Trip Report
*Photo TR* Crack fiends search for fissures in the land of bolts (Skaha)
Thursday October 27, 2011 3:28am
Crack fiends search for fissures in the land of bolts

Dave on Black Window 5.8
Dave on Black Window 5.8
Credit: Big Mike

Easter 1987 Howie Richardson and Bob Cuthbert went for a hike in the bluffs above Skaha Lake, Penticton BC. They decided to go have a closer look at the Great White Wall. After they inspected it, upon turning around they saw this (among many others):

The Fortress


After several years of wet coast escape trips I’ve fallen in love with this place. I make a habit of going every spring and fall. I missed my spring trip this year but made up for it with two summer trips, but I still hadn’t revisited some of the classic cracks I wanted to get back to.

My lovely girlfriend and I had it all organized at the start of the month but we both got sick the day we were supposed to go.

A week later I called my buddy Kyle to see if he was at work. He said “No. I’ve been laid off!.” So I quipped “ Sweet! When are we going to Skaha?” He laughed and said he didn’t really have too much else to do. I told him we should go that night! He said he had a couple things to do and I realized that I should tie up a few loose ends as well. We agreed to set out early the next morning.

Duffey Lake Road


Choss just outside Lillooet


BC roads are extremely stable....


After a five hour drive, we arrived in Penticton BC. We set up camp at Waterworld. A former waterslide resort which faltered after the slides fell into disrepair.

Being so late in the fall only the residents in their mobile units were onsite, and one other tenter, a young gentleman from Edmonton who was in town to skateboard and attend a church retreat.

After we dropped off our camping gear we headed up to the new Skaha Bluffs parking lot for a couple of afternoon climbs. Kyle couldn’t believe I hadn’t climbed Et Tu Brutus, so we headed to the Fortress.

The Fortress, East Face


Et Tu Brutus is a 3 star 50m 5.9. It ascends a diagonal ramp finger/hand crack to the right of the last photo which runs the entire length of the cliff. I quite enjoyed it and found that it took good gear (lots of it) and was a lot of fun.

After we rapped Kyle told me he wanted to go do Genetic Mirror another 3 star 10b just down the way in the Corridor. So we packed up the gear and headed over there.

Fortress, The Corridor

Climber: Unknown Climb: Rats will play 5.9?

Genetic Mirror is a sport climb which goes up an incipient crack on beautiful incuts which seem to become smaller all the way up. It is very sustained and if you have been jamming cracks all summer like me, will make your fingers a bit raw. :)

Kyle sent it and I cruised it on tr, took it down and we headed back to the campsite to get ready for dinner.

Moonrise over the bluffs above our campsite


We were trying to keep the costs down on this trip but the one thing I wanted to splurge on was dinner at Theo’s. This authentic Greek restaurant has been around for ages and has the best rabbit I personally have ever had the pleasure to savour.

Fortress, Penal Tower, The Burglar’s Dog


The next morning after a leisurely breakfast we headed up to the Penal Tower, a small outcrop at the end of the Fortress. I had climbed Burglar’s Dog 5.9 in the past and suggested to Kyle that it would make a good warm up.

Kyle on Burglar’s Dog


I have learned that the best climbing photography happens when you are not attached to your subject. Unfortunately this was not an option for us this trip so I decided to make do and see what I could get.

Kyle cranks face holds on Burglar’s Dog


After I took it down, we went to Upper Red Tail to get on Pink Toe-nails. This was my lead but my stomach was feeling a bit woozy and I didn’t really feel like getting sick on the sharp end so I gave it to Kyle.

I set up a gear anchor at the base of the route so I could lean back and take some photos, but it wasn’t a very good angle so I didn’t really bother.

Pink Toenails 10b was a 50m Howie/Tony Richardson/Barley mixed route which apparently had recently been retro-bolted. We didn’t know that though and Kyle took an assortment of mid-sized gear. He found the slab crux at the top a little stiff, and scrapped every last sling and biner he had together to make draws.

I followed cleanly until the crux but I set up for it too far left and pumped myself out trying to move back right. We walked over to Treasure in the Lichen and rapped down it leaving an anchor so we could top rope it.

When we reached Dead Hawk Rake, we barely had enough time to take our shoes off when who should stroll up but Mr Howie Richardson himself, and his friendly border collie Joe. He saw our rope on Treasure and asked what we were up to. I told him “We just climbed Pink Toe-Nails and we rapped down Treasure to get back down and figured we’d top rope it in the process.”

He seemed pretty excited that we had climbed Pink Toe-Nails and asked us how we had liked it. I said “It was fun but some bolts seem to have been added to it. Kyle only used 1 cam!”. He replied that he had recently retro bolted it to increase traffic. Kyle told him it seemed a little stiff for the grade and he just smiled and nodded. Then he headed off to go retrieve his stashed rope from the top of Red Tail.

Chillin on Dead Hawk Rake


After a little snack break we tr’d Treasure in the Lichen, a 40m 11a. I found the crux pretty hard and it took me a couple hangs to figure it out. Kyle cruised it and was disappointed he didn’t lead it… Especially with the 17 bolts for protection!

We were going to go to the Prow and do Slow Pitch but we realized it was getting late and we only had a couple of hours of light left, so we decided to rap and climb Sursum Corda a two star 10b directly below us on Red Tail Lower.
On the way down we met a gentleman named Nick who happened to be leading Preface (*** 5.9), and he graciously allowed me to snap a couple pics.

Nick just past the difficulties on Preface


Preface 5.9 *** Very sustained


Nick makes funny faces for the camera


I had onsighted Sursum Corda in the past so I gave the lead to Kyle. He sent it with a little pause to consider the runout. I had crappy light so I didn’t get any decent photos. We packed up the stuff and headed back to the truck.

On the way back as we popped out of the corridor we saw this:


We thought we would head over to the top of the stairs and take in the view


Skaha Lake Sunset

A beautiful way to end a spectacular fall day and a good omen for the following day.

After intensive guidebook research over drinks that night we decided that we needed to return to the Fortress to send Itchin To Climb, another three star 10a.

Fortress, East Face

Climb: Itchin to Climb 10a *** Climber: Jason

When we got there the next morning, Jason from OK Falls was just gearing up for it, so Kyle braved the lazy wasp crux on Dad’s Army Strikes.

Fortress, East Face

Climb: Dad’s Army Strikes 10a Climber: Kyle

You can’t see them but there were dozens of these weird lazy wasps hanging out by the cracks at his feet. They didn’t seem hostile but I didn’t want anything to do with them.

Kyle seemed to think they were fine and Jason reassured him that they weren’t hostile as long as you didn’t touch them. So he got the wasp lead. I followed cleanly and found the crux to be trying not to touch any of the wasps. ;)

Fortress, East Face

Climb: Valient Vetrans 11a Climber: Unknown

This gentleman chose this climb because of his allergy to wasps but found the crux to be rounding the lip where he found more of them.

Kyle placing a nut on Dad’s Army Strikes


Jason on Itchin to Climb


Jason and his wife finished up quickly and I racked up for Itchin to Climb. As I did I noticed that I was missing one of my link cams, but I brushed it off thinking that I had just left it in the truck.

Jason suggested I could just take a set of stoppers like he did, but being my first lead of the day and onsight I chose to take a little more than that.

Me on Itchin to Climb


This was Kyle’s first and last attempt to take pictures while belaying this trip. (It’s hard! Gri Gri would be ideal!)

I sent the climb and found it quite enjoyable. Jason told us that he had just scrubbed it recently and took a bunch of loose rock out of the blocks in the middle of it.. I ran the loose looking stuff out anyways because it was easy.

After Kyle took it down we had a little snack, then packed quickly and rushed off to the Prow. On the way we passed the bathroom, so I stopped to relieve myself and wondered…

Skaha self composting toilet


Did Anders help build this? :)

We made it to the Prow and pulled up at the bottom of Slow Pitch.

Slow Pitch initial corner


First thing Kyle says when he gets a look at it is, “That looks hard.” I thought “I didn’t come here cause it was easy!”

This crack is a beauty jammer with a sick initial roof crux which is very sustained and provides little rest. The 35m of climbing contains at least 4 cruxes but sucks up gear and is better experienced in spring or fall to avoid being dive bombed by white-throated swifts.

I grovelled up the initial corner with a couple hangs at the first crux before the roof, but managed the rest of the pitch in decent style. Kyle got to the belay after a bit of cursing at a nut that I had bailed on at the bottom.

We managed a quick change over at the belay as the sun went down over the horizon and it chased Kyle as he started up the next pitch. It got very cold in my t-shirt very fast while standing at the best belay ledge at Skaha. I shook and jumped around to try and generate some warmth.

Slow Pitch P1


Kyle sent his pitch quickly, but it seemed like forever to me. He took up the slack and got me on belay, and I was instantly warm as soon as I started climbing. I cleaned quickly and climbed smoothly.

When I reached the belay we both agreed that the first pitch was much harder than the second. It was comparable to the Split Pillar grading but not as pumpy. We chilled for a bit in Bomb alley on the walk off, and then quickly packed up our gear and made our way to the truck as it got dark.

When we got back to the truck I ripped the entire contents out onto the parking lot asphalt and tore apart our climbing bags. Kyle had also realized he was missing his #2 BD cam and I was determined that they were in the truck, but they were nowhere to be found. Rampant speculation on where they had gone was plentiful from this point onward.

It was our last night in town and we hadn’t had a fire yet, so we decided to go to the Skaha Lake Beach where such things were still permitted. We roasted smokies for dinner and had a few libations.

Skaha Lake Beach


I didn’t have a tripod with me so Kyle’s cooler ended up taking the photo.
The next morning we packed up camp and went to Shades on Main for breakfast.

Shades is a Skaha roadtrip staple for us. Your typical greasy spoon, it is very popular with Penticton’s blue haired crowd. Unfortunately we forgot it was a Sunday and our food took forever.

We arrived at the upper parking lot about the crack of noon and decided to go to Grassy Glades. Halfway there we ran into our friends Andrew and MC from Whistler.

They were warming up at Elusive Edge, so we stopped and chatted for awhile. Andrew saw all our gear and asked us “You guys climbing Trad here?” We told him about our mission to tick some of the classics.

It seems like a lot of climbers come to Skaha for the sport routes, but the number of people with racks on their shoulders surprised me the couple of times I was there this summer, so maybe things are changing?

We met a Squamish local who asked about our gear and then proceeded to tell us about his Skaha crack experience. He said “Have you climbed Gang Bang? The gear on that one is sketchy. It probably wouldn’t even hold a fall.” I replied “Yes, I had a buddy hang dog on that one.. Gear seemed fine to me?”

When we got to Grassy Glades, Kyle said “You should lead this one then I’ll lead Fun Run at Great White.” I was happy with that deal and started racking up.

Grassy Glades, Grassy Glades 10a ** (Crack on Right)

Climb: Brilliant Pebbles 10c *** Climber: Unknown

I redpointed Grassy and Kyle tr’d it clean. As he was taking it down I took some shots of the couple next to us climbing Brilliant Pebbles. I was impressed when this girl decided pull the rope and pink point the climb instead of tr.

Brilliant Pebbles, Grassy Glades


Stretched out on Brilliant Pebbles


Kyle was eager to get on Fun Run so we packed up and headed around the corner. The Great White Wall is the opposite side of the formation that Grassy Glades is on.

Fun Run 10a **, Great White Wall


I was glad Kyle wanted to lead Fun Run because the last time I was on it my buddy Dave bailed after he got sketched out and couldn’t get any gear in. He had to run around quite a ways to get on top to retrieve our gear. I knew Kyle would get through it no problem.

Fun Run, Great White Wall

Climb: Fun Run 10a ** Climber: Kyle

Photo Rest


Sending


He sent it of course, with ease and I lowered him to the ground. After I cleaned it we went around the corner to Gang Bang.

Gang Bang 10c ***, Great White Wall


This one was my lead and I got about ten feet up, got pumped and barely got a piece of gear in before I called take! I realized that I could send this corner but It wouldn’t be pretty and decided Kyle had a much better chance of leading it in better style.

Plus I wanted to get a few pictures of it.

Kyle halfway up Gang Bang

Climb: Gang Bang 10c *** Climber: Kyle

Right before the whip


Chalking up


He almost got the red-point but tried to rush through the crux.

Great White Wall summit sunset


When we got down we were packing up and I realized that I was also missing one of my aliens! We realized that the last place we had seen them was Red Tail when we did Pink Toe-Nails. We decided that we had better at least go check.

When we got to Dead Hawk Rake there was a couple coming down. They said the had done “Right Cheek”. They asked what we were up to and I told them about our missing cams. They said “Oh, the anchor” “The Anchor?” I said? Then suddenly it dawned on me…

THE ANCHOR!!! I ran up to the base and saw my link cam, alien and Kyle’s camalot set-up exactly where I had left them… The Anchor!

Thanks to all that left our gear in-situ!

On the way home I stopped to take this picture of the amazing harvest moon.


Hope you enjoyed the eye candy!
Mike Cowper


  Trip Report Views: 4,600
Big Mike
About the Author
Big Mike is a trad climber from BC, who enjoys the odd sport route also.

Comments
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Comment on this Trip Report
Wormly81

Trad climber
  Oct 27, 2011 - 06:33am PT
Thanks for sharing. Love it when people share pictures of beautiful cracks at places I havn't yet visited. Cheers!
Marlow

Sport climber
OSLO
  Oct 27, 2011 - 06:41am PT
Thanks for sharing. There is something very attractive about cracks et diedres.
Studly

Trad climber
WA
  Oct 27, 2011 - 10:35am PT
So that is Skaha, I've only heard good things about it. Cool.
Tami

Social climber
Canada
  Oct 27, 2011 - 01:29pm PT
Fabulous TR Mike. Great shots, nice ones of the not-climbin' stuff too. OH, and I had that sickness too !!! Took a week to get rid of and I've had some post-viral crap too. Look after yrself !!
Mighty Hiker

climber
Vancouver, B.C.
  Oct 28, 2011 - 12:33am PT
Oh oh - my potty fetish is revealed. I have lots of Access Society potty photos.

When the Access Society - that is, volunteers mostly from Penticton, with AS money - built the composting toilet in 2000, we got a positive response. One person even wrote and asked that we stock it with reading material, as it was so pleasant sitting there. Nick, Sean, Sheilagh, Howie and friends had the clever idea of storing the cedar chips that provide fibre for the composter under the shelf around the "throne", so providing a pleasant aroma for users.

Now if it weren't for the morons who throw non-composting stuff in the toilet...
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Oct 27, 2011 - 02:27pm PT
Awesome, glad you found your gear.
Say YES to crack....:)
Thanks!
sac

Trad climber
Sun Coast B.C.
  Oct 27, 2011 - 03:33pm PT
Ah thanks for the report!!

Stokes the 'memberables for me... SloPitch!!.. my good buddy and I did that... back in time... took us... awhile! Great adventure! P1 was my first real committing leading experiences I remember... I think.

Anyway, Thanks for the B.C. Stoke!!

A. Durie
MH2

climber
  Oct 27, 2011 - 04:25pm PT
Good climbs, good pictures, nice local details and a lost gear crisis that worked out ok.
Skaha Bluffs has given a lot of people good times and it is great to hear and see such fresh news out of there.
mike m

Trad climber
black hills
  Oct 27, 2011 - 04:39pm PT
Another great thread Mike. Wanted to make it there when I went to Banff about a decade ago but ran out of time.
Seamstress

Trad climber
Yacolt, WA
  Oct 27, 2011 - 04:39pm PT
Itchin to climb it!
MikeL

Social climber
Seattle, WA
  Oct 27, 2011 - 04:53pm PT
Love everything about BC. God's country.

Also amazing province for mountain biking.

TFPU
Relic

Social climber
Weenie
  Oct 27, 2011 - 06:54pm PT
Damn, I wish I could have gone! Looked super fun!
thekidcormier

Gym climber
squamish, b.c.
  Oct 27, 2011 - 08:25pm PT
Nice one coop-A-loop, hella descriptive, no wonder it took two weeks to write!
Big Mike

Trad climber
BC
Author's Reply  Oct 27, 2011 - 08:31pm PT
Thanks guys and gals.. Good to know the effort is appreciated.

Tami- I know, a week is about right.. You are right about the post-viral as well. I'm still dealing with that I think. Need to get more rest, I've been burning the candle and both ends with work and trying to get this thing done. 40 images take awhile to edit!

Anders- So you did help! :) hahahaha.. I was joking based on a comment that Tami had made about you building alot of potties.

Relic- Would have been nice to have you.. Party of three just usually means I have lots of good opportunities to take hanging pictures!
Mighty Hiker

climber
Vancouver, B.C.
  Oct 28, 2011 - 12:36am PT
Composting toilet, under construction - spring 2000.
Composting toilet, under construction - spring 2000.
Credit: Mighty Hiker

Flying toilet - spring 2000. <br/>
Not something you see every day.
Flying toilet - spring 2000.
Not something you see every day.
Credit: Mighty Hiker

Toilets are fine way to show others that you're looking after an area, especially if you maintain them, plus do some trail work. Almost like claim posts, and sort of a preventive facelift. IIRC, the Access Society built or paid for building 12 or 13 while I was involved. Five (?) at Skaha, four at Squamish, one at Cheakamus, two at Crest Crags.

Maybe we should have built one on Wings of Steel, but that was before the AS was invented.

Another time we can talk about the creation of what is now Skaha Bluffs Provincial Park, and all the work and fundraising that led up to it. Someone said that it was the single largest purchase of land for climbing in North America, based on the dollars. Though wildlife habitat was a bigger factor in the fundraising. A big success.
Big Mike

Trad climber
BC
Author's Reply  Oct 27, 2011 - 11:51pm PT
Anders- Nice work! I'm sure I have enjoyed many of those facilities

Dammit you beat me to the wos joke!
Zander

climber
  Oct 28, 2011 - 12:06am PT
Nice TR, Thanks.
Nice thread.
Zander
Big Mike

Trad climber
BC
Author's Reply  Nov 4, 2011 - 12:08pm PT
A couple more Skaha pics

The Wave


Eryily Hanging Out
Big Mike

Trad climber
BC
Author's Reply  Mar 1, 2012 - 12:50pm PT
Was jonesing for some Skaha crack today so I thought I would satiate my urges with a couple old photos..
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
  Mar 1, 2012 - 12:54pm PT
Wonderful....Skaha by fair means- well done.
Big Mike

Trad climber
BC
Author's Reply  Mar 1, 2012 - 12:57pm PT
Thanks Jim. Still many more cracks to tackle this season!!
Mighty Hiker

climber
Vancouver, B.C.
  Mar 1, 2012 - 01:15pm PT
Skaha became protected, if not officially a provincial park, in about 2008, after a lot of work by a lot of people, including the Access Society. It was the single largest (in dollars) purchase of land to protect climbing access in North America to that date - the total, IIRC, was about C$5.25 million. Much of it provided by governments, wildlife and environmental organizations, as the area is important mountain sheep habitat, but a lot raised by the Access Society and climbers.

Climbing-specific donors, in addition to innumerable climbers and the Access Society, included Mountain Equipment Co-op, Arc'Teryx, Black Diamond, The Edge Climbing Centre, Cliffhanger (Vancouver and Coquitlam), Skaha Rock Adventures, and several sections of the Alpine Club of Canada. (Working from memory, so my apologies if anyone got left out.) IIRC, climbers and climbing-related businesses contributed 15 - 20% of the total.

The general donors included The Land Conservancy of B.C., the B.C. Ministry of Environment, the Nature Conservancy of Canada, the Government of Canada Natural Areas Conservation Program, the Habitat Conservation Trust Fund, the B.C. Trust for Public Lands, the B.C. Ministry of Transportation Environmental Enhancement Fund, the Nature Trust of British Columbia, the former owner under Environment Canada's Ecological Gifts Program, the Guide Outfitters Association of British Columbia, the Wild Sheep Society of British Columbia, the Foundation for North American Wild Sheep - Wyoming Chapter.
AP

Trad climber
Calgary
  Mar 1, 2012 - 02:47pm PT
Thanks for the pics. For the uninformed there is a lot more than climbing out there. Lake sports, road& mtn biking, great fruit and produce, plus Squamish is 3 1/2 hours away.
I should be retiring out there within 3 years and can't wait.
dfinnecy

Social climber
'stralia
  Mar 1, 2012 - 04:55pm PT
Skaha looks like a very fun place, hopefully i'll ge tto visit one day
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
  Mar 1, 2012 - 05:07pm PT
Nice stuff. That first 5.9 crack looks super sweet!
Dirka

Trad climber
Hustle City
  Mar 1, 2012 - 09:08pm PT
Nice
Silver

Gym climber
  Mar 1, 2012 - 09:22pm PT
Big Mike I have actually climbed here and on a few of the climbs look familiar but not the cracks.

I visited here in 93 or 94 the same time they have the ironman event.

What a great place to climb and visit. Penticton and I believe its Kaloona are the fun places. which ones the town between the tow lakes?

great TR thanks for bringing back some great memories for me.

Its the Central valley of Canada this area. You grow just about everything we do here in the central valley there plus huge ginger farms I remember.

Good Stuff thanks
neebee

Social climber
calif/texas
  Mar 1, 2012 - 10:27pm PT
hey there say, big mike.... wow, thanks for the nice share...

:)
bmacd

Trad climber
100% Canadian
  Mar 2, 2012 - 12:32am PT
Awesome Mike - I missed this first time around. I've done the route right of slow pitch while Dean H. shot video from above of me leading it, twas hard as being 11d is about my limit at that time.

And of course I should for the record state the circumstances of the FA of Wing's of Desire on the Great White Wall. It was in the early pioneering days of Skaha and all the plums were being picked by a few lucky folks at the time. I made the trip out from Vangroovy on a weekend and hiked into the base of the Great White.

I arrive at the base and who of course should be rapping it with power drill in hand and bolting beside what appeared to be a perfectly good crack ? My friend Dean Hart of course. So I started yelling up to him "hey Dean Don't bolt the crack man ! Are you crazy ?" WTF !! Well of course nothing I said had any effect on him, and he probably slammed in a couple extra just to spite me ....

So down Dean comes to the ground and I ask him what the hell is he thinking ? Dean's explanation was that he wanted to be able to hike to this crag with just a rack of draws and his bong. No heavy gear loads, or nothing. Besides, the nature of the rock was kind of sketch compared to the grade "A" Squamish granite that we were used to, he further explained.

Okay so what am I to do now ? Not much really, the deeds been done and now the rope is out and we are both tied in and higher than a pair of weather balloons floating over Roswell.

So my bro heads up the steep white stone, and I belay, it's a major deal, but Dean does it clean first try. Dean brings me up to the belay (which is higher than the current top of the route now) without any falls either. We marvel at the athleticism required to summit the crag, and are fully convinced we had both just flashed mid 5.12 ....

Larry Ostrander climbed it the next day, and down graded it to 5.11 b



Years later Hugh Lenny slams in yet another bolt off of the deck, so his girlfriend can lead it.

Things got even worse, ethically speaking, thereafter ... until the term "Sport Climbing" was invented.
bit'er ol' guy

climber
the past
  Mar 1, 2012 - 10:57pm PT
Looks like a sandbag
micro_marc

Gym climber
Squamish
  Mar 1, 2012 - 11:13pm PT
Nice TR mike. Skaha is a great area, with lots of surprisingly good cracks. It's a bit of a shame that the best one in the park is bolted, but I guess it is what it is, still a great route either way. Last time I was there we hiked in with a rack of gear AND the bong, jeez its not 'that' far ;)
Big Mike

Trad climber
BC
Author's Reply  Mar 1, 2012 - 11:16pm PT
I found wings to be pretty rough for 11b. Not saying it's a total sandbag, but certainly at the upper end of the grade. Cool story bruce, thanks.

Wings has been done on gear but it isnt the same apparently.

Kinda like perry's eh?
bmacd

Trad climber
100% Canadian
  Mar 1, 2012 - 11:34pm PT
So for the record - I did not bolt Wings of Desire .... :-)

Dean also is the same person whom bolted the Black Dyke in Squamish .... fyi
Riley

Trad climber
Canada
  Mar 1, 2012 - 11:34pm PT
Great trip report, Mike! It was a fun read. :)


I've been curious for a while - are there many hard traditional lines at Skaha (like into the 12s and beyond)? Or is it mostly sport-tastic at that grade?
Big Mike

Trad climber
BC
Author's Reply  Mar 1, 2012 - 11:39pm PT
Marc- you could lead wings on gear and just skip the bolts, trotter style. Let me know if you wanna go this spring. I would love to come shoot a few pics.

Silver- Penticton is between okanagan lake and skaha lake. Kelowna was the one with the floating bridge that they recently replaced.
micro_marc

Gym climber
Squamish
  Mar 1, 2012 - 11:45pm PT
Did that when I was there last fall. Had a great couple days out there. Shortly after 'Wings' I belayed my friend Luke while he onsighted Air Test. It was awesome to watch!

The main difference with 'Wings' on gear is it eats up all your offsets AND your draws, instead of just your draws. Sure is a beautiful rock-climb.
bmacd

Trad climber
100% Canadian
  Mar 2, 2012 - 12:46am PT
I had my first Sasquatch encounter at Skaha, at the base of the Bottom Line in the Grand Canyon. Absolutely terrifying. Dean H. also heard a Sasquatch walk around his tent one night when he camped up at the Euphorium for a week on his famous "Heli-Bolting" trip
Big Mike

Trad climber
BC
Author's Reply  May 2, 2012 - 04:28am PT
Ok Bruce can't believe I didn't ask you this before.. Heli Bolting trip??

Went back to Skaha with my girlfriend and some friends last weekend

On the first day we did a couple routes on the fortress (more pics later) and then headed up to Red Tail.

Py got on Black Widow 5.8


He styled it. We did a few other things and I led Basic Black with another rope on my back to go set up for this next photo.

Heather on Basic Black 10a


I also wanted to get some top down pictures of Dave on Black Widow


Dave sizing up his next piece


Clipping the gear


Run out the top!
Big Mike

Trad climber
BC
Author's Reply  May 2, 2012 - 04:30am PT
The last photo took me 6 hours to edit.
Zander

climber
  May 2, 2012 - 09:48am PT
I noticed that last photo was particularly bad to the bone!

Even some of the others are good. Woo hoo!
Bruce Kay

Gym climber
BC
  May 2, 2012 - 09:52am PT
Nice Mike. I am just sitting here debating wether to do the drive but its actually just as wet there as here!

Anyway - I'd like to echo BMCD's sentiment regarding Wings. I also stood below it in awe, before the bolts. Next thing you know its a sport climb.

Its an awesome sport climb I can tell you that. It always high on the list of things to do when I visit.

Having said that, Awesome sport climbs are a dime a dozen in Skaha. The great white has both awesome sport and gear routes. I really think the locals should consider RETRO STRIPPING that thing of all or at least most of the bolts. That would make it a Brilliant gear route that is as perfectly protectable as Cling Peaches at Lake Louise - one of the best gear routes on the planet.

Unfortunately, I doubt the locals will consider it as they hate carrying and placing gear and they've never even been to Lake louise (except PA).

I'd like to hear what Howie thinks about it.
Big Mike

Trad climber
BC
Author's Reply  Jun 28, 2012 - 02:55am PT
I dunno Bruce, he recently allowed pink toenails, and excellent mixed fa of his to be retro bolted. Shame.

I just noticed Riley's question from before, it doesn't look like there are alot of established hard cracks there, but there is certainly potential. Some good stuff up till 5.12 though.

Couple more pics from my spring trip,

Heather on Basic Black 10a


Py starts up Double Exposure 5.9



Py switches cracks


Getting doubly exposed
Big Mike

Trad climber
BC
Author's Reply  Jun 29, 2012 - 03:36am PT
Stemming hard on Double Exposure
gf

climber
  Jun 29, 2012 - 11:34am PT
Interesting comments upthread by Bruce Kay re retro-stripping. I'm not sure I fully agree though. Yes, there is some decent crack climbing at Skaha as this thread shows well, and yes, one Hamish Fraser did an onsight lead of wings using only gear around 91.
I do think it bears noting that skaha is on a fault line; large portions of the rock RE friable and plated. For example in the mid-section of wings which would be unlikely to tolerate a lot of falling on it. Thats climbing though and if it was a new route it would be up to the FA to make that call. I am not so sure about how this would play on on a retro-removal which then begs the question-to what end?
To some extent this is a micro version of CT and something that I alluded to when introducing the two fellows involved in that round of retro-stripping at a slide show in Vancouver. Just like perrys layback it may seem fine and good to some to yard the bolts but one needs to think clearly about where actions like this start and end.
Mighty Hiker

climber
Vancouver, B.C.
  Jun 29, 2012 - 12:09pm PT
It speaks for the weather we've been having that people will be going to Skaha for the Dominion Day weekend. Midsummer.

There's a new guidebook out for Skaha, too. Well worth getting.
Big Mike

Trad climber
BC
Author's Reply  Jul 4, 2012 - 11:46am PT
You got it Anders. Penticton will be busy but we'll find somewhere to camp. Even if it is a backroad somewhere. Come on out!
Big Mike

Trad climber
BC
Author's Reply  Jul 4, 2012 - 11:52am PT
Working on my new TR at the moment. Here is a shot from last trip.

Heather going through the roof on Basic Black 10a
Vulch

Trad climber
Whistler BC
  Jul 4, 2012 - 04:16pm PT
Ha ha look at my face! Love it! Thanks Mike.
Big Mike

Trad climber
BC
Author's Reply  Jul 9, 2012 - 09:10pm PT
Thanks Riley, I hope you get a chance to check it out sometime. If you need a partner when you're in the area lemme know i might be able to work something out.

As to the other Riley, sounds like someone's looking for some harder cracks to visit :)
Bruce Kay

Gym climber
BC
  Jul 9, 2012 - 10:56pm PT
I am not so sure about how this would play on on a retro-removal which then begs the question-to what end?


Yar Greg - Note that I suggest that the locals "think about it' in that they are the best likely custodians and that its worth thinking about. I mean what self respecting climber wouldn't at least think about it and if you're going to think about it why not talk about it? Its a freakin bolted crack for crying out loud.

Incidentally, the junky plates half way up have been yanked off some time in the past few years - but point well taken, which is why i suggested maybe most but not all bolts ought to be yanked. If it was up to me i'd leave in the last one for instance as the gear opportunities disappear somewhat just about when the last remnants of your strength is blown completely!

I don't think either retro stripping or inserting needs to be precedent setting. Every climb is unique and ought to be considered so. Perry's Lieback, or more recently the offwidth on Polaris are justified as bolted due to the odious demand for multiple wide cams for one lousy pitch way out of context with the dozen others which if required would trim the number of suitors down to a trickle. No need for some dogmatic unyielding ethics to screw up some smoking good climbing well within the realm of the majority.


However if by some chance some spectacular new clean anchor system made those bolts superfluous I'd say out they come. Why not? Historical precedent? Ta hell with that. In the case of Wings if ever a total bolt job was justified due to its stratospheric difficulty or tricky gear those days are done and more to the point such uniquely beautiful and doable purely natural lines are not a dime a dozen. If it was all or mostly gear it would bump up the difficulty only a notch but improve the aesthetics a ton.

In that case the analogy with Cerro Torre is bang on. The aesthetic (spiritual?) improvement is huge, It won't elevate the difficulty into the realm of the elite, and considering how they don't make climbs like that every day i'd say its a good idea. A bolt in a key spot or two may be in order but.... a total clip up?

But I won't hold my breath. If there's anything a Skaha local can't stand it's carrying a rack.
gf

climber
  Jul 10, 2012 - 12:56am PT
Oh i dunno, certain hardware implements are quite favoured by many a skaha local....but i'm not going there.
Big Mike

Trad climber
BC
Author's Reply  Jul 10, 2012 - 10:30am PT
I am starting to understand that more traffic is definitly not always better. With the case of wings, I always see many flailing seconds polishing the rock. It has become quite smooth now by Skaha standards. If it were not a sport route, this would not be the case.

gf- I feel like people are going fishing when I see them with their big poles. But hey, I'm the 6'7 genetic mutant with a huge rack on his shoulder so I'm kinda out of place too.

Josh on Feotus Face 11c


*WARNING* *WARNING*

Mixed climbs like this one are going out of style at Skaha also. Sport pressures are building and mixed routes are going extinct. Barley has retro bolted a few of his old mixed lines. I climbed a really nice 5.9 on the tippling tower that he put up, with bolts next to perfectly good placements. Right across the talus field from where he hammered flat a hanger on a 5.6 he deemed "Unethical" ;)

I also mentioned that Howie agreed to retro-bolting Pink Toenails. I am not sure of any others, but it seems to be a disturbing trend.
hamish f

Social climber
squamish
  Jul 10, 2012 - 10:41am PT
Each to their own and I should mind my own bussiness and all the rest of that but, geeze, we're Canadian. It would be nice to maintain the reputation we deserve. Bolts beside perfect placements?
Big Mike

Trad climber
BC
Author's Reply  Jul 10, 2012 - 12:09pm PT
Hamish- The route is called "Mea Culpa".

Its happening here too! At murrin the other day someone was climbing a route next to me at lakeside and commented that a bolt had been added next to perfect placement.
Mighty Hiker

climber
Vancouver, B.C.
  Jul 10, 2012 - 12:12pm PT
Squandering one's heritage is a common human behaviour. It is especially common when the heritage is shared, leading to the tragedy of the commons, or lowest common denominator situation.
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