Ryan has been on a kick lately of '08 Beijing. This translates into me getting my arse kicked on an otherwise impossible rock climb. We packed the car and headed up to Squamish on Friday night. We arrived in just enough time to get a jug of beer at Howe Sound Brew Pub and check out exactly what climbs to do the following day.
We started early - 7 am to beat the crowds. We decided on Diedre - the most climbed multipitch route in all of Canada. It's one of Squamish's classics - a superb 5.8 with smearing, lay backs and using a dihedral to climb about 1000 feet. Every pitch was stellar - putting a smile on the face. Once we summitted, we headed through the forest to continue climbing up the Chief. We did a 5.5 scramble - over a razor thin granite slab that if you put enough force on, felt like it was going to peel off and into the trees you would go. Once we climbed that section, we removed our rock shoes and hiked 15 minutes up the forest, gaining quite a bit of elevation and finding the start of the Squamish Buttress - another Squamish classic rated 10c. The first couple of pitches are interesting - but are nothing in comparison to the crux pitch - a 10c hand and finger crack that goes straight up from the base of the anchors. All of the belay stations are on huge slabs - making it very popular to accomodate the busy ant trail that follows this climb. Luckily we had an early enough start- we beat all the crowds. I nearly climbed the 10c clean - until just from the summit, my overly sweaty hands that I couldn't relax to slip carefully into my chalk bag, flailed me off. I was sooooo close to summitting and onsighting the entire route! You should have heard the orgasmic grunts coming from my mouth. Ryan laughed. Once I pulled the final move, adrenaline surged through my entire body and I relished the feeling.
To get off of the Chief you down climb a hikers trail on the back side of the rock. The trail is so well maintained - you marvel at the hard labor it takes to upkeep, let alone create this myrid of stairs, strategically placed rock stairs and hand rails. We got lots of interesting looks from hikers - who you could hear breathing before you saw them - they were very happy to take a break from the 45 minute tredge up the steep trail. I think rock climbing is easier than hiking up that trail. Once we got down, we headed straight to the brew pub for food and more beer. We ended up running into some climbing friends - Shane and Matt - who were willing to share a table and stories to entertain us from 5 till bed time. It was great.
The real challenge of the weekend came the following morning, when we woke up early again to extremely sore and fatigued legs - not from the climb itself but from the hike down. We headed to Starbucks, downed some coffee and were back at the climbers parking lot by 8:10. We grabbed our pack, rope and friends and hiked to the base of the trail. Unfortunately we took a wrong turn - ended up hiking for 25 minutes up a gully - sweating our arses off - then down hiking, putting some serious doubt into my head as to whether or not I could attempt another multipitch climb - this time 13 pitches with several 10+ pitches.
When I voiced this concern out loud, Ryan and I had a moment. Basically - champions don't decide that when it hurts, to call it quits and do something easier. They push through the pain - they take it to the next level. Because every action counts - so make it count. Suck up your sore legs, your mental fatigue and let's do this friggin' climb. '08 baby. I want to go to China.
This put swiftness into my legs - we hiked until the sweat poured off our forheads. And just when I thought I couldn't take any more and had to relax and lay down, we found the base of the climb called Angel's Crest, another Squamish Classic. When you climb a multipitch - and something as long as Angel's Crest - you have to constant keep moving. 5 minutes here - 5 minutes there - suddenly what should have taken a few minutes becomes additional hours and can mean summitting during daylight or dusk. We learned our lesson about this fundamental on our honeymoon in Yosemite - and since then it has been engrained in both of us - hail ass.
The climb starts by climbing up a dying douglas fur - 5.7 in difficulty. It's somewhat sketched because the lower limbs are brittle and may break under too much weight. Once you climb up you then traverse a chossy ledge to the first belay. I lead this pitch and it started sprinkling. Ryan decided to continue up - a 10b/c lay back crack with the crux at the top. I actually styled it without fail. We ran into another party - they caught us from below. On and on we climbed - through 5.7s, 5.10s, through forests and ledges. It is quite an adventurous route - with no pitch similar to the last in any way. There were a couple of super exposed sections - on the crest of the Acrophobes - if you look left you saw how far you would fall to the gully and if you looked right you saw how far you would fall to the valley floor. It was a heady section - I've been paralyzed in that position before - so it was liberating to easily climb through those sections.
The final two pitches are the cruxes - the first being an airy crack with stemming moves and followed by a 5.8 chimney. The chimney was the most taxing on the body. The moves weren't hard - they were just impossible to get into and requirred a lot of core, pushing and slowly inching up the 15" slot. Summitting was oh so sweet. Ryan did it - he got me up the Chief twice - no easy feat for someone who's an off the couch climber. We quickly hiked down the trail and reached the car extremely thirtsy and hungry. My legs started freezing up immediately - and by the time we reached Bellingham I was walking around like an 80 year old person with severe joint issues. It was a great weekend - and I really enjoyed pushing my body beyond its limits. 2008 baby!
Oh well - the following day we had more ambitions to climb Angles Crest, another 10b/c.