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!