Squamish Photos and Stories


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Jan 11, 2015 - 12:08pm PT
Nice shots Mike!

Social climber
Jan 11, 2015 - 02:22pm PT
Those are lovely pix Mike. Bring back great memories of deep winter rock climbin' at the Bluffs. Best wishes to Luke and Ais for good health.


Trad climber
Jan 11, 2015 - 03:06pm PT
Just for fun, and something to do on a dreary day, I was reading old Hamish F stories on Genius Loci and soloing. Made me rethink back on my adventures this past season, and figure I might as well share them. Who knows, might make for a good, if lengthy read.

A bit of a prologue: Summer of 2013, I wasn't as stoked on climbing as I had been before. I mean, I was, but not enough to really put in full effort. The one day, it was the soon to be Mrs Cormier's birthday, so I was visiting them with some other folks. Luke had to work early the next day, so was planning on calling it an early night, but there was an Event going on at the Ruddy Duck, which I accompanied Aislinn and some of her friends to.
Long story short, we both had a fair bit to drink, and went back to the Cormier residence. In the morning, Ais was hurting pretty bad, where I was feeling pretty okay, and wanted to climb something.

I opted for Calculus crack to Butt Face, thought it would be a reasonable outing. It was pretty humid out, and I was sweating a fair bit by the time I got to the base. Starting up, I felt okay, but as I gained ground, I started to feel worse and worse. By the time I got to the base of the money pitch, the hangover had hit me full on and I just wanted off. Getting to the top seemed a quicker option than downclimbing, so up I went.
I got to Memorial Ledge and was torn between not wanting to climb anymore, but staying true to the goal I had made on the ground of summiting. I reluctantly started up Memorial Crack, and was just entering the crux section when a couple raindrops hit. That seemed like a legit reason to bail, so I downclimbed, and made a hasty retreat via the descent slabs.

I don't think I soloed anything else that year. Turned me right off.

Trad climber
Jan 11, 2015 - 03:51pm PT
Now for this year.

I broke my hand at the end of May, after getting back from working with Brownie in Kelowna. I was choked, cause all we had really talked about was getting back to Squamish and climbing. I was in a splint for three weeks, and was supposed to give it another three weeks to heal completely. I spent the downtime doing the Grouse Grind every day, getting my cardio up. Maybe a week and a half out of splint, I roped up with Brownie for some slabs and sport climbing.
Long story short, I flailed all over the place and felt pretty disappointed with myself. I knew I had to step it up and get some mileage.

A couple days later, I went unroped up Banana Peel and Butt Face. I felt really good the whole way up, and it seemed like my hiking was starting to positively affect my overall fitness.
The next day, I scrambled South Arete for the first time, and went up Ultimate Everything. Again, felt great the entire way up, save for wet feet at the end of the .10b traverse which I powered through.

After these climbs, plus a lap up the Grand which built my confidence up, I was feeling pretty well back to sending mode, although hot temperatures and a rebreak of my hand over the course of the summer limited my time on the rock.

Just a side note - My main reason for soloing this year was just that - to be alone. I've found that when concentrating on climbing, it leaves very little room for anything else, which I wanted.

Somewhere around mid September, and after much deliberation, I drove up with the intention of third classing Angels Crest.
I'm not sure if it's the same for everyone, or just me, but I find that the more I know about a route - which areas are insecure, which are likely to be wet, etc, the more I second guess myself.
Such was the case here, and on my way up, I just wasn't 100% positive. I had climbed the route before, I knew I could do the moves no problem, but I knew which areas I might crux out a bit in, and that left a nagging doubt in my mind.

As I was driving past the Grand Wall, I saw someone on U Wall. I was in no rush, so I stopped and spent about 20 minutes watching. It turned out to be Marc and his girlfriend Brette up there.
Continuing on, I hiked up to the AC base, and took the original right hand start to the base of Angel Crack.
It was midweek, and no longer summer, so I had hoped to have the route to myself, at least for the first few pitches. I really didn't want to have an audience. However, it seemed that my time spent observing U Wall shenanigans gave another party time to get to the same area I was now at, and they graciously offered to let me go first.
I hemmed and hawed for a moment, but eventually started up. I was really not a fan of these two guys watching me. At one of the little ledges about halfway up, I felt my phone vibrate in my pocket. I pulled it out, and it was my wife, who had just sent me a text to let me know that she loved me.
That was good enough reason to downclimb. There were just too many signs not to do it, y'know?

I came up with a new plan: I'd just go on an adventure and see what I could climb that I hadn't climbed before. If I didn't know anything about a route, I couldn't be scared of it, right?
First stop was Jungle Warfare on the Squaw. The first pitch was a little tenuous, just in terms of making a lot of small moves as opposed to a few big ones, but once that was over, the rest was a real delight.
My next stop was Hairpin on the Papoose. My route finding method was to use my phone to take a picture of the route description in the guide. However, it was a little vague on exactly which way to go after the first .10a pitch, and I resorted to calling Relic to give me directions. I knew there was an .11a variation somewhere, and I didn't want to end up on it.
Aside from that, it was a super fun climb. I got lost on the descent cause I went the original way south.

I then climbed Old Style to Cider Crack to Stephanies Tears on the Malemute, non of which I had done before. I followed that up with St Vitus Direct into Vector. I tried to OS solo Dessert Dyke as well, but warm temperatures resulted in stepping on a bolt at the crux (damn!)
I finished up on First Peak.

All in all, I had what I think could have been an El Cap day, at least in terms of pitches climbed. About 90% of what I climbed was onsight.

It was probably one of my best days climbing all year. I only ran into one party I think somewhere on the Butt Face.
Big Mike

Trad climber
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 11, 2015 - 09:47pm PT
Thanks guys! Sweet stories Nate. I take it you're done with hungover solos??

I really envy that man. I've always wanted to third class the Chief, but I never had the balls to actually go through with it. Now? Pretty sure it ain't worth it for me anymore....

Maybe if my foot worked good again and I got real strong i'd think differently. It was never mental thing.. I just never felt solid enough to risk it...
The Call Of K2 Lou

Mountain climber
North Shore, BC
Jan 11, 2015 - 09:56pm PT
Yeah, "Ropeless Buttress" (or something like that) is on my really-really-want-to-do-some-day list. Just don't have the experience for that sort of endeavour yet. Great reading and muchos thanks for fueling the fires dude!

Mountain climber
The Deep Woods
Jan 12, 2015 - 12:43pm PT
That Coast cover pic looks like the Lofoten Islands to me...

As for Porteau, not the roadside slabs, but some of the stuff higher up in the woods: spent a day there once rappelling down and scrubbing to look for routes. Weird crag. The most crackless, featureless slabs I've ever seen. Like 30 meters of slab with absolutely no features whatsoever. Not polished smooth, just totally monolithic. No edges, no crimpers, no bigger crystals sticking out, no chatter marks, zero, zilch, nada, nothing. Also no cracks. A texture like coarse sandpaper, and around 70 or 75 degrees.

It was a slab and it probably would have gone in the 11 to 12 range but it wasn't for me. Never went back.

Social climber
Jan 12, 2015 - 02:02pm PT
Anybody have news about the accident on Joffre? Condolences to family & friends.

Trad climber
Jan 12, 2015 - 03:33pm PT
BK: Retreat is always an option. It's just a matter of whether or not one is smart enough to choose it.

Big Mike: I don't think I've even climbed hungover since then. It's not even worth the pain for me. Later that same day, I tried TR soloing Split Beaver and almost threw up on the thing.
For me, the whole cordless thing is almost all mental. I know that I am physically capable of doing the moves, and it's just a matter of executing. If I don't think I can do it, then I don't even try.
It's strange, cause there isn't much else that you can really compare to soloing. This is a strange analogy, but it makes me think of in a movie where one guy enters a fight with like 10 guys who are all trying to kill him. He knows that he is capable of taking them all on at once, so he doesn't panic. He simply executes the same moves as he would were he training, with a level head, despite the fact that if he messes up, he's dead.
Weird, but that's what it makes me think of.

Mountain climber
The Deep Woods
Jan 12, 2015 - 03:41pm PT
Tami, from the news reports and from what BK had to say, it sounds like a roped team of 3 fell from high on the Central Couloir. Two mid-30s people from Lower Mainland and one international visitor woman in mid-20s.

The husband of one climber reportedly found the first body and skiied out to initiate the rescue. Pretty horrible situation.

Trad climber
La Quinta and Penticton BC
Jan 12, 2015 - 06:12pm PT
The latest update is that they are now identified as hikers, not climbers, who were wearing crampons and were roped together. Sounds like they had not placed any type of protection to arrest a fall. Tragic and condolences to the families, but it appears to be a case of inexperience.

Quote from news source "Backcountry skier Paul Cordy described this particular couloir as extremely dangerous.

"That's like the king line of the peak. I've actually skied that a couple of times and it is 100 per cent consequences," said Cordy.

"It's so steep that you're unable to arrest the fall on your own.... In general, that's a place where very experienced and capable mountaineers go."

Social climber
Jan 12, 2015 - 06:56pm PT
That's a pretty epic place to get to as hikers in January. The couloir is a long way whether you approach from the lake or Keith's Hut.

Terrible news for their families.
Fish Boy

Social climber
Jan 12, 2015 - 07:42pm PT
Taking that approach to central colouir can only end one way....I'm sorry for the friends and families.
Todd Eastman

Bellingham, WA
Jan 12, 2015 - 09:48pm PT
Identified as "hikers" with crampons and roped together traveling where, "It's so steep that you're unable to arrest the fall on your own.... In general, that's a place where very experienced and capable mountaineers go."

That ain't hiking.

Jan 12, 2015 - 10:27pm PT
It will be interesting to hear the real story, "hikers" dont generally have ropes and the alpine select guide...
Big Mike

Trad climber
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 13, 2015 - 12:15am PT
Pique has a few more facts. Or so it seems.

Whistler RCMP has recovered the bodies of three ice climbers who were reported missing earlier Monday, Jan. 12.

Whistler RCMP Staff Sgt. Steve LeClair said indications are the tragedy was a result of "a catastrophic slip-and-fall accident" that took place near the top of Joffre peak's central couloir when one of the climbers fell and brought down the others, who were tied together.

"There was no avalanche debris, so it didnít appear the cornice broke off or anything like that," he added.

Early information suggests the group was experienced in the backcountry, police said.

The victims have been identified as a man and women from the Lower Mainland in their mid-thirties, as well as a female international in her late twenties. Authorities are not releasing the names of the climbers at this time.

The three were part of a group of climbers and skiers in the area that had made plans to rendezvous at the end of the day. The skiers went searching for the climbers when they didnít arrive on time. LeClair said one of the female victims was separated from the group in the fall and her body was discovered by her husband just after 1:30 a.m. Police were unable to access the area at that time and initiated the search at first light on Monday, with the two remaining victims' bodies discovered shortly after.


My condolences to the families and friends.
Jim Brennan

Trad climber
Jan 13, 2015 - 03:22am PT
I'm so sad for those who were out having fun in the mountains that it ended so horribly.

Big Mike

Trad climber
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 13, 2015 - 09:56am PT
Ya Jim. Not a great day. I'm sure Keith's hut was a sad place after that discovery...

Social climber
Jan 13, 2015 - 04:59pm PT
Awful news regarding the Joffre incident - two of the deceased were active VOC members, including a past president:


Trad climber
Courtenay, B.C.
Jan 16, 2015 - 07:13pm PT
Thought I'd offer a short story about Daryl (Hatten). Well, it's not really a story, but rather a Kodak moment, so to speak.

It had to be back in the mid-eighties, and as usual the boys were over at my place in Victoria making spur of the moment plans to head off somewhere, and as usual I couldn't get vacation time to go along with them. This time their destination was the Cirque of the Unclimbables, and off they went.

After climbing thousands of glorious feet, they returned - about a week before somehow it was discovered that a film crew had headed in to get some footage for "The Clan of the Cave Bear".

So what, you may ask, but Daryl had a serious crush on the female lead, Daryl Hannah. Careful comparison of their names reveals an amazing similarity of spelling - a similarity that Daryl (Hatten) was convinced would have provided a foolproof opportunity for (our) Daryl to introduce himself to the lovely Ms. Hannah... if only the boys had arrived a goddamn week later.

It was nearly heartbreaking to witness Daryl gazing in despair (complete with furrowed brow) into his beer repeating his mantra of despair, which went "oh, man... man..." between gulps of his favourite beverage.
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