Classic Squamish Chief Commentary Robin Barley 1978

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Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Original Post - Jan 6, 2008 - 06:31pm PT
Dreams from the drizzle...This one is for Anders, in memory of Eric Weinstein and Darryl Hatten. The best early historical survey from Mountain 64 Nov/Dec 1978.















Cloudraker

Big Wall climber
BC
Jan 6, 2008 - 06:43pm PT
kick assss...
Mike Bolte

Trad climber
Planet Earth
Jan 6, 2008 - 06:46pm PT
I remember seeing that picture of Clean Crack and saying to myself "I gotta go there!"

Lots of great routes at Squamish. If I had to pick my five favorites (this is hard......)

    Grand Wall with the Cruel Shoes start

    Exasperator

    Local Boys Do Good (down at Shannon Falls) an amazing
slab route with some big runouts (at least it used to be run)

    Smoke Bluff Connection

    Center Street

I never managed Clean Crack. Unlike most of the routes at
Squamish, it is pretty stiff for its grade. Trained hard to
do it after my first failure but they closed that area for
awhile in the late 80s.




Exasperator from the WWW
Jello

Social climber
No Ut
Jan 6, 2008 - 10:07pm PT
Thanks again for posting up memories, Steve. Unfortunately I only ever got to Squamish just one time, not long after that article appeared, I think. But I did get to do Clean Crack and a few of the other short classics. Then Don Serl and I had a fine day on Grand Wall. This was my only climb with Don, who is a visionary and sage of the Coast Range, as you know.

-CleanJello
Mighty Hiker

Social climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Jan 6, 2008 - 10:31pm PT
Originally Clean Crack was only 7 - 8 metres of climbing. You climbed the thin crack to the 'pod', then made a few moves and grabbed a down-hanging cedar. Above was jungle. In the winter of 1976-77 I spent five or six days dangling on a rope, removing shrubs and digging out the entire 30+ metres of the crack. It was then climbable for its whole length, although it later got some more cleaning.

I never have been quite able to climb the thing, in post-1977 condition. Oh well, the railway company is now more aggressive about trespassing on the right of way - the base is perhaps two metres from the tracks. A few years ago they bolted a "do not climb" sign at the base of Clean Crack.

I'll see if I can find a pre-1976 slide, and one of the railway sign.
BeeHay

Trad climber
San Diego CA
Jan 6, 2008 - 11:32pm PT
Kinda off topic, but this got me to wondering about Perry Beckham. Nice guy, towed me up some routes in Josh one Christmas vacation. Think he was a Squamish regular with Croft.

Brad
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 7, 2008 - 07:41am PT
Perry was still guiding masterfully the last time that I was up there. I had the pleasure of watching him float the mildly burly left side of the Split Pillar on the Grand Wall. I hope that he is still around and smiling as always.
ionlyski

Trad climber
Kalispell, Montana
Jan 7, 2008 - 08:08am PT
Wow! Squamish has been on my list for years now. Gotta ask myself, "what's keeping me dude, get on with it?!"

Hey Steve, thanks for all the history. Sometimes it keeps me from work, but dreaming is good. Just one comment. I wonder if you can increase the Contrast a smidge on your scans. The photos are great but the text is a little hard to make out. Probably my error.

Thanks again.

Arne
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 7, 2008 - 08:28am PT
I'll see if I can better the resolution.... A photo of the classic and friendly Right Side of the Split Pillar.


Edit:Michael Kennedy photo.

Cups anyone?!?
ionlyski

Trad climber
Kalispell, Montana
Jan 7, 2008 - 08:44am PT
Clean! The weather's basically the same as Seattle isn't it? Which I never really think of as being all that rainy. How long does that crack continue like that?
Arne
Ghost

climber
A long way from where I started
Jan 7, 2008 - 09:23am PT
How long does that crack continue like that?

Goes from fingers to about 4 inches over the course of 30 meters (100 feet) or so. No move really very hard, but no rests whatsoever. After that it changes character and you've got about another 10 meters of varied climbing to the belay ledge.

David
Mike Bolte

Trad climber
Planet Earth
Jan 7, 2008 - 09:41am PT
most make the transition from jamming to laybacking a bit below the
guy in the photo and then it is a race to the first rest.

One post up, Squamish gets more rain than Seattle for sure (Squamish is in the anti-rain shadow), but it tends to be really nice from mid-June - October.
Mighty Hiker

Social climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Jan 7, 2008 - 12:32pm PT
Perry is alive and well and living in Squamish. He climbs, works as a rigger, and plays bluegrass. Hardly changed at all - he gave a well-received talk at the Squamish Mountain Festival in July 2007.

It (almost) always rains in Squamish - how else do you suppose the trees could grow so large? For climbers who visit in the summer, and are smitten and want to move there, I usually suggest a visit in November or February, to provide a balanced perspective.
klk

Trad climber
cali
Jan 7, 2008 - 03:50pm PT
I still miss Squamish, at least when the weather is good. When I was there, I couldn't wait to get to SoCal sunshine. I can remember walking down to the Malamute one day in the rain, thinking I'd just check out routes since we couldn't climb. Peter and Tami were there on Clean Crack. Peter was repeatedly leading and down-leading that first crux section in the rain. He told us it was good training.

Peter and Perry Beckham made that scene really friendly for beginniners. They were always helping out and giving advice and spent hours patiently listening to us ask questions and spew. They were probably only five or six years older than me, but seemed like the local elders. I was really fortunate to start the craft there rather than in some of the places I lived in later on.
hobo_dan

Social climber
Minnesota
Jan 7, 2008 - 07:25pm PT
my favorite line ever from mountain "sutton and Burton losing interest to meditations and halucinogens on the high wall of yosemite"

I just talked to Thom Nephew who named the route and drilled the bolts through the beer cans on the early attempts of Uncle Bens

hopefully he'll surface from his eastern washington HQ and post about the Chief

murf
E.L. "One"

Big Wall climber
Lancaster, California
Jan 7, 2008 - 07:30pm PT
A reprint from one of my previous posts, just cause it is one of my lasting climbing memories.....

It was 1978, and I was living in the state of Washington with my college buddy and his girlfriend. Chehalis, Washington. We escaped there after finishing college in California.
Typical college grads with no direction, no jobs in our fields, and no real interest in our fields even if jobs existed. So, we fled to the state of Washington where my friend knew some people who owned a small farm. We lived in the barn and did odd jobs in the community for money, until I landed a job working with delinquent youth in a group home. In our spare time we climbed Raineer and St. Helens (before it blew). We did some routes in the North Cascades, Index Town Wall, and the great climbing areas around Leavenworth. My college buddy was the one who introduced me to climbing in the late 60’s, and who also introduced me to steelhead fishing. Washington had plenty of both, and if it wasn’t for the damn rain I might still be living there today. I stayed in Washington for another year, and then decided to head back to So Cal via a long climbing trip through Canada and the Western United States. I loaded up my VW Van with all my possessions and headed north for Squamish.

I picked up a hitch hiker North of Vancouver who had done some climbing, and knew how to get to Squamish Chief. After dropping him off in a small town South of Squamish I quickly made my way up the old road at the base of the Chief and pulled into what could only be described as a “squatters” campground. I saw people bivied under the big rock cave, and out onto the old road. I pulled off to the side of the old road, got out and was greeted by a dozen climbers who noticed my California plates. They welcomed me to the circle where everyone was cooking or drinking beer and talking about routes in the area. A sandy haired blonde kid was talking about how classic the Grand Wall was, and then invited me to join him on a short crack climb called The Exasperator. He fired up the thing in the time it took me to get a harness on, and then watched me labor up it encouraging me the whole way. That evening, he shared with the group, his fascination with the DNB in Yosemite Valley, and how much he wanted to travel to Yosemite and do all the classic routes. He finally introduced himself as Peter Croft. Next to him was a very friendly Canadian by the name of Perry Beckman, and there was also an older guy by the name of Walt Dembisky who was with the U.S. Navy stationed in Alaska and on leave. He claimed to have climbed with Chouinard back in the day, and we made plans to climb some routes on the Slab just North of The Chief. Hearing this, Croft immediately recommended a climb called Diedre, and went on for twenty minutes about how classic the route was and how much we would enjoy it. Meanwhile, Perry Beckman invited me to join him on the Grand Wall the next morning after hearing how fascinated I was with this route. I reluctantly agreed to join him the next morning after unsuccessfully arguing that I wasn’t up to the grade. The next morning, I followed Perry up to the base, and listened to him describe, in great detail, all the features of the Grand Wall. We ended up doing four or five pitches that resulted in my balls ending up lodged in my throat, and then hung out at a belay checking out the upper pitches of Grand Wall which were really spectacular. We then rapped off, and I found Walt and headed for Diedre.

I spent a week at Squamish Chief and it is one of my best climbing memories. Since then, I have climbed in many areas throughout the Western United States, Great Britian and Europe, and have never come across a friendlier, more supportive group of climbers.


Cracko
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 7, 2008 - 08:28pm PT
Second that! I first met the Squamish crew in Yosemite in the early seventies. They were hanging out with Steve Quinlan and Jim Olsen and were instant fun around the fire. Dave Fulton aka Mel Fish and I still keep in touch.
Unfortunately, the scene around Squamish was pretty spartan early on and is much improved of late. Not that sleepy is all bad but when you find yourself getting excited about the Overweightia......
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 8, 2008 - 05:15pm PT
Now Russ Clune has seen some stone and he likes the Grand Wall best!!! From Mark Kroese's superlative Fifty Favorite Climbs, 2001. The Kennedy shot of the Split Pillar opens the section.






Mighty Hiker

Social climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Jan 8, 2008 - 05:18pm PT
The Split Pillar (pitch 7 in Russ' description) was actually first freed in 1975, by Daryl Hatten and Eric Weinstein. They used hexes to protect the parallel sided crack - they weren't very stable, as Daryl graphically recounted afterward.

They graded it 5.9, too.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 9, 2008 - 08:28am PT
Old school 5.9, Yeeehaw!
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