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 space...read: 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.

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