Grand Wall tr


Discussion Topic

Return to Forum List
This thread has been locked
Messages 1 - 16 of total 16 in this topic

Trad climber
moab UT
Topic Author's Original Post - Jul 13, 2018 - 05:09pm PT
Its high summer and the days are long here in Squamish. The thought of climbing before 9:00 has simply never occurred to me. I'm surprised and a little pissed when Ben throws open my slider door and rousts me out of bed at 6:30.

"Dude, get up! We got a mission!" Ben doesn't seem to be his normal laid-back self this morning. In fact, I don't think I've ever seen him this early. He throws a couple of Egg McMuffins at me and explains the cause of his alarm.

He'd gotten a call from our buddy Eric an hour ago. It seems that Eric's young son Jake had pulled the classic kid ploy and told his folks he was staying at his friend Brad's house. Brads parents were informed that they'd be at Jakes. Pretty standard kid stuff except the two had stolen Eric's rack and rope and, most likely, hitchhiked from their home in Vancouver to Squamish. Ben got the call from Eric, asking him to keep an eye out for the two culprits.

As fate would have it, Ben has been living in a cave at the base of The Grand Wall this summer. As he hung up the phone and relieved himself in the dawn light two adolescent voices broke the early morning quiet. There could be no mistake. The two voices coming from the second pitch of The Grand Wall belonged to none other than Jake and Brad.

I'd like to think I am a good enough person to have gone after them regardless, but the fact that I owed Eric big time for a bit of parking lot surgery he preformed after a drunken mishap with a Swiss Army knife made me all the more willing to shift gears for the day.

Our instructions came from Susan, Jake's mom, "Get those two off that cliff! Now! So I can kill them!" As we hastily rack up, however, we start to have out own ideas.

"How old are these kids?" I want to know.

"Jake's eleven, Brad turned thirteen last week." Ben answers.

We look at each other with the same thought, "That's pretty rad. Who are we to get in their way?"

They're on the fourth pitch when we leave the ground. It doesn't take us long to simluclimb up to their belay. Brad's leading a tricky 5.10 traversing pitch. The rack is almost as big as he is. The belay is a bit of a cluster but looks adequate. Jake asks if we want to pass. We tell him we're in no hurry. "Cool." He replies and watches Brad intently. I look at Ben. "Shit!" I think, "I wish you gave me half that attentive belay."

Brad gets to the end of the crack; a short bolt ladder leads to a ledge. He pulls out a set of hand tied aiders and continues. "I'm secure," he calls shortly.

Jake follows, pulling on gear and using his own set of home made aiders to follow the bolts. The pitch goes free at .12b, and Ben takes some whippers before getting frustrated and pulling through.

We're at the base of the Split Pillar, the heart of Squamish climbing and the beginning of the meat of the route. Kevin McLane, in his guidebook, describes this pitch as "A .10b crack with an .11a feel."

Young Jake isn't leading in what is considered a conventional way. Not quite trusting his gear he is taking the 'cluster pro' approach. He'll climb as far as he dares, stuff in three or four pieces, hang on them, depump and climb another forty or fifty feet.

It's in the middle of this that Ben's phone rings. Brad gives us a look of disdain, as if to say, 'what kind of punters would take a phone on a route like this!' I wholeheartedly agree. It's Eric on the other end. We are anchored to a tree a dozen feet off route so we can talk in whispers with out blowing our cover.

"He's in the middle of the Split Pillar, about fifty feet above his gear," Ben whispers. A sadistic gleam in his eyes. I hear a groan on the other end. "Its ok. He just put more gear in. We decided to just follow them up. It's totally under control."

"I'm scheduled for surgery all afternoon. Their mothers are on the way up. I don't know who's in worse trouble, you or them if you keep going." Ben hangs up as Jake finishes his lead. I'm up.

I start climbing right behind Brad. Half way up I look down to Ben, I feign some grunts. He nods, gives me the thumbs up and I cut loose for a twenty footer. What the hell, its a clean fall, it buys Brad some breathing room and makes Jake look good. I get encouragement from both above and below.

Brad and Jake are sitting on a ledge eating raw hotdogs when we arrive. It isn't 'til now that we realize that, in our haste, we forgot to bring lunch. "You guys want a wiener?" Brad asks. We gratefully nod.

Brad begins the next pitch, a thin 5.11 layback. Ten feet up a foot slip lands him in our laps. "I think I'll just aid this." He says. We nod vigorously. He takes his time on the pitch, paused at a hanging belay. "Can I run these two together?" We shout encouragement that he should keep going.

Now Jake's up. Some loose face holds lead to a pumpy eight inch crack, steep but well bolted. Jake makes short work of the crack using the bolt hangers to his maximum advantage.

The day goes on much the same way. To our astonishment both boys free the following two .10a pitches. We make a few calls to Eric in the OR throughout the day to give him updates and torture him some. But the two young men remain poised and continue their slow, steady upward progress. We top out around 5pm and subtly guide them through the intricacy's of the descent trail.

"Oh shit!" Brad says as we round the last turn into the parking lot and there stand the dreaded mothers.

"We're so busted!" Jake echo's. Ben and I fade into the forest.

Later that night Susan calls to thank us for keeping an eye on her boy and to convey the thanks of Brenda, Brads mom. She assures us that while both sets of parents are proud of the kids they are, nevertheless, grounded 'til they are at least thirty. Ben and I lobby passionately on their behalf and are happy to learn a few days later that the sentence has been commuted to two weeks.

Since that day the Grand Wall has been climbed by Ben and I in just over an hour. It has been freed by Scott Cosgrove at .13b. And in 2001 was climbed ropeless by Patrick DeLanie at 5.11 A0. I don't think. however, in the race for sponsorship, bragging rights, speed records, linkups or any other brand of competitiveness, that the Grand Wall will ever see a prouder ascent than that made by Jake and Brad, just out being boys.

Thank You
Steve Seats


Mostly the next place
Jul 13, 2018 - 06:57pm PT
TFPTU. Made my weekend.


Boulder climber
Andy Cairns
Jul 13, 2018 - 07:11pm PT
Good to hear about. Pretty much everyone involved did the right thing.

Just livin' the dream
Jul 13, 2018 - 07:13pm PT
A great tale well told. Thanks!

Trad climber
Ontario, Canada
Jul 13, 2018 - 07:26pm PT
Really enjoyed that!

A long way from where I started
Jul 13, 2018 - 07:27pm PT
Damn! Fine ascent and fine TR.

Castlegar BC
Jul 13, 2018 - 08:22pm PT
What a read, vertical chaperoning.....well done.

Mike Bolte

Trad climber
Planet Earth
Jul 13, 2018 - 08:29pm PT
great tale and nicely done. This remains my favorite route of all time. We also aided the bolt ladder to get into the Split Pillar.

Social climber
Jul 13, 2018 - 11:01pm PT
hey there say, roadie... thanks for sharing your trip!!! :)
Jesse Wees

Trad climber
Jul 16, 2018 - 08:16am PT
Awesome!!! Thanks, Steve... more, please.

Trad climber
Salt Lake City, UT
Jul 16, 2018 - 09:51am PT
norm larson

wilson, wyoming
Jul 16, 2018 - 10:20am PT
Awesome tale and great writing Roadie. Keep them coming.

Trad climber
Little Rock and Loving It
Jul 16, 2018 - 11:46am PT
Roadie hit's another one out of the park. Helz ya!

Trad climber
South Pasadena, CA
Jul 16, 2018 - 12:17pm PT
Another big grin on my face from a fine tale!

right here, right now
Jul 16, 2018 - 01:01pm PT
The only reason we know for sure this isn't fiction is because you can't make this kind of sh#t up!

Lake Tahoe, Nevada
Jul 23, 2018 - 11:49am PT
Great story! Well told. Yes Sir keep them coming.. !
Messages 1 - 16 of total 16 in this topic
Return to Forum List
Our Guidebooks
Check 'em out!
SuperTopo Guidebooks

Try a free sample topo!

SuperTopo on the Web

Recent Route Beta