Sunday, 25 August 2013

Pilgrimage to the Pillary--Part 1

Several weeks ago a fantastic new area was made known to the world.  Developed by the same fine souls who brought us Area 44, The Pillary currently boasts 37 bolted climbs, graded from 5.7 up, with several projects on the go.

It's going to be another awesome international day, bright and clear with the promise of some significant warmth later on, the team departs bright and early for Squamish.  Representing France are Cecile and Adrien, on behalf of Turkey, we have Mert, and the hometown hero, myself.  Sprits are high, we have been waiting a few weeks for this chance.

Arriving at the parking area, there are already several cars here, and I expect that they are probably all heading for the Pillary, not Area 44 today.  We start our hike in, following the well-marked Area 44 trail until we begin seeing some of the signs of the craftsmanship that I have come to expect here.  New, beautifully-made, signs marking the trail, depicting the crags, and advising of concerns for rock-fall are frequent and easy to see as we travel up the trail.

We come through the trees and see a beautiful vista before us.  We have arrived!  This looks beautiful!  The climbing areas stretch out beneath us, tall and proud, with that same beautiful view out towards the Squamish River Valley.  Again, this is an area with wonderful, tall climbs to challenge us. 

The first climb we come to, the lone climb on 'The Forlorn Horn' has a large sign, indicating that it is closed due to unstable rock...  Remembering how much rock still peels loose at Area 44 makes me very happy to have my helmet, as I expect the rock to be very similar in composition here.

The next area we come to, 'The Berlin Wall" has five climbs currently ready, graded at 5.8-5.11a, so we decide to start dropping our gear and picking our spots.  Likely warm-ups are the 5.8 and the 5.9, and I think the 5.8 sounds utterly delicious. 

The Forlorn Horn--Closed For Now
'Der Weiner Schleisser' has a very, very interesting start.  Stemming your way up a fairly featureless face using a TONNE of pressure off the opposing faces of rock, leading to a deadly sharp arête to the anchor.  Mert starts us off, heading deep into a large crack that has a lot of large, loose rocks in it.  He starts getting a bit unnerved by all the movement, and has a horribly awkward time getting the third bolt in from inside the cavern.  He manages to find a way out, only to start running into some pretty sparse space as he begins the ascent of the arête.  About halfway up and running out of holds, Mert has to descend, rattled from his experience in the crack of loose rock.

Mert In Front Of The Crack Of Doom
As I prepare to make my ascent, I'm trying to see a route that will steer clear of the direction that Mert went, and I formulate a plan of action.  I start off in an awkward sprawl, with my legs at ninety degree angles out from my body, pushing HARD.  I alternate this move up a few times to gain the minor handholds that are available, and start to get in to territory that has some more conventional foot action.  At the second bolt I find a pleasant handhold, and start to really grab it, until I notice that the rock is cracked, and likely ready to tear off the face...

I make it up through the third bolt onto the arête with an awkward balance that lets me reach my left hand around behind.  Now I'm facing the arête, and lacking much in the way of anything useful.  I can see why Mert ran out of steam here.  There area some pretty tentative holds, but sitting astride of this deadly sharp ridge, a slip here would be very... uncomfortable.  There is a bolt there, just out of reach, and getting that clip would make this next move a reasonable option...  Employing every millimetre of my height and reach, I take several swipes at the bolt before getting a draw to catch.  Getting the rope into the other end of the draw is pretty easy, and I make a very uncomfortable move up to the next decent stance. 

Still climbing up the edge of disaster, there really aren't the holds that would be expected on a 5.8, but I persevere.  A lot of searching for small spots to give me some purchase for my feet and a lot of gripping with my left on the ridge continues me to move up.  A few times I toss my left foot in behind the arête and heel hook the stone to steady myself as I advance. 

Nearing the top, I run completely out of apparent feet, but the arête starts running horizontal, so it looks like it's all on the arms.  I start moving hand-over-hand along one of the sharpest rock spines I have ever felt, taking much more weight than I am especially pleased with on my hands.  I'm not finding much for my feet, so I continue my hand-over-hand traverse.  I find a useful broken spot to jam my foot in to relieve the pressure on my hands and secure myself to the anchor chains as I arrive at the end of the climb.

What a rush!  My left hand is cut open in three spots, bleeding pleasantly on my shorts as Mert lowers me back down.  That was way tougher than a 5.8!!

Cecile and Adrian are done with 'Klettern Gehen' the 5.9, and so we swap climbs.

Adrien Belaying On Klettern Gehen
As Mert is starting this one he's already much happier with the climbing.  Much more up his alley, the start is a beauty, with some deadly sharp rock spires directly beneath the start.  Thankful for the low first couple bolts.  As he arrives at the second bolt Mert runs into an issue, and finds a terribly awkward solution.  Faced with a shortage of reasonable holds, he puts his left foot up distressingly high into a very nice pocket, and uses it as leverage to gain the finger crack above!  Wow!

Mert climbs it out and I get my shot.  I'm determined to find something better at that second bolt, because I really don't think my old bones can handle that kind of force being exerted on my hips.  Quickly there, I search for quite a while before arriving at the determination that there is only one solution to this spot.  Gross.

I toss my foot up into the pocket and shift my weight underneath my foot so I'm at least centred while I start levering my way up the wall, and soon I'm getting some better hands coming within reach.  Quite the move, that one!  The next section features a small, tight crack.  Not too much width, but decent depth, with some good edges for your feet, this section is a beauty to work, lots of tough little moves that keep me exerting a lot of force while I stand so off balance.

Moving through the crack and up onto a big outcropping, I pause and work my fingers out for a couple of minutes before launching myself up onto some easy climbing to the finish.

An awesome second route done, we compare notes about the climbs we just completed.  Everybody agrees that the 5.8 must have lost some holds already or something, because nobody sees it as a 5.8.  I must admit, however, that I quite liked it!

We are off to discover another crag, and I am going to break this trip into two posts, because somebody won't get off my back for taking too long to post!  More adventures at the Pillary to come!

No comments:

Post a Comment