Monday, 5 August 2013

Long Weekends are Horrible... Right...

The record-setting sunny weather is persisting here in Vancouver, and B.C. Day long weekend is upon us.  Not ones to camp on extended weekends for all, it's nonetheless a great opportunity for some awesome fun.  After biking the city with the daughter, and going for an epic ride to the Deep Cove Kayak centre the following day, Heather and I have organized another solid group to join us for some more outdoor climbing at Area 44.

Dominic, who is visiting from England, has been climbing with us pretty much since his arrival here in Vancouver, and is a very, very strong climber.  He has only climbed outdoors once, however, down in Texas, so today will be his first experience with the Squamish granite.  Jordan is game to round out the posse again, so we should have two setups going full steam.  This will be great.

We decide to start at Preview, as there are some solid 5.10 range climbs to either side once we're good and warmed up.  To open up I lead 'I'm Not Against It', enjoying the cracked flake crux as I start breaking in a new pair of 5.10 Stonelands.  Hoping that they will behave similarly to my old Spires, I trust these shoes to grow enough to make my feet happy about life.

The 5.8 out of the way, Dominic is ready to start his first experience with Squamish stone as Jordan begins scoping out 'Monkey Barrel' a 5.10b offering, to start his day.  He starts it with some beautiful layback moves, and progresses through the centre section handily, making an impressive off-balance move where 'I Might Possibly' moves towards 'Monkey Barrel'

As he moves out of sight above I can hear him discussing some ideas with Dominic about the crux on the route that he's climbing, and upon returning smiling to the earth he's gushing about the opportunity to practice some hand-jamming techniques in the parallel crack at the top of the climb.

As I start out on this climb, I'm finding it difficult to get into a solid groove.  I'm progressing, but it's not exactly coming easily to me on this route.  I would say the start wasn't graceful today, but that's life, I guess.  As I moved into the crux of the route I got myself up too high in behind a huge arête, and ended up having to take a little fall to get back down to where I wanted to be.

Blue Du Jour, 5.9
Trying the fourth-bolt crux sequence for the second time was all I needed to get myself on track, I guess, because it came pretty easily the second time, and the remainder of the climb was a lot of fun.  The sweat was just pouring off, that was a really tough climb!  I'm sure glad we got here so early, because in the heat of the day this might not be awesome!

As I am coming back down, Jordan is preparing to have some fun with 'I'm not Against It' and I'm setting up on an old favourite, 'Blue Du Jour'  This is one of the most enjoyable climbs on Preview, an absolutely beautiful 5.9 that climbs up a giant, exposed arête.

I remember my first ascent like it was yesterday, and just how exhilarating and terrifying it was to succeed on this climb.  I also clearly remember climbing almost half of the climb on the back side of the spire, groping around the front to set the draws.  I have seen three people go up the front today, however, and decide that this will be my route as well.

I really don't see how this climb didn't make it into the top 100.  It's just priceless, really.  As I'm working to find holds that will keep me on the front side of the route, and succeeding, I reflect again on just how much fun there is to be had in climbing, exercising your mind and body in such a beautiful environment.

I complete the climb feeling very pleased with myself, and head down to the Insite Wall, where Jordan is waiting to take a shot at another 10b, Jean-Jean.  This climb starts off a fallen log, which is neat, but leads to some questions about appropriate belay stance.  The start is tricky, too, and I'm ready to act at a moment's notice if Jordan slips this close to the ground.  He finds a crazy little pinch to stabilize a perilous layback to get enough elevation to proceed past the first bolt. 

Jordan on Jean-Jean
The holds through the middle look good, but there's some confusion as he nears the top...  This climb shares it's anchor with 'Tantalizer' beside it, and the correct routing through the final three metres is questionable, as the only remaining bolt that he can see is clearly part of the neighboring climb. 
Wade on Jean-Jean
After he's back down we examine the topo and decide that there may have been some route blending at the top, but who's counting, really?

Up on the log, all tied in, I'm trying to get my aching feet to work with this weird pinch.  It's not comfortable, and if I wasn't tall enough to clip the first bolt in I would probably have walked away from this beast of a move.  Doggedly examining my options, I keep coming back to a decent crimp on the arête, which, coupled with a big, high step, gets me to the second big layback without having to use that teeny little pinch.

Just another example of style options, I'm off and moving.  Unfortunately, I can't seem to deal with jamming my feet into anything, and even putting pressure up on my toes is starting to get very unpleasant.  Stupid new shoes!

Dominic Battling the Arete
After getting about half of the way up, I just can't bear it anymore, and I ask to return to the ground.  I have never ripped shoes off my feet faster in my life.  My feet hurt almost as much now as they did up in Skaha with the Mythos on my feet.  Damn!  End of my day, Jordan climbs Jean-Jean again to retrieve my gear and try the correct finish.  Like a champ, he wants to take a shot at a 5.10c just around the corner, Forty-Six.

It's a thin, pumpy, beast, and he makes a great show of it, fighting hard to advance after the third bolt.  But he's too spent from the last three 10b climbs, and Jordan is unable to top out on his last climb of the day.  We return to find Heather and Dominic comparing war stories from Blue Du Jour, and the consensus of the group decides that it's time to return to the city.  Dominic has work, and the other three of us have a tasty pitcher of R&B Sungod to find.

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