Log Entry 31 – Squamish

I was expecting great views along the Sea to Sky Corridor (a road that follows a fjord into the mountains). Even though it was only a couple hundred feet away, I couldn’t even see the water. Smoke from forest fires in the north was obscuring everything.

After stopping in the gear shop to pick up a guidebook and info, I went to the “Climber’s Campground” to find a partner. As soon as I hopped out of my car with my pack, I saw three climbers heading off. Groups of three are great to join with since it is always easier to climb in even numbers. This group said I would be welcome to climb with them. One of them was Steve, the “Resident Dirtbag” along with Giam a strong sport climber from France and Sarah who had never climbed before. All of them spoke French but said it was great that I didn’t since working on English was something they needed to do.

We went to the Smoke Bluffs to introduce Sarah to the world of climbing on some easy stuff. Giam and I set up a top rope on a 10a. I went up first and had a little slip. I have very little experience at slab and this area is almost entirely slab/crack. After a couple more climbs, we went to an area called Neat and Cool.

Steve pointed out a 5.8 trad crack that he said I should lead. The highest trad lead I have done so far is 5.5. Also I my trad rack consists of hexes, nuts, tricams, and three cams. I got up part way, got off route, and got very scared. But I was able to get back on route and finish the route. I was very pleased.

I then top roped the route that the area takes it’s name from. A super amazing 10a that does a zig-zag hand traverse to a burly move exiting the traverse. Maybe someday I can lead it on trad.

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Today I climbed with Ben, Kristen, Bob, Ralph, and Will. Quite the group. They were heading to the Grand Wall for a 10c pure crack called Exasperater. We did a warm up on a 10a layback. I followed on Exasperater (which is actually two pitches, but they tied two ropes together to top rope them in one pitch) and made it through the first pitch. By the middle of the second pitch I was pumping out. I was really fighting on that route (people on the ground mentioned they liked my “warrior cries”), and made it to the top with two falls. Very much a crash course in crack climbing.

I then went with Bob to climb a multi-pitch called Skywalker. It was a super amazing climb. The fourth pitch is a foot traverse that can almost be done without hands. Walking across the little sidewalk hundreds of feet in the air is where the routes gets its name. Since I am still so new to trad and multi-pitch, Bob did most of the leading. But I did lead the last 5.4 pitch, but it was so short, easy, and full of bolts that I only place one cam. It was good practice though.

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I was climbing with the same group as yesterday, but Kathy joined us today. We went to Penny Lane in the Smoke Bluffs and did a bunch of awesome routes. I worked out a 10d direct start to one of the routes. A burly and balancy roof start onto holds-that-arent-there slab moves to the crack. Crack climbing is very new and foreign to me, so it was nice to get something more sport like. There was also an awesome 10a arete climb. This is one of my favorite routes I have done in a long time.

We ended the day on a 5.9 crack that is considered a super-classic. I struggled a bit, but sent the route.

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Today I got on The Chief, the rock formation that rises about 2000 feet from the ocean. Steve, the guy I climbed with on my first day said we should do Banana Peel, one of the easier routes that go up the first part of the Chief. It turns out his putting me on the 5.8 was kinda a test to gauge my climbing skills. I think I passed because he said we would split the leads.

The first pitch I lead was low 5th runout traverse. I then went up a very short pitch, but it was slab with no protection. It was supposed to be real easy, but I got started on the wrong area and almost took a nasty fall. I started again in the right place and all went fine. I also lead a sweet 5.7 around a crazy flake and fun 5.4 up water runnels. And I built my first gear belay. This climb is one of the highlights for the week.

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