On monday morning Ryan showed up at my place with a rack of gear and a big smile and we discussed the plan for the day while I chugged back coffee. The day was looking to be a beauty with blue sky and a few puffy white clouds meandering about in the open air so we hopped in the truck and headed to the Squaw(the Chief's little sister)with stoke levels on high. A quick jaunt to the base and we were looking up at the spectacular black slabs and clean white headwalls as the multitudes of mosquitos milled about our heads. Ryan headed up the amazing 70+m of 5.fun finger and hand crack of Birds of Prey while I swatted and grabbed at the hungry little bastards trying to drink my blood.
A warm, wet winter had made for perfect mosquito growing weather and we were paying the price for all those wonderful winter climbing days we had enjoyed over the last 6 months. Eventually; as any west coaster knows, you forget about the blood suckers and I watched Ryan cruise upwards till the rope came tight and I scrambled for a bit to allow him to reach the belay. As I cleaned the pitch my phone began buzzing so I pulled it out and continued climbing with one hand while I chatted with our friend Kyle.
I reached the belay where a short steep hand crack begins and I jammed my way to the top where the guide book describes an "airy move" and indeed it was, stepping off the ledge at the top of the hand crack a quick smear and some crimps lead back left over the steep wall and provide an exciting bit of exposure before scrambling to the anchor.
Once Ryan had reached the belay we decided he would see how far he could get with our rope and then headed up the headwall.
Two parallel cracks split the left side and inspire interesting climbing that is not entirely straight forward but quite fun.
Ryan hiked it and the 70m rope allowed him to top-out and I ran up behind him to high five on the summit.
We ran down the hill back to the truck and quickly drove back to my house to grab my chalk bag and some more smokes and then drove back to the Mamquam logging road and parked at the entrance to the Angel's Crest trail. Our legs were a little tired but we made it to the base quickly and were surprised to see an ugly brown sign with white lettering bolted to the rock stating that this was in fact the Angel's Crest. We discussed the poor ethics of the sign and then walked up to the famous Tree that starts the route off. Ryan monkeyed his way up the tree limbs and traversed over to the base of Angel Crack.
I scrambled after him, grabbed the rack and headed up the beauty left trending finger crack I had been looking forward to climbing for so long.
Finger locks and good smears led me to a quick crux and the anchor and I pulled up rope till Ryan popped around the corner with the Squaw behind him and I told him to wait a second while I fumbled with my phone and took a photo.
The next pitch cruises up past two bolts and some fun flakes to a nice belay tree where we chatted about the next pitch.
Ryan had done this route a few times before so he figured I should climb through the next couple pitches with a bit of simuling to gain a good ledge. A short 10a section lay in the middle but we figured we would both be on belay with all the rope we had so I scrambled up a bulge and a corner before I reached the base of a steep section. I followed the steep corner up until it thinned out and began wondering why it felt so hard as I pulled hard on a sloppy thin finger pocket and stemmed and crimped my way out onto the face before looking down and realising the proper route was a clean white corner to my right. I had sandbagged myself with some awful rope drag by taking this variation so I built an anchor and brought Ryan up. He laughed as he climbed the dirty corner and then passed me and continued up to the ledge. When I reached the belay he mentioned I should bring my "nut-craft" for the next pitch so I danced up the fun jamming placing three bomber nuts along the way till I reached a ledge and wandered through the woods to a good tree where I belayed Ryan.
The next pitch gains yet another ledge where 2 minutes of walking leads to the "Acrophobe Towers". This pitch is one of the most easily identifiable features on the Chief and any climber who visits Squamish should check them out. Easy scrambling gains the ridge where one gets to balance beam along the top with a thousand feet of air below. The view was spectacular as I brought Ryan up and I wished he would climb slower so I could hang out a bit longer but soon he was beside me.
I climbed a full rope length through some interesting terrain to reach the "whale back" and despite placing no gear was met with brutal rope drag for the last hand crack. I had to find a stance, reef on the rope with both hands until I had a loop of slack, then chomp down on the rope with my teeth, then feed out slack by quickly opening and closing my mouth and then repeat this process every 10 feet. I reached the tree without much trouble(other then the rope drag) and Ryan passed me to set me up for the next pitch.
A good tip for teams looking to climb this section efficiently(Acrophobes-Whale Back) would be to tie in short and simul with only half a rope between you and your partner. The next pitch is a beautiful hand crack in a rad position. All of a sudden the exposure of the entire Sherif's Badge is under your butt and you have to pull through a short but steep bulge and then continue up the sustained and steep crack to a good ledge.
Some beautiful girls were doing a photo shoot on the 3rd summit and they asked if I was rock climbing and cheered when I shouted "hell ya!". I wooohoooed and the North Gully woooohoooed too and then Ryan woooohoooed and everyone was happy. Ryans pitch(and the last of the route) started with a belly crawl and a short chimney and then a rad scramble right to the summit.
We drank some water and ate a snickers and headed towards the trail.
We ran down the backside trail till we hit Olesen Creek where we stopped to rehydrate in the afternoon sun and enjoy some tobacco before cutting left and walking down to Shannon Falls. The trail up felt easy compared to the Squaw and Angel's Crest approaches and soon we were at the base of Skywalker (a new/old line that has quickly become a classic moderate route thanks to a hard working route developer).
We short roped and simuled up it in no time at all and then ran down the trail to our conveniently stashed bikes and snacks.
We swallowed some banana flavoured protein powder and ate some banana flavoured bananas before making our way up to the Papoose(the Chief's sister's younger brother). Too our surprise there was someone else out and about on this monday evening who was measuring the Papoose rap route. I traversed up and left on the first pitch of "Hairpin" and was surprised at how polished the rock was. The next pitch follows a right trending crack through some seriously smooth granite with small holes of grit to shove your toes in and then some jamming to a good belay ledge.
The clouds were orange by this time and we realized the crux of tbe day would be making it to the beer store in time so after I pulled through a small roof and traversed left, Ryan took us to the top with another rope stretching link up.
I called my roommate to see if he could run down the block to grab us some beer but there was no answer so we continued on. It was dark in the forest as we hiked back down to our bikes and the light was fading fast as we biked along the highway shoulder towards the Malemute.
We locked our bikes up and stashed the backpack before walking towards the old-trail that accesses the lower malemute(a new one has been established, unfortunately we were ignorant of it's existence). As we followed a faint path through the long grass we both raked our memories for clues of where it went but as the light faded so did the trail and soon we were scratching our heads in front of a wall of bushes. The route was hidden by green foliage but I figured it had to go this way so we followed the weakness through the sea of plants finding the trail with our feet and soon found ourselves back on recognisable terrain. We popped out of the woods and onto the train tracks and as we walked along we felt the cumulative miles in our feet and looked around at the moonlit rock and listened to the sloshing of the waves while a cool breeze blew across the tracks. Our tired feet brought us to the base of Old Style and we balanced across logs over a tidal pool to the base of the cliff. I split a cliffbar in half and we enjoyed dinner on our perch above the water.
I turned on our one headlamp and looked up at the rad looking corner and felt tired and intimidated by the steepness of the rock but i gave Ryan a nod and scrambled up to meet the wall. As I jammed and smeared into the corner my body relaxed and my mind snapped into focus and the climbing felt much easier then the walking had and I confidently climbed up placing only a few cams. I reached a good stance and was dipping into my chalk bag when my phone rang and knowing it could only be one person slipped it out of my pocket and answered it. Sure enough it was Woody and I asked if he wouldn't mind grabbing us some beer, he said no prob and Ryan woopee'd when I shouted down the good news. I ran up to the chains with new inspiration and then belayed Ryan up, looking down the whole time to light his way.
We couldn't figure out where to go next so Ryan decided to head left up a dirty ramp but after slinging a stump found a rad looking hand crack that lead to a roof which gained the best fingerlocks of the day just above(Cyder Crack).
Ryan cruised it and then cloved in with a bunch of slack to better light the way for me and I scrambled up to meet him. Each finger lock was a burst of pleasure and I savoured the awesomeness at each move.
Ryan noticed a hand shaped cloud reaching over the moon and we joked about how good of a hand hold the moon might be before he traversed left to the base of High Mountain Woody. I grabbed some gear and then grabbed the Woody and mantled onto the stump. The 45 meter pitch of stellar jamming took me to the top of the Malemute where I placed the #3 for the first and only time of the day in the last foot of crack before the top just so it wasn't a complete waste of energy carrying it everywhere and then lit up a smoke and brought Ryan up in the dark. When Ryan topped out we packed the gear up and walked out through another over-grown trail and back to the bikes.
Despite it being 12:30(15 hours after we started up the Squaw trail) we decided to go grab the beers and some cheeseburgers and run up the Smoke bluff Connection as a victory lap so we grabbed the bikes and crossed the highway. A black object was beside the highway barrier and I wondered what it was as I passed it. Ryan was wondering the same thing and as he lifted his bike over the barrier realised what it was. His bike seat had some how found itself 50 feet from where we locked the bike up and then he noticed his chain had been taken off and was hanging loose. We sorted out the bike and then road down the highway where just as we turned on to the logging road where the truck was parked we spotted a pair of dudes stumbling across the highway suspiciously so we yelled our thanks for f*#king with the bikes and they turned around before skulking back into the shadows. As we peddled along the dirt road I felt a drop of water on my face and began feeling cold for the first time that day and as we reached the truck the skies opened and the rain came falling down. As we drove towards McDonalds we passed the two midnight mischiefs who were now soggy with rain and wondered at the mysterious hand we had seen grab the moon earlier and the magic of karma and were content to go back to my house and stuff our faces with greasy burgers and cold beers and a big fat doobie.
After Ryan left I passed out cold on the couch and woke up at 1:30 the next afternoon and hadn't moved an inch.
This link-up was inspired by a recent trip to Yosemite, RyanD provided nutrition and smokes, Woody "the Legend" saved the day with the 6 cold ones waiting for us in the fridge and last but not least Fate for allowing this epic fun day to happen.
Cam Of The Day
We climbed 32 guidebook pitches of classic Squamish rock on 5 different formations over the course of 15 hours which made for one of the best days of climbing either of us have ever had. An added bonus was that Skywalker was the only route I had climbed before..
Go out and get some!!