Saturday, 29 June 2013

Picking Up Where I Left Off...

As Canada Day approached, plans were made for a return to Cal Cheak and some more awesome Squamish climbing.  A rainy week brought back memories of last year's Yahtzee under the tarp marathon, but forecasters were all in agreement--record temperatures coming this weekend.  Pretty tough to believe on Friday night as I sat beside a small fire, listening to the rain pelting my tarp...

Saturday arrived, however, and the clouds were long gone.  Better late than never, and just in time, hopefully the rock will be dry in some areas, at least...  Over Wildwood breakfast Mert indicates his desire to sample the Nordic climbs that I was bragging on a couple weeks back, so we roam northward to the small, quiet area in Whistler.

Wade On 'Groovin' Mice'
Hiking in is wet.  Very wet, in fact.  I recall that there isn't a whole lot of vegetation above the climbing areas, however, so hopefully it won't be too drippy still...  After raving about the climbing on the Swiss Cheese wall, that's our first destination.  There's already somebody climbing the 5.7, so we set up on the 5.9 to warm up for what is promising to be a very, very, warm day.

Mert is as excited with his first look at the rock as I knew he would be, he's beside himself with joy.  He eagerly sets up to lead the first climb of the day, and I am reminded again of just how different some people can climb.  The route that he takes up the face and through the overhang is vastly different than what I had done on my first try here.  He shoots up the climb and is back down before you know it.

I pull the rope and set forth, determined to try and follow his route rather than the one that I remember taking.  I have limited success, and end up with a strange hybrid that is nonetheless very enjoyable.  By the time we're cleaned off the route even more climbers have arrived, and the Swiss Cheese wall is full.  Off to Midway, I guess.

There's nobody home on the Midway wall, so we set up on 'In Tha House' and Mert flies at it again.  He makes a few beautiful reaches through the bottom, and is pushing through the top before long.  A nifty little traverse at the end brings him to the station.  As he's is coming down, Mert giddily exclaims that this is his best day of climbing in Vancouver, ever!  Wow.  I knew he would like it here, but that's some high praise indeed.

'In Tha House'
Taking my turn, I remember just how much I didn't like the reachy, awkward part below the second bolt, but I certainly did a better job of it today.  The top is just pleasant, I love the big reaches and pulls.  It's a quick climb, though, and I'm soon down at the bottom.

We move next to 'Droolin Jugs' which is over at the far right of the wall, next to a very intriguing 5.11a that is just begging for some attention.  Mert moved very well through the start, and worked out a tricky spot on the arête that didn't seem to make him smile too much.  Once it was my turn I thought I had a pretty good plan.  As I started up, however, I quickly discovered that I had my hands mixed up.  Bad.  Hard to recover from.  I expended way too much energy trying to get back to a comfortable position, and couldn't get it out of my head when I continued up...  As I arrived at the arête I just couldn't recall the moves that Mert had taken up, so I started experimenting.

I quickly found myself in a very comfortable position around the back of the rock, with my right leg wedged solidly in a gaping crack, trying valiantly to reach out to get the rope clipped in to the next draw.  It was a million mile reach, and I couldn't get it.  My body fatiguing from the horrible position, all I could see was what a magnificent whipper of a fall I would take if I didn't sort myself out soon.  I had gotten myself into a rather dangerous place, and it didn't feel too good.  I carefully maneuvered my body back to the face of the arête, and using a couple of massive leg-hooks combined with less-than-optimal holds, I managed to get myself back on track.

Mert preparing for 'Finntastic'
The climb went much more smoothly from there, and I was back on the ground in due course, looking for our next adventure.  Logically, after you have climbed 5.9's, you go on to a 10a, and there just happens to be one on a small outcropping above the Midway Wall.  We head there next, and find 'Finntastic' nestled in behind some mossy boulders. 

A very short climb, it is highly rated and looks really interesting, so it's gotta be done.  Mert has some issues on his climb, so when my turn comes I'm ready for whatever this bright green rock has to offer.

As always, my ideas are very different from Mert's, and I find myself quickly stretched to the max, bridged between the main rock and a giant flake that detached from it a few hundred years ago.  It had seemed like a great way to work my way through some thin holds, but now I'm as far up as that technique will take me, painfully overextended, with shoes that are worn out and slipping.  As my legs are about to give up the ghost I gather myself for one lunge at a promising hold.  I just barely manage to get fingers on it, and am lucky enough to get stable and make a solid move up the rest of the way.

Definitely one of the more interesting climbs that I have encountered, it's time to move on.  We drop back down to Midway and reflect on the 5.11a.  It's getting quite warm out, and I don't feel like the shoes that I have are quite ready to tackle an 11a, so we decide to trek off to the Go Gadget wall to check out a 10b.

Go Gadget Shoes, 5.10b
We eventually find the climb, no small feat, perched precariously on a gravelly hill.  Not quite a belay stance to write home about, the climb looks like a beauty.  There seems to be some strangeness with bolt positioning on a big roof near the top of the climb, but it's too far away to see if there's something to be concerned about right now.

Mert gets going on the route, three bolts in and starting to maneuver underneath the roof, he's just loving life.  This climb really tests his versatility, and getting out from under that roof looks quite challenging, but totally within reach.  He vanishes over the top, and I'm admiring the rope dancing around as Mert finishes the climb and returns to the ground.  That looked awesome, I am really looking forward to this one.

I am up to a rather high second bolt almost immediately, and reach up to lock my left hand into a decent crack over my head before trying to make the next sequence of moves when I notice a very significant pain in my left shoulder.  I try making the move a few more times, but the pain is bad once my arm is over my shoulder, and trying to close my fingers is just plain excruciating.  This is not good.

What a lousy spot to be in.  Somebody has to finish this route, but I'm in a lot of pain, and climbing isn't possible with only one arm.  Balls.  I concede defeat, but will still execute my responsibilities.  In a shameful display which I won't even talk much about, I gain the top of the climb and begin what is possibly the hardest route-cleaning ever.  With the big overhang and crazy rope angles, by the time I get down I'm bleeding from even more places than I already was!

My day is done, but Mert isn't ready to stop yet.  He wants to hop over to the 'Zoo' and hit 'Funky Monkey' a tricky 5.10c.  He starts out well enough, but soon discovers that he is too worn and tired for this climb.  He branches over to Bumbly, a 5.9, for the finish of an amazing day.

I have a great feeling of satisfaction as we return to the car, but am more than a little concerned about that pain in my shoulder...  We shall see...

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