Squamish Photos and Stories


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Big Mike

Trad climber
Topic Author's Reply - Apr 15, 2014 - 05:13pm PT
What happened next? Only the biggest climbing day i've forced this incomplete paraplegic body to complete so far! Lol

After I got home from climbing on Wednesday I had a workout at the gym with my personal trainer who's been helping me train for my el cap ascent.

My left quad seized up on me halfway through the workout thanks to my limited intake of water.

I spent a couple hours in the pool and tub after to try and work it out. Knowing the hell i was planning to exert on it the next day.

Toby and I made plans to meet up for a Rambles/Banana Peel/Buttress/Face ascent at 9am.

In the morning he seemed dubious as to whether it would be dry enough to pull off this early season feat.

I assured him from the road that we would find a way. :)

We decided to pitch out Rambles into two pitches for a warm up. The weather was greybird as I cast off on the wet opening moves, but it looked as if it wanted to clear at some point.

I gained first pitch anchor fairly easily and decided to clip it with a shoulder length sling before heading up the diagonal.

Toby tried to warn me off, and i should have listened, but i assured him it would be fine. The diagonal was good until I got to the transfer point and had to step up onto the slab out of a mucky puddle.

I cleaned my shoes on my pant legs and put my right foot in the slot. It stuck, and i pulled up easily and danced around the runoff to the belay.

Toby followed quickly and dispatched the next pitch with ease and setup belay at the base of Banana Peel.

I followed the pitch quickly, especially after watching toby climb the crux, which i'd never had good beta on.

Toby had assumed that i would lead Banana Peel since i would be more likely to pull him off, but my lead head felt weird and i felt he could make better time.

I reasoned with him that i had more route experience therefore i was less likely to come off.

So he cast off on the first pitch, and when he reached the end of our shortened rope, I followed.

It was pretty cruisey until i got to the diagonal. I made the stiff moves near the bolt with ease and made my way right across the groove.

As i stepped up out of the groove, I unweighted my left foot a little too much and it started to skid. I stomped it back into the slab and stepped up onto my trusty right foot to get the heck out of there.

After that the focus was on and i was unstoppable. I gave toby a hip belay for the crux and he returned the favour.

I pretty much cruised the rest of it, but Toby told me later he'd had a little slip getting onto the slab after the notch.

We made good time to the top of the apron and decided that we would be able to continue on to the top and still make it down to pick up toby's kid on time from school.

Sorry no photos, just a whirlwind of climbing.

After a break for some water and a snack at the base of the buttress Toby linked the first two pitches and got us to here.

Toby at the second pitch belay on the Squamish Buttress

The view from the same belay

I led the next two pitches to the boulder and stacked the rope for a flip just in case Toby wanted to try the Buttress crux pitch. He declined, and we flipped the rope anyways so i could establish us at the base of the 10a buttface crux.

Everything went smooth till i unclipped the second bolt before i completed the move and botched the left foot, sending me for a rope stretcher into the gully. I was fine except for the scrapes on my arm and a couple cuts on my index finger.

When i got back up to the move, I had to clip into the bolt so i could rest before i had enough energy to pull the move. Lol

I was pretty happy though because this was really the only pitch i had any issue on the whole route.

The view from the base of the buttface chimney.

Toby was kind enough to take a few photos of me when we topped out.

Your's truly at the buttress summit.

Toby Foord Kelsey photo

I told him we had to summit first peak to consider it a Chief "Send" so we hoofed it up the slab and did a few unprotected slab moves off a tree to get to the summit.

Toby enjoying the summit views before we had to go rescue his son from school.

1st peak pano!

Big Mike on his first incomplete paraplegic Chief summit.

Toby Foord Kelsey photo

My quad that I mentioned earlier had been bugging me ever since we started the buttress, and it didn't get any better on the way down. Thankfully i was smart enough to bring lots of water this time as i still had some left.

After we rescued Toby's son, we went to campfire grill and enjoyed some tasty bbq!

When i got home, my left leg seized up on me, and my right leg decided to play along too.

Friday was a total write off. Lol

Mountain climber
The Deep Woods
Apr 15, 2014 - 05:33pm PT
Well dude, A lot of us subsidized your education Drew and still toil to make our tax deadlines and dream of a retirement. It regards time passing and the rewards of capitalizing VS, being an employee ...

Jim - I was referring to the fact that my buddy has the seven kids. That's the generation whose work is gonna get taxed to pay for your nursing home!

I just wonder what wages they will make to herd robots all day long.

Social climber
Apr 15, 2014 - 05:34pm PT

My left quad seized up on me halfway through the workout thanks to my limited intake of water.


Great TR Mike & Sandra is adorable..........as always.

And for buddy back up thread wanting to know where to hang at Squash, I totally agree with the laudits of the Bulletheads campground. It's also where you'll meet other climbers. SOunds like ya might wanna bring yer own bum wipe.......but I always carry bum wipe. Mountain money dontchya know. But anyway.........best those morning poos go into pit toilets or at the local TasteeFreeze or whatever it is these days that passes fer a warm toilet in town. The days of shittin' in the woods is over. Has been fer a while really.

Wages? What are wages unless yer in the military ........ :-D
Big Mike

Trad climber
Topic Author's Reply - Apr 15, 2014 - 06:59pm PT
Friday was rest day. I was supposed to have acu but my doc fell ill to food poisoning and i was forced to fend for myself. The day was spent stretching at home and at the pool to get my hurting body somewhat ready for a few pitches the following day.

Saturday Heather and I showed up at Pink Cliff after a rather leisurely start on my part, to find Ryan D enjoying himself.

I warmed up on a Pat in the Back 10a, a slab Nina and Kyle had put up and did ok apart from a couple hangs.

Then Heather put up a 5.9 redpoint Vertically Challenged which was ironic being she climbed it better than I and is significantly shorter. lol

Kyle went to go try Wankulator 10d but just couldn't put his trust in the opening rp.

So he put up Figernipper 10d instead, much to Nina's dismay.

Heather and I were looking for some shade for Khyber and a few more easy routes so we went down to Fern Gully 5.4 and she onsighted it laughing all the way. I climbed it in my approach shoes.

on the way down i Caught Nina on Rampage 5.9

Kyle soloed it to retrieve the anchor

Heather wanted to bail because it was her first day, and Nina had to go to work anyways so I was happy to peace out since my quad and calf were still bugging me from thursday's thrashing.

I wanted to save some juice for my Sunday wall adventure with Nick as well!
Jim Brennan

Trad climber
Apr 15, 2014 - 10:38pm PT
Drew, the more things change, the more they stay the same. I'm one of 6 kids who collectively, tried our best to drive our parents insane. (it was a highly successful mission)

As for who's taxes go towards supporting whom, it's all about the dosh in the kitty payed through faith, into a system that isn't necessarily obligated to make good on hurt feelings by contributors... The franchisee is naturally in a weak bargaining position VS. the franchiser, O Canada and all that withstanding.

As for stories on a BORING Tuesday night:

The mailbox spun in slow motion, tracking relentlessly to it's point of impact with the windshield of Don's Subaru.

A weekend prior, Serl and I had had a super fun trip up and down Forbidden Peak, passing everyone in the way. Mt. Johannesburg lurked on the other side of the valley, like a Johnny Cash song. "It was big and grey and bent and old, and I looked at it and my blood ran cold" to paraphrase... So we made a plan for the next weekend. What could go wrong ?

7 more days as the old song goes, we were crunching up the LONG snow gulley to the left and then rock climbing and scrambling the ever changing easy - not so easy ridge to the top. Here we kinda had a feeling the "climb" had just begun. It was Pacific NorthWest afternoon and we were already watching the deep green of sunset starting to fill the valley bottom.

Beckey's book said something about an obvious notch to descend into the backside and then easily find the pass that accessed the forest down to the logging road and where the car was parked. The problem was there was one obvious notch after another. So we chose one...

It's a good thing to carry crampons regardless of good intentions. The North Cascades offers a unique opportunity to practice French technique on 50 degree, grassy marmot meadows. The steep meadows ran out into shattered drainages. We did 5 raps, the last 2 involving chopping at choss to make a horn that would accept a rap sling. Eventually the labyrinth spewed us down to the true crossover notch.

Now it was getting dark. Don fled down the 3000' of bushwhacking with me trying to keep up with an old school Princeton headlamp that wasn't working. Hours later we waded the "creek" and trudged back up hill to Don's car. Then the party really got started.

Both of us were completely exhausted by the size and complexity of the climb but it was Sunday night and being duty bound robots to our jobs, we started driving back to Vancouver.

My turn at the wheel involved floating between the comfort of semi sleep and the occasional terror of awareness. For some reason autonomic function translated into reaction to a physical reality we were driving towards.

"TURN LEFT, NOW" ! rang like a bell through my now asleep cranium and reflexively, I did.

All Hell broke loose. I was now fully awake, watching a fence go over the wind shield, leading to the mailbox crashing into us. I ground to a stop and it was only then we realized that what I had turned away from was a telephone pole that we clipped. There was wood stuffed into the joint between the front tire and it's wheel. There was wood from the pole, stuffed into the gap between the passenger door and the front fender.

All I felt was guilt that I could have killed Don, asleep in the back.

The farmer who's front yard we'd destroyed was a very gracious man. He told us this sort of thing happened once or twice a year and offered us his vacation trailer as a place to spend the night.

In the morning he made us coffee and wished us good luck going over the border. He wouldn't accept a dime for the damages we caused. The border guard at 6 in the morning just looked at us and the vehicle, then looked out at the sky and said: "Sound's good... Have a nice trip home...!

Trad climber
Apr 15, 2014 - 10:52pm PT
Nice Mike! Glad you are coming along through the difficulties.

Apr 15, 2014 - 11:36pm PT
Lots of good stuff here. Great shots Mike, I like the one of Nina on Rampage. Such a great backdrop.

I just did my first buttface of the year yesterday too. So nice to be up there!

Rowdy tale Jim B! Sounds like u boys had horseshoes firmly in place. Yikes!

Speaking of camping maybe there won't be a need for organized cleanup on the stawamus in the future.

It’s one of Squamish’s worst-kept secrets, John Harvey says.
For more than 40 years, climbers have pitched their tents on the 10-acre piece of Crown land off Centennial Way. Now, the founder of the Mamquam River Access Society wants to legitimize the illegal camping with the creation of a not-for-profit campground.
“Fifteen years down the road, we would have a revenue stream,” Harvey said, noting that money can in turn be poured into outdoor recreational resources.
The long-term vision for the former Hasting’s Landscape Supply property is to secure a 25-year provincial lease on the lot. The area also needs to be rezoned by the District of Squamish from its industrial use to green corridor to pave way for the campground. Once the paperwork is in place, Harvey estimates it will cost $50,000 to remove wood waste currently on the property and an additional $50,000 to install 45 individual, private campsites.
“The support I have seen for this project is huge,” Harvey said.
The Squamish Access Society, Squamish Paddling Club, Squamish Off-Road Cycling Association and Squamish Windsports Society all back the idea. The facility will address the community’s need for more camping, access society vice-president Charlie Harrison said. Stawamus Chief Provincial Park campground is regularly fully booked and the district-run campsite beside the Brennan Park Recreation Centre is uninviting, Harrison said. As a result, adventurers end up illegally camping in the Squamish Estuary and along the Stawamus and Mamquam rivers.
“We are definitely in support of any new camping,” he said.
Down the road, the community needs to look at filling the gap for cheap camping. Harvey estimates the Mamquam River lots will run at $8 per night, which quickly eats into one’s wallet when staying at a site for the climbing season, Harrison said, noting climbing hot spot Bishop, Calif., offers $2 campsites in an effort to discourage illegal setups.


Apr 15, 2014 - 11:50pm PT
the district-run campsite beside the Brennan Park Recreation Centre is uninviting

A long way from where I started
Apr 15, 2014 - 11:53pm PT
Both of us were completely exhausted by the size and complexity of the climb but it was Sunday night and being duty bound robots to our jobs, we started driving back to Vancouver.

There is no shortage of Vancouver climbers who said to Mr. Serl: "It's pitch dark and we're gonna die if we keep going. Let's just bivi and finish the descent in the morning."

You got the "I've got to be at work in the morning" line. What I got was "Bivi? Here? Why would I spend the night shivering on the ground here when I've got a comfortable bed at home?"

Oh yeah. Out with the Serl again.
Todd Eastman

Bellingham, WA
Apr 15, 2014 - 11:57pm PT
cry me a river

I'm sorry, you will need a permit for that discharge!

Apr 15, 2014 - 11:58pm PT

What else did you guys climb, I mean drink this weekend in Squamish? Ghost? Bruce?
Todd Eastman

Bellingham, WA
Apr 16, 2014 - 12:00am PT
Bruce did nothing but rant about the freak show in Nevada all weekend...

A long way from where I started
Apr 16, 2014 - 12:45am PT
What else did you guys climb, I mean drink this weekend in Squamish? Ghost? Bruce?

Bruce, so we're told, didn't climb, but rather ranted about something in Nevada. I don't know anything about that, but I can confirm that while we actually did climb, it was what we didn't climb that was much more interesting.

You have to understand that we're not sport climbers. I've probably climbed three sport routes in my life (unless you count gym routes, in which case it's three thousand). Mari started out sport climbing, but once she discovered cracks, she promised god that if he never told anyone she was a sport climber, she'd never clip bolts again.

But last year, on a down day, she decided we should check out Area 44. It's pretty, but like I said, I don't get sport climbing, and she did one pitch and said "This place sucks dead rats." Okay, fine. There's plenty of other climbs in the Squamish area, so not going back to Area 44 is no big deal.

I think the anthrax bacteria she was working with in the lab last week must have infected her brain, because on Sunday morning she said "Let's go to Area 44. Maybe a few easy clip-ups will be a good way to get back into it." Which is weird because just a couple of weeks early she'd been running it out on real climbs down at Cochise.

So we amble over the hill and down to the base of the climbs, and, Oh! Yeah! The view is awesome! The topos that are posted every five meters lead us to a 5.8 that is occupied by two guides and three clients, and much yelling of "Just put your left foot up on that hold by your knee! No, the other foot! No, that other hold! Yeah! You can do it! Now, right hand up!"

So we backtrack a few meters, check another one of the topos, and Mari decides that the 5.9 in front of our noses will do just fine. The topo says the first bolt is high. It doesn't look really high, but we figure that at Area 44, 2.5 meters probably counts as high, and off she goes.

And stalls out between the 3rd and 4th bolts. Go this way. Back down. Go that way. Back down. Try straight up again. Back down. At which point one of the guides from the show beside us walks over and says "Dunno if it matters, but that thing your on is 11c." Mari looks down and says "Oh." Then, "Are you sure? I thought this was a 5.9." "No, the 5.9 is that one."

"That one" is two bolt lines to our right. Probably about three meters.

So, she lowers from a bail biner and we move the required three meters and, yes, that first bolt is a ways up. But no worries, there's an easy chimney just to the left that looks like an easy alternative to get to where she can clip that bolt. Or it would be if only she was a lot taller. She wants to do some ridiculous intermediate move, but I am looking at the non-existent belay anchors, and the steep slope down which we'll both cartwheel, and tell her that a badly bolted sport rig on shitty rock isn't worth dying for.

So we pack up and leave, and on our way to some real climbing we wonder what the guides told the noobs about the two old people who couldn't seem to climb anything.

Apr 16, 2014 - 01:12am PT
Good stuff Ghost, classic sandbagging.

I don't know wtf u boys are on about though. Area 44 has probably the best, fastest drying routes in Squamish. The best view & greatest rock quality. Everyone should go there every time they go climbing, well either there or on top of the new gondola.


A long way from where I started
Apr 16, 2014 - 01:24am PT
It's true, the view really doesn't suck.

If only the climbing matched the view.
If only the climbing matched the view.
Credit: Ghost

Sadly, the climbing does suck. But I agree,
Everyone should go there every time they go climbing,

That way, you and your partner would be the only climbers at whatever crag you decided to climb at. Just like Mari and I were the only climbers on the Papoose on Monday.

Apr 16, 2014 - 01:37am PT

I knew you were holding out.

I don't think it matters how many ppl you tell. The papoose will never be as popular as it deserves. A lot of good work done there over the past year too.


Trad climber
Apr 16, 2014 - 02:49am PT
Big Mike I think we saw you guys at Pink Cliff on Saturday. My wife and I climbed a few routes there - we were the couple with the 3 month old baby.
Todd Eastman

Bellingham, WA
Apr 16, 2014 - 02:59am PT
And the beat goes on in BC...

... http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/jumbo-glacier-resort-exempted-from-environmental-process-1.2611471

Mountain climber
The Deep Woods
Apr 16, 2014 - 12:03pm PT
one of these days I'm gonna dig out my pic of Don hiking up McGuire clad only in a pair of stained y-fronts.

Apr 16, 2014 - 12:37pm PT
Very fine photos and stories. Great to see what Mike and Toby did. The recent blue skies and warmth were much appreciated.

Nominating Bruce Kay for storyteller of distinction. Nice support from Jim Brennan.

Ghost says that he and Mari were at area 44 so I guess they were. Not easy to find an 11c there. Maybe the trick is to look for a 5.9? Sounds similar to what happened to Tom and me at The Pillary.

This is the revised topo. Things were much more confusing at the time. For example, the leftmost line was shown as complete, with several bolts, but had only 1 bolt. Other lines were misdrawn.


The plan to get everyone climbing there looked well on the way to success.

Nice for a picnic, though.

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