Saturday, July 31, 2010

Squamish: The first international climbing trip

Squamish is beautiful. I'm pretty sure I could live there. Ever since I'd heard of it, I'd been wanting to go on a climbing trip there. Jake suggested going climbing together somewhere during his summer break from school and Squamish was on his list of suggestions. It was pretty much the only thing on my list of suggestions. After a few delays at home and a tiring 2 day drive to Canada, including Jake's first legal border crossing where my car was searched by the border control, we arrived in beautiful British Colombia and the fun started. The weather was unusually dry and we didn't get rained on once the entire time. I don't have any fantastic pictures since it's hard to take climbing pictures when there's just two of you. You're either climbing or holding a rope for someone who is, so enjoy these mediocre pictures of an amazing trip.Jake sorting all the gear in my family room back in Utah
DAY 1:
Climbing at the SmokeBluffs at Neat and Cool. (or as Jake would confusedly call it Neat and Clean or sometimes Good and Clean) This place was great and we did more routes in a day than we did most days at Joshua Tree and we loved all of them. Neither of us had been climbing too regularly so we expected a nice warm up day. Odd enough though, without even realizing it at the time, I climbed my first 5.10 without falling. I didn't lead it, but it's progress. Jake also got to see me lead a few things for the first time. We kept meaning to go back here to climb some routes that intimidated us a bit that first day, but never got around to it.
DAY 2:
Back at the SmokeBluffs climbing at Octopus Garden. This place is where I got the majority of my scrapes and scratches but it was full of so many great climbs and we met some fun local people to talk to while we climbed. Their Canadian accents never got old for me.
Jake is climbing in the above picture, but that's not either of us in the below one. It just shows how many climbs were on one wall. We did pretty much every crack you see on the rock and then some.
There wasn't anything I wanted to lead on that wall, all too hard or crowded, so we found a wall with some easy stuff close by, Funarama and then wound our way back down to the parking lot exploring all kinds of cool trails and other crags to come back and climb the next day. Squamish makes things so easy for climbers with signs and nice trails. There's lots of fixed ropes up hard approaches, one place had this nice staircase and there was even stairs carved out of a fallen tree. Unbelievable. I wish there were things like this a few places back home.
DAY 3: Ronin's Corner and Fern Gully. This was a great day of climbing for me. I got to lead the first climb of the day! I did at least 4 leads that day, maybe more and even ended up leading more climbs than I didn't, including a 5.8 that I onsighted. That's my hardest lead climb yet! We also did a good slab climb while we were there that prepared us for some of the stuff we'd do later on our multipitch days. One random exciting thing that day happened while we were sitting on the ground eating a snack. We'd been sitting there a while when a snake casually slid out from under Jake, right under his legs! That's Jake at the top of the slab climb. And in the picture below is me leading! I'm sure someday a picture of me leading a climb won't be so exciting to me, but it hasn't worn off yet. I took this picture while we were walking through the neighborhoods around the SmokeBluffs to show how close they are to houses. How would it be to live, literally next door to such great climbing. We even saw some houses that had rock in their backyards! In their BACKYARDS!!!
DAY 4: Rest day. We drove North stopping to look at some of the view points and took an easy hike to some lakes. We planned to shower that day but the showers were closed so instead we wore our swimsuits under our clothes and went swimming in a few of the lakes we saw. They were so warm and pleasant considering the water filling them is melted snow and glaciers. We even saw a snake swim by us in one lake.
DAY 5:
Multipitch climbing on The Apron. The main feature in Squamish for climbing is The Chief which is huge. We never actually climbed on the main part of The Chief it but there is a part of it called The Apron that has long multipitch climbs on it and that's where we went. It took us awhile to find it but we did the 6 pitches of the classic Deidre route. Piece of cake.
My car is down there in the parking lot looking small and far away.
The walk off from this climb was steep slab. It was scarier for me than any of the climbing was. And then we did it again the next day. blah.
DAY 6:
More climbing on The Apron. St. Vitus' Dance The day before when we got back to the car we sat for awhile and watched the other climbers on The Apron while we ate a snack. There were a couple guys climbing something that looked like a lot of fun and we decided that was our goal for the next day. It ended up being my favorite day of climbing on the whole trip and some of the hardest. You had to climb twice just to get to it. Then it was 3 or 4 pitches of amazing continuous 5.9 climbing with some climbs above it you can do if you want. Of course we did and they just made it even better. After we were done and back at the car we raced up to the nearest lake and took an evening swim. This was by far the best day of the trip for me. Easily a 10.
Looking out at the view. You can see the logs in the water from the logging company.
This is on memorial ledge. There's some plaques up there of climbers who've died in Squamish. It's kind of cool.
Self portraits of us with the background view in each direction...
Here Jake is showing me how I'll need to brace myself against this big boulder till he's up a ways so if he falls he doesn't take us both over the edge on the other side. I think it looks like he's about to jump up and punch me or like he was going to punch me and I knocked him down first. Either way it's kinda funny. You can see one of the plaques too.
And up he goes up the last pitch... I got my foot stuck in it when I climbed up after him and man did I scream about it.
A view of the city of Squamish from the top.
DAY 7:
Oceanside climbing on The Malamute. There is one rock formation out on the water you can climb on but since the railroad owns the right-of-way at the bottom you have to go up the back to the top and then rappel down to the start of the climbs. It was really cool and the views were amazing up there. This first picture is of The Chief which we never actually got to climb on. It's so much bigger than you can imagine and we had a great view of it on The Malamute.
At the top looking down at the railroad and the incoming tide
Jake had to go back down and retrieve our packs since we left them at the bottom.
At the end of the day we managed to squeeze in one more climb, Klahanie Crack, at Shannon Falls. Bobby had recommended it to me adamantly before we left. We took an adventurous roundabout way to it and arrived just in time to run up it once and then leave before it got dark. The climb seemed to be made for me and I felt like I was almost walking up it as my hands fit snugly and perfectly in the crack. You can't see the falls from the climb but you can hear them and it was almost as cool as climbing over the ocean earlier that day.
Sadly no pictures of the amazing climb but we did see a bunch of cute bunnies in the parking lot! And that's it. The next morning we packed up our beautiful campsite at #43, made ourselves some pancakes with some local British Colombia blueberries and hit the road back to the United States, which was a fun trip of its own.

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