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. Now...how 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 off-putting...so 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!


  1. Tend to agree overall... But with bolting to allow for a smaller rack (purely convenience), please consider it from the perspective of individual pitches, as well as the overall route.

    Yeah, I might not feel like hauling a #5/6 cam, but a combination of two things will decide how much I want to do the route, and if hauling the cams is worth it:

    If the overall route is worth it.
    If the individual pitch is worth it.

    I don't know if it's a stellar pitch worth keeping "pure", but 5.10- means most folks on the route (if it goes at 5.11 or 5.12) should be able to walk it, or don't be lazy & bring the pro.

    I scoff at the number of bolts on Perry's Lieback... but I clip 'em anyway.

  2. Ya these are good points Andrew, thanks! The route will be pretty good-- not like the Grand Wall, but certainly as good as Angel's Crest, and longer, and as varied.

    Apparently Beckham said that he was glad he got to do the lieback first, because, if he hadn't, some hardcore trad-man would have...and you would have had to haul 6 #6s up there!

  3. Hey Chris,

    I'm glad to hear that our conversation sparked thought! You certainly got the main points that I was trying to make... and I hope that your decisions end up making the route all the more popular and green-free into the future.

    A few comments. On Right Wing, I bolted P2, replacing half-driven pins (1 for 1) with bolts. There are 2 pieces of reliable pro on the pitch... and no bolts are near those spots. And I did have permission from Fred Beckey. For kicks, here's his letter-by-letter response to my request to add bolts:


    Anyways, the point I was trying to make was that I could have replaced the 3 pins with 1 or 2 bolts, instead of the 3 that I chose. But I wanted this wet pitch to become forgettable so I went liberal.

    Bolting o/w... tough question. I want to make sure that it doesn't come across that I am in favour of bolting o/w indiscriminately. I just think that it's something that FAists could consider, depending on what they want their route to be like. Borderline, Perry's, and Pipeline all have bolted o/w's. So the precedent is set. It's worth thinking about... that's my only point.

    It sounds like Chris and I see these matters in a generally similar way.