third boulder, we came across Bryce, one of Maddy’s teammates at the gym, and his family. I guess they were on family vacation in Squamish – crazy. Maddy and Bryce worked and sent this weird v3 mantle problem. I flailed a few times and then decided I still wanted skin on my leg for the next day.

Maddy follows the super-fun Quarryman, 5.8

It was dark and after 9pm by the time we headed into town to get some dinner at Boston Pizza, which is a nice chain restaurant that does pizza, pasta, sandwiches, etc. Then we headed to the exorbitantly expensive, but close, Klahanie Campground, which was CAD$25.20 for one night. Oh well. But then our tent, which is one of the ones that needs stakes to set up, had no stakes. So we slept outside on the ground, which was not too bad.

Approach shoe. Maddy was playing around with the macro function on my camera.

We got up a little before 7am on Friday morning, packed up, ate some muffins, saw a lot of cute little bunny rabbits frolicking around the campground, and headed to the Smoke Bluffs parking lot. We headed up to Penny Lane, where there are several 5.11 crack climbs that I wanted to try (Luke and I had gotten on one, Crime of the Century 5.11c, before, which Luke onsighted and I followed clean first try). I wanted to do a warm-up and I’d never done the classic Quarryman, 5.8, before, so we headed over there. The route was fun and awesome, with cool moves and great gear. It was a good intro to the day to onsight something so easily and so relaxed.

Placing the first nut on Crime of the Century, 5.11c

When we walked back over to Crime of the Century, which I wanted to try to redpoint, there was an Asian couple getting ready to try it (by which I mean flailing at the bottom), so I decided to change plans and head over to another climb I wanted to try, Partners in Crime, a 5.11a fingercrack. I racked up and set off on the route. The first move was a long reach off a wet fingerlock, but then there was a handjam to re-chalk before setting off on the harder moves above, which involved some balancey, tensiony layback moves since the crack couldn’t be jammed straight-in. I was placing my 4th cam when I fell (yes, I took a real fall!) onto a yellow alien. Then I took another fall on a yellow alien a little higher. Part of the problem was that it was really hot in the sun, so the friction was not great and I was sweating like crazy. Finally, the climb got slabbier and had a couple of no-hands rests, so I made it to the top, set up a toprope anchor, and had Maddy me lower me down to the shade at the base. Maddy did great following the route, only falling once.

More still life with climbing gear by Maddy

After we’d both done Partners in Crime, we felt pretty lethargic from spending so much time in the sun while climbing, so we had some snacks and drank a lot of water back at the base of Crime of the Century. I’d have liked to try Partners in Crime again, but I didn’t think it was worth the effort because it was so sunny and hot and success didn’t seem imminent. I’d love to try it again when it’s cooler and I’ve actually been doing some more trad climbing in preparation, although the next trip to Squamish is probably far in the future.

Rehydrating in the shade

After a lot of delay tactics, I was finally ready to try Crime of the Century. I placed 2 nuts to protect the beginning crux move (one from the ground, one from slightly above the ground). I started from the ground, pulled the crux after several tries (and hangs), and was making good progress until I hit the upper crux, which has slopey, too-big locks and smears for feet, where I decided to take a rest because I was pretty pumped and I’d already not climbed clean from the ground. After a little rest, I kept going, but stopped again about 5 feet from the changing cracks bit at the top because I had somehow gotten a really bad flapper on the sweet spot on my left index finger (the spot that gets the most contact in the fingerjams). So I cam jugged 2 or 3 moves to save my finger for the last bit, where you have to place a cam, switch cracks, and balance up to some slopers that you mantle, at which point the last cam is WAY below your feet. I took a breath, started climbing, and it was all over before I knew it – not bad at all.

Ouch! (that’s my finger after Crime of the Century)

Maddy also did well toproping this one, struggling mostly with the bottom move, which is really quite hard for us shorties.

Afterwards, we had about an hour to climb and I had not enough skin or energy to lead anything else, so we headed to a little cliffline right on the trail back to the parking lot, where I scrambled up to the top to set up a TR on a 5.11a corner. There are also two heinous looking 5.12c lines here that I’d be interested in toproping, but would have needed more time and energy. Maddy went first on the route and climbed it clean first try, feeling it was way easier than either of the other two 5.11’s we’d done. I also climbed it clean, slipping a little because of sloppiness, but otherwise finding it pretty easy.

Messing around with a random baby hat on the trail back to the parking lot

So we headed out of Squamish a little after 5pm and got home a bit after 11 (including waiting half an hour at the border and 15 minutes at the ferry terminal) exhausted, but pretty satisfied.

Overall, I felt like I did pretty well given the circumstances. Although it was really hot and I didn’t send anything, I think the weekend was a mental victory. I took real falls, placed gear confidently, was pulling difficult moves with my gear a little below me, and tried harder routes without too much nervousness or trepidation. I haven’t done too much trad leading recently, so I felt I did pretty well with that too, given all this sport climbing we’ve been doing. I’d love to be able to go back or spend more time working the routes, but sadly it’ll probably have to wait til at least next summer. Oh well. There are plenty of other routes to climb in SoCal, including the crown jewel, Equinox, which we are hoping to do some serious work on this coming winter and spring.

Ok, back to enjoying my short trip to Washington!