Saturday, 11 June 2011

Karate Kid and the Canadian Crack Addiction...

Last time I psoted, I was about to head up Helvellyn to sell Tea, Coffee and Bacon butties to unwitting punters at the top of the Mountain. It was a lucrative couple of days seeing a haul of 400 squid each after expenses... I bought a pair of trainers for squamish and headed to Liverpool to meet Jess and Heather, after a meal in the Egg, we headed back to chill at Heather's house. A teary goodbye to Jess and a hurried pack, and it was 3 hours till we had to leave for the airport. A short flight to London and we are off to Vancouver, witht he pressing issue of whether to try and sleep or to take advantage of the free movies... free movies it is. Upon landing in Vancouver we are interrogated by border control about how we know each other and how much money we have... a skytrain into the centre and we decide to go straight to Squamish rather than chill in a hostel, in the bus station we meet two Canadians who are heading out to boulder for the summer, Liam and Doug.

We arrive at Squamish and all I can see is the Chief rearing up above me... holy shiiit! That thing is BIG! the rest of the day I am too tired to do anything and all I can think about is the Chief... intimidated is a word you could use to describe the feelings going through my head... We head to bed early as we have been up for over 24 hours and are knackered.

The next day we went and got food and then headed out to the Smoke Bluffs to try our hand at crack climbing. We crush an unknown 5.7 and find that taping your hands makes a big difference, then a 5.9 is cruised, feeling cocky I get on a 5.10b, but the gear is poor, I make do with the best I can and sketch my way through to jams and a cruise to the top, after finishing with a 5.7 we head back to the camp-site.

Thursday dawns and we head to the Upper Malamute, a sort of sea cliff crag in which you have to ab in. Heather cruises a 5.8 layback corner, which means I get the lead on a 5 star 5.8+, High Mountain Woody. A tricky section off the ground leads to stead climbing and regular rests, I'm not entirely convinced its 5 star but it was awesome nonetheless. We head back for lunch and then head back to the Smoke Bluffs, we both crush an awkward 5.8, the Quarryman, and then Heather crushes Penny Lane, a tricky 5.9. Walking on to Neat and Cool crag, Flying Circus, a just off-vertical fingercrack at 5.10a catches my eye. TThe guide says it's polished from topropers, and the people before us have just toproped it, hmmm, I go for it anyway, and feel confident with sinker finger-locks and not terrible feet either. Suddenly, the fingerlocks open up and the feet diminish, a foot slips, but I manage to keep it together, make another move and I'm inot jugs and real footholds. The best route of the trip so far!!!

Friday is overcast again, but we planned to go and do our first Squamish multipitch today and the weather isn't bad enough to not do this. 'Hiking' (as the Canadians say) out to the Apron, we choose St. Victus; Dance, a 6 pitch 5.9. The first 2 pitches are steady, a bit of rock climbing, and then pullin on trees. The third pitch, only rated 5.8 is a massive 50m crack that widens as it gets steeper. I gear up ready for the fight and go at it, karate-chopping jams and fist jams in, whilst torquing my feet into the crack... Suddenly, it starts drizzling, I push on and squirm up the final offwidth to the belay ledge...phew!!! Florence's next pitch is a super cool 5.9 pitch that involves switching crack systems and then a wide crack to finish. Now the final hard pitch, involving an overhanging section of crack!! I go up, fix some gear and throw a fist jam in, pulling up, I stuggle to torque my feet in as the rope is in the way, first fall of the trip... taken. I lower down to the slab at the bottom, and engineer the rope so it runs deep in the crack, go again, and manage to haul myself over the top! It was only a body and a half length of crack but it was hard!, I carry on up to the belay and we top out, and walk back to camp.

I still feel like I have a long way to go before I feel totally comfortable at Jamming, and cracks, and long multipitches here, but hey we have had 3 days climbing and have still done some fairly hard stuff (for us).

Stay tuned...

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