Trip Report
Woodson local goes to Squamish
Tuesday December 10, 2013 2:13pm
Boardwalk p: Doug Tomczik
Boardwalk p: Doug Tomczik
Credit: Doug Tomczik

I originally posted this on my blog http://www.dougtomczik.com/#!Squamish-Trip-Report/c9b3/1; hope you like it.

This past August I lived with my friends Greg, Mark, and Lauren in Squamish, British Columbia. Since first window shopping seemingly perfect splitters on Mountain Project, Squamish sat firmly on my list of places to visit. Although my memory now parallels SuperTopo tales of bullet granite and scenic views, an apparent lack of cliffs initially surprised me. Temperate rain forests with little visible rock contradicted the Yosemite Valley model of ubiquitous walls. However, a cursory glance through the Squamish Select Guidebook quickly dismissed my skepticism.

Arriving with a perceived route climbing fitness from Mesa Rim Climbing and Fitness Center, I gravitated towards the ~10 pitch Chief routes. Among others, The Grand Wall, Freeway, and University Wall topped my list of must-do routes. For my first lap up The Chief I teamed up with Luke, a Bay Area friend and former San Diego resident, to enjoy the incredibly varied and heartily sustained climbing of Freeway (5.11c). Frequently compared to The North Face of the Rostrum in terms of length and overall difficulty, Freeway felt less burly, but techier than its Yosemite counterpart. I enjoyed climbing with Luke, but his short visit ensured that I would need to find other partners. Characteristic of most areas, finding the right partner proved cruxy. Greg, a beast with extraordinary will power lay grounded with an elbow injury. Mark, psyched and honed after three months of road tripping, sublexed his shoulder on the University Wall. Confident that two skinny white boys from California would make a good team, my friend Ben put me in contact with Eric, a Bay Area artist with a history of quietly crushing.

For our first climb together, Eric and I opted for likely the most classic climb in the Squamish area – The Grand Wall (5.11a A0 or 5.13a). Following a plumb line up the center of The Chief, we found the impressiveness of the line equally matched by the casualness of the route. Bolted belays and scenic views of the Howe Sound create an atmosphere of blissful position. As neither Eric nor I had previously attempted The Grand Wall, we decided to climb the three free variations which avoid the bolt ladders used by the first ascentionists. In an impressive and inspiring effort, Eric came heartbreakingly close to the (possibly never achieved?) onsight. After sending the brutally pumpy underclinging of the first crux pitch, the Underfling, he fell on the second crux while stepping onto the belay ledge. After lowering back to the belay, he pulled the rope, retraced the sequential foot traversing and crystal crimping, and sent. After climbing a couple more pitches, we walked off The Chief at Bellygood Ledge and contemplated our next outing.

Reading in a guidebook that The Opal (5.13a) “might be considered the best face climbing on earth” I easily lured Eric with his appetite for thin face. In addition to cobwebs, we discovered a combination of burly crack climbing, contrived down climbing, and very dirty face climbing. Unbeknownst to us, the elegant black streaks running down the cover of Alpinist are rich with microbial life. Arriving at the top of the crux pitch, sunshine replaced the comfort of shade and illuminated the now green-brown wall above us. We happily rapped at the thought of running the rope in a sea of moss. On the ground, we hid our disappointment as curious parties eagerly greeted us and asked about our experience on one of Squamish’s gems.

Aware of The University Wall’s (5.12a) notorious reputation for physical, bizarre, and brilliant climbing, I scribbled the wall of the way honed at the end of my list thereby saving it for the end of my trip when I felt dialed and confident in my ability. However, after three weeks of gorgeous conditions, it poured. Hope for climbing dwindled with each day as I found myself attempting to make deals with the weather. With The University Wall’s reputation for staying wet after precipitation, I shifted sights for a chance to redpoint Zombie Roof (5.13a). Unwilling to negotiate, the clouds continued to dump. For my final offer in the bartering game, I proposed a day of bouldering. Unfortunately, we could not arrive at a deal. With technical climbing impractical, Greg and I fished for salmon. I went mountain biking with friends through lush forests. I ate sushi and contemplated the beauty of it all.

In retrospect, I am grateful for the privilege to dedicate myself with an almost singular focus to rock climbing for the month. The intoxicating hone which developed has now receded to potential as I shift my focus to other pursuits. Looking back with a smile, my world feels a little bigger now. My friend, Connell, reminds me that to exit is to enter. Departing Vancouver to San Diego, it seems impossible to know which way the door swivels.

The Grand Wall climbs the unbroken face of The Chief in the left cente...
The Grand Wall climbs the unbroken face of The Chief in the left center of the photo. Freeway follows a large dihedral system on the far right. p: Connell Ford
Credit: Connell Ford
Doug seconding the Underfling on The Free Grand. p: Eric Bissell
Doug seconding the Underfling on The Free Grand. p: Eric Bissell
Credit: Eric Bissell
Eric belaying while Doug follows the traverse pitch on The Free Grand ...
Eric belaying while Doug follows the traverse pitch on The Free Grand Wall. p: Adrian MacNair
Credit: Adrian MacNair
Eric on the first ascent of Kodama at the Grand Wall Boulders. p: Jenn...
Eric on the first ascent of Kodama at the Grand Wall Boulders. p: Jennifer Szeto
Credit: Jennifer Szeto
Rosie palming for friction on The Great Arch. p: Doug Tomczik
Rosie palming for friction on The Great Arch. p: Doug Tomczik
Credit: Doug Tomczik
Summer 2013 Alpinist cover depicting Rich Wheater's 1998 photograph of...
Summer 2013 Alpinist cover depicting Rich Wheater's 1998 photograph of Andrew Boyd and Sig Isaac on The Opal.
Credit: Alpinist
Doug standing on edges on The Opal. p: Eric Bissell
Doug standing on edges on The Opal. p: Eric Bissell
Credit: Eric Bissell
Squamish viewed from Third Peak. p: Doug Tomczik
Squamish viewed from Third Peak. p: Doug Tomczik
Credit: Doug Tomczik




  Trip Report Views: 1,163
Doug Tomczik
About the Author
www.dougtomczik.com

Comments
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The Call Of K2 Lou

Mountain climber
North Shore, BC
  Dec 10, 2013 - 02:46pm PT
Awesome story! I got a kick out your moss experiences. It grows on you eventually. TFPU.

MH2

climber
  Dec 10, 2013 - 03:49pm PT
"O wad some Pow'r the giftie gie us..."



Thanks.
GDavis

Social climber
SOL CAL
  Dec 10, 2013 - 03:57pm PT
Sweeeeeet! Thanks for sharing!
Big Mike

Trad climber
BC
  Dec 10, 2013 - 04:05pm PT
Great Tr. Thanks. Sorry to hear the opal was rather mossy. It doesn't see as much traffic as it deserves to i guess.
RyanD

climber
Squamish
  Dec 10, 2013 - 04:21pm PT
Good trip man & some proud climbs!!



U poor Cali climbers always get turned around by a little foliage :-)


Is kodama the face right of agoraphobia? Looks rad, how hard did it end up being? Any other ascents?


Btw minus the first few feet uwall actually stays pretty dry for the first few pitches since its sheltered & in a corner. Something to note for next time.


Thanks!!

moacman

Trad climber
Montuckyian Via Canada Eh!
  Dec 10, 2013 - 04:22pm PT
Good job and thanx for sharing............

Stevo
David D.

Trad climber
California
  Dec 10, 2013 - 05:56pm PT
Beautiful TR, thanks for putting up!
eeyonkee

Trad climber
Golden, CO
  Dec 10, 2013 - 06:02pm PT
Thanks for carrying on the fine tradition of Woodson locals doing Squamish.
Jim Brennan

Trad climber
Canada
  Dec 10, 2013 - 06:24pm PT
Are those brand new La Sportiva Megas Doug's wearing on the Opal ?
Jim Brennan

Trad climber
Canada
  Dec 10, 2013 - 11:42pm PT
ß Î Ø T Ç H

Boulder climber
extraordinaire
  Dec 11, 2013 - 12:35am PT
Crunchy content (headed directly to C_Mac's newsletter glory). Genuflect, and dip some holy water.
KP Ariza

climber
SCC
  Dec 11, 2013 - 02:55am PT
Get 'em Doug!

Keep chewin' up the vertical real estate buddy!
gf

climber
  Dec 11, 2013 - 05:05am PT
Great effort by your friend Eric on the free-grand pitch! Regarding the weather and tick lists -in squish its' always a bit of an error to take it for granite...
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
  Dec 11, 2013 - 09:29am PT
Wow! Great story, great climbing!
cultureshock

Trad climber
Mountain View
  Dec 11, 2013 - 05:31pm PT
Bump for Doug! I was super psyched to rope up with him on Freeway.

So much fun stuff to do in Squamish!!!!

 Luke
Doug Tomczik

climber
Bishop
Author's Reply  Dec 11, 2013 - 06:09pm PT
Thank you all for your comments!

Kodama climbs the backside of the bulb boulder and, to my knowledge, has only seen one ascent. Your results may vary, but if I had to suggest a grade, I would speculate somewhere in the 5.12/V11 range.

Psyched you got on Firefly, Burch3y. What a classic!!

Nice catch Jim, I indeed wore a pair of Megas on The Opal! I have a few pairs and love them for thin faces.

henny

Social climber
The Past
  Dec 11, 2013 - 06:11pm PT
Megas? Thin face? Hello?

Think of what you could do if you were to wear a real shoe...

Sorry Doug, I couldn't resist.

Nice trip report.
Mungeclimber

Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
  Dec 12, 2013 - 12:32am PT
Enjoyable
RyanD

climber
Squamish
  Dec 12, 2013 - 12:53am PT
That's cool Doug, I'm gonna check that thing out. Although the grade of 5.12/ V11(5.14b?) is a little disconcerting :-)


Nice line.
Doug Tomczik

climber
Bishop
Author's Reply  Dec 13, 2013 - 02:25pm PT
Cool, Ryan! Would love to hear how it goes!

With regard to the Megas, I guess the chicken's out of the cage as they say, Darrell.
Chief

climber
The NW edge of The Hudson Bay
  Dec 13, 2013 - 03:12pm PT
Nice work!

PB
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Dec 14, 2013 - 08:47am PT
Cool!
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