Monday, November 23, 2009


Gumbies! On! Crack!, like Napoleon in Starbucks, Ian Bennett at an organic vegetable stand, or Butch in his girlfriend's underwear drawer, has been somewhat sidetracked of late. This is because

a) It rains-- weird, I know; you would think we were living on the Coast or something

b) A bunch of us went to Indian Crack, Utah, the most addictive place in the world, other than Pornhub or BikesnobNYC or a White Sale at your local Army and Navy.

c) I have so many blog entry ideas, that, like a kind of really retarded Hamlet, I don't know where to start. Between David Bloom's Indian Crock guidebook (which is to real guidebooks what Homer's Odyssey is to GPS navigation) to Napoleon's battles with rabbits, Digital Readout and coffee-makers, to Tony McLane's imminent hair sponsorship, to Sarah Panofsky's human bouldering, I've been swamped.

Stay tuned, a finely-tuned toilet, Gumbies!On!Crack! will be back, transporting the goods you want, exactly where you want 'em.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

How To Make A Guidebook Suck

Continuing on with ways to de-improve your climbing experience, Gumbies! On! Crack! brings you advice on extending The Suck to your guidebook experience. We will base our handy make-it-work-as-well-as-the-Canadian-mission-in-Afghanistan advice around David Bloom's Indian Crock: A Climbing Guide (2nd Ed.)

We will however have to detour before we get to the main event, in the way that Napoleon needs to do Starbucks before climbing, or I need to visit before getting on my bike. Yes, porn makes one ride faster (like if I were a golfer, you know what they say about one Mr Woods, whose money shots sure didn't affect his money shooting). Anyway, our reference points will be Kevin McLane's The Climbers Guide To Squamish and the Supertopo guidebooks.

Now, Mr McLane has made a guidebook which has several outstanding and essential features. These include

a) clear and detailed topos
b) accurate descriptions of gear needed
c) accurate information about how to get to the climbs
d) a total lack of essay (or other) non-essential writing
e) being staggeringly comprehensive (last edition had 1,250 routes)
f) a lack of colour photography
g) a total lack of spray by sponsored and other climbers.

Moral: for a GOOD guidebook, write a la McLane.

Then there are the Stupidtopo books, which are actually for blind and retarded climbers. Consider: move by move beta, detailed gear beta (in some cases piece by piece), advice on how to succeed on long routes (e.g. Astroman strategy: "The key is to keep moving quickly through the many long 5.11 pitches") and descent beta that would allow a retarded, blind and seriously beer-deprived climber to safely and quickly make his or her way back to the cooler, walking stick and/or group home. Only problem is, Supertopo did not write their guides in Braille, so blind climbers will need to get their retarded partners to read them the beta in order to memorise the beta, and, take it from me-- a slow dumm guy-- us retards will need a LOOONG time to read the beta, cos, believe me, it's that detailed. It would probably take the typical rock-climber 25 or so minutes to read the description for Epinephrine IV 5.9 in Red Rocks, time which could be spent watching porn (if you are The Filth), drinking Starbucks (if your name is Napoleon), or approaching the route.

The one thing you have to say for Stupidtopo is that the info is, well, all there. Failing on a route you have Stupidtopo'd into your head, by getting lost, or because you forgot to bring that essential 17th blue Alien fromt he gear list, would be like being unable to drive out of your driveway while having your significant other, GPS system, rear-view mirrors and all other systems perfectly functioning and guiding you.

Now let's look at Mr Bloom's book, so you too, should you decide to write a climbing guide, will be able to make your book suck, should you so choose. You could opt for the excellent McLane style, or the for-the-blind-and-retarded style of Stupidtopo, or for something more Bloomian.


8) Make the edges square-cornered, not rounded. This will eventually make the dog-eared edges so thick that you will be able to use the book in place of a .5 Camalot. And as Crock climbers know, those .5 Camlots, well, that means you are in 5.12-cos-it's-sustained-like-a-Spinal Tap-guitarist's-favorite-1959 Gibson.

7) Add a full-colour front and back flap-- and don't add anything useful, like a pocket to put notes etc into.

6) Make your guidebook expensive by adding colour photos-- hundreds of them-- to it. It is important that these colour photos look great and be inspirational. But they should not under any conditions provide actual information about the climb.

5) Take the photos of the crags and routes from as far away as possible. This will add to the difficulty of finding one's desired route. Bloom's book is about 10 inches in height; his crag photos are about 1". Go squint.

4) Make the book low value. Bloom's book has 1,116 routes and sells for ~$37.60 Cdn. That's 3.4 cents/route. McLane's book, on the other hand, has 1,250 routes for $34.00 Cdn, so you get each route for 2.5 cents. Bloom's book is therefore almost ONE CENT/ROUTE more expensive. Multiply this by 1,116 routes and you are playing ten bucks more than you would at nice, logical, Canadian, free-market prices. And ten bucks is, well, four bottles of Two-Buck Chuck, or 12 PBRs, or 1/4 of a bottle of decent wine, or two plates of tacos...

3) Include essays and memoirs. Thanks, Steve Hong, for doing the FAs of so many awesome routes...and I am happy that you think we really need to hear that you are bummed that the Creek has been over-run by crowds. Yes, the Creek should be your private climbing preserve, and not pasture for we the arrivistes. I am glad that, having told others about your routes, you did not expect them to be climbed. Mr Hong, don't do what Mugs Stump suggested: climb the most awesome route in the world, and don't tell anybody about it. Climb awesome routes, tell everybody, get bummed that your area is now over-run...and then whine about it!

Scott Carson, if you "absolutely hate" to write about yourself...thanks for doing it anyway. Yes, I would rather read your story of climbing the Optimator for the first time than have a clear topo to look at. And then there is Lisa Hensel, saying that she loves the Creek because of the "growth" that she and her partners experienced while climbing there. Really? I want to be in the book, too-- I want to tell the world that breathing and walking are important to me. I want some essay space to say that. Oh, also I like climbing.

Mr Bloom, however, did one thing right-- he ditched the Timmy O'Neil memoir. If there is anything more boring than watching people eat dinner, smoke pot and then try to play the drum, it's reading about people eating dinner, smoking pot and trying to play the drum. I mean if you want see Mr O'Neil doing it right, you watch this.

2) Make the beta wrong. List too little gear, of the wrong size, and get your pitch lengths wrong. This is an especially good strategy if you have, as the jacket blurb says, twenty years of climbing experience and a Creek regular. Then you can REALLY screw with the gumbie masses. Do NOT pass on accurate knowledge.

1) Leave out hundreds of routes. And leave out every third or fourth route on each crag. This allows you and "the locals" to have their own private climbing Idaho where the (m)asses won't go. Here's a riddle:

Q: How many yellow Camalots does "Staggering out of the Bar" (5 stars, 5.11-, 35m, at Cat Wall) take?
A: You mean you don't know?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Gumbies! In! Creek!

Well, the curse of the Coast are the Saturday rains, and last week was no exception. I peered carefully into the future, and it became obvious that there was not going to be anything mega-exciting in Squamish, such as another Cobra Crack ascent, or big-wall going free, or, for that matter, a sudden spike in the sale of boudering pants at Valhalla Pure in Squamish. Nothing exciting happening...

So I went to Indian Creek, along with Napoleon and Ginger Slack. Mr Slack is, well, a slack-liner, and he had plans to not only climb but to string a highline between the Bridger Jacks and then walk across it. I thought you might as well just kill yourself from the ground up, save yourself all that work, but then I was told that these highliners use harnesses and, like hippies on acid confronting the Army at the Democratic National Convention in 1968 Chicago, they also use daisies to make life nicer for themselves (or so, like those hippies, they hope)

The thing about this trip was, we would (later, alas) realise the sheer power of words. If we said it, it happened. Now, being idiots, we naturally failed to discuss either Roman orgies,,
sending 5.13,
or the key to winning the lottery, and we stuck to yapping about cops, snow, mechanical hassles and killing animals.

As we drove through Blinkandmissit, UT, Slack said "and there's these American towns where they nail you for speeding even if you're like 2 mph over, cos that way the town gets more revenue." At literally that exact moment a cop pulled us over-- 58 in a 50-- "that will be $90, please, and no sir, you do not need to tongue my balls. Enjoy your visit to Utah." Muthaf**kin' 5-oh on my TIP, y'all as Ian Bennet or the rapper of your choice other than L'il Wayne would say.

Now Hemingway famously (and allegedly) said that "there are only three sports: mountain-climbing, auto-racing and bull-fighting. The rest are mere games." Now there was obviously a fourth sport: the correct use of hyphens: a noun (person, place, thing, idea) in front of a gerund (a noun ending in "ing") needs to be followed by a hyphen. Hemingway by all accounts mastered the fourth, as you can see by his exhaustive sport-and-hyphen dictum, and the fifth (epic drinking sessions).

Now of course it was ironic that Napoleon wasn't driving. Napoleon drives like it's a race. He climbs. And his bullfighting involves arguing with me. Come to think of it, Napoleon, at the moment that Officer David Mormon pulled us over, was actually doing one of two things: jerking off to tax spreadsheets or fast asleep, while I (if memory serves, which it frequently doesn't) was jerking off to either midget porn or images of Indian Crack.

Now let's not make fun of people who jerk off to income tax and retirement spreadsheets, (as they say, 95% of us jerk off, and the other 5% lie about it, and, ladies, you, as that famous Seinfeld episode showed us, are part of this too)), since doing income-tax spreadsheets is pretty rough sport and also massively sexy to others. If you f**k it up, you may end up in the pen, like this guy.

So we drove on, chastened, the way Tiger Woods feels after his soon-to-be ex-wife rescues him from his SUV driving problems by using a golf club on the back window of his SUV.

We dropped Mr Slack in Moab to meet his slacklining buddy, and, McLane style, scored nearly free pizza, and then blasted out into the desert, where we immediately got lost. I warned young Napoleon about the dangers of mixing high-speed driving, night-time, and animals on the road (pick any TWO and you're OK). So of course we nearly hit a deer, and then smoked a rabbit. Napoleon wanted to make sure it was dead, so, on reversing, he backed over it and on later inspection that was a good move because the rabbit was not only totally doubly thoroughly dead, but also split open with guts coming out its mouth, belly and anus. Napoleon wanted to cook it up etc, but we are yuppie cunts with no clue about how to actually skin gut and eat once-living things, so we left it for the wolves, escaped convicts and Mormons having revelations.

We next drove somewhere into the Creek, threw down sleeping bags, and passed out, awaking to the sound of rustling leaves, the rattle of gear, bright sun and of course German. Naturally we had a flat tire and so our car got what in retrospect Napoleon (and the poor rabbit)should have gotten last night: a wheel that can't be driven over 40 MPH. Word quickly spread through the Creek's non-Napoleon'd wildlife that Napoleon was a whole lot safer to graze in front of, which, as it would turn out, nearly prove our undoing.

So the bill to that point was one dead rabbit, $90 ticket and a flat tire.

As we tried to leave the campground, we ran into a bunch of random dirtbags (you know the type...down jackets, stubble, toques, headlamps, "stoked to get on ________," i.e. generally interchangeable). They said there was a "leave the campground" toll which consisted of two jokes, which rate was reduced to one if yours was politically incorrect enough. The Yankee to the rescue:

Q: How is sport climbing like having your dick sucked by a guy?
A: it feels great until you look down and realise you're a fag!

Now I would like to apologise to all of my gay or sportclimber friends, and also to all of my gay AND sportclimber friends. I really needed to get out of that campground to get in line for this:

And our random dirtbag interlocutor replied with

Q: How come Asian drivers can't drive?
A: Cos they're Asian?

This got our car limping out of the lot and off we drove. Then we went climbing. Oh, sorry, did you want a blow-by-blow of the day's sends? I thought not! Let's just say that Indian Creek is wonderful-- lots of gear, clean falls, beautiful, ass-kicking, etc. One climbing story is pretty much like another, well, at least if you're me: we came, we tried, we didn't think we coudl do it, we ha da moment of epiphany, we sent. So, yeah.

Next: Part 2 of Gumbies! In! Creek!, wherein Ginger slacks, Napoleon tries to kill a cow, Sarah Panofsky does Human Bouldering, Tony McLane acquires a hair Sponsorship from L'Oreal, and yours truly has The Cleaner's Riot Act read to him by the Squampton Janitor. And now, as rappers say before they kill some niggaz and slap some bitches, peace out.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

HardCore in the City!

Above, the clouds threaten. He wears a down jacket and a toque and sits in a beaten lawn-chair.

"Got worked on my proj," says The Beard, crossing his legs as if painfully, rubbing his beard, then glancing at the sky. "Weather looks like shit, too."

His partner nods absently and shifts on his feet.

"Gonna try it again."


A slightly older couple comes over and says hello to The Beard, sitting in a lawn chair in front of his van, whose open door shows us Rubbermaids bubbling over with gear, a rope-rug, and a collection of empty beer cans. A stove sits on the ground, and soup bubbles. There is some talk and then The Partner says "Come on."

"I gotta gear up," says The Beard


The Beard rummages through his van. It looks as if he is ready for Indian Creek. Clusters of shiny cams are lowered onto the floor as the Beard throws shoes, harnesses, a rope on the ground. Finally he grabs a harness and two pairs of shoes. He shoves the stove under the van. "Ok," he says, and the two of them approach...the entrance to the climbing gym.

On his first route of the day, The Beard grips an arete-ish series of moves, cussing the top-rope that lies near one of the holds. "Watch me here," he tells The Partner, who is staring at the Cute Underage Blonde across the way.

"Mmm" says the partner, swinging his eyes away from the C.U.B. for half a second.

"I need to focus and breathe here before I commit to the next move," says The Beard, his legs chug-chugging. A few more seconds of power breathing--"hOOOF-HOOF-- PFFFFF"-- and he comes off.

"This," says The Beard, "is really hard for ___.c. Hey, can you tell me what's written on the starting-holds tape?"

The Beard safely swinging, The Partner eyes the C.U.B. and ignores The Beard.


"HEY!" barks The Beard, massaging his arms.

"Uhh, ___.c" says The Partner.

"No, I need the name of the route-setter!"

The Partner peers at the starting holds. "Uhh, A.D.? No, wait, uhh, E.F." No, hang on. Which route are you doing, the red one?"

"No, this is WAY harder than the red one."

"Uhh, ____.b and A.D."

"___.b, huh? Well, that guy ALWAYS sandbags his routes. This redpoint is really hard."


"But I think I can get it."


The C.U.B. and her partner, the Cute Underage Brunette (CUBr) have now moved over to beside The Beard and The Partner. The CUBr starts up the (much easier than ____.b) route beside The Beard, who begins Pranic breathing, and launches back into the crux. He makes it and then finds himself in a bit of a pretzel, all bass-ackwards in the next crux, hoof-HOOF no-longer-Pranic breathing, as the CUBr passes him without even a nod of her head.

Unfortunately, The Beard is not like Will Stanhope, who can confidently climb ass-backwards into 12+ cruxes and send them. The Beard comes off again and this time takes a fairly epic fall. The two feet of slack that The Partner has out send him for what must be a bowel-loosening ride, for he curses at The Partner, who is chatting with the C.U.B., answering her question of "so, have you ever climbed outdoors?"

The Beard is done. He is lowered off and sits in the middle of the gym floor, wincing as he peels his slippers off with oddly stiff fingers. He begins a stretching routine while The Partner continues his discussion with the C.U.B. and the CUBr.

"Yo," says The Beard, "psyched for ____________?"

"..." says The Partner.

The Beard finishes his epic gym sess by clipping all of his gear together and spending the next two hours standing in the middle of the gym, everything draped over his shoulder, chatting up the girls who are working the floor, with detours to whoever has been on his __.c "proj," handing out free beta for all of the moves on the route including those he hasn't done yet. He has a simple set of criteria to determine who he talks to: you must be younger than him, female, or you have to try a minimum of ____.c

My partner and I grin at each other and I get on The Beard's "proj." I have had my ass kicked by this thing (and so has she) but we sent the thing a few weeks ago. As I am tying in, The Beard shifts around from his gym-girl-chatting position and eyes us. I get up his "proj" and then my partner flashes it too. The Beard can't resist.

"Uh, I noticed you went for the ______ hold with your left. I was trying it with my right. Did you find that worked well? And I was thinking, the one after, a cross-through would be the way to do it. How do you feel about the grade?"

We grin at each other.

"Not an easy onsight," I tell him.

"Yeah," he says, "this one is tough. I gotta work it some more."

Saturday, October 17, 2009

10 WaysTo Make Your Climbing Gym Suck

Does YOUR climbing gym suck? No? Then read on!

Climbing-gym owners and managers regularly trade information about successful business strategies. There are online discussion groups, trade shows, web pages, yadda yadda. But what does NOT get much discussion is how to make your climbing gym SUCK.

So, in the spirit of public service, for which this blog is becoming hugely famous, "blowed up," as they say, we offer the following tips to owners, managers and belay staff-- those belittled, hard-pressed, often shell-shocked frontline workers-- on how to make your gym suck.

All of the ideas in this post come from Lower Mainland gyms. There are various Cliffhanger locations, the Edge in North Vancouver, Vertical Reality in Surrey, The Hangout in Richmond, etc. But we have also seen a few of these practices elsewhere, lest the B.C. gym owners get too big for their Prana britches.

10) When you upgrade and expand your gym make the new gym have only marginally more actual climbing space than the old one. But raise the rates.

9) If bouldering is what people really want to do, and you are moving to a new space, make the new bouldering space smaller, with sketchier landings that involve swinging onto a wooden railing, and less space to rest. Small spaces also allow you to jam so many problems together that dumm people, like me, have trouble telling the problems apart.

8) Advertise your new space as "a green building" before you move into it. Then, save money by not actually making it green. Make sure that it has paper-towel dispensers in the bathroom that only work when powered by electricity. Use electric fans instead of thinking out natural-air circulation systems to cool it. Use powerful electirc illumination instead of natural light during the day. Also important-- make the new location a good long way from public transit, which encourages people to drive.

7) The smallest space in the gym should be the bouldering cave. The largest should be the area in front of the reception desk.

6) Make the lead climbing areas only available for leading when there is nobody in the gym.

5) For the top-rope routes, make the top-rope anchor a one-point "V", so the climber will have to do the final move into the wedge of the rope. Avoid having a two-point anchor with one draw on the wall and another a foot or two away.

4) Change routes not more than every four months, whether they have all been climbed a thousand times or not. And ensure that tape which falls off problems or routes is not replaced.

3) If you are belay staff, make sure that, while working, your Facebook status remains updated, your Farmville crops monitored, and your tweets frequent. Please also ensure that you stay on top of your text messages, and remain on the floor to talk with your client friends. Your friends will appreciate your efforts and focus.

2) Musical special events are an excellent way to make your clientelle uncomfortable. Try an All Taylor Swift Evening. For this, all you need are six songs rotating through the MP3 player of your employee's choice. Or perhaps pick a local heavy-rock FM station and play it loudly enough that the climbers must use sign language to communicate with their belayers. This will make your clients in muscle shirts and backwards baseball hats-- and they are legion-- love you.

1) Massively mis-grade routes and problems, preferably by sandbagging. This allows the setters to feel the way nine-year olds do when watching special-needs children poop their pants, and it's good practice for more serious later spray sessions: "Yeah, I don't really know if that's 10a or 11c-- it's been a long time since I've climbed those grades."

Friday, October 16, 2009

3.5 More days (2): The Patient Ass

Ian and I pulled into the Apron Lot giving thanks for the last dry Monday, and promptly ran into one Julian and his lovely partner Reschelle.

"Hey," said Julian, "are you guys the Gumbies On Crack?" to which we obviously responded with "hells yea" and some embarassed fidgeting, and Ian high-tailing it to the shitter. Julian appeared grateful that this blog has managed to distract him from his cubicular dreariness, and I was tickled pink. We all know that we aren't actually trying to climb the route-- we are trying to (a) meet women (Napoleon), (b) perfect epic hungover aid leads (Driller) and (c) learn to blog (me). But today we would find out that Ian also has a goal...

"So," said Julian, "are you guys and Napoleon ACTUALLY FRIENDS?" and we started giggling like 13 year olds looking at Jonas Brothers baby pictures, and we said "OF COURSE! We just like to shit-talk" and at this point Julian said-- and I am not making this up-- "yeah, I've seen that guy in the Bluffs, he climbs fucking hard." Right on, Napoleon!

So we got to the route and today Ian was gonna try to send P1-- the new improved crack version. He missed the onsight, falling off where Napoleon and I had, in the V-slot-- but what followed was one of the finest moments I have seen in climbing.

Ian fired the V second try, worked his way up to the small roof, and then launched into the layback. It was wet. It was muddy. One of his pieces had a lobe up against a root. You do bizarre armbars. Nothing feels secure. You place gear blind. Think "Apron Strings" but colder, wetter, dirtier. Ian skated, cussed, err-hemmed and grunted, and sent! I fell seconding the damn thing-- it was because I was wearing a crowbar instead of my Kaukulators, obviously-- and we decided that 5.11 a or b was it. We also decided that, like a murderer or adulterer in the middle ages, or a hipster girl after too many PBRs and some unprotected, sweaty, fixie-bike sex, our first pitch would need a Plan B in case of water on the pitch, or in case climbers smarter (and weaker) than Ian (and I) try it. So we will fix our original bolted line and you can all decide for yourself how you want it; hard like Ian or soft, like me.

Ian led the traverse and confirmed, 5.9 is about right.

Turns out that Napoleon, Paul Cordy and John Effa had done a great job on P2, 3 and 4. I fell-- AFTER the crux-- on P3, which will go at 11b or 11c. Here's Ian following:

And here he is busting a gut. The man's posing skills exceed even mine!

Props to you boys! And then it was time to mess with the dihedral. Well...let's just say, this thing will take every nubbin-pinching, crystal-stemming, high-stepping, sequence-remembering trick in your internal matrix of moves to send. I managed the first two bolts; Ian the 3rd, 4th and 5th, and then darkness came.

Well we rapped off our project pitch rap station, and then the rope got stuck. here's us finally having retrieved stuff, ready to go home. Thsi is what your hands and figertips will look like, if you are as lucky as we are!

So Ian's goal was obviously to climb, and he did it. I'll leave it to Napoleon, Dylan and the hit-counter I can't figure out to let you all know how the rest of us are doing, heh heh.

So...back to calculus class...a half-day of work on P1...and it will be ready to go...Lord, Thy patient Ass awaits Thy command...

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

3.5 More Days (1): They Also Serve...

In calculus, about which I know nothing, they talk about how a curve can slowly flatten out-- how the rate of change changes-- infintitely, never quite reaching flatness. Such is our route. Now as Ian and I drove up on Saturday, we were naturally not able to talk about calculus as a metaphor for our route, for two reasons. (a) Ian is a University dropout, and I am not very bright, and (b) Napoleon wasn't there, so obviously it was time to shit-talk him.

Speaking of Napoleon, I was somewhat shocked to NOT find him working on the route. Shocking, I know, but the man's work ethic, like a fine bottle of wine, or the smell in my climbing shoes, is ripening and maturing. Where was he? Well, the V.O.C., who are famous for doing things like putting ten parties on simultaneously ten topropes at Burgers and Fries, was running its Long Walk. Now, this is not, as you and I might suspect, an epic Napoleon-led trek bewteen the two Starbucks in Squamish. No, rather it is a kind of smorgasbord intro to various outdoor activities for new members. Gumbies. Except these gumbies are not like me (in one resapect): they do dumb shit because they don't know any better, while I do dumb shit after ten years of climbing because I'm, well, dumb. Not only was Napoleon selflessly volunteering his time to the noble cause of decreasing the net amount of gumbiehood in the Universe, he had also told me he was in fact going to work on the route-- with Two Unknown Guys-- on Sunday. This all SHOULD have prevented us from shit-talking him, the shit-talk rsising to an almost sexual crescendo when we rounded the corner past Murrin and saw The Chief, but no...we gossiped the way, well, the way Ian and Napoloen gossip about ME when they climb together. Quite the threesome.

Anyway, after a brief hello-in-passing to the gumbie-taxiing Napoleon, we headed up. Our objective was to finish the bolt ladder, add bolts to P8, scrub the dihedral and handcrack, and maybe try to climb the dihedral.

Well now I thought that jugging 200 meters would warm me up, but no. I was wearing my gym capris. The Pradaguccia Climbing Pants I got from M.E.C. (a) chafed my crotch and (b) a beige colour that as soon as I got them out into the light made me look like a middle manager for an insurance company. Now, I can stand my ball hairs getting a rub, but I would clearly not be able to pose properly if I looked like my S.U.V. and my 2.5 children were waiting for me outside the mall, so back to the capris it was. And what was worse, I forgot to attach my gym pass to my harness, so I looked like a mutant mix between an aid climber and a gym gumbie. This was clearly going to be a very bad day for photography, and also a bad dwy for crotchal warmth. The fine cold wind massaged my privates and the fine random edges of rock and gear massaged my calves.

Well, I launched up the white rope and busted out the drill. After six more bolts, the ladder was finished. At I believe 22 bolts, it is now the longest bolt ladder in Squamish. Take THAT, Peeeter Croft, Sonnie Troooter, Will Stanhooope and all you other trad hardmen! HA! If for no other reason, my readers should climb the route because, well, where ELSE-- other than the Forgotten Wall at Chek, or Red Tail in Skaha-- are you going to see that many bolts in one place?

After the bolt ladder, I launched up into P8-- this is a 20m pitch which has a 5.10+ bolted right-hand version (to which I added 3 bolts) and a 5.11- gear lefthand path. The bolts are there because

#1-- the first gear placement up off the belay station (at the top of the 12b/c Wet Liek Your Wife pitch/botl ladder) is BELOW the level of the station,and a fall would fire you off into tough times getting back on.

#2: You are supposed to climb this pitch by using the trees. But the trees will eventually get destroyed, so the second bolt will giver us backup. There was in fact a nice crack and flake right beside my second bolt, and I had aided up it ont he first ascent, but when I pounded it with the crowbar, it gave that widow-making, Napoleon-scaring, Perry Beckham-killing hollow THUUUNK, so that was that-- bolt.

#3: is up over the lip, and makes it so that you can avoid looking as retarded as me the first time I led that pitch: I fell, screaming like a corporate-bonding-party top-roper in a gym (though a few feet further, and much louder, in my case).

Now while all this was happening, young Ian was regaling me with Hellen Keller jokes while he scrubbed the dihedral. E.g.:

Q: Hey, did you hear that Hellen Keller got a new dress?
A: Neither did she!


Q: Why did Hellen Keller's dog commit suicide?
A: You would too if your name was MMMNNNAAUUUGHHH.

So after the bolts were drilled, I hauled the fixed ropes down to where Ian was, and we started on the handcrack. You gotta hand it to young Bennet, the fucker can scrub. First, he inherited his Dad's considerable balls (his Dad, FYI, is one of the guys who put up The Grim Reaper, which is basically a 25 years ahead-of-its-time "whaddya got?" glove throw-down to people who think bolts make climbing stress-free, and to people from Canmore). Second-- and more importantly-- he interited his Dad's Stubais.

Now think: artificial protection. Unleashed tools. The end of straight-shafts and the arival of bent shafts. Bareback ascents. You would think this was some kind of new sexual practice that The Filth has engineered in his ongoing beery quest to mix heavy anal sex, me, and climbing, but no, it's mixed climbing. And the Stubai Straight Shaft is to mixed climbing what the fixie bike is to to titanium-framed, Ultegra-equipped, Racelite-clad fancy-assed road bikes: a back to the future trip. At least for us.

It turns out that with a used and unfashionable ice tool, you can do all kinds of crazy stuff, like threaten to penetrate your partner's skull, or ward off robbers, or rip cedar trees bodily from their crackish root system, which is what Ian did, while I hung below him, filkling the cracks in my helmet with the dirt from the crack in front of him. At one point, hanging away from the wall, eyes gummed with dirt, ears clogged, I felt like Hellen Keller, with Ian my Annie Sullivan.

Anyway, after endless cleaning and a feww final trundles, we retreated...and then it was Napoleon's turn.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Day 22: Nearer, my Send, to Thee

Today, like it usually is for Bill and Ted, was excellent!

Young Napoleon-- fresh from an encounter with a cougar that he and Ian and John E. ran into in the Bluffs, the kind that wants to sink her claws into these scrumptious young viragos-- was somehow energised, and was merely seven minutes late this morning. Seven minutes late in Napoleon time is basically early-- EXCELLENT!

Napoleon decided he would send P1 and, after getting three feet off the ground, began to thrash in the V-groove. So I was asked to "spot" him by which he meant "hold up your hands and grab my ass," which I did. For Napoleon, EXCELLENT!

Napoleon aided his way up to the top of P1, citing dirt as a send-preventative factor, and I followed, laden with drill, bolts and pack. We climbed P2-- which will need a mild scrub-- and decided it would be 5.10-. This is my first free ascent ever-- EXCELLENT! Here's what it looks like:

The travserse is clean and done; here's Napoleon on it.

I then hganded the gear over and fired into P3. Well let's just say that my crack-skills, fingers, courage, and determination (and probably other things) are weak, so I moved and hung my way through the crux into the hand section. This will go at 5.11- or so and is an EXCELLENT pitch-- straight in fingers and hand for 30 meters. Napoleon followed:

I led P4 which is probably 10c or d and then brought Napoleon, who wasn't feeling too hot, up. I was pretty happy that he was along despite feeling somewhat out of it-- EXCELLENT work, Napoleon. Here Napoleon is, topping out at the place where the Leaning Pillar of Death used to be.

I then jugged up to start the Longest Bolt Ladder in Squamish and drilled until the battery died while Napoleon sat at the base of the dihedral and shivered and we trash-talked each other. Well actually Napoleon trash-talked my girlfriend ("beware, my Lord, of jealousy...") and my Mom (who was climbing 5.10 trad 20 years before Napoleon was even a ripple in the nut-sack..."beware, my Lord..."), and I trash-talked him. The bolts are about a sling's length apart, so it will be fast and easy to use the ladder. The "wet like your wife" pitch seeped and hung there silently while Napoleon dreamed of warm, sunny belays surrounded by nubile women in tight shorts and tank tops, and the drill chattered and whirred.

We retreated at 5 and drove to get some coffee. We figure three man-days now: we must scrub P1 and the bottom of P2, give the handcrack and dihedral another once-over, finish the ladder, add a bolt to P8, and get the ropes off. We have good weather through Saturday, so I am hoping Nap[oleon, Ian and I can get it done next weekend. If I never see a drill, a crowbar or a wire-brush ever again, it will be too soon. Here I am finishing a climbing route, and I will have to re-learn how to climb!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Day 21: You Can't Always Get What You Want

We chattered like monkeys. We gangsta-rap texted each other. We whooped and hollered. And, five feet off the ground, arm-barred into the v-slot on Pitch One, feet skating, fingers scratching at a muddy crack, Dilly gently urging me on, I knew that the fabled send was not going to happen today.

Last weekend, Napoleon and I had pounded, drilled and cussed our way around P2. What had started as a hand traverse became a footledge; trees were felled, and above all, Napoleon sweated, something he usually avoids unless he is two feet above his last three cams. Anyway we fantasised ourselves into thinking that we were ready roll.

So the email shit-talking started, plans were made, and then on Friday night emails from Driller came. Now Driller, who is moving up in the world of accounting, has a new Friday night ritual-- getting pissed with his bosses. This is actually much like his old Friday night ritual, except now he isn't sitting outside an Atco in the middle of a seismic line, swilling Coors Light with Randy the Cokehead and getting ready for twelve hours on the drill. No, now he goes to Global in Yaletown with his shi-shi bosses and gets plastered on drinks with at least seven ingredients.

I told him "See you at 7!" and the first late-night email from Driller was this:

Ok sounds good, I'm half fucked at the moment. Had a
Patttner / bad ass junior drink off meeting. Will be reasyvdor tomorrow. -d

Then came the second email: Yo hope your ready to lead cause I'm half driunk from a good night of corporate bonding that needed to happen -d

And finally: Maybe let's leave at 8 -d

So of course I didn't actually GET these till Sunday. So The Driller appeared, woozy on his feet, at 7 AM, his neighbours cursing my Singng And Sending Excitement, which was shared by the crows and swallows in the trees.

The Driller was much, much worse for the wear, even after an injection of McDonald's and coffee directly into his veins. But then, it occurred to us that on this day, the big send was very much in the tradition of The Filth, whose epic drinking engagements have led to more than one woozy tie-in. In Fact, the Driller was so out of it that he was rocking the Euro Shorts Look.

Here is a word from our sponsors, without which there would be no sending. Well actually that's misleading-- we havn't sent anything yet, and, well, we actually paythem, which as nearly as I can tell is how sponsorship is not supposed to work...but we will pretend that these corporations are in fact all supporting us.

Napoleon and Ian today had instructions to clean the fixed ropes off the top of the route. Napoleon-- who does not read emails, despite havng his CrackBerry surgically grafted to his hand-- and I argued over how to clean the ropes off the traverse. I finaly trusted that Neil would be able to figure this out. Driller and I walked to the base, put on an almost normal climbing outfit (with drill and bolts in a pack) and I fired into the V-slot.

Well it quickly became obvious-- well, for non-smart people like me-- that when you spend an entire day dumping rocks and dirt off one pitch and onto another, the lower pitch will be dirty. So I hung on a nut, thrashed higher, and then moved into the bolted crux that Napoleon and I had cleaned two weeks before. There was only one problem...the slabby crux was the last place to dry out, the bolts were in the wrong spot, and the moves were very hard. So I climbed to the top of the pitch, brought up the Driller, and we used what limited brainpower we had for Plan B.

Well Plan B was what Plan A should have been-- ten feet to the right of our cleaned line and th bolts that Napeloen had placed was a crack!

A base jumper drifted past, then some twigs, then some screams, and then a whistling rushing sounds just like in the movies, and finally a tree-smashing crash of rocks. Napoleon and Ian were cleaning. I was a bit worried-- Napoleon, Driller and I had tried to kill Perry Beckahm a few times with rocks (and failed); now it was obviously my turn. But the boys missed us. So we hacked, tore, stomped and scrubbed, and by day's end we had a 35m crack pitch with a very nice layback finish ready to go.

We left with Ian and Napoleon dinking around on the Shit Pillar...which is basically a "get the f**k out of here!" move, considering the thing weighs probably 40 tons and will when it finally falls off make it all the way out to the Mamquam. What was really funny was imaginign hwo much Napoleon would whine abotu having to walk the 1.5km up to the Grand Wall lot to retrieve hsi car, heh heh. Anyway, I got Ian's report of the day. Now I also got Napoleon's...and comparing the two goes to show that, if you go to University (which Napoleon has done, and Ian not) you will un-learn writing skills. So here's Ian's story of their day.

As I sit here typing away on probably the last nice climbing-weather morning of the summer season, I wonder "What the fuck is wrong with me? Why don't I go climbing??" Similar thoughts ran through my head as I rolled up to Epic Napoleon's house Saturday morning, only having partially satiated my subconscious with a whopping 4 hours sleep the night before. I think it's a necessary requirement to be slightly drugged by lack of sleep to go up and work on this project, seeing as our two main "heroes" don't shut the fuck up about each other and it's nice to be able to sorta tune them out, drifting off and fantasizing about the reason for my nocturnal woes... Epic informs me that he is similarly challenged and I think that maybe I'm in luck and he'll be too tired to whine and complain about Chris today: "Teacher teacher! That bully pulled my hair on the playground!"

Well you can't win 'em all.

Just as we're pulling together gear from the melee of Epic's trunk to start our way up the Backside trail, a car full of American girls pulls up and gets real friendly-like real fast. I'm somewhat of a Cassa-novice, but before you can say, "Hey Epic are you making me carry the rope up again?" he's recruited them to hike the trail with us, maybe hoping to slap his way up another backside or two. It's always funny to listen to Epic's synopsis of female encounters. It never really matters to him if I'm interested in a girl or not, cause "Dude she liked you, you shoulda moved in!" is the standard Epic response. He kind of assumes that everybody is as stoked as he is to have the biggest Little Black Book on the planet. [We are all going to be VERY curious to see Epic Napoleon's little Crack book...the man is a s secretive as Stalin's secret police about his love life].

So anywho, we get to the top of "The Deputy" - as I am trying to christen the wall that the project is on - and put on a bit of a show for our entourage as we begin our rappel down the face with the objective of removing the fixed lines. It was pretty mellow for the most part rapping down my climbing rope, unfixing gear, ropes, and pounding out the odd piton bashed in 90 degrees to the uhh.... wrong way. Good thing the gumbies theme has already been covered in this blog. The only minor clusterfuck was on the traverse pitches as you might be able to imagine. If not, well .... rappelling sideways = suckfest.

Nonetheless we made it to the steep part of the wall and Epic informed me we need to warm up for the Wet-Like-Your-Wife [second crux] pitch so we did a TR of the one above [P10] in our approach shoes. Damn is that gonna be a fine pitch. Wow. The only thing I didn't like refers to something I've learned over the years of climbing; when you grab a hold, especially a big one, it shouldn't make any noise.

Oh right, this is still a project.

"Uh Epic?"

"What? [I'm pimping bitches on my Crackberry; Leave me alone!]"

"Make sure your helmet's on tight, this thing might go for a bit of a ride!"

"Oh shit......"

Now I'm sure he was emotionally returned to the initial days of this project, when he was belaying Chris aiding up and releasing buckets of rock and dirt, when the first rocks I let loose sailed past his face, but it was nothing compared to the 40 lb block that came off. I set it against a tree not really knowing what to do with all that widow-making power [Epic Napoleon is married??], and lowered off. Epic didn't really have to think very hard when he got to the top; he made his way along the little ledge and took the block for its first and last flight lesson as I screamed warnings to Chris, Dylan and potentially even Perry Beckham. And I must say: trundling, though inadvisable in most normal circumstances, IS REALLY FREAKING SWEET! I got about 15 years younger as that thing crashed down in a blast of erosional fury.

But it was back to work for me as I explored and cleaned the overhanging left-leaning Wet-Like-Your-Wife pitch of 5.12 madness, so named because of its perpetual seep. [This would be Napleon's wife, since he has such sexual prowess that women-- and not just his wife-- need fresh udnerwear after even the mnere thought of him] I doubt the seep will be the crux of the pitch, and once you're through it you are WAY stoked because the rest is far too cool with some pretty wild moves on it. However, if this sounds like something you feel compelled to avoid (don't let the name scare you off) this pitch is on the block to get bypassed with a very large bolt ladder.

That was it for us that day, Epic needed to get down so we blasted down the remaining fixed lines and caught various rides back to the car, one of which involving a second-person extrication of Epic from his sardine-like predicament.

Ok folks-- on Sunday the 4thof Oct, Napoleon and I are hoping to free the first half of the route. The send is, uhh, nigher...

Monday, September 21, 2009

Day 20: The Send Is Nigh

Our dear readers know that this blog has some recurrent motifs-- Napoleon not being organised, things taking forever, talking shit, and people posing on routes way above (or below) their limits, and of course the old question-- To Bolt Or Not To Bolt. I am proud to report that on Sunday, ALL of our recurrent themes were played out.

First, Napoleon did not show up at the appointed hour ready to go. We'd divided the jobs the evening before: I would buy the 20 bolts necessary for the ladder, and Napoleon would buy the two-foot socket wrench necessary for bolt chopping. So after the usual hour-long delay, we set off up the trail, putting up our now-standard "stay away; Gumbies On Crack will kill you" warnings, and we marveled at how wet the approach was. Indeed at one point we walked through a shower. Late-- check.

When we arrived Napoleon announced that "the community" did not approve of the idea of the bolt ladder I proposed for bypassing our second crux pitch. We won't name names of those members of "the community" but I found it funny-- most people, even with binoculars, can't see the pitch in question...and Napoleon has not even been ON the pitch in question! I was reminded of how the religious right freaks out about movies that they don't like, usually without seeing them, or how recently an African-Canadian (or black, whatever you're suppsoed to say) family in Ontario wanted to censor To Kill A Mockingbird...even though the book is anti-racist! Anyway, whatever. Talking smack-- check.

So then Napoleon climbed up P1 and I started upt he project pitch rope. So naturally we had an Aid Race and I must say Napoleon is stilla bit ahead of me in the jugging game. Here is us hanging and cleaning, err, I mean, posing.
I was expecting an hour's work and then up to the bolt ladder...but we ended up spending the entire day cleaning P2. Which was slow but kind of fun-- we knocked some absolutely massive rocks off. Napoleon also used a handsaw to cut down a surprsingly thick tree, and then he had to jug down to dislodge the thing from the crack it had wedged itself into. Meanwhile, I excavated the P2 traverse, which is now MUCH safer (3 bolts) and easier (most of it can be walked). I thought we would have a hand-traverse, which is what happened when I aided the pitch the first time...but you cut out a cedar shrub, you rip on the roots, and boom!, a block comes off, and now you have a ledge. Things taking longer than expected-- check.

Here we have young Napoleon getting antsy. After all, it has been about four hours since he last set foot in Starbucks.

Now when lowering Napoleon off the traverse, our young hero was not too I videotaped him cussing away. Those who have not aid climbed (or whatever it is that Napoleon, Driller and I do) will wonder, gee, what are all those ROPES for? Well clearly they are for bondage (of Napoleon) and domination (of our fears).

We finally rapped down the project pitch and installed a rap station 25 meters down, so you can now get off the route if it rains, or if your significant other calls and decides that you should Pick Up Arugula Right Now! which obviously takes precedence over The Climb, because Michelle Obama does it.

On returning, I got an email from The Yankee, a man with whom I have been talking trash for a number of years. The Yankee and Napoleon are quite adept at snipping away at each other, which is kind of entertaining, but would be better if they were ever in the same room to do so. Or maybe that would explode the fabric of space time, or be like Tyler Durden and Jack sharing space-- chaos! Anyway, The Yankee proposed that instead of making a bolt ladder, we install gym holds. Which would look something like this. I know, it sounds ridiculous...but how bad would it really be? You pull and stand on holds instead of bolts, and every third bolt has a hanger on it. "You call it A0," said The Yankee, "and then some sick fuck will free it at 5.19C and then, well, then you take the holds off and you have a totally free route." Which might work...except at that point, standards, even for gumbies like me, will have risen so high that the pitch the ladder bypasses will be a mere walk in the park at wet 5.12b.

Anyway, we will likely be stymied not by ethics, aesthetics, or a sense of tradition....but rather by cheapness and laziness. Imagine hauling a hundred pounds of plastic up there! I am too lazy, and Napoleon would certainly rather be in Starbucks, and Driller, well, Driller I am guessing would not be a fan.

But weekend it is High Noon for the bolt ladder. I'm going in with a drill, 20 bolts and maybe even a rock rack. Stay tuned...the send is nigh!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Day 19: Mystery Solved and The Return of Napoleon

Those following this creation epic know that God (me) both manages (climbs) and despairs (Naploeon) at His creation (the route). Now, while I am a God, I am much more like one of the ancient Greek gods (or a Soprano)-- vengeful, petulant, flawed, ambitious, magnificent-- than a Judeo-Christian abstract-perfect-type Deity. So as the route unfolds, as we create the world which more and more demands all of our attention, We watch with some trepidation and more delight as the World takes shape, and Napoleon less quickly. (I get to use the Royal We, which Mark Twain said should be used only by kings, editors, people with tapeworms and first ascentionists).

So today Driller and I heard rumours of Napoleon and one Ian Bennet going up and cleaning the route. Driller and I set up at the crack of 9:35, after I forgot matches for my smokes in Napoleonic style. If there is one thing that passes time at aid belays, it is smoking, a Thomas Pynchon novel, and an MP3 player. Well, three things the first two of which I had. Driller laughed as I crammed Against The Day into my pack-- at 1100 pages the heaviest thing, outside of maybe Proust, you could bring on a route. But then Mr Pynchon, like a good aid pitch, demands slow and meticulous attention, and provides less than obvious rewards (although at the en dof both, a beer or two are certainly in order).

Long story short (unlike Pynchon's), we jugged to the top of P10, I cleaned and put another bolt into P11 (this is the shittiest pitch on the route but it iwll be fast and easy) and then Driller and I had a gander at the o/w pitch 12. This pitch needs one #5 Camalot and two #6, so we installed two bolts. YOu will be able to do it with one #5-- OK, it's lamer than cramming two 6s in there, but hwo many 5.11 climbers do YOU know who have a quiver of #6s?

At the top of P12 Driller set off up the fixed rope to see what Mystery Pitch 13 would be like. Napoleon and I had rapped down it, but weren't sure the route woudl go where the fixed line was. Drillerjugged up six meters, smacked a couple of loose flakes with the crowbar, and anounced that it would be "easy." And for once this turned out not to be just wishful thinking-- we installed three bolts, and we figure there will be one or two 10a moves on this, and what looks like a bomber crack (which we bolted)...because both flakes beside are resoundlingly hollow, at least when you have Leroy The Friendly Crowbar to help you out. (Leroy is NOT so friendly when the IRA, or the Hell's Angels, hire him for persuasive purposes). After this, Driller added a last bolt to the traverse pitch. You could live without it...but if you fell, you would saw your rope over a sharp edge, and you would swing smack into blocks. Then we retreated, and extended Napleon's precious 200 meters of ninety-pound static line down to the top of P7, from which we hung the white static line, and from which we will try to clean the second 5.12 pitch, and drill the bypass bolt ladder.

Now while all this was happening there woudl be the occasional cloud of power and shower of pebbles from above. Could it be? Was it possible? Was Napoleon off his ass and doing work? I had heard rumours, but Napoleon, he who is addicted to his Crackberry, had not replied. But on returning to the normal world, I got the following from Napoleon. Napoleon worked the route with Ian Bennet, the son of Neil Bennet, author of The Grim Reaper (seriously sick Squamish slab...fifty meter pitches with one bolt; pussies need not apply). Ian is becoming a pretty awesome climber in his own right and, mroe to the point-- he can shit-talk with the best of them, having suggested that I name our route "The Jerry Springer Show" because both Napoleon and I complain about each other so much). Here is Napoleon's email, with comments, most likely sent by Napoleon from his car, while driving:

The day according to Napoleon:

"Uh, Napoleon?"
"Yes Ian what's up?"
"What did I get myself into?"
"Work, lots of work, but it'll be fun and by the end of the day you'll
be a dreamer".

This summarizes the overall sentiments of the day in addition to the pleasure
of not having to deal with a whining 12 year old trapped in a 40 year old's body [or of having to deal with a whining eight-year-old trapped in a twenty-six year old's...].
The sun was out with a slight breeze and I got a little excited thinking about
[Chris' girlfriend's] body [you know you're a Facebook creepr when...] sort of like the Lonely Island's song when he greets the cashier in the grocery store except in this case she was applying the moisturizing agent all over her face ["Beware, my lord, of jealousy. It is the green eye'd monster that mocks the meat on which it doth feed"]

The hike up the chief: The Blackberry went off as usual [you know you're an incipient yuppie cunt when...] and I figured it was
a) Chris bitching about something on the route b) Chris bitching about if we were
on the route or c) Chris bitching that we should actually be doing work on the route. [Napoleon, like a small child, has not internalised essential basic climbign behaviours, such as getting on the route with your body, rather than staring at a digital photo and fantasising lines] I'm happy to report that I did not answer the phone and left the crying sob to his own mess at some pitch somewhere on the wall; hopefully he was getting covered in dirt/moss [Yes I was; that's what happpens when you work]. Driller [and Chris] did an amazing job, we later discovered, of drilling the mystery pitch at 5.11- [that Napoleon, who sprays of his Zombie Roof attempts, shoudl find this 11-, is weird].

Ian's first reaction to the route from the top-down was "this is going to be a great fucking route!" was excited to bring him along for the mission and equally excited when I found out he was enjoying the experience. Ian set off to scrub out the rest of the V slot and make it climbable and I did the same on the undercling traverse [Napoleon as you may now see is OCD...the pitch needs to be cleaner than his ass, and a guy who takes twenty mineutes to take a dump has most certainly got a whistle-clean anus] These top two pitches are now ready to go. We rapped then next pitch and gave it a once-over with the wire brush and our recommendation was the following: there needs to be another bolt on this pitch as the climbing would be run out otherwise with no pro [we will see about that].

Likewise, the bolt at the top of the V slot should be relocated such that it is on the big ledge on the right, making an easy exit [so are you going to do it, or just talk about it?].

The 3rd last pitch needs a fixed rope during a free ascent along the terrace as it is loose and dangerous [no, it needs one bolt; fixed ropes rot].

Part of the way down i could hear Chris yelling out my name and I couldn't figure out whether this was just a natural reaction to being on the route or he actually knew I was there [or because Napoleon was trying to kill us with bombing from above?]. In any case it was another usual day on the route with
Chris being perpetually disatisfied by something and letting everyone know how he felt [this from the man who insisted we bolt a crack so that his fears of death-by-bombing be allayed].

The 4th last pitch looked great and the loose flakes at the start of the pitch need to get removed.

The offwidth and 5.12- variation look excellent as well. I'm not sure if I agree with the position of the bolts but they will do the trick [read: "I could do this thing with nly one #4, I am such a hardman"].

I rapped down to the top of pitch 9 to discover that some idiot had taken the remaining section of 200m rope out of the bag when i told him specifically to leave it up there and fixed it at lower level. When will this dumb fuck ever learn to listen to instructions? [How did Napoleon plan on cleaning the second 5.12 pitch? Having led not one pitch on the route so far, despite (Namedrop) Having Taken An Aid-Climbing Course With Matt Maddaloni one wonders why he complains about hanging a fixed rope off it].

The rest of the day proved uneventful and we applied a once over with the brush on the pitches. Ian had some ideas of including some variations along the length of the climb and I think he has some great ideas. He attempted to climb the Shit Pillar while on a grigri and it didn't move! Maybe this is a possibility but a scary one. He is also psyched to attempt the Project pitch after a 2 hour cleaning Session!

All in all a great day! Chris is like the divorced wife I have never had [you can't have a "divorced wife"-- you can have either a wife, or a divorce] and sooner or later we're going to rope up and Free this thing!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Day 18: The Janitors and the Advisor

You all know that we really have two projects on the go here-- one is the route, the other is Napoleon. The first is self-explanatory; the second, well, much like a certain kind of student, young Napoleon is working on skills such as being organised, being on time, actually showing up to work, working rather than chasing women, and prioritising spending. This last, well, you know how it is with kids-- you give them two bucks and they tear off to 7-11 and buy 40 pieces of candy which are gone in sixty seconds, after which they want mooooore. So it is with Napoleon: if there is a Starbucks within two kilometers, he will find his way there, like lemmings to the sea or hipsters to ironic t-shirts.

So I am pleased to announce Napoleon's report card so far: he gets C for showing up, a B for being on-time (significant progress), a C for working rather than chasing women (this is a guy who has so many women in his sights that it makes all the blood rush to the wrong part of one's body) and an A for having a desire to put upa new route. Note that desire does not equal work, or, as DOA put it, talk - action = zero. OK, he comes out to a B- overall but that's progress compared to last year, when the only thing worse than his punctuality was his cardio.

Anyway our last mission was janitorial: we wanted to clean three pitches and so being the civil thoughtful guys we are, we started with an argument: do we approach pitches 9,10 and 11 from ground up or top-down? Fixed ropes all the way-- you could get a pretty decent jugging workout on our route-- which was faster? Well it takes 20 min to approach and about 1 hour to jug to the top of P9, which I did; young Napoleon decided, fuck that, he would hike to the top of the Chief and then do some rapping. Fair play to you, Napoleon-- but you have to haul a rope to rap the last 2 pitches, then you have endles fiddling with the short fixing ont he way down...I beat Napoeon to it by an hour and fifteen, and Napoleon scared me shitless by dislodging something that crashed into the ledge atop P9 and sent dirt and pebbles cascading down on me.

But work got done. P9 was scrubbed; the off-width/layback/whatever pitch is now clean; we have clearted the brush from P10 and installed one bolt on it, and moved the P9 anchor. This is the shittiest pitch on the route-- scrambling up mossy blocks-- but it's fast and easy. P10 also looks like it has an alternative, an 11- or so tips dihedral which Driller and I will clean next time out. Napoleon hurt a rib and so sat around for awhile.

We finally rapped off, and as I was sliding down the ropes, it hit me: this thing is turning into a route! it used to be, we would go out, aid up, clean, drill, etc. But after 18 days on the wall, we now have an end in sight. We know where all but one of the pitches go; we are cleaned except for P2, we are drilled except for bits of P2 and a bolt ladder...the end is nigh!

Afterward we ran into Jeremy Frimer and his pal Matt McComb (sorry if I spelled those wrong) at Starbucks, where Napoleon, after drinking enough coffee to wake a horse, fell asleep right when the conversation got interesting. Frimer has put up some pretty cool routes (e.g. Optimus Prime on the Squaw)) and has become one of the go-to guys in Squamish when it comes to cleaning and restoration. Frimer made three points worth putting out there regarding our route. things that had been talked about a bit on Squamishclimbing:

a) Make it accessible to stop the moss. The easier the grade, the more traffic, which means less re-growth, the bane of routes in Squamish. You can aid our first 5.12 pitch (the dihedral); we might build a bolt-ladder bypass for the second 5.12 pitch because it's often wet, it's hard to aid (undercling) and a bypass would not interfere with the pitch itself. Plus, doing this would make the grade 5.11 A0 rather than 5.12, so more folks would try it.

b) Make the crap easy. If your route has crappy pitches, make it so that the shit isn't hard or stressful, because that is what people will remember. If you are having a wild, adrenlin-filled climb on a perfect splitter, that's one thing...but having a bowel-loosening epic on run-out or wet choss is quite another. You'll go back for the first, but run screaming from the second. Frimer pointed out that he bolted the first five meters of Right Wing (even though you can put gear in) because that section is so frequently wet that it will shut may parties down...and so the rest of the route then won't get done. Frimer says he's had no objections to this bit of bolting. When he talked to first ascentionist Fred Beckey about the route, Beckey said "well when we climbed it, it was really HOT! Can't recall any water on it" which Frimer rightly took as a "son, you have my blessings." So with that in mind I will add a few bolts to P10 (shittiest pitch on the route) so people will be able to blast through it and not dig for gear in moss.

c) Think carefuly about required gear. P11 is an (easy-- 5.10-, we think) offwidth (or easy layback, or au-cheval thrutch). You would need one or two #5s and one #6 Camalot to do this. much big gear do folks own, or want to haul? Not that many have the big stuff. And considering that you need a rack of doubles t 4" for our route, throwing a #5 and 6 on there might be we may add one bolt to that pitch so only 1 #5 is required.

The real question here is ego. If you want to be purist/hardcore/elitist/ whatever, then no bolt ladder, no bolt on o/w and no bolts on shit pitch. Big ego = small #s climbing your route = regrowth. If you make options, however, you get more people on route.At this point, I am frankly inclined to go for mass, not moss, popularity. We, like the Jews and then Jesus in the desert, will have had forty man-days at work, and it would be cool if those days turned into something the rest of Squamish could enjoy n years to come. Thanks, Jeremy, for the discussion!

Monday, August 31, 2009

The Drop Zone

The following is a picture of Middle Caramba Terrace where we are working. If you are planning on crossing this terrace to go to Ultimate Everything or Upper Echelon, beware of rockfall on work days. Better to approach via Apron or South Gully routes. We will put cleaning advosories physically in the Apron parking lot, at the Badge trailhead, and online on and on .

Days 16 & 17: Bolts, Bombs and Bottle Rockets

The weekend's theme, it would turn out later, would be idiocy. We, being idiots, did not know this as we set off with a thousand pounds of water and gear to the top of the Chief.

After explaning to about fifteen parties of hikers the purpose of the massive gardening shears and crowbar attached to my pack, like an itinerant tinker's last-minute must-sells, we staggered to the top and suited up. This basically meant taking most of that thousand pounds out of the pack and strapping it to one's harness. Driller and I then rapped into the V-slot, past the undercling and to the top of what we called (for now) The Munge Pitch, so named because, well, it is a mass of shit that is more suited to planting a garden or meditating in than climbing. I rapped off that and onto the Top Traverse, and started clearing the top traverse. Driller hung on the Munge Pitch and began cleaning.

It was at this point that a voice floated out at us from climber's left warning us that we were bombing the ground. Now, we had been under the impression that nobody (except Perry Beckham, once in May, when sending his newest project) used our access trail. There are no routes in or under our line. So we have not worried about rockfall. But this fellow seemed concerned, so we laid off the trundling and got back to drilling chopping and scrubbing.

This is the undercling pre-cleaning in evening light.

The day ended up being rewarding despite our sudden feeling of "oh shit we could have kileld somebody." We got the munge pitch 1/3 cleaned and it actually looks cool-- it will be gear and a sporty bolted finish at 5.10+. I got the top traverse walkable, and we ended up on the slab traverse, which we cleaned and to which we added two bolts. This one will have cool sideways move son friction and small incuts, with a bit of heady exposure-- you are traversing over a roof 300m off the deck! Here's Driller on the traverse.

So we jugged back out as the hazy ari turned smoky orange and then purple, and on the top of the Chief we guzzled water, whiskey and then curries and dals. We got drunk enough that i decided, wooo-hoo, let's make the whiskey bottle full of gas and Molotov-cocktail the fucker off the wall, which proposal the Driller ixnayed tout de suite. We then set up our five bottle rockets. One of them made it off the wall, two fizzled, one backfired into my pack, and one-- even after I soaked it in gas-- refused to light. So the evening's idiocy ended. We called Jewels, who put up a "warning-- rockfall" sign on the Badge trail and on for us, and then we found sleeping places and passed out.

On Sunday we did more of the same: the V-slot was my job.
Four hours got the V done, then I headed over to the undercling and scrubbed that. Driller finished off the Munge Pitch, whihc is no longer full of crap-- it has 3 bolts finishing off a layback/stem crack and it will be pretty decent. With that we jugged out and walked off. On the way down, I stopped to wet my hair in the stream, and ended up falling in, much to my delight. Twenty-eight degrees and stoopid hyoomid, and I made a good show for the couple who were marvelling at how cold the water seemed...which to me felt like a warm bath.

Here's the Driller, meditating at the awesomeness of our line and the beauty of Squamish, slowly turning into a resort town for yuppies like me but also richer than me!

Today I spoke with Napoleon, who tells me that we have to be more careful regarding trundling: our access trail is apparently being used by guides taking clients to do The Ultimate Everything. So from now on we will post more warnings, online and physically, to make sure others are safe.

As of today, we have what I imagine will be six man-days left. We have to clean P2 and P9 (easy), clean the bottom of P11 and possibly install one bolt (if it's wider than 6"), clean the Munge Traverse (P10) and then remains the Mystery Pitch: P11. Napoleon and my fixed lines bypass this, so Driller and I will head up with a lead line and do this one ground-up. Plus the fixed ropes need to come off.

So, a good few days, a cautionary warning to us, and ever-closer to actually going climbing!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Day 15: The Longest Biener Chain in Squamish

Today's question: where are we going to PUT things? Where will our line go? Will it go where we think it will? Do we have enough ropes etc? But first...

Ihe Apron parking lot, at 9AM sharp, was the scene of may weirdnesses.

First, Tony McLane was a new item of clothing. A bright pink hoody. Wearing-- err, I mean, "rocking," this with one of his usual Valley-Dirtbag-Circa-1977 headbands (today's coloured orange-- McLane may be poor, but the man has a quiver of bandanas ready to deploy at a moment's notice). I have never seent his man with anything not second hand. So I thought perhaps he'd been seduced by the dark side of a climbing sponsorship, or maybe Gotten A Girlfriend, or perhaps been abducted by (and replaced with) an Alien (the creature, not the cam). But no, apparently his Mother took an interest--let's not speculate on the reasons-- in her son's usual melange of cotton, polyester and duct-tape, and got him this stylish hoodie.

Second, there were NO CLIMBERS on this perfect bluebird of a day.

Third, Napoleon was on time. And he had already had breakfast, lunch, water, coffee, yadda. This occurence is usually about as likely as, say, my psycho ex girlfriend being civilised, or the moon turning green, or all the hipsters suddenly disappearing from Main Street as their fixie bikes all mysteriously catch a deadly infection at the same moment.

So after taking it all in, we loaded up and started the hike up the Chief. Today's mission: rap the route from the top, clear away brush and boulders, and connect to Driller and my high point.

So as we "hiked" we passed the usual clusters of tourists, and were passed by one trail runner, adn then we ran smack into the ass-end of a Lady Train: two English of a certain age, and their twentysomethign offspring. Of course Napoleon and I moved immediately into flirt-with-stranger mode. My tactic which is not rally a tactic, since it's the only thign I know how to do, was to shit-talk. Since Miss Offspring was a kinesiology student from Toronto, I asked her why she was walking so slowly, my impression being that Kinesiology grads were basically ex-jocks who when not lifting weights were busy training for triathlons. When she said "hey, you guys are climbers, you should be fit, move faster!" I told her to run ahead, I was about to take my shirt off, and I didn't want any woman chaos. I got a few giggles for that.

Napoleon tried an older strategy: "Oh, you're from Toronto TOO?" He didn't get a giggle but he got the usual exchange of what-did-you-study. Then Miss offspring turned on her inner deer and bounded up the trail, giving us a clear view of her tail. Now it could be because my girlfriend is not only the hottest woman I have ever been with (and smart too, well, smarter than me at any rate) but because she also has the finest ass in the Universe (yes, Angelina Jolie, you are a distant second; suck it up, Pitt) but Miss Offspring's butt didn't do much for me. Napoleon on the other hand was convinced that not only was she flirting with him, but that her assets were in fact of finest quality. Well, she was aiming for the first, second AND third summits, one of which we would reach, and so, said Napoloeon, he would work his angle later and see if she could be invited out for a beer. Obviously I am not on the market, but if I were, dear Readers, who would have a better chance with the young lady? Post a comment and let us know!

OK, back to climbing.

Here is Napoleon rapping off the very top.

What followed was basically the construction of the world's longest biener chain. With a few chunks of fixed rope added. We rapped the V-slot and the right side looks STUNNING-- it will be a perfect large-hands crack, in a cool position, in a really interesting feature.

Under the v-slot is a leftward undercling under a massive roof. Under THAT we got into serious gardening and rock trundling, with a freaking-out Napoloen bellowing about short-fixes while I blithely sailed off into thickets and snags. It didn't help that cutting one too many big branches finally destroyed my beloved pruning shears, and so for the rest of the day we thrashed downward, making intermittent progress, like a Platonist in a conference of post-Modernism, or like a stoned dirtbag in the candy aisle at 7-11. We also had about 200m too much static line-- which weighs a fucking TON-- so there was a lot of clusterfucking with ropes, yadda.

Here is Pitch 11-- removing two bushes and about ten feet of moss will make a cool 5.10+ o/w pitch (well a layback really).

The exploration ended with an epic thrash through brush to Driller and my high point.
Napoleon looked like a stoned racoon with dirt and sweat rings around his eyes. I looked like a prisoner of war loaded with a thousand pounds of gear and the route looked like a massive gardening project.

So finally we had the answer to the first question: where is our line? The route is now more-or-less set, with just a few things to figure out on 2 pitches. We have 90% of our bolting done. What will emerge is an 18-pitch free route that goes to the very top of the Chief, with some 5.12 on it, a huge variety of climbing, some serious exposure in parts, and you could potentially lengthen our route by adding a few others to it.

Here's me and Young Napoleon ready to shop for some Work Wear

Much like Mexican machistas, who at cantinas keep the evening's beer and brandy bottles on the table to not only help the server keep track of the tab but also to show the rest of the cantina how manly they are for drinking so much, Napoleon keeps all of his Starbucks garbage IN HIS CAR just in case anybody fails to see how much he REALLY likes Starbucks. And HERE was the end of our day...we knew where the route would go, but where was I supposed to put my goddamned feet?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Day 14: clusterf**king made Easy, or, How I Learned To Solo-Aid

The Filth, as you may recall, is my ass-eating, shit-talking, dirt-living, philosophising, beer-drinking economically unproductive (the highest compliments I can pay to any man) friend who si travelling with his wife-- yes, ladies, wife-- The Filth is married, happily-- in Africa. As you may recall, the Filth has been pestering me for YEARS for certain things. First, he wants to fight me. Usually, he gets into this after say ten or twelve beers and then starting to try to twist my nipples, so I asusme he really wants to have sex with me, in the way that Eminem really wants a piece of Moby's ass. I have yet to submit to the considerable temptation that The Filth provides. The OTHER thing The Filth wants is for me to go aid climbing with him.

Now obviously aid climbing and rough dirtbag gay anal sex (or whatever it is The Filth theoretically wants from me and my deliciously tight white ass) have a few similarities. Filth, and The Filth. Beer. Sweat. Pain disguised as pleasure, or maybe the reverse. Gloves. Dubious rewards. And while I love The Filth, in the way that the OTHER half of the Academy loved their Socratic interlocutors, I was not about to get into anything with him without some firsthand knowledge. So obviously Driller and I have been slowly breaking my aid cherry...but my OTHER cherry has not been broken...the solo-aid one. And since Napoleon was off not working on the route, yesterday I set out do get it all over with.

Basically in solo aid, you tie the rope to the anchor, feed it through your gri-gri, and then you aid normally: set piece, bounce test, clip aiders and daisies onto piece, step onto it, move up, repeat, and when moving onto second (and subsequent) pieces you unclip your aiders fromt he lower pieces and clip the rope into the lower piece, so that if you fall, you aren't falling onto static daises.

My pitch was easy: all A1 placements (A1 is the aid-climbing equivalent of condoms plus fundamentalist Christian sexual ethics, plus birth control pills plus having a conrete barrier between you and your lover, i.e., totally safe. Well perhaps the Mormon ethics might fuck up, but basically the odds of anything spicy are pretty minimal).

So I cammed and tree-slung my way up and right, and when I got to a foot-ledge, I fired in a bolt, moved upa nd more right to the top of the flake, added a high bolt, and then proceeded over to the anchor at the bottom of P2. I rapped to the ground, ditched the drill and rack, and set off up the fixed lines with only the gardening tools. I thought the sexu-- err, I mean, aid-climbing part was done. No more pain, sweat, spicy danger or the vaguely louche thrill of tooling around on the mountain while normal folk worked. But I was wrong...

First, I had to pound in Napoleon's shitty bolt, using only a crowbar. This at the end of many minutes of hammering left me panting and exhausted, but quite satisfied-- P1 could now be sent...if it weren't, heh heh, for the enticing but shamefully dirty crack that lures you onto it. I moved higher and began clipping and crow-barring my way up P2. At the second tree, I rigged an elabvorate set-up and began sawing at, and manically jumping up and down on, branches of an odd pair of trees, a cedar and a hemlock, which were intertwined like lovers. As I stepped up tot he foot-ledge, I thought, "gee let's see if this is solid" and one crowbard yank later I realsied that the lack of danger, like condoms, lube and Christian sexual ethics, were gone, like a Republican's free market in banking, and I was standing on a pair of blocks the size of a fridge. Well I nearly killed myself and all potential spectators getting the fuckers off, and when I did they boomed and crashed through the trees. I could see the forest shaking as the blocks knocked trunk after trunk down toward the Mamquam. At this point I hoped Napoleon hadn't decided to make a late entrance.

I made it off the mountain and ended the day with my otherwise awesome girlfriend having an epic freak-out on the phone, so you could well say I'd lost my cherry but saved it in the end: The mountain hadn't quite had its way with me and I aimed for Woman. I cancelled dinner plans with another of my and The Filth's male friends, and headed home to deal with the domestic issue. Of course things at home were FINE...dinner was waiting...woman in bed...what HAD I been thinking up on the wall?

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Random and AWESOME!

The "Indian Monkey King" of the coolest thing I have seen in ages!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Day 13

I didn't think one bit about possible bad luck this morning as I raced up to Squamish to meet-- wait for it-- Napoleon! The man has finally learned a few things about priorities. He spent yesterday pos-- err, I mean, climbing, on The Opal, which would be a great route to pose on except only people climbing Rock On can see you, and they are usually busy doing things like fighting with their significant other who is also (unfortunately) their climbing partner, or dealing with serious rope drag, or freaking out cos the end of the crux pitch is wet. (I have been involved in all of these activities and a few more). So Napoleon's posing strategy failed. Well, not quite, his buddy Neil saw him take a big one...raising the question of what exactly Neil was doing on Rock On, he having neither climbing-partner-girlfriend, rope-drag issues or fear of water...was he perhaps having a thoroughly enjoyable time of it? Hmmm...

Really you want to pose at, say, Zombie Roof (5.13a) which has become the new must-do route in Squamish, now that hard gear climbing, thanks to Sonny T and Will S and that Scottish cunt, is cool again after taking a 20-year bolt-induced vacation. It must suck to be a sport climber these days (who is Dave Graham again?) cos seriously, what is cooler-- 5.14 with 50 foot whippers onto ripping stacks of shaky blue Aliens, or 5.14 with "take" hissed at the camera? See, at Zombie Roof, you can breathe in the vapour trail of Peter Croft (50 this year and still putting up 12+ routes ground up), shred your fingers, grunt massively as you try to be a combination of Dean Potter, Spiderman and Captain Kirk from Star Trek 3 (?) with the free-solo-El-Cap-safely-in-gravity-boots, and, best of all, YOU CAN TRY TO IMPRRESS ALL THE GUMBIE CHICKS ON THEIR WAY TO BELAY THEIR BOYFRIENDS ON MOSQUITO. Or you could be Katy Holm and impress all the gumbie boys going to belay/impress their girlfriends on Mosquito (and you could do this either with your mad climbing skillz, or your amazing arms...but only if you were Katy). You sit there, suck-- err, I mean, massaging bloody knuckles, saying "yea feels soft for 13a" or perhaps "I used too much gear on that burn, maybe I'll just use the one fixed nut when I send." And the women, well, "da bitches go nutz when I walk in da room" or on the Roof as the case may be.

Anyway, where was I? Oh yea, Napoleon. So Napoleon got the first part of his posing out of the way Friday, the same day that I did some posing, err, climbing of my own at Nightmare Rock, with Jewels the Chick, of the famous Jewelz and Fergie, uhh, fame. Anyway I WANTED to pose but I was so soft, weak and timid-- like a plastic fork in piping hot pie, or icecream on a baking summer day-- that I couldn't manage anything like a decent pose, especially after watching some hardman throw himself at a 13c while being videotaped. No, I was a model climber-- scared, shaky and hanging off every piece and bolt I could find; you couldn't have taken a decent photo of me doing anything other than attentively belaying Jewels.

(Speaking of filming climbing, has anybody noticed how people being filmed while climbing don't swear? The work is all "sh*t!f*ck!c*unt-*ssed motherf*cker!" then on video it's all "ujm, urgh, HUNH! gosh, I really need to, you know, focus my fifth chakra's energy" Hindu yadda yadda rama rama least Chris Sharma is smrt, oops, I mean, SMART enough to include himself cracking up while making one of his Mystical Reflections On Climbing in the DVD extras section of "King Lines") So like I said, I was a green toy made of Plasticene that you could have (and Squamish did) drape over a chair like a blanket or one of those idiotic Dali watches.

So anyway, where was I? Oh yes, Napoleon. Napoleon has arrangments to Take A Girl CLimbing on Sunday, so today he deigned to help do some gardening. So we hung off P1, and of course everything fucked up. Napoleon fucked up one bolt, so we now have a total of FOUR of our own bolts we need to chop on this route. You know you're a gumbie when... Then I nearly killed Napoleon with a rock. Then at day's end we discovered that jugging on my rope had worn through the sheath: bye bye, oddly bland blue-grey 70. At day's end, thanks to Napoleon, and Tony McLane in May, we have 90% of P1 cleaned, 1.5 bolts drilled, and plans to go and work on the top of the Chief-- we will try to hang that 200m static line off the right end of the High Ledge and then connect to Driller and my high point. If we do a really good job, we should have a spectacular place to pose near the tourist chicks...and a good view of Zombie Roof.