Tag Archives: squamish

Skywalker TR: Squamish, BC

The phone rang on Sunday afternoon. It was Anne Tarver, calling to ask how my week was looking.

“I have to work. Trying to squeeze in a client before this other job starts,” I said.

“Have you seen the forecast? It’s supposed to hit the 70s this week. We could go to Squamish and climb Skywalker,” responded Anne, a self-described leisure consultant, ignoring my talk of work.

She was referring to the 5.8 multi-pitch line, near Shannon Falls, put up by Jeremy Frimer in 2011. We tried to climb Skywalker that year, but news and topos spread quickly on the Internet and several parties beat our lazy asses to the start. Put off by the wait, we aborted. For Anne, a crack connoisseur, visions of climbing Skywalker never ceased.

The invitation was attractive, but I paused. One must have a mind devoid of winter to dwell on up instead of down. The resident devil on my shoulder whispered tantalizing things about granite cracks, sunny belay perches and handsome coastal views. I turned to the angel and the angel said unto me: “Fuck work. Go climb.” Devil on both shoulders, clearly.

We left Wednesday morning sometime before 10am. The little Honda Civic was stuffed. Anne, the maximalist, appeared to be moving to Canada. Just when I thought we had reached capacity, she squeezed Rummikub behind the driver’s seat.

It was 2pm when we pulled into the Shannon Falls parking lot. The plan was to climb Klahanie Crack and perhaps something else before setting up camp at Paradise Valley further north. Skywalker was on Thursday’s agenda. Not surprisingly, there was a party on Klahanie, so Anne suggested we take a peek at Skywalker. We had spied climbers on the scenic traverse before we entered the forest trail. By a stroke of luck, not a single party was waiting. It was close to 3pm. The opportunity took us by surprise and now we had to decide whether warming up on a multi-pitch was a good idea. Both of us were coming off the couch. There was a rap station in case of retreat, Anne noted. I stuffed a headlamp into my Bermudas, clipped a jacket to my harness, slung the El Cap rack over my shoulders and tied in.

I puzzled a bit over how to start. The finger-sized fissure, notoriously rheumy and lachrymose, offered only wet jamming. I took the dry option of face, eventually moving into the crack. The line continued right, a traverse protected by two bolts, to a debris-filled crack leading to the belay. Anne led pitch two, the so-called Flume, a left-facing corner crack. Again, the challenge of getting into the corner without getting wet presented itself. Anne drew on gymnastic opposition to avoid wet rock and moved steadily upward. The lead swung back to me for pitch three over a few stumps to a ramp, then to a crack with a cruxy move before the belay. Embarking on the penultimate pitch, Anne smiled as she romped across the low-angle slab traverse in a very considerate, second-friendly manner, lacing the underling. The finish was short work, easy slab protected by several bolts.

We topped out a little before 7pm, an ascent time of just under four hours, leaving us an ample ration of light for a headlamp-free descent. We took the recommended side trip to Shannon Pools and ogled the raging flows until the spray chilled us to the bone. Later in the season, these pools might make a welcome apr├Ęs-climb swimming hole.

The warm, sunny weather held on Thursday. After an unhurried morning at camp–breakfast and coffee and a one-looney shower–we made our way over to the Chief. We schlepped our heavy climbing packs up to South Peak and and rapped down to Raven’s Castle, perched on the nose of the Chief. The climbing there is more about the setting than the climbing–we witnessed multiple paragliders hurling themselves off the summit towards Howe Sound just as we finished the dogleg line, Talking Crack.

Our last day, Friday, brought rain, but not until we climbed at the car park crags at Smoke Bluffs. The thirty-second approach bore stark contrast to the quad-busting staircase up to South Peak. What’s more, the view of the Smoke Bluffs’ parking lot was a gob-smacker. (Though High Mountain Woody is on my tick list, I figured given the dodgy weather, it was not the day to climb at the more atmospheric Malamute.) Happy to belay, Anne bundled up in layers. I gave her my Nano Puff which she improvised as leggings. Happy to take the sharp end, I led the 5.9 finger crack, Cold Comfort. We rapped down, coiled the rope and felt the first drops of liquid sunshine as the weather window snapped shut.

The spontaneous crack holiday merely reinforced my love of the curtailed work week and weakened my immunity to sun flu. Thanks a lot, Anne.

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Annual Squamish Trip 2011

By Paulina Varshavskaya

The Chief from Burgers and Fries

The Chief from Burgers and Fries, by Laurel Fan

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…

Breakfast under the canopy

Camp Kitchen, by Laurel Fan

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.

Dawn and Traisa on top of the Chief

Dawn and Traisa on top of the Chief, from Dawn's camera

Nancy, Paulina and Leah in the rain

This is what it's all about! by Laurel Fan

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.

Leah (mock) leading Dusty Eyes 5.4 at Burgers and Fries

Leah (mock) leading Dusty Eyes 5.4 at Burgers and Fries, by Laurel Fan

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.

Sonja leading Cornflakes 5.7 at Neat and Cool

Sonja leading Cornflakes 5.7 at Neat and Cool, by Laurel Fan

Laurel leading Neat and Cool 5.10

Laurel leading Neat and Cool 5.10, by Dawn Chapel

The whole gang at Neat and Cool

The whole gang (minus Laurel) at Neat and Cool, by Laurel Fan

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.

Laurel at an anchor on St Vitus Dance

Laurel at an anchor on St Vitus Dance 5.9

Paulina dancing on St Vitus Dance 5.9

Paulina dancing on St Vitus Dance 5.9, by Laurel Fan

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.

More pictures:

Leah topping out a vegetation pitch belayed by Laurel

Laurel belays Leah on a vegetation pitch, St Vitus Dance 5.9

Nancy and Anne sporting bright colors in camp

Nancy and Anne demo the latest in climbing fashion in camp, by Dawn Chapel

Suzie chilling on her pad

Suzie chilling at Neat and Cool, by Dawn Chapel

Michelle pulling a rope

Michelle pulling a rope at Neat and Cool, by Dawn Chapel

Adrianne at Neat and Cool

Adrianne at Neat and Cool, by Dawn Chapel

Laurel losing her mind as the planning committee considers the options

Laurel losing her mind as the planning committee considers the options, by Leah Kim?

Fall 2007 Newsletter

Clare has put together another newsletter, with photos and trip reports from the French Alps, the Ptarmigan Traverse, and Squamish.

Click here to download (PDF)

Squamish Trip

more pictures

A bunch of us went to Squamish for some climbing! This could be a trip report, but right now it’s just here as an example of the stuff we can post.