(Side note: I am very much behind on my writing, so I will just write about some highlights)
Before returning to Squamish from a family reunion, I went to the gear store in Vancouver and bought a rack. I had enjoyed the trad so much here that I decided I should have more than just passive pro. My first day back in the Squish, I did some sport and then some trad with Giam. I think he is getting hooked on gear.
I climbed in Murrin Park with a group of guys that were traveling solo, like me. I did a super cool 10a sport route called Zoe. One of the most fun roof moves I have done.
I met Alex at the campground looking for a climbing partner; his had balled at the last minute. He wanted to do a multi-pitch, but we figured it would be good to do some cragging first to make sure we were good together.
After some nice climbs in the Smoke Bluffs, we decided we were ready to do a multi. So we headed to the Smoke Bluff Connection. At the end, we realized we could link up to another climb called Wonderland. It is one of the most unusual climbs yet. A long upward hand traverse that turns into a sideways half-pipe. To do that part, I flopped onto my belly and just slid through the traverse. It was one of those things that should not have worked.
The next day we went for the summit of The Chief. We started on Rambles and went up into Diedre. I lead the long 5.8 pitch there. The climbing wasn’t too hard, but it was the most difficult trad lead I had done yet. I was glad to reach the bolted anchor because I had very few pieces left to place.
Once we reached the top of the Apron, we did the Boomstick Crack traverse. This is another one of those climbs that shouldn’t work. There is an upward facing flake that is 3-4 inches from the wall. The top of the flake being only .25 inches thick in places. It is like taking a walk on a 100 foot long knife edge.
We then finished on the main Squamish Buttress. I lead the first pitch of that with some poorly protected 5.8 face moves. After a couple of 5.7 pitches, we were at the crux pitch. Alex started the lead up the 10c crack, but eventually needed to aid his way up. After watching him, I was wondering if I would be able to even get up it. At the time I wished I had my ascenders, but not having them meant I had no option but to do it. So I did it. A bit of blood and sweat later, I made it up. I lead the last pitch and we had climbed The Chief! The view was amazing, but not as incredible as the sense of accomplishment.
I went up the Chief again, but taking a different route for the start. I was climbing with Sam on “Rock On”. This route started in the gully formed by the vertical side of The Apron. I lead the first pitch at 5.8 and was kinda nervous. 5.8 is around my limit for trad lead. I made it through alright and then some; it turns out I went off route and got back on part way up the second 5.8 pitch. Sam took over and finished the pitch (I had run out of gear) and linked it up with the 5.9 traverse. While Sam gave a good belay, he did not protect often enough for his follower. (That was me) On the traverse, I had a solid runout with nasty ledges below. After an initial panic, I decided that I was not allowed to fall and pushed on. It is amazing what you can do when all options are removed.
I followed on the crux pitch (10a) and must say that this is in my top 10 list for Squamish. A beautiful finger crack with some face moves leading into an awkward off width with a boulder forming a small roof. Awesome stuff.
Now on top of Broadway Ledge, we finished up on Squamish Buttress. Having done it previously made for pretty smooth sailing. Though the 10c pitch at the end was still a doozy.
One of the places in Squamish I have been wanting to climb is a place called Seal Cove and today I went there with Eve. There is a little bit of a walk to get there and we needed to rap down to get to the base. (If you go there, you need every bit of a 60m rope to get down)
The view is absolutely amazing. The water of Howe Sound is right at your feet where you start to climb. Looking out all you see is perfect water with mountains rising from the depths at the far side of the fjord. Second to the view is the sound. Most of the climbing in Squamish is close to the Sea to Sky highway and has a lot of road noise. You can still hear the road when you are up on The Chief. At Seal Cove, all you hear is the fresh wind blowing and the water crashing on the rocks. Oh, the climbing is great too.
We started off with an easy 5.8 trad climb and then did the Seal Cove Traverse. The route take you out over the ocean with your feet at the high tide line in places. It is an amazing experience to be climbing and have water in almost every direction. After I lead the traverse, Eve took us up to the top on a 5.9 sport lead. It was one of her first 5.9s and she did a great job.
Another place that was on my ticklist was a route called Star Chek. I got to do that with Sean. The route starts in the bottom of a gorge right next to a raging river. To get there, you need to do a series of three rappels. Once you are down, the way out is up. It was very chill climbing for us (the hardest pitch was 5.9) but oh so fun. A definite must for any visit to the Squish.
Sean asked me if I had a hammock and then said he had a crazy idea: to hammock camp part way up The Chief. I said that I did have a hammock and his idea sounded like the perfect kind of crazy. We rested and went to the gear store and then got started at the base at 3-something. We were going to do Rambles, Banana Peel, and Boomstick Crack and then make camp. Normally most routes on The Apron are busy, but not when you will be finishing in the evening. We had the whole place to ourselves.
Once up on Broadway Ledge where we were setting up camp, I asked Sean if we should make sure we are not blocking the way for anyone. He said that no one will be climbing this late and we will be packed up before anyone can get that far in the morning. As soon as he was finished, a lone guy in approach shoes came walking through our camp. I guess no one will be climbing this late except for free-soloists.
In the morning we packed up and crossed the gully to the start of Ultimate Everything. This route was obviously not climbed as much as other routes in the area. There was a good bit of dirt and greens. There was also some runouts in places that added to the alpine feel. Most of the climbing was pretty easy, but the final pitch was a pumpy 10b. Following Sean’s lead, I reached the summit. This time on the second peak of The Chief. It was an amazing adventure.
I climbed The Chief one last time on my last day there. I had climbed a bit with Kathy and she had been wanting to get to the top sometime. So I went as the… not more experienced climber, but the one that had been there before and had a trad rack. We took Banana Peel and I got to lead some pitches I didn’t do before. (The first pitch is a lot scarier on lead than following)
Boomstick Crack was a blast as always. And we did the first 4 pitches of Squamish Buttress then split off to the Butt Lite, an easier way to the top that goes at 5.9. Kathy was a bit nervous but did a great job leading the 9 traverse. I lead the next pitch which was a 5.8 chimney. I really enjoyed that pitch. Plus I found a stuck cam that I rescued. Free gear!
On the way down, I had a guy run up behind me and ask if I could use my rope to help someone that was stuck. “Oh boy here we go” passed through my mind as I ran off behind him. There were two college age kids hanging onto a tree part way up a steep face. This was a rap off descent for some of the climbs here. It turns out they down climbed most of it and couldn’t make the last section. And they were not climbers at all. They were just hikers. I set up a fixed line for them and let them know how stupid and dangerous what they did was. While they were grateful for the help, I don’t think they got how bad it could have been.
Back in camp, I delayed going to bed as long as I could. I knew that going to bed bring waking up in the morning, which would bring leaving Squamish. This is a place I don’t want to leave.