Sunday, May 30, 2010

Freeing La Gota

As the soon-to-be-renamed Driller and I drove through the mist to Squamish on Sunday, we dismissed a barrage of weather reports that called for rain, mist, clouds and other staples of the Squamish climbing diet. "Fuck THAT," we said, echoing The Filth, who refers to anything other than a shower with his charming brilliant beautiful wife as "piss."

We squelched our way up to the base of The Proj and discussed the merits of bringing a rack and rock shoes. I thought we would finish re-bolting the dihedral, fix the Green Line traverse bolts, climb the bolt ladder, and chop the trees on P8. Then-- since that would only take three hours-- we could free a few more pitches.

We jugged to the base of the dihedral and the Driller set off, trying to see how French-freeable it was. It turned out that, well, "not so much" was the answer. At the mid-pitch flake, which you protect with a nut, the Driller yelled down "hey do we have any hooks?" and of course I said "Do I look liek an aid climber?" But not to worry: Driller got out his nut tool. Then, with the same kind of care that gay men use when selecting the morning's moisturising cream, or that I use when picking my excuse for not leading whatever pitch is in front of me, the Driller set up a bathook move off his nut tool and made the mantle onto the flake. The Driller was actually more like the Thriller with his awesome ball-out McGyverish aid moves.

The rest of the dihedral went fine, and we decided to chop one bolt, and move it a foot lower, and we would liek to remind you, dear readers (all 8 of you) that when YOU get on this pitch, bring a medium nut or two, or a .4 Camalot, if you want to French-free it.

I then had the privilege of trying to traverse the Green Line Ledge, aka The Electric Pepper Grinder pitch. Now Paul Cordy had been on our route a couple of months earlier, and had commented that our bolting was, well, not perfect. As I clambered past my second bolt and clipped the third, I realised what he was talking about. Looking back, this is what I saw:

This is the kind of drilling that happens when you have nothing too hook off, and when your toes are jammed into two feet of munge, and behind you is a 300 m fall to the deck, and you are pushng UP with your other arm to hold yourself on, whileyour drilling arm holds what feels like a bucking, rabid and steroidal ferret, out of sight and over your head.

Now here is a close-up of a Bad, Bad Bolt!

We chopped this one and re-did it. This is what a GOOD bolt looks like, for all those of you who have never clipped one.

The bolt itself should be sunk as far as you can get it. Basically the issue with these bolts was, they were not pounded in far enough, so I loosened the nuts and pounded them in more, and now they are bomber. The key to drilling (other than picking a proper spot, and having a good bit) is to make the hole super-deep, so that if you must chop, you just pound the end into the rock and epoxy the opening.

The bolt ladder saw its first "ascent" today and it works perfectly. I had been a bit apprehensive after climbing the Grand Wall, whose bolt ladder seemed sparser. Ours, is much longer, has bolts closer together, but is easier to get up. You can make "fake aiders" by clipping both a long and a short sling into one biener. The "Wet Like Your Wife" pitch was, well, wet. We added a bolt to the p7 belay, hung the saw, and rapped.

Down with the crowbars, the fixed ropes, the bolt-chopper, the hacksaw, the monster rack, the aiders...there is little work to be done and now it is time to try to climb the thing with hands and feet instead of aiders and jugs. We lefta pink ribbon on the project, and removed a couple of stations, to indicate that the poroject is not yet open. Here is us with the stuff we carried off the route:

On the way back, we pondered the Universe's manifold mysteries, like why our girlfriends want so much sex, and what exactly happened to The Filth and The Yankee in The Valley (apparently they hired a guide, who took them up a route called "Shirking Fear") that caused The Yankee to lose 25 pounds and The Filth to get a sprained ankle and three sprained ribs. No, no, I must confess, that last sentence was half shit-talk: they did in fact get up Lurking Fear under their own power-- awesome job, boys. Other mysteries included, where was Napoleon, who seems to have lost all interest in our route, and how bad-assed waas Driller-- aka Thriller.

Well it turns out there are three, count 'em, three kinds of accountants: chartered accountants, certified managerial accountants, certified financial accountants, and certified business accoutants. The Driller will soon be a C.A., which is the bad-assedest of all three kinds of accountant. How bad-assed, you ask is that? Well he will be able to not only climb the outside of any building, using only nut-tools and slings for pro, he will then be able to climb the inside, and audit you so hard it will feel like a rectal examaination by a drunken Filth. THAT, clearly, is why our girlfriends want so much sex from us.

Oh, wait-- what about me? I'm not an accoutnant. Hmm, another mystery. Well perhaps next weekend, when we start freeing La Gota, answers will come. Stay tuned...

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Yuppie Cunt Weekend!

Well the May Long, aka May Two-Four, was notable for our total lack of progress on our route, but that will not prevent me from talking shit.

The Driller succumbed to familial demands and took his charming brilliant beautiful girlfriend Jenn to Penticton, which is the epicenter of the romantic universe, for a yuppie cunt weekend involving wine, cheese, winery tours, discussions about which kind of granite to use to finish the countertops in the Whistler condo, and of course which colour the next BMW should be, the Driller's current model being a 2009 and somewhat long in the tooth.

Napoleon is incommunicado in the Valley, but Camp Four reports suggest that after an epic drinking session with the newly-single Steph Davis, Napoleon sent not only Davis but the Nose, which he feels does not warrant its current 5.13d grade but should be reduced to something along the lines of 12d. He apparently did not downgrade Davis.

As for your humble narrator, Butch Hillhurst, I spent Saturday in the Bluffs freesoloing the easiest things I could find and whondering why they don't grade things easier than 5.1, I mean, there should be rock-climbing that's say 4.13C, right?, and when I finally managed to tie a rope on, I promptly had my ass handed to me by a newish route that is immediately to the left of Electric Ball and to the right of one of those nice 5.8 cracks in Octopus Garden. Whimpering, I moved over and tried Electric Ball and managed to get up that, mostly because a foolhardy Albertan had placed the gear there for me.

Then it was time for Yuppie Cunt Weekend. My beautiful brilliant and charming girlfriend Lala and I took the ferry over to Salt Spring Island, where we rode our bikes to Steven and Steven's Super Gay Bed Bath-house and Breakfast. Our hosts at SSSGBBB were Steven and Steven (gay men never have one-syllable names). Steven was a refugee from the American real-estate corporate world and his partner, Steven, had been a keyboard player in the Fuzztones before joining Steven's real-estate outfit. Now gay men knwo from one thing for sure: things that are over-rated, and so the two of them sold their L.A. house in 2006 and bought the SSSGBBB before the market became like me in front of a hard trad climb: soft. Anyway I got the feeling the two had met at work, had probably had some heavy after-hours sex in the server room, and then developed a proper romantic relationship, which they consummated in Canada with marriage.

Anyway, SSSGBBB was immaculately appointed, with a really elegant, long-haired and utterly indifferent cat, magnificent furniture somewhere between Pennsylvania in 1803 and Thompson and Page, pumpkin and chocolate muffins a-baking, and bathrooms bursting with a staggering variety of oils, lotions, soaps, moisturisers, creams, poultices, rubs and washes, along with scented lavender towels (I'm saying lavender cos it sounds scented), all anally arranged and even the bolts anchoring the toilet to the floor were Calvin Klein. I think Driller and I should get some CK bolts for our route. A designer route. But I digress.

Anyway, where was I? Oh, yes, not talking about climbing. Anyway we rode our bikes around Salt Spring, which is a kind of enormous yuppie museum. You can buy Organic Aromatherapy Products. You can stop and visit Organic Artisanal Cheese farms, where the cheese grows in soil fed only vegetable compost, and it is harvested by lesbian Tibetan amputee refugees guaranteed a living fair-trade wage. You can visit galleries that sell both functional! and aesthetic! carving. You can have any kind of spa appointment you want, including aromatherapy, massage (Swedish, or any other nation that has some kind of exotic woman in its national image) and of course things like mud-baths, manure-rubs and most definitely yoga.

In the evening we met a few other SSSGBBB guests, mostly couples, none of which, oddly, we heard fucking that evening. In the morning we spent some time with Steven and Steven, who asked questions like "is everybody's breakfast ogay?" and "can I offer you some more rosemary and organic peach marmalade?" You gotta love gay couples: the older Steven was in his mid-fifties, and while he had a few wrinkles on him, he was hard as a rock, and ripped. Perhaps this is a source of homophobia: let's face it, boys-- gay guys look, dress and live better than their straight-boy counterparts. When I think mid-50s het, I think belly-donut and minivan.

Ok so no route last weekend but tomorrow, Sunday, we head up for what I hope will be our final construction day. Oh yea!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Day 25

The Driller and I blasted up to Squamptown. We rehashed the week's events, including the missing Napoleon, whose campaign of rock conquest has taken him south to the Valley, along with The Filth and The Yankee, rumours of a dirtbag's newly-found riches, and of course sending in the Valley.

An email had come earlier in the week.

>Yea get the route done, I want to scrub
>some variations.

Now there are three problems with this sentence.

a) In order to scrub a variation, you need a route to vary from. We need to get on that.
b) In order to scrub, you have to scrub the route, which you cannot do when you are contemplating the hard-to-send treasures of Yosemite, like the newly-single Steph Davis' butt in her Pradaguccia tights, or the Harding Slit, or finding a 4th blue Alien in Camp Four at 3 A.M. on the day you are setting off to do a nude speed ascent of Iron Hawk.
c) In order to scrub, you have to scrub...

But then, the emailer has been to Yosemite, while I am scared shitless to go anywhere near the place, partly because I am like ice-cream on a warm summer's day-- soft-- and partly because I have been using my car to sun-dry beef jerky and to smoke salmon for nearly 25 years now, so the thing must smell like a little slice of ursal Heaven to the Valley bears.

On Sunday it was The Driller and I. Now you know you've been working too much when hauling 60 pounds of gear to the base, and spending a day hanging from ropes, scrubbing cracks and drilling bolts, is fun. Such is The Driller's life. He has learned the first lesson of yuppie cunt-hood: you take up either heavy drinking or a heavy physical sport so that you don't turn into a donut-pasty, muffin-and-coffee rounded algorithm during your nine to five. Basically you could call new-routing a version of midlife-crisis aversion. "I am still a MAN," one (mentally) roars, shirking from nightmare visions of cramming one's waist-donut behind the up-tilted wheel of a mall-parked minivan after bundling the three kids in.

We arrived at the base of the route, eight months after last being on it, and found our ropes still hanging, and a few new rocks on the ground. We ended up getting a fair bit done. We chopped one bolt on our first pitch's left-hand variation, moved it 2 feet left, which means that people shorter than the newly-single Dean Potter will be able to reach it. We added one more bolt, and then we scrubbed it like The Filth scrubs his ass before his wife gets busy on it with the 18-incher, which is to say, not that much, but to sendability. The scariest thing was an epic, enormous grating sound that tumbled down slowly toward us, the sound of a few thousand pounds of rock grating into a new position. There was utter silence and then we remembered to breathe.

Here is the Driller following P1. The blue rope is (I think) Myles Holt's, from an (abandoned?) project.

Here is The Driller, doing his thing.

No, that is NOT a cigarette. Recall that we gave up smoking, masturbation and alcohol till we send. No, really...Driller is cleaning drill-dust out of the hole.

Coincidentally, this was the day when Frimer finally climbed The Milk Road and I was cheering him on-- the thing looks like it totally rocks, but I was
made a bit self-conscious, cos Frimer is as anal as a new-router can possibly be, cleaning-wise. I mean, you could probably eat out of those handjams, store your bagels and lox in there, etc, they are so nice and white.

We then rapped, and climbed to the top of P2 the direct way, and moved the rap station to the left as Paul Cordy told us to. Driller successfully chopped one old bolt and successfully made another one spin on its axis. I know this belay is gonna look fucked-up when everybody else climbs this route, but we had little choice: when I drilled it, the now-huge-incut-white-spot was a set of leaning death flakes that bulged out, and it would have been insane to put a station in that stuff.

We jugged to the bottom of the dihedral, and I chopped The Driller's 2nd bolt, moved it down and right a foot (now you can fall without hitting the ledge) and added one more. it looks like the dihedral may need one more bolt-- it has to be French-freeable-- so next time we go there, The Driller, who is about 4 inches shorter than me, and has lots less ape, will see if he can French-free it.

It being Mother's Day, I spent off-moments, much to The Driller's delight, texting my girlfriend and telling her how awesome she was. 10 reasons. I got from 10 to 5, and 4 to 1 are going to be the M.I.L.F. reasons, which will remain au boudoir, which I believe is French for "let's talk about that over some poutine and a bottle or two of Cinquante.

At the end of the day, we sat and neither smoked nor drank (Napoleon, you better be holding up your end of the deal...I will station The Yankee outside your tent in Camp Four to ensure compliance) and catalogued what total gumbies we are.

a) We will have chopped six of our own bolts successfully, and two unsuccessfully, by the time we are done. So not only can we not really install them properly, we can't uninstall them either. WOOT!

b) We have built the longest bolt ladder in Squamish. But that one's for the punters, like us and the sub-12 crowd...and we know you are legion...

c) Our shoes. Have a look at how gumbies re-lace and life-lengthen their shoes. Can you spot the erratic brilliance of our solutions?

Next Sunday, we return to the FINISH! We will move a station, chop two trees, add one bolt to P8 and then hopefully down with the fixed lines.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Grand Wall Lite

A few weeks ago the clouds parted, and Sarah Spankovsky-- she of new-and-5.13A-improved Zombie Roof fame-- and I decided to go up the Grand Wall. Now I have a long and storied history with the Grand Wall. Well, that's true, except for the "long" and "storied" part. So today-- just to tease this blog's 10 readers-- I will delay reporting on recent new route activity and tell some Grand Wall stories.

I first got hauled up the Pillar by Mish Abrahams in about 2000 or so, and, as The Filth would put it, I hung like a bitch. Yes, I was the person who couldn't tell a handcrack from an asscrack (more on this later) and who at 7 PM was irritating the shit out of the two hardmen, stuck at the cedar tree, who were racing up the wall for a little post-dinner exercise, and now had to watch Yours Truly, like the sport bikers whining by on the Sea-To-Die highway below, donating blood and rubber to the rock.

Next time out, I led the Grand, with my pal Lucie. This excursion was notable for two reasons: one, I met Johnny Thrash (apparently this is actually his name). So? Well the cool thing about Johnny (at least in his own mind) is that he had been climbing for ten years, couldn't be fucked to climb harder than 5.10, and yet had managed to have sex on every major multi-pitch 5.10 route in the Corridor. As such he was an inspiration to men everywhere who think women dig boys who climb at insane levels and get frustrated.

Two, I got my ass kicked by the Sword. So? Well, after I finally made it over that mantle and up the Ladder, Lucie told me about how she had gotten into climbing. She had been out a few times, then had married, and had a kid. She woke up in hospital after a car accident on Christmas Eve, and on waking was told that both her husband and son had died, and that she had cancer. Well, after a year under psychiatric care, as well as sans hair, she decided that, man, she had better not waste time. She sold her house and car, quit her job, and began the life of a full-time dirtbag, skiing, climbing and honourary-Autiee-ing on three continents. As usual a bit of real life makes climbing bearable.

Next summer I was belaying my partner at Burgers and Fries, when a lovely young American woman caught my eye, and my nose. Love-- or lust, at any rate-- has a certain scent, and within five minutes there was some serious flirting going on. Now, the only thing that turns me on more than killer legs and ass is self-confidence, and this young woman had it in spades. I was psyched: this girl led WAY harder than me, like 5.11+ hard, had a killer smile, and wanted to climb with me. Back in the day, those would have been grounds for a marriage proposal. We arranged a climbing, uhh, "day" for the next week, and (let's call her) Tiara smiled at me as she hauled her friend up the 5.7 crack and we headed off.

Two days before our climbing "day," I found myself on the Grand again, this time with The Barnacle. Now, The Barnacle...well...The Barnacle merits an entire blog entry. At the time, I had done one route with The Barnacle, who onsighted some 11+ slab, and so I was stoked: he seemed pretty full-on competent. But on this day, let's just say that The Barnacle had managed one of his legendary tricks with which I would eventually become familiar: taking a true thing, and making it mean something entirely different, and then taking that new thing, and using it to blow up your plans. In this case, it became quite evident that The Barnacle's "I've been training" and "I'm feeling strong" were in reference to something other than climbing. As I arrived at the Pillar's base, I looked up and there was a sight: Tiara, in tights, about to follow the Pillar. Ooooh, I had to pay special attention to the belay, as a great ass generally reduces my cortex to limbic-system-only functionality.

Anyway, something odd then happened: Tiara hung like, well, a bitch. It probably took the poor girl forty minutes to hang-dog her way up the Pillar. 11+, huh? I gave her a 20 meter head start, and arrived at the top of the Pillar, to an epic stench. As her partner lead up the Sword, I found it difficult to concentrate. Because the epic stench came from her shoes. Somewhere between the smell of greenish-fuzzed Saturday-afternoon dumpster oranges and fresh Green Bay Packers jock-straps, the reek from the shoes assaulted my nose and made my eyes water. Her partner finished The Ladder, and I hauled on The Barnacle, whose "Man, if only I had my Kaukulators, ohhhh" and "the bone spur on my left hand really makes this hard, ohhh" mixed in with Tiara's "TAKE! TAKE!" At the end of the day I wanted to trade The Barnacle to Tiara for her partner.

So Spankovsky and I managed to make it up the Grand Wall Lite, with a decent hour atop the Pilalr to gossip about McBennet, Napoleon, our sex lives and how much of a pussy I really was. We were halfway toward bailing when SPankovsky looked me in the eye and said "just do it" and when I hopped on the Sword and just did it, it was fine. I can always psyche myself out.

Anyway, The Driller and I are heading up, hopefully next weekend, to do a wee bit more route maintenance, and possibly some climbing...stay tuned.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Back in the Saddle

Well folks, if you are like me, God help you, climbing replaces drugs, porn, mountain biking and even coffee for some of us. Anyway The Driller, fresh from 33 straight days of accounting madness-- if as exciting a word as "madness" can be properly applied to accounting-- and I are heading up tomorrow, Sunday, to push ourselves one day closer to the send.

This being the season to work on the route, Napoleon is nowhere to be found, and The Filth-- currently dodging wardens, waterfalls and aid climbing epics in Yosemite-- sends email missives, warning us how he will go and onsight the route first thing back, and of course the 8 people who reads this blog are pestering me to finish the damned route, since it is summer and soon it will be too hot to climb the Grand Wall, yadda.

Anyway, stay tuned, there should be lots of rockfall, bolt chopping, cussing, forgetting of gear, shit-talk and other good climbing stuff. I honestly estimate two more days of construction/cleaning, and then we stop hauling gear up there, and start with this activity called "climbing."