Sunday, 28 July 2013

The Foundation Of Fun

It's time to head out again.  A big group today Heather and I meet, Karinya, and Jordan downtown for a bright and early start.  Upon arriving at Cheakamous the decision is made to start with the Foundation wall, and see where the day leads us.

Heather Leading 'Flaming Arete'
Heather is up first.  It's been a while for her, but she steps up to take the lead on 'Flaming Arete'.  She's even bold enough to be the guinea pig for Karinya's lead belay lesson.  These ladies have climbed together a million times, so they understand each other pretty well, and Heather has led this route more than once before, so it shouldn't be a big deal.

Jordan and I stick close through the start, and Heather is moving confidently up the climb, showing no rust for all the time on the shelf.  Once she's past the really fun part with a big step and a wiggle, Jordan and I move off to start up a second rope. 

We drop the tarp at the bottom of 'Mystery', just as the second group of climbers comes up the path from the parking area.  This is a sweetheart of a warm-up, and Jordan starts off on the small, well placed holds through the starting area as Heather is finishing up her climb.  Jordan makes short work of this challenge, he seems to have some pretty excellent technique. 

As I renew acquaintances with an old friend, all I can think about is the first time I climbed Mystery, back in the mists of time, when I accidentally started on the 11a beside it...  Ooops!  Mystery is just a fun climb, gets your gut into it, and your fingers all woken up.  Tall enough to be worth the effort, and the technical section around the third bolt is very pleasant.

The tree isn't in, as much as you want it to be, and I'm soon enjoying the view and anticipating our next climb.  We leave Mystery set up for the ladies to attack, and once they have cleaned off 'Flaming Arete' we grab the gear and set up to attack 'Real TV' a beautiful 5.10a.

This climb is all about the difficult lower-third, with that delicious big step on a right hand pull.  Jordan is seems a touch hesitant because of how low it is, and I remember how long it took me to accept that that was going to be my move the first time I touched that climb too...  Once through there to slightly easier climbing above he maneuvers out from under the roof and on to the big jugs above.

Now we're well and truly warmed up.  The ladies are thrashing away on Mystery, sounds like a ton of fun over there, and most of the routes on the wall have climbers on them.  No surprise that it's a crazy busy day at Cheakamous.  The only free choices now are 5.10d or 11a, so we go after the 10.d

'Polychronopolous' is the 5.10d.  From the ground it looks mighty slopey, which is concerning to me.  I'm still climbing in my old 5.10 Spires, which were wonderful shoes in their glory days.  I replaced them with Sportiva Mythos back before Skaha, and have started going back to them because the Mythos just aren't breaking in how I would have liked.  So I'm climbing on shoes that slip, and slip often... Concerning...

Jordan leads it, and has one of the most awkward moves of the day to get past the fourth bolt, but successfully completes the climb.  I pull the rope and prepare, Heather is going to be belaying my attempt, sporting Jordan's awesome belay specs.  Fashion model! 

The start is pleasant and straightforward, there are lots of those strange undercling pockets that abounded on Real TV, and they are useful.  The climbing starts to get trickier approaching the third bolt, and it becomes clear that I will be very off-balance while trying to get close to the fourth.  It's starting to look pretty smooth up here, and I'm getting concerned about the holding power of my rubber.

Wade All Spread Out On 'Polychronopoulous'
Slowly making my way up farther, I'm just below the fourth bolt when my right foot decides that it has had enough of the wall, as it slips free, sending me zipping back down the wall.  A nice soft catch from Heather, and I'm left hanging, examining the spot I just occupied, while looking for some more impressive seams for my feet.

I try again, keeping my weight more on the left, and my body more vertical, to get a hand on the fourth draw.  Good!  Another trial passed, I continue smearing my way up the slab, until I gain much friendlier holds above.  By this time I'm sweating buckets, it's quite a warm day, and so beautiful.

Karinya is belaying Jordan up 'In Your Face', and we finish up at about the same time.  He's ready for another challenge, so we start evaluating the last remaining route on the wall, 'Mystery TV' a 5.11a.

If I can add this to my tick list it will be my first 5.11a outdoor on lead, which would be a pretty awesome culmination to a great day.  Jordan again leads off, getting two bolts into a reachy climb before starting to have a problem.  It looks like there's almost no feet here, and the hands are tiny, tiny.  I don't envy him, but he's doggedly trying every possibility, to no avail.

After a mighty effort he's down to the ground, and I'm ready to do battle.  The first few moves are fine, but I'm quickly frustrated at the same point as Jordan.  Those two tiny pinches at the farthest reach of my arms really aren't doing much to support progress.  There's a questionable feature that might take some weight if I can get my left foot almost up to my waist without throwing myself completely off balance, but it's a hard, hard move. 

I did get the move started once, only to hear the horrifying sound of rubber sliding across granite as my shoe refused to hold and abandoned ship.  I'm spent, absolutely exhausted, and completely frustrated.  Is this truly my first defeat?  I think that is what we have here. 

With a heavy heart I deposit a quick-link on the wall as a monument to my failure.  Goodbye, perfect record.

Everybody is wrapped up, so it's time to head off to Alice Lake to enjoy some quality cool down time, while I try to forget my shame.  Mystery TV, I'll be back.

Monday, 15 July 2013

Area 44--Renewing Connections

As summer continues in Vancouver this year, we are in the midst of a record-breaking July, and these wonderful, long days just beg a person to get up to the rock after work.  The sun is up until almost 10, and there's more than enough daylight to climb by until well into the evening, with the added bonus of a nice drop in temperature.

Today we find ourselves in Area 44, as it's the closest great climbing area to home for an evening trip.  Mert, Sophie, and myself are excited to get up and at it, and we decide to start with Preview, an old friend.

Mert has no interest in climbing 'Bleu du Jour', which is one of my favorites, so we nominate 'I Might Possibly' as our first climb of the day.  A nice 5.9, it should be a nice introduction to granite for Sophie who, visiting from Switzerland, is used to climbing on featured limestone crags.

I Might Possibly
A tough starter, this climb is a gorgeous finisher, as long as you can stick with it to that point.  Mert declares himself the leader and begins his journey.  He makes the first bolt, which is always a good thing, but starts to hit some issues on the smooth face just above.  A couple slips, and several clever moves later, and he's up and over the first challenge, starting upward through the next two bolts. 

Now he's arrived at the real crux of the route, a really touchy section that relies on a couple of decent finger pockets coupled with wee little edges for your feet.  I know that I always use my right foot stretched waaaaay back to help feel a bit more comfortable through here, but Mert seems hesitant all of a sudden. 

He hangs out and ponders for a bit before asking to come down.  Seems the start just took too much out of him...  I guess that makes it my turn!

I'm Not Against It
I have a rather questionable approach to this climb, which treats me well with these beaten down, old shoes of mine.  I go way wide to the left, and start in some really mossy holds that allow some good positive placement.  With all the sweat on my body, the moss and dirt is just stuck all over me, and I'm mighty dirty by the time I reach the second bolt.

It's pretty smooth sailing from there, negotiating with the little finger-cracks just above the third bolt before passing through to some healthy jugs above.

Now it's time for Sophie's initiation to the granite club.  She heads straight up the face, electing to bypass the deadly swing-fall that going left could subject you to, and is making a very good show of it.  While trying to pass the first big bulge, however, she just doesn't have the upper-body strength to make the big pull over the lip.  After throwing everything, and the kitchen sink (including a unique heel-hook that I would never have thought of) at the climb, she elects to come down.

Mert goes one last time on top-rope, succeeding up through the top section, to clean the route so we can head down to 'I'm not Against it' which tilts the scale at 5.8.

Mert decides to redeem himself by taking the lead again, and he owns this fun little gem, employing some beautiful hand-over-hand shuffle move to pass the crux on the cracked flake.  This climb really is a sweetheart, and Mert's down and smiling in no time.

I'm up next, and it's nothing that hasn't happened before.  There's really not much else to say, that yawning crack is just so easy to secure yourself in with a big knee jam.

Sophie gets after it, and she is able to move very confidently up through the moves of this climb, having a few hiccups through the crux, but nothing remarkable.  She comes down to ground, smiling and happy.  Contentedly declaring, 'I hate crack' to echo Mert's steadfast belief. 

Sadly, our time today is at an end, and we load up for the return trip to the city.  A quick stop at Chevron for some ice cream and slightly discounted gas, make for a marvelous end to a beautiful trip.