Tuesday, 6 August 2013

In praise of my home...

I've lived in Squamish for almost five years now. Long enough that it feels like home. The other day as I was sifting through some of the silly photos I've taken so far this summer, and I realized, again, that I love it here.

The most obvious reason why might be that giant slab of rock, the Stawamus Chief, that guards the entrance to town. But at closer look, it's ultimately not the climbing, it's the community. I love the people here. They are my stand-in family, since my real family is many, many kilometres away in Ontario.

Squamish is a VERY social town. Perhaps it's the west coast spirit that runs strong here. But, a typical weekend in Squamish doesn't start until you've roused at a leisurely hour, enjoyed coffee with your friends, and then, only then, are plans hatched for the day. The end of the climbing day is always followed by more socializing. Usually in the company of whoever you ran into at the crag that day. And, as the sun finally sets behind the mountains beyond the Squamish River, good-byes are said and everyone returns home to prepare for another day of much the same thing.

Colin celebrating Canada Day with some acrobatics. Of course, that's Lena "Amazon woman" Rowat holding him up! Lena's photo.
Jacqui, who is 8 months pregnant I might add, partaking in some acrobatics too!! Lena's photo.

Now aren't those some happy climbers? A coffee stop enroute to The Big Show at Chek.

Yes, these boys just pulled down a dead tree. With their bare hands!!!!

The crew on Memorial Ledge to watch the Canada Day fireworks from up high. Those are the lights of Squamish in the distance, and far below.

The party is just getting started here as night falls. 

We're at Resurrection AGAIN! This time Natalia, Jamie, and Kelly came along for the fun.  I think Jamie was dancing to the loud Euro techno blaring out of his iPhone at this point.

Maybe I moved away from Toronto before the industrious, and efficient easterner's mentality hit me, but I really like the way we do things here. After Colin and I spent the month of May in Canmore, AB, I realized just how laid back we are in Squamish.

Climbers in Canmore get a lot done. 6:00 am rendezvous are planned weeks in advance, and no one is ever late. Approaches are gruelling, and at the end of a Rockies climbing day, no one really wants to hang around and socialize, mostly you want to go home and nurse your wounds in preparation for tomorrow's epic haul. Everybody's climbing 5.13, or M11, nabbing first solo ascents of sketchy Rockies alpine routes -- the climbers in Canmore are bad to the bone for sure.

In stark comparison, here in Squamish we don't know what we're going to climb until 10:00 am that same day. Folks will climb a long hard free route on the Chief, and the next day while away the hours picking blackberries down by the Spit.

Despite the slow pace of life, people get shit done here too. Some of the strongest climbers I know call this little coastal backwater town home. And so, without further delay here's a recap of some of our adventures thus far...

1) Shrubbery management day in the boulders (AKA too tired to boulder, might as well get up to some shenanigans).

Gord doing some moss management on one of the topouts at The Farm. Good work Gord!
These boys were getting really into the whole, pulling-a-dead-tree-down thing.  Here they work out their systems before really going for it. The tree in question was dead, and standing precariously close to the Resurrection boulder. It's much safer now that it's gone! The proof lies in the video linked below...
video

Well done boys! You are so manly, and macho. My knees tremble at the thought. 

2) Celebrating Canada Day by watching the fireworks in Squamish from atop of the Apron, on Memorial Ledge. 
We started climbing the Apron at 8:00 pm. By the time we reached Memorial Ledge, the party was already well underway. Apparently, we were not the only ones with this idea! The ledge was full of friends, good music, candles, and food. How fun!

Colin, Davey, Regan, and I atop Memorial Ledge. 

And Steve joined us too for his first Canada Day celebration in Squamish.

3) Lots of bouldering...

Kelly "I Like Sit-Starts" Franz styling Prime Time Sit Down.

Captain Safety doing the same.

4) And more bouldering. This time, late into the evening with the SLC Petzl crew, and powered by about six Petzl headlamps.

It sure does look like a night club dance floor!?

Kelly on The Big Chicken.

Me, trying to send my first V10, The Big Chicken. Still haven't done it. 

5) Yes, more bouldering still. And sending a summer project -- the V9 classic highball, Resurrection. It was a great crew -- Jamie, Natalia, and Kelly all joined. Jamie had already sent, but he offered to come out with all of his pads, his awesome wife Natalia, and their happy doggies, Oscar and Fergus. Jamie proceeded to lap Resurrection ten times -- I think that might be a record folks! Natalia, dispensed some most lucrative beta, and Kelly and I flailed around for a bit before I sent -- twice that night -- and Kelly got a little bit closer to sending. It'll go Kelly, don't worry!


What on earth is going on here?

Me, sticking the crux move on Resurrection.

Oooo, getting higher. The topout is maybe  4 metres off the ground. Thank goodness the ground was  as  flat as  a  white sand beach, and we had 8 giant crash pads and 3 spotters! 

Jamie on, maybe, lap 5?

Thankfully someone has done a community service and permanently equipped Resurrection with a brush on a long stick.  Necessary, since most of the cruxy holds are too high to brush when you're standing on your toes. Here Jamie demonstrates good hold brushing technique. 

The crew...

Kelly.

Jamie.

That's a tall problem.

Kelly.

6) Despite the lack of photographic evidence, there has been some route climbing too. We've mostly been at Chek Canyon working our 5.13 sport project. Colin is getting much further on it than I am! Or, cragging at the Long House, my new favourite wall in Squamish -- mostly because it's an enchanted forest filled with little pixies. 

Here, Paul takes advantage of a very obvious rest mid-way up some epic  30 m 5.11? at the Long House.

Colin sending Shapeshifter, pretty much the coolest crack I've ever seen in Squamish. I still have yet to send this burly little number. But, I keep going back!

7) And, one adventurous day out on the Chief with photographer Chris Christie.  The plan was to climb and shoot the 5.12 epic pitch on the Lower Black Dyke. In the guidebook, this pitch called for 25 draws! How's that for epic? Chris got some great shots...

Colin climbing. Chris' photo.

Colin again. I made him go first! Chris' photo.

Yours truly. It sure was radical to be climbing steep sporty moves 400 m above the ground! Chris' photo.

Take a look at those forearms! Chris' photo.

Chris grabbed a few shots of me belaying Colin as the  first rays of sun hit the face of the Chief. Chris' photo.