Keen to complete an aid route, I set my sights on the easiest line around, a 3 pitch Grade III route on the tantalus wall named Wrist Twister. The climb works its way up some bottoming cracks with some bolt and bat hole ladders and weights in at a modest A2+.
So I set out solo with all the gear I own aside from a few of my larger camming devices and started working my way up the fixed lines of south south gulley of the chief. This was exciting, monkeying up ropes with a really heavy pack with my harness inconveniently stowed away. Two thirds of the way up the gulley I became aware that a mistake would shitspiral in a very unpleasant tumble a few hundred meters back down the gulley.
Once up this section the 4th class becomes steeper and works its way up and left out of the gulley. I had already decided to do a short haul here to avoid lugging my gear up the steep ropes on my back. So up I go with just a rope and my mediocre haul system and fix the rope and toss it, then back down to set up the haul then back up to haul. By the time I get the pig up to the base I'm already pretty tired of the double the work aspect of soloing, but keen to start the route I flaked ropes and racked gear.
Once at the top, after fixing the lead line and setting up a very basic haul system, I abseiled the pitch collecting the gear. Back on the ground I made sure the pig was ready to fly, and ghetto jumared my way back to top of the pitch and hauled.
The energy expended on this push was surely enough to have topped out, had I had partner to do half the work, stoked on the days highpoint I stashed my gear in the haul bag and headed down for the day.
On route down I decided to take the Tantalus wall trail, rather then the camp ground trail I had used for approach. On my casual stroll down, much to my surprise, I realized I wasn't the only person climbing the chief that day! There was some body else aid soloing, he was on cannabis wall, so I stop to say hello. We get chatting and he mentions he had intentions of getting on WT, but saw me on it and proceeded on to the 2nd easiest wall around. So I let him know he's welcome to join me to finish the line and he reluctantly accepted. We agreed to meet at 8am, at the TOP of the fixed lines for some reason, and I continued on my walk through the forest. Mid way through my stroll the rain starts to fly by the time I reach the parking lot its a full on rain storm...
The next morning I hastily packed the little gear I brought down and headed to the chief hoping I would meet Doug in the parking lot so we could agree how silly of an idea it was to head up in the rain storm. Much to my dismay Dougs car was there but no Doug. So I bound by my word I start hiking in and find doug at the top of the fixed lines and we start jugging up my rope in the rain.
Stoked for P2
I offer Doug P2 and he politely declines, so I rack up gradually and rather uneventfully work my way up pitch 2 when I finally clip the chains I am soaked to the bone, I holler down at Doug to see if he was keen to lead the next pitch and he shivered out a "no thank you".
Stoked that I dont have to sit in the rain for another few hours belaying. I Fix a rope and retreated for shelter.
The next day Doug and I return and he once again politely declines my offer for him to lead and up I go, slow and steady, gradually developing a bit of rhythm.
A final section of exciting bat holes leads to the top and Doug cleans while I haul. Both of us stoked as can be to have completed our first 'wall' we start our descent, with a bit of a route finding miscalculation we find our self descending some less then comfortable fixed lines through the bulletheads.
Once down my wonderful girlfriend rewarded us with coffees!
About the Author thekidcormier is a trad climber from squamish, b.c, he is especially fond of his trusty tricams. When not free climbing or working he can be found aid climbing or playing in the mountains somewhere. He spends his evenings preparing gourmet dishes, talking trash on the cyber web and updating his blog http://thekidcormier.blogspot.com/ - Check it out.
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Good heavens! Looks like you wanted to maximize the experience, over three days. No need to be too miserable, eh? We used to do it on drizzly winter days, too, as there's not much free climbing.
Add: I'm fairly sure that the first ascent took three or more days, although of course they had to place all the bolts on the first pitch. Brian and Paul would work for a day, come down and head for the bar, then back at it the next morning. Well established tactics for FAs in Squamish. Indeed, I wonder if anyone ever did an onsight groundup single push first ascent of a medium wall at Squamish?
Nice vid, we bailed when it rained us us, that last pitch was pouring like a garden hose, shooting water down my partners jacket sleeve, down his body, and out at the leg. Still haven't gone back to finish the final pitch so maybe we'll beat you by a few years for longest. ;-) Looks like fun.
Bk: the fixed heads all with stood the bounce test, but one poped on the 3rd pitch when Doug was preparing to jug...
I saved it as a mini trophy of my first "wall".
Jfailing: yes I tried out the cam pole mounted on my pack for pitch two and it worked out pretty well considering it was my first time trying that angle. Near the start of the edit there is a still shot of my pole mount camera set up.
I hate watching an entire edit of the same angle be it skiing or biking or what ever, so I tried to get a little creative.
Well done, Kid. I'm glad people are still enjoying Wrist Twister. Anders had emailed me the link to your article and I responded to him:Thanks, Anders. I must give you a bit of history about this climb. I started out to do it solo. I remember hitching up to Squamish in March. I got a ride with Nancy Green, the Olympic ski champion. She was very interested in what I was trying to do which I thought spoke a lot of her humility. Anyways, I spent the night on the first pitch in a hammock. It didn't have spreader bars and on the low angle wall, it was very uncomfortable to say the least. Also, I didn't have any kind of sleeping pad so not only was I uncomfortable but I also nearly froze to death. I remember it being a long night. These things you never forget. I gave up my solo plan since I realized I really wanted to finish the climb in as good a style as possible ie as few bolts as possible. My first partner was Dick Culbert who I finished the first pitch with. Some time lapsed then I went back with Hugh Burton. He led the first pitch and took multiple falls on a hook placement I had made with Dick. He eventually had to chip the hook placement bigger which kind of pissed me off. I next went up with Paul and he did a masterful job of leading the second pitch - lots of tipped in pins. I remember thinking when I was belaying him, "If he zippers this, he'll land right in my lap." I think that was one of the scariest belays I've done. The third pitch was a collaboration since there were a lot of bat hooks. Most of it was done in the dark without headlamps. I think we topped out at about midnight. The descent was pretty horrendous since we didn't know the way. We're lucky we didn't get killed. One of the nicest things I remember about the climb is Jim Sinclair waiting for us at the bottom with a couple of cold ones. We needed that...
In those days, we never considered an onsight groundup single push first ascent of a medium wall at Squamish. Going up the fixed ropes made it feel like we were doing something big and besides, it would have cut into our pub time. For us, that just wasn't an option.
Overly Hanging Out - a good route. Eric and I climbed the entire arch from left to right. To get to the bottom of the climb, we found an old railway tie and laid it above the water from the railroad right of way to a "ladder" bolted to the cliff. As usual, we started climbing at the crack of noon and were only able to climb the first pitch. We had been watching the tide come up and eventually our railroad tie floated away. From the top of the first pitch, Eric rappelled down over the huge overhang first. He was able to pendulum into the wall below the overhang and attach himself to the cliff about two feet above the water. He couldn't climb to the right or left to escape. When I rappelled, I remember stopping at the lip of the roof and looking down at Eric clinging to the wall and looking rather sheepish cause he couldn't move. I rappelled over the lip till my toes were an inch or so above the water. I had a lot of clothes on (it was late in the year and cold) plus a full rack and the rappel rope running through my brake. When I finally decided the only way out was to keep going down, I swam the 20 feet to the railroad right of way pretty damn quick. I tied off the rappel rope to the railroad track for Eric and he did a Tyrolean about 6 inches off the water. We ran down the railroad tracks to Eric's car and got the heater on before I was totally hypothermic. Another fine day of climbing at Squamish...