Saturday, 9 March 2013

Murrin Provincial Park--New Adventures

Another amazing weekend, so Heather and I decide to hit up Porteau Cove for some quality provincial park camping, and become conveniently closer to the climbing opportunities in the Sea to Sky corridor.

Saturday dawns with the hint of a plan.  The parking lot area of Murrin Park has some beautiful moderates.  A 5.10a called 'Zoe' is the big attraction today.  A 5.8 called 'Oscar's Slab' is scheduled as the warm up.

It's cold here in the trees today.  It's not the warmest day in the world to start with, a solid three degrees according to the car's thermometer, and I'm concerned that my once-dislocated finger will not be too interested in the temperature of the granite once I get going, so I decide to lead.

First thing about this climb, there's an attractive crack running up the left side, accompanied by some decent edges running horizontally.  It looks nice and 5.8-ish.  Except for the water.  There's an impressive trickle going right down the whole length of the crack, and staining all the incuts that cross it.  Not inviting.

For some stupid reason I decide to climb. It's not a good choice.  The crack is unusable, and seconds after I touch the rock my hand starts to throb.  I gamely fight my way up past the second draw, gazing longingly at the beautiful crack, just begging for my fingers.  I'm losing feeling in my toes now, and I really need some of that wet stuff to continue on.

As I approach the third bolt I am really starting to worry.  I'm in pain, lots of pain, and I don't see much of anything to get me past it.  I suspect that I need to move over right to avoid the water and have hope of reaching obvious easy climbing above.  All of a sudden, my feet slip out from under me, and I'm slipping down the low-angle face with way too much rope out.

Instead of kicking away from the wall, I desperately try to cling to the nothingness that I just slipped off of.  In my defence, I was way close to the ground, and legitimately concerned that I was about to deck.  Scared the crap out of myself, scraped the hell out of my arms and knees, but stopped about 2M above the ground.  Well.  Tragedy averted, cold, angry, and in pain, I climbed the rope and started again from the second draw.  I re-routed to the right, and was able to gain the big jugs above the third draw successfully.  From there it was home free. 

After everybody got done with Oscar's Slab it was time for the feature presentation.  A top 100 5.10a.  Looks like a beautiful, varied climb, but the first bolt has a very, very tricky looking move to reach it.  In the gym, piece of cake.  Out here...  piece of scary cake.  Mert wanted the lead on this one, because I was in so much pain from my first ascent.  He false started for five or ten minutes before admitting that the first bolt was too high.  I decided that it was time to employ the legendary stick clip. 

After searching around for a couple minutes I found a nice branch that I am sure has done this duty before.  It took some doing, but I was able to get the draw hooked on the bolt.  After that Mert was able to reach the bolt, but he was having a tough time getting over the ledge up to the next sequence.  Ok, my turn.

The start was tricky, but well within reach, and from there it was just a pleasant wander up the crag.  The moves were sweet, the rock was warming and dry, and the first third of the climb was a piece of cake.  As I moved farther up, I encountered a variety of features, small overhangs, polished granite, cracks.  I had one slip, just lost my balance when trying to look over an obstruction, but Mert caught me perfectly.

Once I found my way to the top I allowed myself a few minutes to enjoy the beautiful sunshine before rappelling off to the conclusion of another beautiful day of early season climbing.

Now for a well deserved beer.

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