Squamish Season

Thought I’d do a little update on my climbing. Been going up to Squamish quite a bit lately. Mid-August my friend and fellow Mad Rock athlete, Kevin, came up to get the Squamish tour. For anyone who hasn’t bouldered in Squamish before, it can be a very humbling experience. There aren’t many holds and the climbing is very intricate and subtle. What I mean by that is even the slightest shift in your body position turns an impossible boulder into an easy one. It definitely takes some getting used to. So far I’ve been up to Squamish 4 times since moving to Seattle, and I think I’ve finally paid my dues and am getting used to the finicky style.

With Kevin we were up in Squamish for four days of climbing. It was probably my most productive trip to date. The first day I quickly ticked Breakfast at Tiffany’s (V7). I’d half-heartedly tried it last trip and  knew it’d go down easy. I believe I did it first try of the day. Next we headed to the Titanic area and I tried Mantra (V8) for the first time. I previously was a little intimidated by it as there’s a tree in the fall zone and it’s a little tall for me (It’s not really that tall by most standards but I’m a bit of a baby…). For some reason I felt it was time to get out of my comfort zone and Mantra was the problem to do it on. I even took a little digger from the top on my 3rd or 4th go and was still undeterred. After one or two more tries I was at the top! I’m so glad I, for whatever reason, decided to try that problem because I can honestly say it’s the best damn thing I’ve ever climbed!

The next day we went to the Animal Magnetism area. I’d previously tried King Swing a V7 that starts on the same holds as Mindbender (V7) but goes right instead of straight up. So instead of wasting more time on King Swing I figured I’d try Mindbender. At first I didn’t even understand how to pull on but luckily my friend David, the Squamish wizard, was there with a quick tip. With his help I did it second go! Feeling pretty strong for second day on I want to try something harder. I’d been eyeing King Kong (V9/10) for a while and was psyched to give it a burn. It basically consists of a few right hand bumps then a really trick lip encounter. I quickly put together the bottom section then quickly got shut down on the lip crux. It was pretty frustrating that I couldn’t even figure out how to do it but I’m still psyched to keep trying to figure it out! After that we finished the day at Titanic so Kevin could run through a bunch of classics, one being Timeless (V5). I was done for the day but after Kevin finished it he kept telling me how good it was and that I had to do it. It definitely earns it’s name; really fun movement, comfortable holds, definitely a timeless line. Oh and I flashed it so that was a little bonus :).

The third day I took a rest day and we went to the Farm so David could try his project The Reckoning (V10). After warming up on some easier lines, he finished by quickly dispatching another of my projects Big Chicken (V9/10). After some rest he got to work on The Reckoning. On his first go he got to the last move but didn’t have the proper heel hook and bailed. He was so close!! After that he just couldn’t quite piece it all together again, then he ran out of time and had to head back to Seattle. Kevin and I moved on to a nearby boulder so he could do another classic called Space Monkey (V5). Once he did that I goofed around on a line to the right called Space Robbers (v6). Space Robbers is supposed to follow an arc of crimps but I noticed a big jug out right so I just dynoed straight to it (while only wearing one climbing shoe). Felt like maybe V4 that way and was way more fun than how I assume Space Robbers is supposed to climb.

The fourth and final day was time to clean up. We went back to Titanic and I did a bunch of new warm ups which was cool and day flashed the Mantis (V4) which usually takes me a couple tries. Conditions were perfect and I was feeling great; I knew it was going to be a good day. I did Mr. Bigglesworth after taking quite a while to figure out beta that worked. The old guidebook gives it a V6 and the new one gives it a V8. Definitely felt harder than the other 7’s I did that trip so I’d side with the new guide book. After that I was planning on trying to finish up King Kong but we were right next to a problem I’ve been wanting to try for a really long time, Sesame Street (V9), so we moved there instead. I’ve watched videos of this problem so many times and I had the sequence down cold. I pulled on for the very first time and cruised all the way to the last move: a huge slam dunk to a massive jug shelf. I got a little too excited about almost flashing a V9 for the first time and wildly flung for the jug, pulling in a little too close to the wall and smashing my chin. So. Damn. Close. After that it kind of fell apart. I kept dropping the heel, dry firing of the holds, etc. but after too many attempts I finally slammed the jug and topped my first V9 in the magical forest. Probably the best way to finish one of the best climbing trips I’ve ever taken. If you haven’t seen them already check out the two videos I made. Part 1. Part 2.

Last week I went back up to Squamish with another friend Matt who just moved here for grad school. The first day we got there and the forest was completely soaked. Really not the way I wanted to introduce him to the area. We checked a few other areas and they too were all wet. We decided to move to the Apron since it’s in the sun and I knew it’d be dry. I haven’t really climbed there before so didn’t know where anything was. We eventually went to Shots Fired! (V4) which is supposed to be in the top 100. I thought it was kind of a dump; 3 stars max. Maybe I did it wrong or something, I don’t know. After that I figured I’d try King Kong again. What a mistake. I don’t know if it was the humidity or that all I’d done that day was a V4 and wasn’t warmed up but I was struggling with the bottom section really bad, not to mention the actual crux that I couldn’t even figure out last time. Although I couldn’t physically do it I think I did figure out some beta so I guess it wasn’t a total loss. That night we camped just north of The Chief and by the next day the forest was dry! After being defeated the day before I decided to just take it easy and do some laps on a bunch of easier problems. I repeated Easy in an Easy Chair (V4) a few times and it definitely was the slimiest it’s ever felt. Some other guy came through and said the same thing so I know it wasn’t just me! After that I kind of just wandered around looking for projects in the area. David had talked about wanting to try Encore Une Fois (V11) so I went and looked at that. Wow, what a dream problem. I doubt I’ll ever actually do it but I sure would like to try it some day. I also looked at the Stinger Low (V10) which looks pretty doable! It’s an overhanging compression problem which I’m usually pretty decent at. Hopefully I’ll get to give that a go next time! Right before we had to head back to Seattle, I tried Autobody (V8) a little bit. It took a while to figure out the sequence (typical in Squamish) but once I did I pieced it together up to this right hand blocky triangle pinch and got stuck. Not having a clue how to move past that and the pinch being a little painful I gave up so we could head home. Guess I’m adding one more thing to my list of unsent boulders in Squamish…

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