Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Area 44 With the kid

After a successful trip to Cheakamous a couple weeks back, the desire to get back out there is strong.  The light is still with us until late, so we are off to Area 44 with the youngster in the back seat.  This promises to be exciting, as the rock on Preview is higher than anything she has climbed before.

Not everybody is properly prepared, I have my flip flops for the hike in, and the young lady neglected to bring water.  Sigh.  Brave souls that we are we make it down to the crag without incident and are quickly setting up to take down a solid 5.6.

An easy lead, it's HOT once up onto the rock that has been exposed to the sun for the whole 30+ degree day, but certainly not unpleasant.  It's a great day for climbing, and there's not a single soul here right now.  Simply marvelous.

The kid is up next and she's handling everything quite nicely.  There are a couple of smoother spots on this climb, and she has to work through it, but she makes it up after working really, really hard.  The kid is sweating like an animal.  Good job getting up all the way.  Lowering off is hard for her at the best of times, and this is a pretty awkward climb.  Added to the height, she does an admirable job on the downward journey.

The Heather takes a turn to practice her magic, and then I run the climb one more go and move the anchor over.  Time is getting short so I set up a top rope anchor so the kid can get another hit in before we lose the sun.

This one's a 5.7 or 5.8, the kid takes the 5.7 option, and makes it feel her wrath.  She moves very well, not lacking confidence, most of the time.  She makes very impressive moves, and uses her dad's long, long reach effectively to reach the spots she needs.  I'm really proud of the determination that she shows when moving up a tough climb.  I hope that attitude finds it's way to her real life.

A brief afternoon of fun is over, and we make our way back to the car in the failing daylight.  I'm pretty lucky to have a pair of ready to roll climbing partners.  This is truly a wonderful thing.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

2011-7/19/2014--R.I.P. Scoops

I'm taking a break from writing about climbing at this moment.  Feel free to skip this post, should you so desire, but I need to write it. 

Heather and I went camping for the first time in months, and after climbing up in Cheakamous a few days ago we were stoked to get back up on the rock this weekend.  It was a challenging trip, and lots of misadventure was had, but the cap was, of course, the rain.  It rained a fair lot, and we returned to our home an evening early.

Upon arriving at home, we were turning on lights and feeding the fish, when I noticed that our beloved florida blue crayfish, Scoops, was sitting motionless beside his cave, in the same place that he had been when we had shut the lights off upon leaving only a day before.

I was truly destroyed to see that our beloved pet had passed on.  Some might say he was only a simple crayfish, but anyone who knew him would know just how special he was.  He was a truly remarkable fellow, and was such an influence on our lives from the first moment that Heather decided to bring him home to be the daycare's pet.

Baby Scoops-y, shortly after coming home.
From the silly circumstances attached to his name (the pet store employees' suggestion that he would eat anything, even raisin bran, mmmm two scoops of goodness) to the first time I realized that he was the reason fish were disappearing in his little tank, he has never ceased to surprise and delight us.  Watching him grow from this precocious little guy trying to claw his way out of the bag in Heather's lap, to the monstrous specimen that he was today, well over double the expected growth of his species, you never knew what was next with him.

He ate everything, from fish (the more expensive the better) to vegetables (the only person in this house that likes cucumber) and fruit, bloodworms, or anything else in the tank, he was truly remarkable, and was so loved. 

I'll never forget the morning that I caught him chowing down on the twenty dollar algae eater that I had just bought Heather, or every time that I tried to move him to another tank.  He could climb like nobody's business, and managed, once, to escape from the brand new tank he had just been moved in to.  Nobody will ever know how long he was out, but I found him trying to climb up the door towards the knob.  I swear he knew that he wanted to get out of the apartment to see what he could eat outside.

Shortly after his big day out we acquired another tank, just for him, as he was still eating fish at a rapid pace, and destroying any vegetation that we planted.  We learned his ways, and he learned ours.  He started 'begging' for treats from Heather, coming to the corner of the tank where they sat and standing on his tail whenever she came near.  He had amazing personality.  He lived happily in this tank, contentedly moving with us to our new home.  One morning, shortly after the move, I came out of the bedroom to get ready for work and noticed that the water noise was exceedingly loud.  I turned on the light to discover that half of the contents of his tank were on the floor!  I will never know how he redirected the flow of water from his filter to not return to the tank, but he did.  He would always try to climb out that way, but he was just too big!

We could tell he was nearing the end of his time with us, as his shedding of shells had decreased drastically in frequency, and he wasn't working nearly as hard to catch fish any longer.  Internet research revealed that he was over double his expected growth, and well past his expected life span, so we have been prepared for the worst for quite some time. 

Scoops-y was laid to rest this evening in a beautiful park near my childhood home.  A place where crayfish roam in the creekbed, as I well know from catching them as a child.  I think it is a place his spirit will be comfortable, and I look forward to seeing him again someday, one of the best-loved crayfish that ever lived.  I feel blessed for having had him in my life, but I am having a very hard time coping with this loss.

Your moms-y and dads-y will always love and miss you, Scoops-y, thanks for sharing some time with us.  You are missed and will always be remembered.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

O How I missed you, Emil.

This has been a challenging summer for climbing.  The weather has been of the chains amazing, but challenges in my life have kept me at home far more often than I would have liked.  I'm happy to be out at Cheakamous after a short day at work.

Heather, Mert, Benji and I are all heading up for a wonderful afternoon of some easy climbing.  We start out on the Foundation Wall, hitting some of the lower-graded climbs there to warm up, and then decide that something more would be nice.

Mert and Benji head up towards the Crest to hit some climbs up that way, and Heather and I, decide to enjoy the sunset from the top of Emil and the Detectives.  It's been some time since we were on this particular route, and I still don't know how I feel about it.  It's a beauty of a showpiece from the top, a million dollar view, for sure, but the trip up is only ok!

My body really isn't all in for this yet, I have been off for far too long.  The struggle isn't so much physical though, as it is mental.  I have climbed these pitches so many times, but it's hard to remember to trust the friction in this rock!  It's not that it's an unprotected climb or anything though, so it's no big deal up to the mid point.

Heather's following on, and it's great to see her up on the rock again after such a long layoff.  She's moving confidently up after me, picking up on the tough spots I got myself into and avoiding them skillfully.  As we sit at the mid point, looking up at the second pitch, which always freaks me out on the start, I wonder just why I love this so much!

The start of pitch 2 comes easy today, and I'm very happy about it.  It's such a pleasant little jaunt, I'm at the top waiting for Heather in no time at all, and before you know it she's right beside me.  What a loverly spot to sit and enjoy the failing moments of the sun.

A short afternoon of climbing in the books, it's off to Howe Sound Brewing for some refreshments before a harrowing nighttime adventure!  Good to be back!!!

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Back on the Rock!

I am sure that this has been one of the driest winters in the history of ever here in Vancouver.  The local mountains are just dying for lack of snow right now.  Politicians are already starting to cast dire warnings about water shortages in the summer.  As of this day, there has been no precipitation since January 12th.  Temperatures, however, have remained just a touch higher than Vancouver typically has, so we have been 'suffering' through a beautiful January. 

An Icy Climber Transporter...
This wonderfully dry start to the year has put the thought of outdoor climbing in our heads, and after confirmation from a friend that it is indeed climbable out there, and in fact gorgeous to do so, Heather and I decide that we must try this for ourselves.  We load up the car and head out to pick up my daughter for the first climbing day of the 2014.  Scraping ice off the car on a climbing day?  Questionable...  But the temperature at 9AM is already 7 degrees Celsius, so we're really looking good.

Heather and I moved recently, into a smaller place in a nice, quiet neighborhood.  Storage was a challenge, and we got rid of lots of things and came up with good places to keep our stuff in our smaller space.  All of our climbing gear is under the stairs, so we found that quickly and easily, but the precious guidebook was another story...  We quickly discovered that we had no clue where it was...  I found our old guidebook, which is much less useful, but we couldn't find the topo for the Pillary, Squamish Select, or Skaha Rockclimbs.  Also, my notebook that I use for this blog was M.I.A.

As I said, our place is much smaller, and for half an hour we ripped everything apart.  It looked like our little place had been robbed, and we didn't find our book anywhere.  What a disaster!  Running behind schedule, we pile into the car and get a move on to collect our third party...  Where is that book!?  We put all of our climbing books together in a very logical place, we agree on that much, but where in the world did they go?
Scenery blocking scenery
in the sun @ Sugarloaf
First figure 8!
With limited ability to select suitable climbing areas, and a young girl coming along, we decide to head back to Murrin for our day's efforts, knowing a place where we can get some good, light top-roping in to get back into the swing of things for the year.  We arrive at Murrin and head back up to the Sugarloaf, knowing the area, and also having it featured in the old book.  Unfortunately, all of the anchors that we want to use are already in play...  I begin looking through the book for other top-rope friendly areas and discover that the 'Bog Wall' in Murrin is also accessible, and has a few lower graded climbs to try out.  Hopefully it has bolted anchors, something the old book doesn't seem to indicate...

The Bog Wall is super-easy to find, and looks like it offers some decent terrain, as well as a pair of likely paths to the top of the crag.  Heather and Daisy start unpacking their gear, and I start my way up to the top of the crag.  Once I get to the top I happily discover two pairs of bolted anchors to choose from.  Excellent. I set up our rope for a 5.8 called 'Up From the Bog' and head down to the base of the climb. 

Heather starting off a big year
Finally, after an excruciating 4 month layoff it's business time!!!  Heather is up for the first outdoor climb of 2014, and she gets off to a good start, using a lot of lateral movement to begin progressing up the crack, carefully placing her feet into the rock until she reaches a spot where the crack disappears and the face gets devilishly smooth.  The hands above appear sub-par, and there's really nothing for the feet.  After some minutes of trying to find a move to progress, she asks to lower.

Daisy's turn, she tries valiantly, but needs a little boost to get going on this climb.  How pleasant!  The bottom conquered, she starts moving smoothly upward, very confidant from all of the gym climbing that we have been doing.  She reaches the same spot as Heather, and runs out of steam quickly.  Down to earth she comes.

All right, somebody has to get this one done.  The crack looks good, it's just that one spot which is nasty.  I get through the first few moves quite quickly, arriving at the difficult part without a lot of problem, and now I can see what gave the ladies all their headaches.  The crack becomes smooth as glass here, polished by 50 years of climbing, and the feet completely disappear.  Luckily, I have a lot more reach, and am able to get my left hand up to a beauty of a hold which I use to pull my feet up to gain purchase on a solid ledge.  From there it is pretty much smooth sailing, I get to make some fun, precise moves on my way to the top.
Nearing the end!

Topped out!
There's really not a lot else that we should be trying here, so I pull down our gear and we head back up to the Sugarloaf.  There's nobody climbing here anymore, and the sun is shining brightly on the rock face, it's truly beautiful.  I set up the rope over a pair of climbs, a 5.4 and a 5.6.  Daisy quickly starts in on the 5.4, and masters it with ease. 

Heather up next, she opts to go left up the 5.6, and nimbly and capably finds herself up at the top, glorying in the sunshine in a  matter of moments.  I take my turn, tackling the 5.6, Jump Start, with ease, then I move the rope over to sit above a 5.8 and 5.4.

A boulder-y high seat!
Daisy is ready to go, and tears up the 5.4.  She's so much more confidant this year, it's really wonderful.  We lower her off and ask her to go again, and she graciously complies.  Once she's down Heather steps up to climb, and does so wonderfully.  She takes down Magnet quick as a wink, before nimbly working her way up Power Smart.  Lots of careful smears, she is obviously working on precision placement of every single foot.

Great start to the year!
I'll take my turn to try these two climbs, it's pleasant climbing, all in the sun.  Way below my level, but it's just great to be outside already.  We thought we got an early first day in last year, but this puts that to shame.

What a glorious day!