Saturday, July 23

Island Life

I'm not gonna lie; when we arrived in Squamish last week we were less than stoked. Grey skies, intermittent rain, wet crags, and little hope. I was stoked however, to check out the Squamish Mountain Festival - five days of clinics, slide-shows, events, and unfortunately, rain (this year at least). Regardless of the less than desirable conditions, festival go-ers made the best of it... events were sold out and well attended, clinics were packed, and smiles wide. I was impressed. Attendees remained psyched and so did I.
chocolate. always psyched.
We missed the photo shoot out on Thursday night, but were able to catch an evening with Nina Caprez and Cory Richards - both great presentations, but the highlight was 'Cold' an amazing short, dark film on Cory's first winter ascent of Gasherbrum 2. Excellent film. I also helped out with a photo clinic on Saturday with Rich Wheater - we got soaking but it was a killer day regardless! Marisa and I managed a couple pitches at Circus wall but climbing seemed doomed so we eagerly bailed to our next destination - Vancouver Island. I had been excited for a few years now to have a look at Horne Lake after seeing photos of tall drip stone and blue streaked cliffs.
morning view
the last view of my cookset, just hours before our campsite was robbed! NOT COOL.
From the time we boarded the ferry until the time we arrived on the Island the weather seemed to miraculously improve. This, in combination with the incredible scenery and the hillside of limestone crags was enough to prompt a serious mood improvement. The climbing features incredible drip stone - full on collenettes, tufas and texture - in addition to some more blocky terrain like you'd find at Rifle. The hard routes are essentially roofs - very steep, and basically all require knee-bars (many are entirely knee-bar dependent). It's not my style... at all. I knew from the get-go that it would offer a solid challenge.
My goal was the king line, 'A.D.A.T.O.' 14b (another day at the office) established by burlmaster Mike Doyle, this big route is dumb steep - overhanging way over 45 degrees it's entire length. I thought I'd benefit from warming up to the style a little, so I began on 'Driven' 14a/b, a stout boulder problem of a route out an intense roof. The movement was thuggy and explosive. I followed it up with a crag classic, 'Dinosaur Highway' 14a - a very cool line with varied movement, great rests and boulder problems... very Rifle-esque.
sometimes you gotta eat the baby with the bath water
A.D.A.T.O. takes the overhanging prow up the gut
My first two burns on A.D.A.T.O. were borderline pathetic... This type of climbing (or crawling) is super specific and I've typically avoided it in part because it's not my favorite, but also because I've never been able to see movement on this terrain in the same way I can otherwise. It's really difficult to think in 3D and utilize blocks and roofs to your advantage. Some climbers are incredible at this style (Joe Kinder, Justin Sjong, Sam Elias, Alex Honnold, Chris Weidner to name a few) but for most of us, climbing upside down is just downright wrong. Yesterday I returned with a renewed excitement for the route after being shut down on day one. I went through the route bolt by bolt, trying to find the most efficient sequences, and the most beneficial rests. I found my 'beta', but I doubted it's effectiveness, preying that someone who could spray me down would approach the crag. Scott Milton got stable hanging on a rope to shoot video at the top of the crag as I strapped in to give 'er another try. I took my time on rests, tried to climb skillfully and continued up the belly of the cave with zero expectation. Suddenly, I was right beneath Scotty and he was desperately unclipping to get out of my way. I hadn't even rehearsed the top because I had absolutely no intentions of getting there. Thankfully Scott was there to literally point out holds for me on my way to the chains. WHAT?! Seriously, I've had a few unexpected sends in my life, but this takes the cake, especially given that it's my complete anti-style. Super psyched! I finished the day exhausted, barely onsighting the cliff classic 'Jesus Save the Pushers' 13a.
We took a bitter cold plunge in Horne Lake last night, and grabbed the ferry back to the mainland this morning. We'll catch up on laundry, groceries and some socializing here in Squamish before we head eastward towards the Canadian Rockies!