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!