Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Last days in Squamish

July 6th, 2008

Today we would try to keep things relatively mellow, in an effort to do something really big tomorrow. Will had it in his mind to do the Grand Wall (Lite), a 5.11 A0 route that goes right up the middle of the Grand Wall of the Squamish Chief, then exits about 2/3rds of the way up via a ledge traverse. Dropping the "Lite" designation from the name would entail going all the way to the summit via 4 more pitches of extremely difficult climbing. Even with our plan to do the Lite version, this would be far and away the most sustained, difficult long route we'd ever attempted, and while Will was experiencing a little anxiety mixed with optimism, Allison was really concerned about her ability to follow. More on that later.
We headed across the road to the Upper Malamute Cliff. It's a relatively small cliff that swoops right down into the Howe Sound. Allison led an excellent and long (48m) 5.9 route, High Mountain Woody. It was getting really windy at this point, and crowded with climbers, so we took a drive out to the Squamish Windsurfing Park. It's out on a long jetty, where the Squamish River spills into the Howe Sound, and like all other outdoor sports here, it is set up for maximum fun & convenience. The "Windsurfing" part of the name is a bit leftover, as there was only 1 person windsurfing, and about 40 people kiteboarding. This looks like more fun that should be legal. If only we lived closer to the beach...

In the afternoon we went back to the Apron of The Chief, where we first climbed upon our arrival here, and did a route on the north side called Calculus Cracks (5.8). It was a nice route, if a little monotonous, and it was probably more than we should have been doing today, given our tentative plans tomorrow.

We headed back to "The Scene" at the campground parking to cook dinner, and pulled in beside another couple, Jon and Kara from Washington state, although we didn't know their names yet. We'd chatted with them at the base of the Grand Wall, while climbing on our second day, and also while we all made dinner last night. John had climbed some pretty difficult routes while next to us at the Grand Wall base, and Allison had mentioned once or twice over the last couple of days that it might make more sense for Will to ask Jon to do the Grand Wall with him, as the chance of success would be much greater if both climbers could lead hard sections and share the burden. Will had some misgivings about such an undertaking with someone he hadn't climbed with before, but Jon seemed competent and confident, and had a good attitude, so Will decided to ask:

Will: "Hey, are you guys climbing tomorrow?"

Jon and Kara: "Yeah, I think so."

Will, to Jon: "You have any interest in doing the Grand Wall, with me?"

Jon: "Hell yeah!"

So names were exchanged, plans were made, and off we went to crash, dreaming of seas of granite...

July 7th, 2008

We met in the parking lot for breakfast at 8, sorted some gear, and Jon and Will hiked in to the Chief, with Allison & Kara heading over to the Smoke Bluffs.

Will writing in first person for a while... The Grand was fantastic. We had the best weather yet. Jon fancied himself an excellent liebacker (this would prove to be true) and so when we divied up the hard pitches, he chose Perry's Lieback (11a), leaving me with The Sword (11a). I'm not sure if I could have climbed this pitch clean even on my best day. Perhaps after some rehearsal, and a nice long rest, but perhaps not. Fortunately I was able to cheat my way through it by pulling on gear. Not to go into too much detail, there was a ton of fantastic climbing on the route, and it would not have been possible without someone else that was climbing at (probably above) my level. This is by far the most strenuous day of climbing I've had, ever.

Will belaying atop the 2nd to last pitch, with Jon following:

We hiked down, and met Kara and Allison back in the parking lot for a celebratory beer at about 6 pm. Then we all headed over the the Brewery one more time for a celebratory dinner. We all exchanged contact info, said our goodbyes, and crashed, our last night in Squamish. We love this place.

(Allison now:) Once the guys set off for their adventure, Kara took me to check out an area that Will and I had not visited yet called Smoke Bluffs. This is more mellow location with mostly single pitch climbs that are easily top-ropped. We both led Cat Crack and Corner Crack and then top-roped Flying Circus, a a great 5.10a crack with some fun finger jams. I don't think that I have ever climbed as many routes that required finger jams as I have here in Squamish. I've always avoided the finger cracks at T-wall (the Tennessee Wall in Chattanooga- our favorite local climbing area), but am now anxious to get up there and work on my technique.

Kara and I returned to the Chief parking lot in time to catch Will and Jon on top of the Sword pitch of The Grand Wall. We watched a bit and took a few pictures and then met back up with the guys back at camp. As we mentioned in one of our first blog entries, our trips are really made by the people we meet along the way. It was great hanging out with Kara and Jon.

July 8, 2008

This morning we packed up our tent and said goodbye to Squamish. We stopped by the Brackendale Bistro on our way out of town for a great breakfast and then hit the road. The plan was to make it to Glacier National Park by evening. The drive through the mountains was beautiful, taking us by Whistler (where we popped in for a second, but felt no need to stay) and through Garibaldi Provincial Park. We exited the mountains to end up in a terrain very similar to the high desert in Utah. Sage was everywhere, and it got quite hot, quite quickly. We hooked up with the Trans-Canada Highway and followed the Thompson River a little while until it became dammed to create a reservoir/recreational area similar to Lake Powell on the border of Arizona and Utah. This was not really where we wanted to hang out, so we continued east along the Trans-Canada Hwy. We pulled into Revelstoke, B.C. in the late afternoon and decided that we should go ahead and look for a campsite there so that we could explore the area in the morning. We found a great spot about 15 minutes north called Martha's Creek Provential Park.

This morning, we woke up and drove up the Meadows-in-the-Sky Parkway and hiked to the summit of Mt. Revelstoke. From the summit we could see panoramic views of the Columbia Mountains.

We left Mt. Revelstoke and continued east to Glacier National Park. The first view that we got driving into the park was of a range of mountains with razor thin ridges. They were incredibly striking, making us gawk like a couple of tourists...oh, wait, we are a couple of tourists. The rest of the drive was similarly gawk-worthy, arriving on the east side of the park only to be greeted by the Rocky Mountains.

So, here we are, sitting in an internet cafe in Golden, B.C. Oh, did we mention that our computer died on us? Yep, we'll be bloggin' from the cafes from now on. We're not having too much luck with our technology these days as Allison's cell phone was water-logged on our mountain biking trip, and there is no hope for reviving it. In any case, that's why we haven't posted many photos, and why we have not updated our flickr site. We'll work on that next time!

The plan now is to head to the Bugaboos tomorrow morning. We will be staying at the Kain Hut, owned and operated by the Alpine Club of Canada. We'll be in touch when we get out of the mountains.

Hasta Luego!


Jesse said...

Beautiful scenes and beautiful faces! It seems y'all are having a wonderful time and I'm enjoying following along. To paraphrase Will...Allison, climbing and beer makes for a perfect day.


anajamma said...

Hey, great update and the climbing sounds so awesome, I'm thinking I need to go to Squamish next summer-and I'm not kidding, any takers??! In the meantime I'm working on my loungeing around this summer. Great write ups and photos, and you have long sleeves on, nice cool out west weather, suh-weeet! It's hotter an hell here and steamy, don't come back till you need to, I miss you two, but still, stay away and climb on!