Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Squamish - The Grand Wall

The full weight of life sometimes keeps you down, boxes you in, prevents you from roaring at the top of your lungs. Work, family, life and death - real stuff that gets in the way of the play. Every now and then I look up and realize I've been swimming in crap for weeks on end, working too hard and letting the finer things in life slip past the ends of my fingers, which have cramped from too many long nights of typing legal briefs. The I'll step outside and start running, sprinting to nowhere, pegging my pulse and jarring my heart into action. "ARRRGGGHHH!!!!"

Its been over a month since I've posted on this blog. I intended to spend more time outside, but it didn't work out that way. A death in the family, two nights in the emergency room, and many many long hours of work kept me down as I hopelessly watched the summer weeks pass me by.

So this past weekend, I stepped onto the rock and sprinted - and screamed - and bashed in my knuckles till they bled. And it felt great.

Day 1: 1st pitch of the Great Game to the Godforsaken Land. 5.10+ A0, 4 pitches
Jungle Warfare, 5.10-, 4 pitches

Nate and I had the Grand Wall on our mind but wanted a warm up, so we headed to the Squaw. Good times!

Looking over at Right Wing - looks like its been cleaned up and provides a sweet .10b option to access the top of the Squaw.

Looking back down at Right Wing from the belay station where the two routes merge before the last .10d pitch.

The final .10d pitch kicked my ass. I took a small fall on the overhanging finger and hand crack, dangling from the end of the rope 300 ft off the deck. Sometimes it feels good to get in over your head.

Jungle Warfare was a sweet cruise.

Day 2: The Grand Wall, 5.11- A0, 9-10 pitches

Ah yeah, that's the shizzle.

Ed and Bill made some fine company at the top of the Split Pillar. Bill did a great job on the pillar and I got to take a few pics from the top.

The Split Pillar is amazing!! Woot! The Sword may have been even better, but I was too whooped to take any real shots of it. Here's Nate at the top as I look back from the bolt ladder. Airy.

Day 3: Centerfold, 5.10b, 3 pitches
Magic Mushroom, 5.9
Penny Lane, 5.9

I'm slowing down, getting worn out, finally feeling relaxed and detached from life for a few minutes. My body aches. Fingers bleed. Feet are sore. Canadian kids kept me up till 2 am with techno music. My brain slowly shakes off the effects of oxycodone and beer. Now this feels like vacation.

On the way in the first day I noticed a nice new gravel ramp heading up towards the Papoose, but I thought it was closed. A quick trip to Valhalla Pure and some dumb ass confirms that yes, the Papoose is closed and isn't expected to open anytime soon. Now on the morning of day 3, we're driving out of the campground, and there is a party of 2 walking up the ramp headed towards the crag. wtf?! Ok, screw Valhalla Pure - let's try Climb On. Ah right - so now we find out they opened it earlier this spring. Glad we can get some accurate information somewhere in this town.

So anyway, up we go for the five minute approach. A party of 2 from Vancouver is starting the 2nd pitch, so we wait a few minutes and then I head up. I'm giddy from having a 3rd straight day on the rock, and I'm chit chatting and BSing my way up to the first ledge. I feel bad for the Vancouver couple for having to listen to my gibberish, but I'm having too much fun. The .10b slab moves in the low angle groove get my attention, and we're back in the vertical.

By the end of the day, my brain and body start to shut down. I can barely muster the motivation to walk into the Smoke Bluffs for a final pitch. I pass out in a camp chair at 6 pm. Then I'm up again listening to more techno music, then back asleep, then up again listening to reggae music, then asleep again. Finally, I wake up one more time and its morning, and I'm lying in a puddle of rain water inside my tent. We pack it up and start inhaling greasy bacon and coffee before hitting the road. The caffeine in my veins barely keeps me conscious as we drive south. Slowly I start to think towards next weekend - and the drive back to Squamish - and another 4 days of the same.

On Monday, I got the inevitable questions - "How was the weekend." All I can offer is a big smile - "It was good."

Here are some more photos at Nate's page.