Sunday, 17 March 2013

Penticton Or Bust?

The date has finally arrived for a much-awaited, much-debated trip to Penticton to climb the Skaha Bluffs.  This might sound crazy, but we're well prepared, the forecast has been looking good for weeks, and Heather has a week off, so I take a week off so we can try our hands at the gneiss crags in the interior.

Come departure day the forecast has taken a turn for the worse, and is showing very unimpressive things to us.  So we pack our snowshoes so we can enjoy whatever we find when we get there.  The drive up was NIGHTMARISH.  I'm from Vancouver.  It rains here.  I drive in it all the freaking time, but the rain leaving town was Biblical.  I was just waiting to see some dude building an ark in a field in Abottsford, not kidding.  Didn't help that I've only been driving the Mazda for 4 months now.

After passing Hope things really started looking up, and it was a pretty sunny and pleasant drive the rest of the way.  When we arrived in Penticton our spirits were buoyed by the vistas over the lake.  No snow up there, and everything looks dry.  Once we located our hotel (after a quick stop at the Wine Visitor's Centre to get a list of open vineyards) we selected a restaurant near our hotel for a planning session.

Dinner was awesome, and we made a plan for the morning's adventure.  On the way back to the hotel we were about to cross the street at a green light when something made me stop and grab Heather.  Seconds later a car went ripping through the intersection, directly in front of us, stopping about 3M past the pedestrian crossing.  Wow.  I thought only Vancouver drivers were horrible.  Terrifying.  We made it back to the hotel with no further remarkable incident.

The next morning dawned clear and crisp.  Temperatures were just a couple degrees above freezing, so we went and grabbed some breakfast and decided that we came to climb, so climb we shall.  We loaded up the car and headed for Skaha Bluffs park.  Once parked it was a pleasant 15 minute hike in to the climbing area.  We didn't see any people, but there was a pair of mountain goats that were quite interested in us.  Cool.

We arrived at the Lower Red Tail Crag.  This was pretty tough, Skaha is HUGE, and there are dozens of crags waiting for climbers.  It took a couple tries to find our goal, but once we did it was time to get 'er done. 

I tried to persuade Heather to take first lead, but failed to convince her, so I tied in for my first crack at Skaha rock.  A 5.6 called 'Pried and Joy' was selected to be our intro to this new area.  The rock is VERY different than what I'm used to back home.  There's lots more feature to it than the climbs that we have used in the Sea to Sky corridor. 

The climbing on this route was pleasant, but the cold took away the feeling in my left hand and feet almost immediately.  It was a good thing that the holds were bigger, because otherwise I would have had some problems.  Also a good thing that it was only a 12M climb, because I wasn't having a lot of fun.  Can't trust what you can't feel, so I was sweating bullets most of the way up a lacklustre climb.

Heather didn't much care for it either, and after her quick ascent we moved over to 'Pry Baby' which is rated a 5.7.  I was cold from the start, no two ways around it.  It was certainly a much more enjoyable climb though, and I had to appreciate that, but once it was over that was it for our day.  We packed up and hiked out.  I was unsteady on the ground because my feet were so numb.  Disappointing day, but who knows what tomorrow will bring?

Off to an immensely enjoyable trek though the Naramata Bench wine route.

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