Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Squamish Special

A dense tree canopy above the bouldering keeps out all but the most determined sun rays and, during heavy rain, a dry piece of stone can always be found.

Squamish, British Columbia.


My parents and I drove into the Stawamus Chief Provincial Park Campground, our brand-spankin'-new rental car, a Chevy Impala, immediately sticking out of place in the beat-up van and camper dominated parking lot. We quickly unpacked my gear, hauling it to the campsite a friend of mine, Robin C., had reserved. Hastily said good-byes ensued, and after handing me $75 my parents were off, not to be seen for another week...

Later that evening the rest of the group - Mike R., Mike B., Becca, and Jsun - arrived. With clouds overhead we hunkered down for the night, making sure our tents wouldn't be vanquished by the force of the infamous rain.

DAY 1 - It rained. ALL DAY. Spent grocery shopping and boulder hopping.

DAY 2 - SUNNY! Psyche was high and the day's mission went something like this:
CLIMB EVERYTHING! I seriously have not climbed that much in my life! Most of the problems were easy but who cares, they were amazing. After a quick meal at the Howe Sound Brewery, we went back to our car (now converted into a kitchen), planned out the climbs we wanted to check out the next few days and sat back in awe of the chief now a reddish hue from the fishing lights on the bay.

DAY 3 - I woke up to rain thudding on my tent. Not cool. We bugged out in the car all day, watching Big Up Films and hoping that this wouldn't happen for the remainder of our trip. That afternoon Mike and I hiked around looking for boulders we wanted to try.

DAY 4 - Rain again. Decided to hike the Chief, which was a terrible idea as everything was super slick and the view at the top was terrible...

DAY 5 (Robin left for bigger and better things in Boulder, CO...), 6, 7, and 8 - Molded together into something that could only be described as a epic sending fiasco. After sending about 50 problems ranging from V0 to V10 , these were the stand-out favorites:

Encore Une Fois V11: Without a doubt one of the best problems I've ever tried. It's movement is insane and one of the major cruxes for me was learning how to say it correctly...  No send, but I will. Someday.

No Troblems V9/10: Grade aside, this is one of the coolest featured problems in the forest. From a perfect compression couple of moves to a roof sequence with perfect holds to a top out with the perfect hand jam, this problem is well: perfect! I thought I might die on the down climb though...

Mind-Bender Low V9: Compression problem on crimp rails, how could you go wrong? Only wish was that it was 10 moves longer. We met a family from Montreal at this problem - the 2 year old son shouting "ALLEZ" definently helped me get up the problem...

Trad Killer V4: My all time favorite climb in the forest. Don't know why but it got me so psyched to climb more. SO GOOD!

Teenage Lobotomy V6: H-H-Highball? 25 feet high, bad landing, amazing climb. Just wish I could have mustered up some courage to climb past the crux.

Minor Threat V6: Super aesthetic, almost doesn't look like granite? Super dynamic!

Probably the most important thing that happened to me on the trip was my motivation to climb changed. Up until now, all I wanted was to be the best - do the hardest possible moves and if it wasn't at my limit I just wasn't interested. I was grade chasing.
After climbing at Squamish; after meeting people from all over the world, of all different climbing abilities and ethical beliefs, I realized that in the broad scheme of things, being the best doesn't matter. For me, the only reason to climb hard is to open up more beautiful climbs that happen to be hard. Certainly, I still seek out problems at my limit but not at the cost of missing out on a four-star moderate. Of course, these are just thoughts from an ordinary climber.

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