We've all been having a pretty good time out in the backyard here lately & it's safe to say that Squamish climbing season is prime for the longer stuff right now. It's actually prime for everything! Bouldering, sport weenyisms & of course plugging gear into the monolith are all quite good to go. The weather has been great if you avoid the sun & the stone is dry as a bone! Yeaahooo!!! Brownie & i have been trying to do multipitch mondays lately & seeing as i'm usually off & he is always off it works out well, we had a great adventure Kieran wrote about here a few mondays ago & were psyched again to have another case of the mondays.
We wanted to up the difficulty & angle this monday & had been itching to go do a climb on the north walls of the Chief as neither of us had ever ventured up to the somewhat via this wall. Since we are still a little too lite to do the "rite of passage" Alaska highway to access Astro ledge we decided to check out New Life, a fairly new route put up a few years ago by some local beasts. It features 4/5 pitches of steep physical climbing with a little bit of everything. Our plan was to then head up to astro ledge & do another newer 5 pitch line called Parallel Passages which finishes on the Zodiac summit of the Chief. We have been getting psyched about this one for some time now & it felt great to wake up & know we were heading up there for a good challenge on new terrain.
The first pitch has some nice facey, vertical corner climbing up to a ledge where u traverse left to another left facing corner. Brownie styled us up this one, carrying most of the gear all the way up to the belay with him. A Fine pitch indeed that ends on a fine ledge, the first of many excellent belay stances we were about to find ourselves on.
The next pitch was going to be the crux of the day & it was my time to grab the sharp end & get tested. It climbs an amazing, steep, white, left facing corner system up towards some huge roofs.
It starts with good locks & high smeary feet for about 50' until you get into a weird chimney where you can depump a bit before extricating yourself via hard moves until you're standing on a slab. I royally f*#ked up here as i chilled forever & was feeling pretty damn good. I pulled up around the corner & fired in a baby blue camalot to protect the move.
I then committed to the move, which involves getting your feet super high & yarding yourself out of the slot & up around the corner with a big reach(pretty sure my beta was wack here). I managed to grunt out the move then looked down in horror to see that i had Z clipped myself when i placed the high piece & pulled rope from my waist!! Idiot!! I downclimbed a bit & tried for a bit to reach down & unclip the bottom cam but eventually failed & had to grab the camalot & figure out the mess. I pulled back on the smeary ramp & did a few moves up to to this wild roof feature that you have to do some burly traversing out left under. I placed a cam & hung for a minute to recover from my mini epic & gave it a go.
Unusual moves led me out to where i ended up reaching blindly around the corner off a little slot, pawing at useless slopers & nothingness. I tried to get myself a little taller & popped around the corner to what i thought may be a hold, but wasn't, then i was in the air. When i got back up i found a way to transfer a little more weight & fully max reach to a jug & a few steep moves & a lunge for a sawed off Squamish tufa & i was at the belay! Yay jugs!
Brownie did great & was able to style this pitch on TR with some funky gumbie beta including an alleged head jam @ the final reach! Very cool. I did manage to screw him a bit as he had to clip into a cam to remove the piece i fell on, sorry bud!!
Next up brownie took us up a overhanging groove with a steep handy fist crack that rattled a few times & was quite physical. Champion he is, Kieran linked it with the next short traverse crux pitch which turned out to be not too bad compared with the first crux pitch, some delicate moves with bolts & a few more reaches. One more fun pitch up an arete & cracks took us to the woods where we proceeded to haul our asses up a bunch of boat ropes & old mank to the north end of zodiac ledge.
We chilled for a bit once we got to the ledge & sussed the plan, by brownie being the trooper that he is & linking pitches he ended up turning the leads around. Well, the course of action that his previous decisions terminated upon landed him in front of this.
Well, when we heard about a 5 pitch,5.10 route with a small A0 or 12a slab bolt ladder up the north walls we both found out later that the other was expecting this low angle hike up a grotty weakness to the summit. Not 40m vertical 2-9" white granite splitters stacked up for 3 pitches straight! WOW!
*hey does anyone know what route climbs the overhanging golden finger crack just up and left of the first main corner in the above pic?? Is it Ron Zalko?*
So Brownie casts off up the 4" splitter in another left facing corner.
At one point he gets himself into some cruxy flare & has to do a bunch of wiggling, since our only #4 was well below him the ever resourceful Brownie used the questionable tactic of tying a draw into a clove hitch for pro with his teeth & a fixed line that was hanging near the route, presumably for cleaning or ushba'ing. After that he navigates the short bolt ladder & a fine steep fingery flake. I cruised up via a few face moves i uncovered on my free ride & managed to avoid the thrutchfest, or so i thought.
When i got to the ledge i looked up at this gradually steepening ramp which lead into a vertical 20M OW to Squeeze chimney corner. It looked like a mini pipeline for weenies like us. I got the sharp end for this one & it was a fun, challenging lead. Luckily, in true Squamish fashion, the wide has a few bolts on it about 20' apart, the first one about 20' up off the ramp. It actually turned out to be not too bad due to lots of footholds & secure jams. This led to my favorite part of the day which was settling in On this wonderful diving board ledge which had just the best view, sunshine, & a nice cool rock i could use as a backrest. Just an incredible place to reflect.
I gave Kieran a loungey belay & thought about what different things we were going through at that exact moment as he scraped up the wide in a pair of shorts & i softened my gaze & floated in the small, puffy cumulus clouds that danced around the summit of Atwell peak across the way while sprawling across this awesome perch. When he got there we kicked it for awhile, again thinking we were thru the business & thinking things would ease off, it kind of looked like it would from where we were sitting at least.
Eventually Brownie walked over to the start of the next pitch which is another 4" splitter crack which overhangs a few degrees & slowly tapers in to continuous hand sizes for about 45M, never getting less than vertical for almost the entire way. I guess it's not over??
This pitch was magnificent, way harder & more sustained than you think it's gonna be & a proud onsight by Kieran. Relentless for the grade i thought it was much tougher than Quagmire with multiple cruxes, strenuous jamming & a great exposed position.
He stretched the rope & managed to climb up through some wonderful stairs & gardening the developers did to another massive vegetated ledge.
I took us up through some interesting terrain with a few steep sections before i ended up inside the mountain in this neat cave that is about 60' high & a green camalot splitter that runs straight up into a chockstone riddled ceiling. I looked down at my one red & one green i had left and said uh uh. It didn't occur to me to stem for some reason so instead i went up a blocky unprotectable corner & found my self up stemming wide on some chockstones about 50' up & right next to the splitter. I managed to reach way out over the void i hadn't protected & managed to fandangle some gear in before pulling into the crack for a second & manteling up on a cool chockstone with a nice belay & view. Brownie figured out to stem across & climb straight up the splitter with what looked like very minimal difficulty.
Kieran then grabbed the sharpie & stormed up the final pitch which was also probably the easiest pitch of the day & the first at a lesser angle, we were cool with that. A few tricky moves up some fingers & a little back & foot took us to the woods where we happily took our shoes off.
After a summit J & high fives we decided to stagger down by taking the main trail down then hanging a Louie under Cirque of uncrackables over towards the squaw before dropping down to the barley trail below Pox wall which rapidly descends to the logging road & car. It was a pretty long day at 12hrs car to car. We then grabbed eh and dubs & beer & had a good session in my backyard till about 2am. We were so psyched on the route & it was probably one of the best i have done at Squamish. Big thanks to the developers for having a keen eye & bloodying their knuckles. This thing is classic & needs traffic, if the grand wall is easy go get on it!!
Can't wait until next monday.