Saturday, August 9, 2008

Wednesday July 30th

Get up in the parking lot, and easily find a spot, campsite 16, which is to be my home for the coming time. As i set up my tent I meet Jo, a woman from York, in England, looking to share a site to split costs. Certainly seems like a good deal, and turns out to be quite fortuitous.

Jo has been on the road since March, mostly in Mexico, Peru and Bolivia, and has a full array of stories to match. She has had tent run over by monkeys, on a bus with goats, and adventures in the high mountains of South America.

She arrived a day before and had spent the previous day hiking her gear from town to camp in the rain!

Since neither of us had partners, we took advantage of the break in the weather and went to the Smoke Bluffs for a day of cragging.

The Smoke Bluffs are a bunch of "tiny" (some are 150-200 feet tall) crags nestled among a development just outside the town of Squamish. Despite their diminutive size they have excellent quality of rock and some great crack lines.

We started out with Smoke Bluff Connection, which links 4 all star climbs that tier on top of each other, giving and almost multi pitch experience. Mosquito 5.8 is a nice layback hand crack that links almost directly into Phlegmish Dance 5.8 a finger crack in a corner. Both are excellent. You then walk through the woods for 50 feet and get to the base of Jabberwocky a 10b fingercrack, which i surprisingly led clean on the first try, despite not doing and 10s in a while. This lead to a terrace and the best pitch Wonderland 5.9 which traverses directly (almost horizontally) across the exposed face. Good hands with minimal feet leads to quite a pump in the arms.

We then went up to Penny Lane and ticked off two five star climbs. Penny Lane 5.9 the namesake of the cliff is a perfect handcrack for nearly 100 feet, and QuarryMan 5.8 which follows an interesting corner to perfect jams around a roof.

We then go up to Pixie Corner, which is really right around the corner from Wonderland, and do Trixie 5.10b a short fingercrack, and Pixie Corner a neat 5.8 with two cracks in a corner. I try Captain Hornblower 5.11a a slab (not that vertical) that has extremely few and small holds. I am learning that while the grades here are mostly easy for the grade, the slabs are pretty tough, or I am not too good at them!

To finish off the day, we go to Octopus' Garden at the top of the hill and do the namesake climb a 5.8 wider crack. Despite being perfect hands for me the flaring nature of the crack made it tougher than perhaps I had anticipated.

10 pitches on a rain day with a new partner! not bad at all, and Jo quietly waltzed up everything with ease and even led two of the pitches, despite not climbing technical rock for 3 months.

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