Saturday, August 9, 2008

Thursday July 31st (Trees are In!)

The rain is really supposed to kick in for the afternoon so Jo and I get up early to try and squeeze in a longer multi-pitch on the Apron.

The Apron is a huge triangle of less than vertical rock on the left side of the Grand Wall. It hosts several extremely popular moderate climbs and today was no different. Despite two parties being in front of us, things would get less crowded as they were doing a different route, that happened to share the first pitch.

One of the quirky rules about squamish climbing is that trees are always allowable as a handhold. In fact the grade takes into account that you DO pull on trees, otherwise certain climbs are significantly harder. In other climbing areas this is sort of a faux pas but here in Squamish with the weather being so wet and the vegetation so prevalent, and tenacious it would be impossible to not climb the trees.

The first two pitches of St. Vitus are a case in point. You literally pull yourself up vertical rock covered in cedar roots, using the roots for both handholds and protection. Actually sort of fun.

Jo led up the first 5.7 pitch and to avoid the crowds ahead we moved left, avoiding the second pitch of tree pulling and did St. Vitus Direct and 5.10a thin right facing corner. It was sopping wet, and I barely lead 10a on a dry day. I get to the top of the corner, but take a short fall when my foot skitters out of the wet corner while I am trying to pull over the final roof. Finish it off second try however.

Jo gets the money pitch, a full 170 feet of 5.8 hand jams off the ledge that get wider and wider until you can almost step inside the crack.

I lead off on the 5.9 awkward pitch as the weather starts to look ominous. Neat moves transitioning left across different crack systems lead up into an awkward slot, which my large frame barely gets through. I build the anchor in light rain, and bring Jo up.

The crux pitch is wide crack through a steep bulge, luckily cracks are not too much harder in the rain, which is really coming down now. Jo bravely smears up the opening slab and gets some gear in the overhanging crack above. Takes one fall, but gets it on the second try.

I finish the final 5.4 slab pitch in pretty heavy rain meeting the others who had been climbing next to us.

Our book had told us that we could rappel down the side, but not finding the top anchors, and not to eager to look around the slippery top slabs in the rain, we decide to follow them down the "walk off"

This is how we meet Dora and Andrew, a mid twenties couple from Montreal on a long road trip.

As good fortune would have it, Andrew has descended from here before and guides us down.

Here is a little overview of this "walk-off" climb a short 5.4 slab to get to a gully, though wide enough to squeeze through the exposure is pretty intense, walk through some woods and do a 5.1 traverse over 800 feet of air, walk so more, do another 5.1 down-climb and finally get to the trees. Walk down a bunch more and finally hop through huge wet slickery talus to finally get to trail. Needless to say we keep roped up for much of this and take longer descending then we did going up.

Back at camp Nathan and Bomber have arrived!

Nathan had driven unknowingly to the rock-slide and been stopped. Hanging out among the hordes of newspaper men and women he garnishes some support and a rallying call to get this poor road-tripping youngster to his destination is enacted. Not soon after he boards a motorboat with a drunk dad and his son (named after his favorite brand of cigarettes) with just his harness a sleeping bag and his dog.

They arrive in squamish harbor rather abruptly, quite abruptly in fact as the inebriated man didnt realize that the draft on his boat was 3 feet and the sand bar was only two feet below the surface. Stuck not far from the dock they realize that in squamish the harbor doubles as the landing strip for the many float planes, and currently one such is trying to land.

Frantic pushing, pilot cursing, and some well flown airplane maneuvers safely yield them at the dock. Bomber smartly exits the craft as quickly as possible and is quite subdued for the rest of the evening, which we spend playing cards with our new found, and long lost friends alike as the rain pours down in torrents around us.

No comments: