Saturday, 18 August 2012

Shannon Falls--A New Adventure

After the awesome excitement from succeeding at my first multi-pitch climb, I sought out more in the book and came to the distressing realization that sport multipitch really doesn't exist in the Squamish area.  Except in one place.  Shannon Falls A.M.O. (Advanced Mountaineering Operations) Wall.  There are at least a dozen routes spidering all over the face of the slab to the left of the falls.  What a cool place to climb!

The easiest route of the three accessible from the base is 'The Relish Route' which is a 3-pitch, 72 metre 5.8 adventure which goes all the way up, and offers a lot of options after completing the third pitch.  We find the start, probably, and set up to climb.  A lot of the fun about new climbing areas is the quest to figure out where the hell you even are.  It's a challenge sometimes, but it looks like we got it right today.  Mert isn't feeling up to leading today, so I lace 'em up and get going.

The first 7M was delightful climbing, but quite tricky until you're out of sight to your belayer, but no big deal.  Upon reaching the stump, I paused on a great foothold and got a look at the rest of the route.  Whoa.  Seriously, there's NOTHING here.  It's a massive, low angle slab with almost no feature to it.  Just a flat granite ramp.  How do you climb something like this?  I don't know but should probably start figuring it out. 

Away I go, slowly creeping up the face.  Now I know how spiders feel.  All I can think is that my shoes are too old for this kind of adventure, because they're the only thing keeping me moving.  Every once in a while there's a bit of a depression in the rock, which excites me way more than it should, because it's an opportunity to gain a little bit of friction with a hand.  Slowly I inch upwards, until it starts to get steeper.  Now I have a problem.  When I move a foot up, it just slips right back down the second I put any weight on it.  Hmmm...  Need more friction.

I try bending my ankle even farther, to try to get more shoe on the wall.  Hurts, doesn't help.
I start trying to turn around, and put my ass on the wall so I can get the whole surface of my shoe on the wall.  I'm currently above all my protection and my belayer can't hear me yell.  So I think this would be a poor idea too.
I need another foot.  My hands are doing nothing to help here.  Now the light goes on.  I take my right hand, rotate it over so fingers point down and palm is towards the rock, and lodge my elbow into my ribcage.  Now I have 3 feet, and one hand to manage the quickdraws and such.  I try again, and am able to make progress.  Another 10M or so of this and I'm at the end of the first pitch.  Thank God.  That was pretty hairy.

Mert follows up, and he's just hating this.  He can't implement my 3 foot method, and nothing that he seems to find is helping him advance.  He eventually makes it up to me and I set up to lead off the second pitch.  It looks like there's a lot more here, and there is.  Still completely dependant on friction most of the time, but a little bit more texture to the rock.  It's cool, I arrive at the second belay station and I can see the cars on the highway, and all the way out to Howe Sound.

Once Mert gains the ledge I set off on pitch 3, which has a lot more vertical breaking up the slab crawl.  It's really sweet climbing, and at one point I find a rusty old piton hammered into a crack that looks like it would still hold up if used for a draw.  Pretty cool stuff!  The view from the top was totally worth the challenge, and since we're up here I intend to try another climb or so.

A 5.7 called 'The Beaten Zone' brings you up right beside the falls.  Sounds awesome, so we head on over and check it out.  Pretty similar in character to the rest of the climbing today, I start on up with my 3-foot technique.  As I approach the top, the roar of the falls is intense, and I'm getting cool, damp air blowing ove my body from time to time, which is actually quite welcome on this hot morning.  What a rewarding climb!

We rappel off, and decide that since it's so early, and Mert wasn't loving the climbing, that we should head a short distance up the road and climb some routes at Area 44.

Sounds like awesome.

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