Zephyr; a gentle wind from the west.
Squamish is a place of absolute beauty. The Chief looms over the Howe Sound as the Mamquam Ice Fields and Girabaldi Mountain pierce the horizon. Calming winds through the evergreens are ever present. The dense forests host different environments; humid, mossy, quiet…GREEN. Solitude is found on the rock, actually just take three deep breaths and you’l find it anywhere. The history of the Chief; intrusive igneous granite – slowly cooled plutons to be risen then sliced to perfection by Mother Natures Ice Age wrath. Coarse white boulders decorate the base of the Chief as the dome has exfoliated through the millions of years. The water streaks, intricate flake systems, and differing combinations of dark basalt among the rock face reminds me of Native American art… this is their land.
After celebrating a three year achievement of mine a few weeks ago a mentor of mine asked me what the Ultimate question in life was. I’ve been thinking about that question a lot now. Where do I belong in life? I guess that would simply be the question. The answer may lie on the wall, so the search is on.
Here are a few quotes that i recently read while in the local Squamish cafe. “There are no limits, there are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them” Bruce Lee. Climbing the Grand Wall on the Chief did not only challenge my physical fitness but my mental capacity. Fear was an obstacle, the voices inside my head sometimes told me otherwise but I just had to chalk up and keep moving…On the wall with so many hand foot matches you feel like you’re flying haha. Rosie and I split the climb evenly , although i did not on-sight lead “Perry’s Lieback” or “Apron Strings” I gave it my all. Wayne Gretzky said: you miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take. I am determined with patience to keep taking the shots.
Squamish is currently my idea of an Octopuses’ garden under the sea. This may be the case because Abbey Road is the only CD in my car – My Vehicle – Home. The adventurous path is home. The Tacoma, She is a savage woman. Her name is Lila, In Hindu this translates to the concept of the universe as a playground for the gods.
Taping up with Rosie:
Well we have done it all… almost, well, not even close. But it sure does seem like a lot and we aren’t even back in the US of A yet! We have been in Squamish for almost 2 weeks and that has not even been close to enough time to accomplish what we want. (i.e. anyone who wants to go up “The Shadow” with me in the next two days, I will be waiting).
Anyway, this place… is a hell of a place. Yesterday as I pulled my fatigued legs out of the “Split Pillar” on the Grand Wall the “I can’t tell you what I do, but I work for the government” grizzled, yet clean-cut manly man from the party in front of us looked down at me and said “you know, you two, you and that guy down there have it pretty good”. I was huffing and puffing to move out of the squeeze I had gotten myself into (there is an easier way to finish this pitch but as climbing always seems: when you have run out of gear, to get stuck in the rock is better than to fall off the rock). I looked up at him, then out at the glacial (or silted) teal water of the pacific ocean eased myself onto the ledge and said, “yeah, yeah we do”.
Connell and I have been “living the dream” out here, every climbers dream, the dirtbag dream, the pretend unemployed, graduated, goddamned American dream. As I slipped off the mantle on “Whirlwind” and grated my body down 20 feet of granite, I realized after I had settled in my harness–and burst into tears–this here is climbing for you–so raw. Not in the raw vegan, or raw meat sort of way, but in the raw emotion-skin peeling-vulnerable kind of way. Where even the manliest of men can yell down desperately to their partners “pull in the f***ing slack, Bill!” as their hairy, toned, meaty legs shake in physically manifested fear. And herein lies the beauty, we are all vulnerable human beings and any climber can slip and fall–instantly reduced to fear induced tears of anger, joy and raw emotion.
Anyway, below is a more comprehensive version of our story for those of you who like pictures and names, some of the climbs we sent, some we didn’t–all in all we conquered:
A photo synopsis of our Squamish trip thus far:
Day 1: Half day, The Chief Bouldering
Day 2: The Chief, (Rock on 5.10a, 5 pitches) to (Squamish Buttress 5.10c, 7 pitches)
Day 3: Smoke Bluffs, (Crime of the Century 5.11c, Penny Lane 5.9, Yorkshire Gripper 5.11b, Popeye and the Raven 5.10c)… Nightmare rock (Perspective 5.11a, Sentry Box 5.12a–in progress)
Day 4: The Apron (Whirlwind 5.10c with 5.11a variation, 7 pitches)
No pictures, just scars.
Day 5: Rest day – Vancouver visit
Day 6: Cheakamus Canyon sport climbing, (The Neutered Bovine 5.11c, The Mutation 5.11c, Mrs. Negative 5.12a, The Fleeing Heifer 5.12c-no send)
Day 7: Return to Cheakamus Canyon sport climbing, (Kigijiushi 5.10c, sent Mrs. Negative 5.12a, tried Face the Music 5.12a)…Smoke Bluffs, (Cat Crack 5.7, Flying Circus 5.10a, Neat and Cool 5.10a)
Day 8: Whistler, Crankworks!
Day 9: The Apron (White Lightning 5.10c, 7 pitches) Mountain Rescued injured climber! (Calculus Crack 5.10b variation, 6 pitches), Smoke Bluffs (Kangaroo Corner 5.11a)
Day 10: Seal Cove, (Sole Mate 5.10b) (Swept Away 5.9), Nightmare rock (Perspective 5.11a) (Claim Jumper 5.12a), Smoke Bluffs (Bilbo Baggins 5.8)
Day 11: The Grand Wall 5.11a A0, 8 pitches (via “Apron Strings” 5.10b, 2 pitches and “Mercy Me” 5.9, 2 pitches)
Rosie on-sighting “Crime of the Century” 11c finger crack and “Yorkshire Gripper” 11b finger crack