By Paulina Varshavskaya
Squamish. I’d heard of this place. Something about 1,000-ft tall granite walls on something called The Chief. Something about endless Pacific rain. Something about the hardest crack climb in the world evah.
And then you took me there. For which, many thanks.
Thanks to Dawn’s tireless organizing, spreadsheet editing and general cat herding over the past month or so, thirteen cats made it to the Paradise valley campground last weekend: Dawn Chapel, Traisa Skarbo, Nancy Kim, Anne Tarver, Heather Mirczak, Laurel Fan, Leah Kim, Adrianne Hersrud, Michelle Sexton, Suzie Day, Sonja Bring, Chris Gan, and Paulina Varshavskaya. In the mornings — which ranged from sixish for the crazy morning chickens to crack o’noon for the ladies of leisure — we gathered under Traisa and Dawn’s
unmistakable canopy for breakfast. In the evenings, we sat around the expertly stoked campfire and sang to Michelle’s sweet chords…
What am I talking about? This was a climbing trip. Things were climbed on this trip, beautiful granite formations, lovely cracks, scary smeary faces, and pumpy traversing overhangs.
The cats were not thwarted by the rain, or only long enough to have some alternative fun on Friday morning. Some hiked to the top of the Chief, others went on a pilgrimage to Cobra Crack 5.14, and the smartest of all didn’t arrive in Squamish until Friday night.
Ah but we climbed all three days. Friday afternoon saw us at Burgers and Fries in Smoke Bluffs, where Leah “passed” (in her own words) her first mock lead with flying colors, Dawn pushed her limits on lead despite the on and off drizzle, and Anne waltzed up a friction slab in the rain, after biting her tongue as a pair of unknown a-holes did toprope laps through rap rings.
Saturday we congregated in the Neat and Cool area. Among the highlights of the day, Laurel led Neat and Cool 5.10 twice with gumption and grace, despite taking a fall the first time and pulling pro. Sonja went the hard way while leading Cornflakes, making it a solid 5.7+. And Paulina and Suzie entertained the crowds with their extraordinary communication skills.
Unfortunately, we all had to go home on Sunday, the most beautiful day of the weekend. Before hitting the road, Traisa and Dawn climbed the 5.8 crack on Bog Wall. Laurel led Team Weakling (Leah and Paulina) up St Vitus Dance 5.9 on the Apron — a great varied route once it starts properly after the first two “adventure” pitches up the dirty and wet vertical jungle. Nancy, Anne and Heather climbed Stephanie’s Tears 5.9 at Upper Malamute after finding 13,000 people on Skywalker and another 13,000 people queuing. Last I heard, Adrianne opted for hiking to the top of the Chief, and Suzie and Michelle went sport-climbing. What were Sonja and Chris up to? The public needs to know.
In conclusion, I’d like to point out that the annual Squamish trip was an excellent time enjoyed by excellent gals all around. That many thanks are due to the organizer, the drivers, the rope guns, the guitar player, the singers, the water boilers, the fire stokers, and everybody who came to hang out and climb. And that my new Squamish Select guidebook only has a few tick marks in it now, so we should do it again soon.