Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Labor Day and The End of Summer

Labor Day Weekend marked the end of my summer in Squamish. And after 3 days of rain, I was excited to get back on the rocks when Kurt arrived Friday night.

Saturday, the chief was too wet to climb on, so we headed over to The Bluffs to do some cragging for the day. No new routes, but a fun day anyway.

Sunday, we were hoping to get on St Vitus' Dance, but it still looked pretty wet. So we spent the morning at the Upper Malamute and then headed to the base of The Grand in the afternoon. We only had time for one climb and Kurt put up Seasoned in the Sun -- a pretty hard 10a or a reasonably rated 10b depending on which guide book you read. Either way, really awesome crack! I got some decent pictures of Kurt on that -- I'll try to get them off his camera and post them soon.

Sunday evening we went to see the movies at the Reel Rock Tour. There were several short films and excepts from films that were interesting, but the main feature was The Sharp End -- the new movie by Peter Mortimer (of Sender Films). I was super excited to see the new film since I've loved (and own) both Return to Sender and First Ascent. I enjoyed the movie and found it really interesting to see the section on climbing in the Czech Republic after seeing Cedar Wright talk about his experience there during the Squamish Mountain Festival. And my respect for Vera Schulte-Pelkum grows every time I see her talk or climb. My favorite part of course was the watching Steph Davis free solo the Diamond. From watching the movie I learned that climbing ability really has nothing to do with the climbers I respect, admire, and look up too. For me, it's all about attitude. Many of the climbers in the film were talking about how they get off on and are motivated by fear. The climbers I respect and admire find a way to relax and enjoy the experience of climbing rather than trying to get high on an adrenaline rush. It's pretty clear which climbers are which in the film.

And a slight side note -- Kurt and I had the unfortunate experience of sitting next to a couple of people who would not shut up for the entire movie! It was mostly the girl, but her friend was joining in on the conversation as well. And we're not talking whispering here, we're talking full on conversation volume talking. And if the movie got louder, she just raised the volume of her voice. Nonstop. Everyone was turning and giving her dirty looks, but she was completely oblivious. Finally, we couldn't take it anymore and Kurt asked them to keep it down. We got to enjoy the rest of the short films until intermission in peace and quiet.

We come back from intermission, and took our seats. Only after sitting down, I popped right up again because my ass was soaking wet. There was a puddle of beer in my chair. We're not talking like beer from an accidental spill, we're talking a puddle someone obviously purposely poured into my chair. The asshole and the blond chatterbox are both holding cups of beer and they're pretty much the only ones in the room who are. WTF? What is this revenge for having the gaul to actually want to watch a movie without your constant and loud chatter? Grow up!

Then they asked the guy who was part of the talkative couple up to introduce the movie. Turns out he's buddies with Peter Mortimer and had been part of the trip to the Czech Republic. I really wish I could remember his name, but it's escaping me. So he thinks he thinks he's a somebody. He wasn't featured in the film -- in fact, I didn't even see him climbing anything. Just drinking a lot of beer in pure fratboy style. But he was in the film. So he's sort of famous. Great, we're sitting next to a sort of famous asshole. Now that he's told everyone who he is, apparently him and the annoying girl he was with decided they didn't have to keep it down and they started up with the talking talking talking again. I wanted to move, but Kurt didn't want to give them the satisfaction. He asked them to keep it down again. So they laughed and started talking even louder. I couldn't take it anymore -- I got up and moved -- which set them off in another fit of laughter. But I didn't care about their satisfaction, I care about mine and I wanted to enjoy the movie. Kurt moved with me and after that, we could only hear when famous asshole-fratboy shouted out drunken comments like "woo-hoo," whenever he saw himself in the film "respect," whenever someone did something ballsy in the movie (and it's a movie about ballsy climbing, so we heard that one a lot) and "represent" when Boulder was mentioned. What a dumbass.

On a positive note, I got an awesome bi-pattern Maxim 9.9 60 meter beautiful blue new climbing rope for a really good deal in the silent auction. I love my new rope!

And Kurt ended our long weekend (and my summer in Squamish) on the Grand Wall. He led both Apron Strings (10b) and Merci Me (5.7). We both had a hard time with the first pitch of Apron Strings. I actually struggled quite a bit on top-rope which was odd because I've climbed it before and just walked right up it last time! I guess I need a rest. So rest I will do -- all week. And then, Kurt and I are off to Yosemite for a week of climbing and then a relaxing weekend down there with my family. Weeeeeee!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Strange Weather

Well, it poured rain all day Sunday, but I woke up to sunshine Monday morning, so despite forecasts of rain, Paul and I decided to try to find some dry rocks. We wandered around the Bluffs for a while looking for something dry before deciding to head back to Neat and Cool hoping those routes had dried off. We got in 4 routes in before the rain came back for the afternoon. We debated for a while since 1/2 of the sky was beautiful and blue while the other 1/2 looked dark and stormy. In the end we decided to head out and shortly after getting to the car it started raining pretty hard.

Tuesday was more of the same. We wandered from crag to crag getting on the few cracks that were dry. We managed to get in 6 pitches before it started raining in the evening. And now it looks like we're in for at least 3 days straight of rain. :(

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Flying Circus!

I have been saving Flying Circus for a long time hoping I could get my first 5.10a on-sight.  All of the 10's I've led previously had either been top-roped or I'd hung on gear.  This weekend, I felt ready to take it on.  Kurt and I were very lazy Saturday morning and didn't make it out to the crag until early afternoon.  I got racked up, roped up, and was ready to go.  My goal was not to hang on any gear.  I wanted to either take a lead fall or get the route clean.  

I didn't meet my goal.  I got intimidated and hung in two places -- several times in one place where I kept climbing and then down climbing back to my piece of gear.  But I finally did make the move that was intimidating me and finished the climb.  I didn't meet my goal, but I did finish the route and was able to calm myself down and relax each time I started getting scared.  So even though I didn't take a fall and I didn't get it clean, I am proud of myself.  



After cleaning Flying Circus, Kurt decided he wanted to put up Neat and Cool (another 10a).  He struggled a little on it, but did end up finishing the route.  Then it was my turn to clean.  After struggling quite a bit on the overhung pumpy hand traverse and making little progress, I wasn't having fun at all.  So I used the slings I had to aid up the bottom section of the route since I had to clean the gear off of it.  The second half of the climb resembled fun, but it's still not a climb I'd want to repeat.  Once we were finished with that, we watched a girl flawlessly lead the tricky section of Neat and Cool and then we headed back toward the parking lot and I put up Cold Comfort (5.9).  Although it wasn't my first time on the route, it did challenge me a bit on lead and I felt good about it.  Kurt cleaned it and then we headed back to town to finish the evening with dinner and a movie.  


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Weekend with Kurt

Kurt got in late Friday night. We got all racked up and ready to do the Ultimate Everything the next day and then went to bed. The plan was to climb Rock On up to the trial to UE. I led the first pitch of Rock On which I found to be easier than the last time, but that's probably because I just did it last week.

After I brought Kurt up to the top of p1 (pictured), I decided to take on the short second pitch even though the unprotectable chimney at the top freaks me out a little. And I ended up getting shut down. I Climbed above my last piece (a boomer #3 and then back down to it several times before I decided it wasn't worth the risk to me. I built an anchor and brought Kurt up to lead the last 10-15 feet of the climb and then he brought me up to the anchors. Kurt led the 5.9 and 10a pitch with no problems and I followed clean except for a spot where I had to hang to get a nut out. I still don't think I'm ready to lead those yet though ... I'm way more cautions than I used to be about what I'll lead! I did lead the rope up to the top of the easy last pitch of Rock On -- which isn't much to brag about since I've done it so many times before.

Kurt got a picture of me taking the nice rest mid-way through the 10a pitch of Rock On.

We took some time to sort out the gear, eat some food, and rehidrate a bit at the top of Rock On.

Then we headed off up the trail to The Ultimate Everything. It was a pretty hot day, but we felt okay hiking through the forrest. But once we got to the base of the route, we reliazed the whole route was baking in the sun and would be for the rest of the day. It was over 30 degrees (almost 90 fereinheight), so we contemplated a bit and in the end decided it would be too uncomfortable climbing for that long in the hot sun.  We hiked back down the trail and found another party toppingo out on Rock On and were able to share ropes and rapped back down the route.

We went into town and got some gatorade and snacks and then headed over to Shannon Falls. The only picture from that is the one Kurt took of my leg. I somehow got into a fight with a tree stump at the top of Rock On and came away with a pretty nasty scrap. Usually Kurt is the one to get all bloody, so he had to document my injury.  LOL

The base of the wall was in the shade, but the routes were in the sun. I led Klahanie Crack and Kurt followed in his approch shoes. We were both too hot after that to do any more climbing and all of the routes were baking in the sun. So we called it a day and headed to the brew pub for dinner.

We woke up to clouds and some rain on Sunday morning. It cleared up by mid-morning, but we decided to give the routes some time to dry. So we went Valhala Pure to check out the sale and so Kurt could exchange the 5 tennies he got from the silent aution back at the Mountain Festival.

We headed over to the upper Malumute to do High Mountain Woody (5.9). But the heat quickly took the energy out of us and it wasn't windy up there like it usually is to keep things cool. So we laid around and hung out together in the shade for a while until a breeze came up and got us motivated again. I put together a very excessive rack and we rapped down. I was really nervous to lead the route, but I got on the pointy end of the rope anyway. I have seconded it twice -- clean both times. And the last time felt really easy. So I knew it was possible for me to lead it if I could just stay relaxed and focused. But that proved to be challenging for me through the short crux of the climb which is right at the beginning. I was kind of freaking out and ended up putting in a couple pieces and getting lowered to re-collect myself.

After a short break and some Om's (thanks Kurt!), I managed to pull myself together and got back on it. I was still scared, but I was able to stay calm enough and focus on the climbing. Once I got through the tricky section, the rest was very fun!

Although I have led harder routes, I have never been that scared and then gotten over it an been able to complete the climb. I think this may have been in important step in getting my lead head back since I broke my ankle last year.

We had planned on doing more climbing up there, but it was getting late and Kurt wasn't feeling well. So we called it a day and went home.

Since the forecast was calling for rain all week, I decided to take a break from Squamish and headed back to Seattle with Kurt. Hopefully next week will be nice --  
I would really like to get up The Ultimate Everything, Angel's Crest, and maybe the actual Birds of Prey route (instead of whatever variation we ended up doing last time) before the summer is over!

Friday, August 15, 2008

A couple days of cragging

I got back to Squamish on Tuesday night and ended up getting together with Trang (a friend from Girl's Rock) and her boyfriend for some cragging at the bluffs. We went up to Pixi Corner and rapped down onto Jaberwocky. I thought about leading it, but the start was just too intimidating. But I brought my rack up with me and placed gear and if I could get past the start (which I did manage to do clean, but it would have been freaky on lead!), I know I could easily lead that route. Maybe next time. Then Dave put up Pixi Corner, Trang pink pointed it, and I cleaned it. The Bluffs were actually pretty crowded, so we headed back toward the parking lot to Boulder Gully in the Car Park Crags area. I got the onsight of Picket Line (5.9) and was very happy to feel calm and relaxed on lead even through the tricky section. Dave put up Cold Comfort (5.9) which was a really fun finger crack with loads of ledges for feet. After that, we called it a day and I went for a swim in the lake.

Thursday, Raphael and I had plans to go up the Grand Wall and I was really looking forward to it! But it was *really* crowded and so we opted to do some cragging around the base instead. We started with The Exasperater. Leading the first pitch of that was probably my proudest moment last year. But I let Raphael take the lead this time. I wish I could say it was out of generosity, but it was just out of fear and nervousness. He linked the two pitches and I was surprised at how easy it felt to me on TR. I followed the second pitch (10c) last year and really struggled on it and hung on the rope several times. This time, I just walked up it pretty easily and didn't even have a problem standing and cleaning gear. Which is both good and bad -- it means I'm becoming a better climber, but I'm leading a grade or two below my real lead ability. My head is still pretty messed up from the fall last year. But I've led a few 10's (The Zip, Nubile Woman) since getting up here and I felt nice and comfy on the 5.9 the day before. I know it'll come back with time. We also did Apron Strings (p1, 10b; p2, 5.9) and then The Flake (10b). After that we called it a day.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Squamish Buttress (via Rock On)

Toby and I decided to do The Squamish Buttress via Rock on last Thursday. We got a bit of a late start (around 11am), but figured we'd have enough daylight to do the climb and find the tourist trail and didn't think we'd have any trouble with the tourist trail in the dark.

I took the first lead of Rock On. I've done it before, but it was actually a bit trickier than I remembered. Nothing too hard, but I had to think a bit to find places for gear and to figure out some moves. I think I've just gotten so used to climbing splitters that this somewhat discontinuous corner made me think a bit. I followed the second pitch as well, which was mostly more of the same with a kind of freaky but not too hard chimney-ish finish to a ledge.

Toby then took the lead for the tricky but short 5.9 pitch. We waited on the ledge for a bit for another party to move on and then Toby led the 5.10 as well (all in a single pitch). I found the 5.10 to be much easier than I remember it being last year, which I'll go ahead and chalk up to me being a more experienced climber. It took me a while to figure out the crux at the top, but I managed to get it clean.

We hiked through the trail and found the start of The Squamish Buttress. I gave the lead to Toby again. It was only a 5.8, but it was a run-out slab 5.8 and after my fall last year, I just don't want to lead slab anymore!! We got to the top of that with no trouble and I "led" a short easy low 3rd class traverse to a tree belay. After I brought Toby over, I led a long easy 5.8 pitch (but it only has a few 5.8 moves, most of it is low 5th class). Toby then took the lead for a 5.9, which also only had a few 5.9 moves and lots of ledges to stand on for gear. We walked over and had a snack under the pitch of 10c. Toby then took the lead again and was a bit nervous, but got the 10c with no problems. I was a bit bummed that I had to hang on the rope a few times to clean some nuts that were in there pretty good as well as a cam that had walked in and gotten really stuck (one of the lobes had opened and the corner was *really* stuck on a crystal). The pitch felt pretty sustained to me, but there were all kinds of hidden holds for hands and lots of places you could stem your feet out to get a nice stance/rest. I then took the lead for a pretty easy but significantly run-out pitch of 5.6.

We topped out around 9 and found the tourist trail with little trouble. By the time we made it to the ladder, it was pretty dark. So we pulled out the only light we had (Toby's camera), and the battery promptly died!! From now on, I will always insist on 2 headlamps for descents like this (and maybe keep a spare headlamp in my chalk bag a well!!). We had a hell of a time finding our way out of there. We pretty much blindly groped and stumbled our way down. It was so dark in the trees that I couldn't even see my hand in front of my face. The trail is really easy in the daytime and would be no problem with a head lamp, but we couldn't see a thing and I think we lost the trail a few times. Walking in complete darkness down a trail with lots of steps and uneven ground (not to mention trees -- Toby ran straight into one at one point!) was very slow going. We didn't make it back to the car until 2am!! We were safe the whole time, but Toby's wife was understandably worried as was Kurt. I was very happy to see my bed that night.

some cragging

Almost all of my partners were trapped south of the rock slide for the weekend. But I managed to get out to the bluffs a couple of climbs Saturday and Sunday evening with Toby. On Saturday, Toby put up Up Up and Away (5.9), and then it started raining. I cleaned the route in the rain and then we packed up and left. Sunday, I led Magical Child (5.8) and Roni and Toby both seconded it. Then Toby put up Ridge Runner. Once Roni and I had both seconded that, we decided to call it a day.

Vince came up for the afternoon on Wednesday. We met at noon and headed over to the Upper Malamute. We started with High Mountain Woody -- super fun climb!! I should have led it, but I was feeling squeamish. Next time, I'll do it on lead for sure! After that, Vince put up the 10a to climber's left of HMW and the 10b to climber's right of HMW. Both were really fun routes, but the 10b had a pretty tricky finish! The crack sort of peters out and you have to traverse a bit to the right to finish the last couple feet of the climb on an aerate. We then headed over to Shannon Falls and I put up Klahanie Crack (super easy fun 5.7 splitter crack on a slab), and Cardhu Crack -- a kind of dirty, but fun 5.8 crack. Once we got down from that, the sun was pretty much down, so we hurried down the trail in the dusk, sorted some gear in the parking lot and parted ways. Fun day!