Saturday, July 5, 2008

Some of you have been wandering when we would update our blog next. Sorry...we had to wait for a rainy day at Squamish before we could hide away in another wireless cafe (or, in this case, wireless brewery.) In any case, here goes:

After a lazy morning of breakfast and blogging in Hood River, we headed to Portland, dropped off the truck for a few minor fixes, and then rode our bikes to meet up with Cory (a friend from Atlanta who moved to Portland) and Tara (Allison's roommate from college) and Colby (her two year old son) at a great restaurant called Por Que No. It was in a "transitional neighborhood" on Mississippi Ave. Great food and area. Then we took off on our bikes and explored Portland with Cory. Portland is such a bike-able city. You cross a main road every once in awhile, but for the most part, you are riding through neighborhoods. And, people watch out for bikers. Afterwards, we hooked up with Tara and Brian (her husband, and Will's partner in crime from our Africa trip) for dinner at Toro Bravo, a great tapas restaurant.

July 1, 2008

This morning, after breakfast, we took off to visit the fantasy world where Brian works, called Nike. It's really an amazing campus, with more than enough locations for running and walking, a whole soccer field, an indoor basketball court, spinning arena and even an indoor climbing wall.
On our way home, we got to visit the coolest playground imaginable in Washington Park. Who knew what treasures we would find by hanging out with a 2 year old?

The afternoon was spent among the millions of books at Powell's bookstore- Cory's place of employment. If you haven't been there, you must go at some point in your life. For dinner we were able to get all of our Portland friends together at Deschutes Brewery.
The evening was topped off with a hike through Forest Park, a beautiful green space not too far from Cory's abode.

July 2, 2008

The day started off early in an effort to catch the 12:45 ferry from Port Angeles, WA to Vancouver Island. Even after a few extended stops for road work, we made the ferry without any problem. We arrived in Victoria and headed to Allison's aunt Dabney's house. She has a home overlooking the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Olympic Mountain Range. Unfortunately, it was too cloudy to see the view, but we had visited about 5 years ago and knew what was behind the clouds. We had a fabulous visit with Dabney, getting a chance to walk around her beautiful neighborhood.

July 3, 2008

After a leisurely breakfast, we decided to hit the road for Nainamo, BC to grab a ferry to Horseshoe Bay on the mainland north of the city of Vancouver. The city of Vancouver isn't on Vancouver Island. It's so confusing! A relaxing and scenic ferry ride landed us on the road to Squamish, our first major climbing stop. Excitement building at this point. Entering Squamish we are greeted by a sign proclaiming it "The Outdoor Recreation Capitol of Canada". We got one of the last available campsites at the Stawamus Chief Campground, and then ran over to The Apron area, and ticked off Diedre (5.8), one of the undisputed classic moderate routes here. The guidebook says "The most popular climb on the Apron...subject to heavy crowding and lineups, unless you're willing to climb at night or in the rain." Amazingly, there wasn't a single party anywhere on the Apron. Apparently it had rained this morning, and the relatively late hour (about 3:30) probably helped. We polished off this fantastic climb, and the day was feeling like a coup on many levels. Walking into one of the most popular (and rainy) climbing areas on earth, on a Thursday afternoon, scoring a campsite, and having one of the most popular routes to ourselves. A great first day at Squamish.
We topped it off with dinner at the Howe Sound Inn & Brewing Company, with excellent food & beers. The restaurant has a huge mural of the Chief (the largest rock formation here, and center of the climbing) with routes marked. It's really fun to be in a place where rock climbing is such a part of the community. In many places in the states, the climbing community is constantly tiptoeing on thin ice, at odds with the communities where the best climbing exists. Not so here.

July 4, 2008

Slept in a bit and headed over to the base of the Grand Wall of The Chief. Eric (who we climbed with in Boulder) had recommended the classic finger crack "Exasperator". Of course, our late start meant that there were already some folks on the route, and others waiting to try it. No worries, there are hundreds of routes here, and we hopped on Peasant's Route, a 5 pitch 10c just 20 feet to the left. We'd read that the ratings were a bit soft here (a soft rating would mean that a climb of any given difficulty grade would feel a bit easier than it's rating). This was a chance to test that theory, and we're not so sure that we think the ratings are soft here. A great route nonetheless, and after a little waiting we ticked off Exasperator as well. Thanks Eric, an excellent recommendation! We cooked dinner on the truck tailgate in the parking lot, surrounded by other climbers doing the same.
The folks parked next to us saw Allison's Triple Crown socks (a prize from the southeast's Triple Crown Bouldering Competition) and asked where we were from. Turns out she'd spent some time in Atlanta recently, and had climbed at Wallcrawler, our gym on Dekalb Ave (for any of you that know Dave from the gym, tell him we met his friend Samantha). Small world, the climbing one especially. One of the things that I love about climbing is that you can be in the middle of nowhere, hanging off a cliff face, and discuss minute details about a particular section of a particular route that is hundreds of miles from where you are, and hundreds of miles from where either of you live. It makes you feel like part of something relatively exclusive.

July 5, 2008

The forecast called for rain today, and we indeed awoke to rain. It was relatively light, so we stopped into a bike shop for a mountain bike trail recommendation. We biked most of the route of the Test of Metal mountain bike race, which took place last week. About halfway through the ride the rain ramped up considerably, and we were cold, wet, and very dirty by the end of it. We went by the Squamish Recreation Center, which offers showers for a small fee, and a pool, hot tub, and workout facility for a little more. We opted for hot showers only, dropped our laundry off for wash & fold service, and headed back to the Brewery for lunch, where we sit and write this. Having a blast. Forecast calls for rain tomorrow morning, then better weather for a few days. The Grand Wall awaits...


MoMax said...

Dudes-Love the stories!

Now the question becomes: how can you do this often? Go to great places and climb, write about it.

I really enjoyed the writing and would have liked descriptions of the climbs themselves-how you felt about them- and how you thought the published difficulties matched what you climbed.

We'll be back in Atlanta this winter but you guys should think about visiting us. There is apparently some climbing in the north, to the west of Nampula, Moz. There are huge granite domes and faces. Unfortunately not much infrastructure though and landmines are a danger. You have to go with a guide-and bring your own equipment but think of the blog potential!

Brady said...

I don't climb, so a lot of this makes me think, That looks like a nice way for me to die. But Portland? Now I'm jealous. Hi, Colby. Glad to see you are still going to breweries with your parents.