Archive for September, 2011

Off again

In a few hours we will be on the road again. First off to Tofino for a memorial, then it is southbound for Smith Rock. My elbows are feeling much better and I am getting excited.

New place, new rock, new people, and hundreds of great routes. Most too hard to contemplate, but still, it is going to be a blast. And maybe there’s an 11 redpoint waiting for me? You just never know.

Can hardly wait!


Leaving Squamish and a funny thing happening

Nigel and I left Squamish yesterday. The weather was not bad after raining the day before, but my elbows were troubling me, and I decided to give them a weeks rest before we head to Smith Rock. Better safe than sorry. So my resting, and the bleak forecast convinced us to head back to Salt Spring Island for a few days.

It was pretty hard to leave though. Squamish has given me unbelievable gifts I did not fully expect to receive, especially after the humbling first few days. The best climbing of my life, my first real gear falls, the satisfaction of knowing that I had pushed myself to my absolute limit and still not given up. My falls came as a result of me going all out to go up. It is a great feeling to know there was nothing more I could have done in the moment to achieve a different outcome (obviously better footwork would have helped, but in the moment my feet did what they could).

The hardest thing though, and this surprised me quite a bit, was leaving the people I had met, and leaving the chance to meet more people. I know, I will meet more people at Smith Rock and every other destination we go to, but for me it was the first time in a social setting that was more or less exclusively made up of climbers. And what great people we climbers are. Sharing food, coffee, shelter and hundreds of dollars worth of cams and other equipment with complete strangers. These strangers soon turned into good friends and climbing partners, but the leap of faith involved in lending out big cams and big bros to people you have never met before still surprises me. But I love that! In addition to the food and the gear we have also shared success and failure, amazing experiences, funny stories and an unbending passion for what we do.

But here I am, on Salt Spring Island, belly full, warm and comfortable, eagerly awaiting our departure for Smith Rock. I have a list of 50 routes I would like to do, ranging from 5.7 to 5.11b (that is the hopeful side of me writing down the latter), but almost as much as the climbing I am looking forward to immersing myself in this incredible culture yet again. It is truly extraordinary.

And now for something completely different.

I noticed that the views on my blog exploded yesterday, going from between 30-60 per day, to a whopping 400+. A little research revealed 114 users referred from UK Climbing forums. Which is surprising, since I have not posted there, and I have not mentioned anything about UK climbing (that might make someone stumble across my blog through a search engine). So I checked it out, and it turns out one person there has somehow stumbled across my blog and posted a link to it. Some of the responses were, well, not entirely supportive, while others seemed to grasp what I am trying to do and convey. Anyways I registered on the forums, initially just to ask the guy where he came across my blog, but I ended up posting a long-winded reply justifying my blog. surprised me a little, but what can you do? We all want people to like us, right? Curious to see if it gets any attention.

Today my blog is back to normal, so that is good as well. Not sure I enjoy the pressure of trying to keep hundreds of people entertained on a regular basis. But once in a while it is a lot of fun.

A link to the thread on UK Climbing.

Odds and ends and pics

There have been quite a few rest days lately. My elbows have been naughty, and I am reluctant to take any chances as there is still several months of climbing left on this trip. Last night was the worst yet, with quite severe achage in the night. Kept me up until 2 am, and in the morning I had to send bail on Nigel and our planned ascent of St. Vitus Dance, a 5.9 multipitch on the Apron. Fortunately our nice neighbour Larry stepped in, and more than likely they will make much better time without me as an anchor…

So sad and upset not to be pulling on rock that goes all the way up into the clouds today, I went for a shower, some internet, and later there is a haircut with my name on it. Or at least a close shave. Tomorrow I will more than likely hike up to the summit of The Stawamus Chief to pass the time. The “do nothing” rest days have been pretty rough so far. So I need to make myself useful in some way. It is a great hike, steep and long, and should give me a good cardio workout as well as splendid views (depending on the weather).

The camp parking lot keeps getting bigger and bigger, as people up and leave and no one replace them. The Squamish season is winding down, and the climbers are heading south. Soon we will join the migration. Hopefully we will be as lucky with the weather further south as we have been in Squamish. Almost a month and only one day of solid rain. Seems pretty special in the coastal north-west.

People come and go, yet many of them we are likely to see again before our trip is over. Some have the same itinerary with Smith Rock, Yosemite, Joshua Tree and Indian Creek, others will go to The Creek in late october, early november, and we hope to see them again there. Ropeguns needed I fear…

Two days ago I went to the base of the Grand Wall with Nigel and Larry, and I got on Seasoned in the sun. I have TR’d it before, but this time it was sharp end or nothing. Racked up slowly, nervous as always about the first gear lead of the day. The Squamish Select guide rates it at 5.10b, and it felt like that. By far my hardest lead send so far. Both my other 10b sends have had short hard cruxes, but Seasoned was sustained hard all the way. I have rarely been happier than grabbing the ledge below the chains. It is a wonderful line, and amazing climb. Then we headed down to an even better line, Exasperator. It is 2 pitches, the first one 10a, the second 10c. We waited while another party climbed it as 2 pitches, then I got on with the intention of going to the chains, then evaluating the chances on the second pitch.

The first pitch is stellar in its own right, hard, sustained and great locks. A few strategically placed ledges makes it a 10a, without them it would probably be a 10c as well. I did not feel super confident going up, but Nigel told me later that I looked better than I had on any other 10a before. I made it to the chains without major incident, rested a little, looked at the line of the second pitch and fell in love. Reracking my small gear to the front, there was no going back. I had to try this wicked finger crack!

A couple of moves out from the chains I got a great jam for my right hand and decided to place gear. I was not lucky, and had to fiddle 3 cams before getting the right one. My right arm pumping out I made a couple of more moves, then fell. Pedaling down the face until I came to a gentle stop. The cam held! Amazing stuff. Pulled up, did another couple of moves and placed another piece. But pumping out on all fronts I fell on that piece as well. Same story, gentle stop, pulled up after Nigel had made it clear there was no backing down now. But I was too pumped to pull any of the crux moves, so I aided my way to the first no hands rest. From there I struggled my way to the chains in good style. Walked up the final handcrack because I was too pumped to pull hard even on great hand jams.

Larry came up in great style after me, but had to pull on one of the cams because I had blocked a crucial pin scar for him. We rapped down and I collapsed under a tree. Amazing line, amazing climbing, and what a spanking it gave me. A few more 10’s to m name and I want to go back. Sadly I might not get the chance with my elbows acting up. Probably as a direct consequence to the effort I put in on Exasperators final pitch. Oh the irony!

Anyways, here are a few pics, and one of them is even one of me on the first pitch of Exasperator. Just so you know I ain’t lying. 😉


Another big Squamish update

A fair bit of climbing, scorching heat, a really good book and really cool people at the campgrounds will have to share the blame for the infrequent updates. But today is the day. Shower, late breakfast and a couple of hours at the library after four days of cool climbing. Squamish rocks hard. It’s just that simple.


September 1st.

A slow start at the Smoke Bluffs. Ominous clouds, and a few drops of rain as Nigel sent a long 5.9 route called Up, Up and Away. I was too worried about the rain to get on it (and perhaps a bit intimidated by the difficulties it gave Nigel). We went down to Crime of the Century, a thin finger crack rated 5.11c and Nigel one hanged it on TR, Pretty damn good, the man is taking these crack lessons to heart, that’s for sure. Soon he might even be fit to haul me up the Grand Wall Lite (5.11a).

After that we went down a ways and I did Easter Island (5.8) a couple of times, and Nigel did Out to Lunge, a 5.10a hand traverse joining the top of Easter Island. I cleaned it after him, and got pumped out of my mind. But it was a lot of fun, and my spirits were picking up.

Feeling better we headed back up to Kangaroo Corner, a short, thin, pumpy lieback corner going at 5.11a. Nigel sent it second try, for his first 11 trad lead. Short, but sweet for sure. Made us both happy! I tried it on TR, but could not pull the crux move. Footwork is still pretty shit, but even so all the other moves went. Even managed to pull a pretty burly move off a 2 finger pocket, which is a first for me. Felt really good. We shall return, and I hope it will be my first 11 lead as well, sometime before we leave, but time will tell.


September 2nd.

SmokeBluffs again, and the Connection again. I got on the sharp end, and did Mosquito (5.8) which was really scary, then Phlegmish Dance (5.8) which was also scary until the jams came at the top crux. The last few moves where great. A little break and I hopped on Jabberwocky, a 5.10a finger crack with bouldery start. And it was amazing. Little tricky to remember the first feet, then I pulled confidently through the low crux and cruised the finger crack. The locks felt great, I felt confident, the gear was solid, and it was an amazing lead. Made Paul a happy camper, that’s for sure!

Another break and I jumped on White Rabbit, the 10b lieback corner I TR’d last time around. I got in 3 pieces before flaming out one meter before topping out. Pumped out of my mind, Nigel had to go up and send it to get the gear back. He did in style, but I was too pumped to even consider a TR burn.

Around the corner we found a little 5.10b called Trixie, which proved to be true to its name. Nigel led it for the onsight, but I fell at the crux. Lowered off and sent it, still with some difficulty though. But another 10b lead for me, and that is good stuff. Nigel talked me into getting on a .8 route called Pixie Corner, and I am glad he did. Best 5.8 I have ever done by far. Great jams, little bit of stemming and a nice pull over a little lip. Excellent climbing!

Then we spent the rest of the afternoon trying to get up Weiner in a bun, a slabby 5.11a, but neither one of us could get past the high crux. Nothing for hands, and only tiny little crystals for feet. And a meat grind if you fall… Although it was well protected… Fingers sore from the slab I need a rest day.


September 4th

Went out with a big crew to the base of the Grand Wall to do some of the Apron Finger tour routes. Myself, Nigel, Denis and Mark, later joined by Todd and Dustin, a couple of cool cats come all the way down from Alaska.

Denis, Mark and Nigel lead Seasoned in the Sun, a sustained 5.10a finger crack. I barely made it up on TR, not feeling too good. A little later my elbows started aching, so I let that be it for my climbing for the day. Watched Mark, Todd and Dustin lead Exasperator (2 pitches, 10a and 10c), and it looks really amazing. I will return to get on it. We passed Arrow Route, as well, another finger crack going at 5.10b that looks really cool as well. On the list it goes. Then there was a few beers and some pizza. Not a terrible day after all… But my elbows need another day off, and they are convincing…


September 6th

Bulletheads, an area behind the campground. A short but steep hike and a fixed rope got us to the base of Slot Machine, a nice 2 pitch route going up twin cracks. I lead the first pitch going at 5.9, and Nigel ran up the second 5.6 pitch. The first pitch was really good, the second I have no recollection of. A day later I couldn’t even remember it had 2 pitches. Strange stuff…

A few meters from the top out of Slot Machine we found a route called Golden Labs, another 5.9, but really burly, with a steep lieback start and a pumpy handtraverse. I missed a crucial foot placement, pumped out and slid off before getting up onto the first ledge. I did manage to downclimb a couple of moves wich made the fall short and safe. But I got spooked, because I was worried about falling a little higher and hitting a ledge below. I was also upset with myself for down climbing instead of spending the energy hauling up on the ledge. Decisions made when the head is cloudy with fear, eh? Long story short, Nigel got on the lead and sent it. Then I cleaned it, and doing so I pulled the steep moves easily enough, and the really hard part was the really pumpy hand traverse. Don’t know if I want to get on the sharp end there again, but we’ll see.

After that Nigel got on a route called Manjana (or something like that), a 50 meter long .10c. More technical than physical, it suited both of us well, and Nigel got the onsight lead, and I came up as second without too much difficulty. So I have to go back and lead it another time.

Lastly I jumped on a 5.10b slab called Xenolith Dance. I had to take once towards the end because my calves were pumping out and I was sliding off the smears. But did all the moves and got to the chains. Another one to return to. Nigel cruised it on TR, and as he did, I could see the heat on the wall in the sun making the air shimmer. Not ideal conditions for slab climbing.


September 7th.

Rest day? Maybe… But no. Late start. Deidrie in the sun? Sure, why not?

At noon Nigel started out linking the first two slab pitches (5.6) just as the sun was coming in over the trees. A hot day ahead of us… I ran up after him, led the little traverse pitch, then got on the lieback section going at 5.8. I was tired enough for a rest day, so it felt really hard in the scorching sun. But I got to the chains just as I was starting to doubt myself. A little rest as Nigel came up, and I got on the second lieback section, also 5.8. This one started a little harder, and I got a little worried, but decided to push all out for a rest ledge. I barely managed to get there, and when I did, I could see that it got much easier the last bit to the chains. So I hopped on again and pushed as hard as I could to get to the chains before running out of strength. And I did. Two great pitches of liebacking, jamming and really cool moves. Good lessons for Paul. Nigel ran up linking the last 2 pitches of 5.6 slab towards the top. A few meters before the topout he ran out of rope, so I pulled the anchors and we simu-climbed for a little bit until he got a belay set up. THen I ran up as fast as I could to get out of the blazing sun, and get a drink of water (which was in Nigels pack). Once up in the shade at the belay I downed 750 ml of water in one big swig but still felt thirsty. Fortunately the walkoff was not that long, and apart from sneaking past a burrow with bees flying in and out, it was uneventful.

What a great rest day that was!


September 8th

Not really motivated for climbing, but went out behind the campground with Nigel, Todd, Dustin and Will to watch them climb A Pitch in Time (10b) and Rainy Daydream Away (10c). But I made the mistake of bringing harness and shoes, and before I knew it, I was pumping out on Pitch in Time (didn’t make the crux move and lowered off), then pumped out again on Rainy Daydream. At least I managed to get to the chains on that one, albeit with one hang. Can’t remember ever having been that pumped. Rest day tomorrow should make me stronger, at least one can hope?

Also watched some famous climber (can’t remember his name) hike Rainy Daydream away in 5.10 sneakers, putting in only 2 pieces of pro. One smooth send. Pretty amazing.

Pics to come later as I am running out of time.

The Big Squamish Update

Aug 18th

Destination Smoke Bluffs again. Big crew with us, Brad, Adam, Denis and Sam, all great folks we met in the parking lot at the Chef campground.

Nigel, Denis and I went to find a 5.10 finger crack called The Zip while the rest went to lay siege to a steep offwidth called The Split Beaver (5.10b).

Denis racked up and made short work of The Zip. He was super stoked and powered up in no time. A great lead. I went on TR, fell once because I botched the crux sequence, but regrouped I went through easily enough. Finger cracks seem really insecure to me, and my footwork is shit. So much to learn. Good job I am eager to be schooled, then.

Nigel had no problems with The Zip on TR, but as we were packing up, a wasp got inside Denis’ pant leg and stung him. As he was beating his leg trying to kill it, it flew back out, circled once then zeroed in on me. Stung me once on the kneecap, then avoided my wild swings and got me again on my right forearm before making his escape. A fierce little warrior for sure. We braved the pain and Nigel’s mirth at having escaped unharmed and went to join the rest at The Split Beaver.

On the way I sent a dirty 5.6 crack whose name escapes me. Nigel cleaned it as second and we were off again.

When we found the rest of the crew, Brad had put up a TR on The Split Beaver as well as the crack beside it called Orifice Fish, a steep 5.9.

Denis and Nigel sent The Split Beaver on TR, and I fell several times attempting the same on Orifice Fish before making it to the anchors. Steep stuff is, like most other things here, not my strong suit, and I pumped out and peeled off several times before getting to the last bit of slabby thin fingers towards the anchors.

My attempts on The Split Beaver yielded little but an unrelenting pump. I got up to the point where the crack got too big for fist jams, and I ran out of gas so completely that I could not even tie my shoelaces when I came down. No send for Paul… The rest of the crew did another Offwidth crack called Scullduggery (I think a 5.10) while I slept and tried to recover.


Aug 19th

Nigel and I went off to the Smoke Bluffs again, and going up to find our target for the day, a finger/hand crack recommended to us by Brad, we stopped at a 5.6 called Easter Island, and I sent it first, then Nigel crushed it. Best part was the bouldery start that proved a little tricky for me.

A lot of bushwacking later, we finally found the 5.7 Laughing crack. It is a gorgeous slightly slanting line of continuous hands and fingers up a slab. Perfect lead for me.

I felt in good control the entire way, the jams felt secure, the stances were good and the protection was great. On the way down to clean I noticed I had run it out quite a bit towards the end. Probably because I was so stoked about the way the jams felt. But when I got down I noticed my right knee felt stiff, and when I pulled up my pants it had swelled up to about twice the normal size. Climbing was abandoned and we made our way to the walk in clinic. The doc told me it was just a local allergic reaction, and I should rest, ice the knee and take antihistamines until the swelling was gone.

So a quick stop at the drug store then back to camp to rest and ice the knee.

Between resting my knee and some rains, it would be four days before I got out climbing again.


Aug 24th.

Heading off to the Smoke Bluffs with a cool cat we met at the campground called Bill. Ended up at a crag called Funarama.

I started the day with a 5.6 lead called Squatters Rights, and Nigel and Bill led it in succession as well. Then we did 3 short cracks in succession, not in the guide-book, but probably around 5.6-5.7. We all did them on lead.

Then it was time to up the game a little bit, and feeling good I got on a 5.9 called Point Blank. Up a finger/hand crack to some thin face moves from a small ledge into another crack to finish. It felt great! I was solid all the way, protection was good after the facemoves and I felt like I crushed it. Nigel led it easily enough as well, and Bill TR’d it.

Nigel then led Funarama and Funa-ramp-a, both 5.9s. I led both after him as well, and after TR’ing Funarama, Bill led Funa-ramp-a for his first 5.9 lead. He was so super stoked about it, I was even happier for him, than I was about my own first 5.9 (Point Blank).

Nigel and I finished off leading First Class, a fairly steep and burly 5.8 that Bill TR’d. He was too stoked about Funa-ramp-a to go for the lead there. What a great day!



Aug 25th

Another strong day in the Smoke Bluffs.

Nigel and I warmed up on Wisecrack, a 5.7 winding it’s way up the wall at Burgers and Fries crag. After that followed leads of Move on Over, a route starting with some fairly thin facemoves up to a bolt and over into a really good finger crack. It was a really good little route.

Then Nigel led a 5.10b called Catch me Quick. A super thin start with just a dodgy nr 6 nut to protect the low crux. But he sent it first try, and it was up to me to test the nut on my attempt. I place the nut and tried the thin moves, but I was too tense and slipped off. The nut held even though I pulled the sling in panic… Second try ended with a fall as well, but third time I got through and made short work of the rest of the route. After a rest I went up, took another fall on the nut, lowered and then sent the whole thing clean. A 5.10b gear lead to put on my mantlepiece. Paul was pretty damn proud of that.

Nigel spent ages sending Catch Me, a 5.10a variation with some slab moves over 2 bolts, because sweat was dripping off him under the scorching sun, and his rubber soles turned to licorice in the heat. But he sent it anyway, but I was so baked belaying him that we had to call it a day.

Still really stoked to do 5.10b gear lead. Getting really close to my sport climbing limit, so that is really good news.


Aug 26th

Big day! Nigel, Denis and I set out to do a long day of multi pitch, that would hopefully see us almost all the way up to the summit of the Stawamus Chief.

We started off with an alternative start to Calculus Crack, a 5.9 5 pitch route leading almost up to Memorial ledge on The Apron. I won the “rock, paper, scissors” contest for the first lead. It was a tricky, technical and thin start. Denis saved me at one point with a reminder to keep breathing. I promptly started filling my lungs with air again, and managed to squeeze through. Got up to a nice ledge with just a couple of meters of steep hand cracks left. I had a mental stumble, probably underestimating the section, and went up without placing any high gear. Got stuck just before the topout and panicked. Long, hard fall, but somehow I managed to downclimb the section by letting my hands slide down the cracks until I could stick a jam, then moving feet down, and repeat until I was back on the ledge. Put up an anchor and belayed Denis and Nigel up to the ledge, before Denis crushed the sequence, Nigel followed effortlessly, and finally I cruised it in the comfortable presence of the TR. Denis linked 2 easy pitches before Nigel led a flaring 2 crack system up to a sweet looking fingercrack pitch. Denis wanted to lead it and offered me a lead on the Buttress, and being seriously spooked by my first lead I accepted. I felt that the longer I could postpone the next lead, the better.

Denis crushed the finger crack, which turned out to be the best pitch so far, just great fingerlocks turning into solid hands before a technical slab part that nearly killed my ankles from the uncomfortable angles it had to keep for many, many moves in succession.

After some scrambling (some of it probably 5th class and exposed) we got to Memorial Ledge and my next lead, Memorial Crack. A 5.9 finger crack right on the far edge of the Apron. Super exposed and gorgeous. I put in 2 low pieces to protect my belayer as much as me, lest I tumble off the ledge and out into space in case of a fall. I did not fall, and learned a lot about straddling two cracks, picking stances, and being determined in the face of difficulties. I sent it clean, and belayed Denis and Nigel up. What a great pitch, and I felt amazing for getting through it in these surroundings.

After Memorial Crack it was time for bushwacking and long bits of slab. Denis led, with sparse protection, and Nigel and I followed. Getting really tired now, but we still wanted to do a 5.9 variation of the Buttress, to reach the summit. We finally reached the recently cleaned route, and it and Denis felt it looked stiff for the grade. I did not think so, but I learned my mistake when I went up as second after a great lead by Denis. The man is super strong!

The pitch starts out with a steep finger layback portion before a tricky and hard transition into a bolt protected traverse. I just barely made it to the ledge before pumping out, but it was super fun, and on TR there were no worries. I would like to go back and lead it though, but I should probably be fresher for it.

Denis led the next pitch as well, and he went out of sight and we heard strange noises that we thought was rock fall at first, but then realized it was helmet against rock. From a super exposed belay ledge all we could do was listen to the echoes of Denis’ efforts coming from the cliff across the gully. He cruxed and shouted something about the pitch being “gnar”. I followed along some ledges, rounded a corner and there it was. A narrowing chimney. My first reaction was “there is just no way I can get up that thing”. But I got on it anyway, hung the pack from a long sling and made my way up to the part where it got too narrow to crawl up. Back to the face of the wall I asked Nigel below me “now what?”. He had no good answer, but I started groping around above my head for holds, and lo and behold I grabbed a jug! Swung around with great relief and hauled myself up on the ledge above where Denis greeted me with the mother of all grins. What a great little pitch!

Exit pitch followed, basically walking along ledges, mantling onto the next, walking back the way you came, mantling onto the next, etc. Then we were under the summit of the Chief and made our way across some slabs (it had bolts in places but we just walked cross them) to the walk off path.

We took a break, had some water and snacks, coiled the ropes and learned from a passerby that we had been out for 10 hours!

The way down was steep and long, but the tought of food and beer gave me wings and I floated down the trail. A big hearty meal and a couple of pints later and I was fast asleep.

Best day of climbing ever! Ranging from bottomless fear to the peak of elation after sending Memorial Crack, and everything in between over about 10 pitches of awesome climbing (and quite a bit of slabs, scrambling and bushwacking). Can’t wait for the rest, but first I need a rest day or two…


Aug 29th.
Nigel, Paul and Denis set out around 9 am to get on Birds of Prey, a 5 pitch 5.10b route on The Squaw. It was one hell of a hard approach, steep, steep and steeper path winding its way up through the forest, but we finally made it to the base of the climb. But there were 2 parties ahead of us, so we hung our sweaty shirts to dry and walked around looking at the other routes starting up the main wall of The Squaw. Then we waited…

I got on the sharp end to link the first two pitches of 5.8 called Eagles Domain. It was all right, but the first lead of the day seems to be a nervy one for me, so I stitched it up a little, and towards the end the ropedrag was almost too much with 2 times 60 meter rope dragging beneath me. I also had to hang on a couple of cams and wait for the party in front of us for a while, because they did not link the pitches and set up a belay. But I got to some anchors with a few meters of simu-climbing as the ropes were just a few meters short for the task.

Wind was picking up at this point, and we discussed rapping off, but decided to go on anyway. Some ominous clouds across the sound as well, and The Squaw blocked our view to most of the sky, but we pressed on, but agreed we’d need to make good time, and not dilly dally about the place.

Then there was more waiting as 2 parties negotiated the 10b crux pitch, a short, but really steep handcrack and a 5.9 traverse. Denis finally got on it, and cruxed through the whole thing, beachwhaling over the top. At one point he screamed “NO!!”, and I did not know what he meant, so first I took in slack thinking he was about to fall, then had to pull it back out as he kept moving. He told me later it was an order to himself and the rock. No way was he falling off! Nigel followed, and I struggled mightily, falling 4-5 times before making the moves over the top. After the traverse, another 2 pitches of 5.10a awaited. Looked pretty stiff, but reasonable. Turned out to be anything but. Denis linked them on lead, but had to dig really deep to get through it. Nigel and myself got through it on TR, but I would not have led it. There were several moves where I completely surprised myself by not falling off.

Completely knackered we headed down the walk off, which turned out to be a really spicy piece of work involving fixed ropes down through a cave and some pretty serious down climbing. Got through it without incident, and by the time we got down I was feeling a little better, and Denis convinced me to get on an unkown crack route that seemed pretty easy. It was, estimated around 5.6-5.7, more jugs and face moves than crack climbing really. Denis did it in his sneakers.

So a wicked hard day, but we got through it, mainly thanks to Superman Denis. Stoked to have gotten through it, but a little hurt I fell so many times on the 10b pitch… Learned a lot though, so I look forward to the next one.


Aug 30th

Cragging at the Smoke Bluffs.

Started out with a route called Cold Comfort, a 5.9 finger crack. It was nice, but scared me in places, again, first lead of the day tends to do that. But I got up in style, and started enjoying myself a bit towards the end. Fortunately…

Then we headed over to The Zip. Time for me to lead it.

5.10a fingers and hands, gorgeous line, near vertical, fairly sustained but with good rests. Scared me a little in the beginning, but I sat down and visualized the entire climb, the jams, the feet, the rests, all of it several times, and the anxiety drained away and was replaced with a real desire to get on. Which I did.

The Zip was the hardest lead I have done. But the jams were great, and I managed to stay cool, use the stances for rest and placing gear, and powered through the crux while loving every move of it. Not only the hardest lead, but by far the best. I love The Zip. And a 5.10a crack lead to my name as well! Super stoked about that.

After I rapped off The Zip Nigel got on a route next to it called Crystal Ball. It is a 5.10b, starts with tricky face moves, then gets into a tricky, shallow, flaring crack. The stance above the face moves but below the odd crack saw some wear before he moved through and got on a ledge. After that it was an easy walk up a ledge, a straight forward dihedral and a few layback moves over a bulge to the chains.

I got on it on TR, struggled mightily to get off the ground, and fell repeatedly while trying to work out the tricky crack. Finally made it through when I started using face features for my feet instead of the crack. The push going more straight up, and less out of the wall allowed me to get up to the ledge without peeling out of the crack. But I had to pull sideways with both hands, like I was trying to make the crack wider! Effort, yes it did take a lot.

I tweaked a finger a little bit on The Zip I think, so that was the end of the day, and tomorrow will be a rest day to make sure my finger gets back to normal. But awesomeness galore and stokedness all around from sending The Zip first try.


Aug. 31st

Rest day today, with shower, swimming, shopping, laundry and blogging. Good news is that my finger is all better, and I am stoked to go climbing again tomorrow! Now some pics!