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.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Day 12: Solo mission

Well yesterday it was 30 degrees in Squampton, so after gong to Starbucks and loudly yabbering on about the gear necessary for Zombie Roof and how easy the 11c pitch on Alaska Highway felt, I headed up solo to do something more in line with my real mad skillz; gardening.

I jugged to our high point, grabbed the gardening tools, and as I put myself on rap, I felt this weird sensation. It took me awhile to figure it out-- it was fear. Not that I am a bold and fearless climber (hells no, I have handed off my share of the sharp end, thanks Jones and Janez) but because well I was 250m above ground, in an untraveleld part of the Chief, alone.

After a fairly sketchy session of removing the fixed rope from the Green Line traverse, I got to the top of the dihedral, and started shoveling dirt and rocks off it. This might seem unnecessary...but believe me, when you top out of the dihedral (and its cruxes are at the beginnign and the end), you want to not be pawing at munge.

After I removed allt he dirt from the top, I then removed it all from the middle of the pitch, and then I cleaned it all out of the handcrack pitch. So basically I moved the same load of crap three times. But anyway let's put it this way-- the dihedral pitch is now as clean as a stripper's ass, and the handcrack, well, it's a dirty-assed ho, but you can sink your mitts in and not pull buckets of gunge out.

So tomorrow-- and I know you all will not believe this-- the elusive Napoleon is comign out and we are going to do P1 and maybe P2. Yes folks Napoleon theoretically exists and I will see him bright and early tomorrow at 8!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Bugaboos-- trip report

Well sometimes a gumbie wants to not just clean cracks but also climb them, so I headed off to the Bugaboos. Both of my partners bailed-- Bones' wife is at the tail end of cancer (she's winning); Rich trashed his ankle. So I went in on my own, carrying two ropes, far too many Sesame Snaps and a distinct lack of proper socks.

Now if you have never been to the "Bugs," you must prepare to have your mind stop when you arrive. There are oh, EIGHT Stawamus Chiefs, minus the lineups on Deirdre of course, sticking out of a vast mostly flat icefield, the effect being that somebody spread billions of free pieces of rock-climbing candy out ona big white blanket and you get to PIG OUT, weather permitting.

I had heard tell of an Austrian hardman looking for partners, and on arriving in Applebee found said Austrian, Gerhardt, who along with his girlfriend Alex was wearing a neon orange pumpkin jacket and shit-talking with a bunch of Greeks. Greeks? Now what Greeks were doing in the bolts here, it's cold...oh, right. Adventure! A minute after meeting Gerhard, we had plans. Then I met one Lauren Evanson and had next day plans, and that was that, partner worries gone.

As I walked up through Applebee my eyes recovering from the G-A neon jacket collection show, my eyes lighted on a MASSIVE PILE OF CRAP which on closer inspection turned out to be a nearly wrecked tent covered in a tattered green tarpaulin of Word War Two vintage. Now there could be only two possible explanations for this. A) Somebody had died and the wardens were keeping their stuff dry till relatives came to gather it or B) Tony McLane, dirtbag, was in the house. Of course it WAS McLane, thank God, but he was away in East Creek, which is where hardmen (or the mentally lacking) go to bivvy befrore trying hard things like Becky-Chouinard or All Along the Watchtower. Anyway McLane was alive and well, and the campground was full of fit skinny people talking in a salad of languages about tomorrow's plans, waving fingers, hands and ice-axes at rock walls, and fiddling with small flickering stoves in the dying light.

I put my tent right beside another tent in the only flat spot I could find, and soon found I'd barged in on the privacy of a Vancouver couple, who were as cold and unfriendly as humanly possible, even when I told them that it was my wont, before retiring, to drink a 26er and gobble a handful of sleeping pills. These are of course not true-- my girfriend always bemoans my uncanny ability to pass out at 11 PM sharp and never wake-- I guess they felt their fuck-fest was over, as the next morning when I woke up....they'd Gravel Central, a larger flat gravel spot in the middle of upper Applebee which in the morning light was full of the yabber of Spaniards who'd had too much coffee and too little climbing and so were hyperactive, and madly gesticulating with the Greeks and, just for the hell of it, with a couple of Quebeckers, in a three-language creole. The cold bitchy Vancouver climbers beside me had been replaced by two Canmorians, who we'll call Major Hottie (there should be laws about what women can wear...oh wait, there are, in Afghanistan) and Strong & Silent. Their plan was to do a one-day assault on the Becky-Chouinard.

Lauren Evanson and I wandered up to do Paddle Flake Direct and I got to lead the whole thing, Lauren calling herself more of an alpinist than a rock-climber. Man, as soon as I sank my mitts into that granite, I was in heaven. Perfect rock, loooong cracks, short cruxes, yadda yadda. Anyway we did the route, complete with the patented alpine "Make Your Own Ending!" ending, where I closed my eyes and randonly threw a piece of chalk upward into the wind, and climbed whatever crack it first touched. The evening was full of the usual stuff: shit talk about routes, wriggling to find a comfy way to lie flat on the gravel, and intermittent random dirtbags walking by saying things like "Uhh can I borrow a #5 tomorrow?" or "Uhh does anybody have any oil?" I was awoken at 3 AM by Major Hottie and S&S who were giggling as they boiled bloatmeal and tea. I pissed and wished them "good luck" and they scampered off across the talus.

here's Lauren on the awesome 3rd pitch.

The day after it was time to get serious, so Gerhard and I marched up to do Sunshine Cracks, which you really could call Verbal Fucking Irony Cracks since there's not a ray of sun on it and I knelt in prayer giving thanks to God for the long underwear I had actually remembered. Now the Snowpatch-Bugaboo col is basically a shooting gallery this season and I was shitting myself as we minced our way across it. Now, you kmay be asking, why does Butch want to climb with a Kraut? Well the obvious answer is, cos the Kraut is a hardman, unlike Butch. And while this would be true, it is insufficient. The real reason you want to climb with the Kraut is that the Kraut can speak impeccable Hinglish. And as we all know, there is only so much of the usual "gee, THAT was a nice/hard/tedious pitch"- type talk that two men can have, so shit-talk in faux Hindi it was. "Vat you are doing?" he asks as I grunt at the 5" crack. "Actually, we are being bamboozled, this is not four inches, yaar" I say, and on it goes.

The route turned out to be one of the finest of my life. Long impeccable bomber granite pitches, varied moves and superb position-- thanks Alex Lowe!
I led the 5.10 offwidth and Gerhard led the 5.11- roof. We arrived at the bottom of the last pitch to find a random collection of five dirtbags and one baguette in various stages of ascent and descent, and I got to lead the amazing looong final pitch where we finally got sun.

That evening I met The Ladies, Fergie and Jewels, who were set to do battle with Sunshine. I fell asleep, and at 3 AM, exactly 24 hours after they left, I heard Major Hottie and S&S return. I wriggled out of bed 5 minutes later, still unwilling to piss in either of my bottles, and found Major Hottie passed out in the gravel, while S&S fiddle with a stove. The next day at 10 AM they, and all their crap, was still strewn about the camp, with no regard for rodents, thieves or rain. Long day.

We get a crack-of-noon start to race Alex and her partner Todd Nichols up Surf's Up, on which Gerhard wants to take photos. We catch them after an enduro-blast interrupts our sunny, lazy, coffee-filled morning, and I promptly irritate the shit out of newbie Alex by suggesting that she use hands, not a glacier axe, on rock. But after that little drama we get on the route, which IMHO is crappy. As we duck missiles on the col, we see The Ladies yo-yoing in icy winds up and off of the offwidth crux on Sunshine. On our route, three shit pitches lead to three nice 5.7 pitches and the ridge-line.

Awesome exposure and cool views:

Great views and pics for Gerhard, and then we get scared shitless by a storm, during which our teeth and rack throb and buzz, and sheets of energy whip and crack around us in the fog and wind. The rap at one point had EIGHT people on one station as we ducked rockfire on the col.

On Monday I had too little food, too many blisters, and it was threatening rain. They say when the going gets tough, the tough get going. Well, in climbing, it's more like, when the going THREATENS to get tough...half the camp eyes the sky and mutter about foiled big-day plans, while the smart ones gear up and go cragging. So I walked my 70m rope down the mountain and went to Invermere for supplies, and felt totally out of place among the swarms of fat RV people. I walked back into Applebee in the pissing rain and found Todd, who said "uhh your spot might be in a river tomorrow," so I moved my tent.

Tuesday was pissing rain. So I stayed in my tent and read until two, when the rain stopped. This proved good enough for the pair of Newfies camped beside me, so we all crawled into their tent and finished our two bottles of whiskey. By 3:00 I was staggering around Applebee howling medicine-man summonses at the reticent sun, which summonses actually worked-- by evening we were drying gear and fantasising about actually climbing! The bitchy Vancouver couple emerged from their tent, which was in a massive mud puddle which must have looked great when dry-- ahh, soft and flat, honey, let's fuck, but quietly!-- and they and the Spaniards, also marroned in a small sea of mud, decided to pack up and bail. The Spaniards wanted to do Slesse. "Why?" I asked, "you're here and the weather looks good!" But the Bitchy Vancouver Couple had clearly infected them and so nos despidimos.

The next day I went climbing on Edwards-Neufeld with one Janez Ales, the Slovenian ("it's NOT a Romance language-- we have a third number category for count nouns!") mathematician who sounds liek a combination of Tony McLane (lives in car, climbs a lot, works very little) and rich fucker (PhD, consultant, works very little). Actually, as Fergie put it, Tony was "making it work on the lesser end of the social spectrum" while the smarty-pants Janez was doing the same ont he other end. Good route name, huh? "Making it work on..." Janez had climbed with some of the Canaidan greats-- Guy Edwards, whose route we were about to do-- and some well-known long-timers liek Mike Spagnut, with whom I'd had the chance to tie in. And Janez on the approach scared me shitless telling first-ascent stories about these guys, making me realise AGAIN what a total wuss I am. "And then I got to the belay, and Guy had two RPs behind a crystal...")

So we did Edwards-neufeld and you coudl immediately see what a hardman the legendary "Fast Eddy" had been: not a bolt in sight, and you know that they didn't bring triples to 6" when they put THIS one up. Anyway, aside from me freaking out on one pitch, and Janez having to hand over the lead cos he'd forgotten to bring water and his hands were therefore frozen from lack of circulation, the route went well. It was hard, it was tricky and it was awesome. While not as aesthetic as mcTech (on which there seem to be 8 parties at any one time) it is more challenging and totally worth it.

I hiked out the next day, wondering if Blicker had gotten on our new route (he had), if my girlfriend still wanted to see me (she did, thank God), and if rodents had eaten my brake cables (nope!). Overall, wow, can't wait to go back.

Friday, August 14, 2009

ब्लिक्कर दोएस वर्क

For some reason the computer will only let me title this post in Hindi. So the title above is "Napoleon's 5th Day." As you know we see the end of our route, the so-called "V slot" and months ago Blicker and Ben hiked up a fixed line. While Napoleon is into top-down and rap bolting, Dilly and I are into grounfd up, so our compromise is that Napoleon can deal with the top pitch and Driller and I will work the bottom of the route.

After media reports of an unusual decline in business at the Squamish Starbucks, it was reported that Napoleon got his ass out of bed and did some actual work on our route. The following is his report on the day's activities. My only question is, if you guys are carrying only harnesses, a crowbar and a drill, why do you both have 50 pound packs? Anyway good on you, Napoleon, and here's Napoleon's entry:

Exploring the V Slot

First this post is about climbing and not about Butch's girlfriend so if you were expecting something mildly entertaining and perverse [when have I ever written about my girlfriend?], then you have overestimated my ability to exaggerate and i'll leave that to Butch' future posts. The first thing that was working against us at the beginning of the day became immediately obvious in the morning: the weather. There was an early realization that we may need to abseil fixed lines in a torrential downpour. My friend Mike had heard about the route and was keen to get out, bringing a lot of experience from his developments out in the Hope, BC area. A slow start to the day, entirely my fault and supporting Chris' claim to my preparedness, and we were hiking up the chief yet again with 40-50 pound packs.

Slow and steady wins the race. A group of city slickers, boasting about their hiking accomplishments, meadered their way around our slow footwork and looked back with skepticism, a sign of their lack of confidence that we would never make it to the top with that amount of weight. An hour from the start, we summited our class 2 adventure and moved toward the start of the fixed lines.

Anyone who has ever route cleaned will agree that logistics and efficiency are what will determine success. A previous trip had seen our fixed lines at the right end point before the slot but needed to be rearranged such that the line was a more direct descent to the anchor. I rapped the first fixed line while Mike rapped the new direct line and unfixed the lower section. I jugged out with the gear and rapped down the new fixed line.

We cleaned up the ledge adjacent to the station and proceeded to our main objective: to rap the V slot and start cleaning it. An objective hazard was discovered to be a series of death blocks precariously perched on a small ledge 1/3 of the way down from the top. Armed with a crowbar i rapped off the fixed line, while getting a back up belay and making certain that any rope did not hang below my feet. It will suffice to say that the hazard is now gone and the corner crack is looking amazing and will go at 5.9+ or 5.10a. An anchor was installed at its base and I rapped down further to scope things out.

The irony of the situation was this: Butch is insistent on creating a ground up route and as you all know, this is extremely dangerous both for the belayer and for the leader as there is too much debris that can be loose and does come off. An earlier post by Butch denotes a fearful me hiding below a roof and it certainly was an evolutionary reaction for self preservation as a huge rock was coming my way. Back to the point: we would need to rap down to... do a ground up back out, as the face overhangs slight with no apparent features. A diagonal crack at the base goes up and left to the base of some very good looking cracks and provides the potential to traverse in to the right to the base of the V slot.

The rains started and Mike and I proceed to jug 100 meters (or 1/10th of El cap). After this sweaty and wet affair, our workout continued as we hiked own the backside of the chief and were immediately greeted with beers by some friends in the parking lot. Having no access to water on the way down (as we stashed some up there) we were getting hammered fast and proceeded to the Brew Pub. It rained briefly on Sunday but I somehow got out of bed and actually climbed something. As a side note, if you have never been to 'the farm' for bouldering, big up to all the FA's who put that area together as the lines were immaculate. Did i forget to mention flat landings?

Summary: a lot of cleaning to do still. Butch's shit talking will continue. Stay tuned.