Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Day 3: The Horrid and Fabulous Truth

April 2009.

This day we were set to make some big progress. Our ropes had been hanging for eight months in the rain from the top of (putative) P1. We had good weather, dry rock, and two charged batteries. The only thing slowing us down was Napoleon's addiction to Starbucks.

Napoleon got on the fixed ropes and started drilling above the shin-ripper bolt. He drilled four more bolts, screwed around with a few gear placements, then jugged up to the anchor. He put me on and I tried to do the moves on toprope. First problem was, the rock bombing that Kasper and I had done in Fall when we had moved to install the first belay had obliterated the holds at the first bolt. So that was impossible. Above that, the moves were insanely hard-- micro pinches, big reaches, very steep, and little rest. We are clearly going to have to call in a rope gun to send this one. I flopped and cussed my way up to Napoleon, hauled up the pack, and then set off on lead into the crack. Here's what it looks like:

Now if you are new routing on aid, you will know the mix of frustration ("I could free this!") and doubt ("How the f**k are we going to get around THIS?"). The crack is magnificent. .4 Camalots and medium nuts, mostly clean but with occasional wads of dirt. The aid system started to finally make sense and I pressed upward. In an hour I was at what had looked like a big loose block, and found it was actually solid. Above it, however, the crack widened to off-hands and the angle eased off, and there I minced my way through flakes and chunks of random rock, while Napoleon cowered in the meager shade of six overhanging inches of rock and I did my best to kill him with rock missiles. This is an experience you don't get much in Squamish-- the rock is clean and solid, and most of the routes have been climbed loads of times, so you dont' get to try to kill your partner too often. I felt like I was leading on Yamnuska, where people belay with gri-gris. In case the second gets whacked with rockfall, the gri-gril will hold the leader.

I finally got to the small pseudo-roof, aided as high as I could, and started to dig through the mud below the tree. I thrashed directly into the cedar tree, fixed the rope, and eyed the crack and dihedral above. There would be about ten more meters of handcrack, an easy mantel onto a solid belay ledge, and above that a shallow blank dihedral (not vertical) of what would be face and friction climbing that led to a big green ledge-- the Green Line. I put myself on and rapped down to a Napoleon who had long since fled the bomb zone for the safety of the forest.

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