Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Squamish, BC

Summer is perfect for climbing northward of us, especially when it's been dry for 6 weeks. So, with our dear friend Christine as our guide, we took a tip up to the town of Squamish, British Columbia in nearby Canada. It's a small but lovely logging and outdoor-tourism town that sits adjacent to some amazing granite monoliths.

Our trip was short by most standards, so we decided to hit a large adventure our first day our. With a team of three, we had to be mindful of the time out, but the peak was less important than simply all getting a chance to climb exciting rock. With that "The Ultimate Everything" delivers! All moderate grades and quite wild and bushy.

We began on a popular route on "The Apron" called Deidre, which was 5 pitches of wonderful low-angle slab and small cracks. We hit it early (about 7AM) and were the first team out. Eventually we saw more folks, but for such a popular climb it was nice to be climbing alone as a team.

Our team consisted of myself, my wife Hanmi and our friend Christine. Christine's been visiting Squamish for many summers, so we skipped the typical hunt-and-peck for the route starts. The base of many climbs is an exercise in finding an elusive trail or choosing the right path among too many. Also, the starts of the routes we hit were actually up the wall a bit, requiring us to scramble before beginning.

Once up above the traffic, the sky was a mixture of hot sun, cool breezes and hazy horizons. The weather is typically variable and occasional rain can be expected all summer long. Except for the shuffling of jackets and hat on or off, we were pretty comfortable all day.

Ultimate Everything is a link up from the top of The Apron to the top of the Chief, by way of a few trails and a ledge-access short pitch. After Deidre, we took Memorial Crack upwards, then hiked around a gully system to a bushy ledge to an obvious start. The pitches here were exhilarating and yet still moderate, in a word, wonderful!

We reached a ledge by 5PM and looked at the water/time/route options and decided to hit the bar. We didn't need to walk or rap down in the dark just to bag the peak, given that we still had 5 days of new rock to explore.

After a short tour through the Smoke Bluff crags and a day "resting up" bouldering, we were back to play on another route on the Apron: "Snake". This route was new for all of us, and involved some fun exposed climbing. There are a number of traverses, the crux pitch being a traverse where the climber can make use of a snake-like tree root running horizontally. It's great fun and worth a 1/2 day.

We made good time for a team of three, taking it easy and averaging about 1 hour per pitch, with lots of cheering and snacks along the way. I was most impressed with our abilities, given that we've not been pushing our climbing skills for a few weeks. Hanmi especially has progressed tremendously, as her abilities leading, following, building anchors and racking cleanly were great (though I'm not really one to judge).

Some more pictures from various spots on the wall...

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