Beer cans and pipe loads put me down early on saturday night and I woke up sometime around 7 in the morning sprawled over most of the couch in our living room. I crawled to the kettle and began boiling water for coffee, glancing outside I was not very surprised to find thick clouds skirting the rooftops as water poured over everything in site and the trees danced and drank their fill, and all the neighbour’s televisions flickered. Time had been set back an hour last night so I was feeling good and not wanting to waste a perfectly good day of my Life I texted Cormier to see what he thought about climbing Diedre.
The following is a transcript of the text messages;
Cormier: Right now?
Cormier: You’ll kill us all
Brownie: We can tie old jeans around our shoes, in theory it would work..
Cormier: Have you got the denim to donate?
Cormier: Well what are we waiting for. I’ll come pick you up.
Brownie: I’ll roll doobies
Rain gear, harness, nuts, old shoes, quickdraws, smokes, and a belay device and I was ready to go and jumping in the truck off to climb the apron. We decided to test the waters by simul-climbing Rambles, I took the lead and upon reaching the crack shouted to Cormier,
“Wooooohoo, there’s a fuckin’ river in this crack buddy!”
My shoes felt solid on the granite, the sheets of water cascading down the rock were no match for the sticky rubber soles on my feet and soon enough the Kid was running up the slabby start to Diedre. The rough weathered big crystaled granite had been fine up and till this point; but now, faced with a glacially polished slab move, and a potential pendulum, we realized things were still a bit sketchy. Cormier didn’t take long to find a variation that unfortunately lengthened the possible pendulum factor but more importantly minimized the foot slip potential. The Kid sent the pitch successfully and I followed up after taking the “proper” polished route to test my footwork a bit more.
The Kid Cormier stepping off the beaten path
I joined Cormier at the first belay and we enjoyed a little smoke while soaking in the eerie atmosphere we had found ourselves in. We had just climbed out of an ocean of fog and were now situated in a clear expanse between the low flying valley layer and the lighter clouds over our heads. Every time I looked back out behind me the mist was different; spots of ground came into view and vanished, tree tops poked through, tendrils reached up from the sea of gray below us caressing the apron and mountains disappeared entirely.
Browniephoto with his head in the clouds
We finished our safety meeting and I took over the lead, heading left onto the slabby traverse I managed to trust my feet enough to avoid the factor 2 fall. I clipped a quickdraw to the chains at the base of the corner system and then headed up the first pitch. On occasion and out of habit I found myself reaching behind my back and waving my arm around searching for my chalkbag but each time I would come up empty handed and remember that even if i had brought the chalk it would be about as much help as bringing a paperclip to a medieval joust. I managed the over lap and reached the anchors without a fuss and brought luke up after me, he grabbed the gear off me and took off up the next pitch. A third of the way up on a thin section of the corner he had some trouble and began to feel his foot getting pumped. I replied with a stout version of the Hokey Pokey and Luke put his left foot in, took his left foot out, put his left foot in and shook it all about. He did the Hokey Pokey, turned himself around, and that is what It is all about.
Luke doing the Hokey Pokey
When I reached the next belay and joined the Kid I was stoked to find a legitimate river/waterfall coming down the corner. Most people might not be pleased to find such a scene but this exact flow of water(if you can imagine it being bigger and more frozen) was ice climbed by two squamish OG’s Peter Croft and Tami Knight back in the day. So, inspired by this tidbit of climbing history I began tip toeing my way up from the belay. The rock is polished here; and so far, this nasty glassy stuff was the biggest sketch factor of climbing in the rain, oh and moss too. So with moss on my left and polish on my right I walked my feet up the river until I could stretch out and grab the corner, stuffing my fingers in the security of the crack. I stuck a cam in, clipped it and watched the water rush over it so the only thing I could see was a carabiner flapping around in the current. I made progress by feeling out the finger locks hidden behind the falls and resting my left foot in the corner while my right foot pasted on the slimy footholds and soon I was soaked; but to my amazement, my shoes kept sticking and my fingers kept locking and we were still having a fuckload of fun! I ran out the 2nd half of the climb after placing a beautiful bombproof blue nut and then victory dyno’d to the chains. Cormier had the last pitch(which we both had decided would probably be the crux) but he cruised it after placing a bomber piece before the run out. The dyke at the top was smooth and slippery looking(and protected by a piece that was much closer to me then was to him) but he managed it well and I met him on Broadway ledge. We packed up and headed off the rock, taking the moonwalk was a mindfuck for me(walking down a long moderate slab) wearing my smooth soled climbing shoes and surviving did not seem likely so I crab walked for a bit before finding my groove and trusting the rubber. I was super jealous of Luke’s approach shoes by this point and even more so as we ran down the trail(already late for brunch) all the way back to the truck.
Delicious eats by Aislinn
We made it back in good time and enjoyed some delicious eats cooked up by Aislinn before meeting up with Kyle and Nina and heading to the Sunshine Chimneys where Kyle, Luke and I partied our way up Sunshine Chimney Center and then up some crazy broken dyke before down climbing back to the girls waiting at the base and enjoyed some trainwreck(which does exactly what it’s called, to your brain!) while discussing the proper terminology for group solo’s. We concluded that three people is a medley, 4 a quartet, 5 a quintet, and so on(I have yet to hear of a recorded symphony but that may be a project for the next generation). On the way back to hospital hill Luke and I hatched a plan to hit the bluffs solo circuit and Aislinn reluctantly dropped us off by Clean Starts and from there ran around the bluffs till it got dark, and then sauntered back to Cormier’s, soaked and satisfied.
This summer has been wild; from the mountains to the beaches, I have had the chance to explore and enjoy the natural environment of beautiful BC to my hearts content. Well, I wish it was actually that easy; but I fear the feeling won’t last long and some day soon, I will hunger for more of the unknown.
Recently I adventured up the “Grand Wall”, a route on the Chief which towers over the small town of squamish. It has been a long term goal of mine and unfortunately, most of my friends received excessive pre-spray that I would onsite the “Split Pillar”. Aaah, Youthful ignorance at it’s best. So after months of staring skyward at the intended route and stoking myself up, I found myself at the base of the Pillar. My buddy Nathan was with me and our other friends Kyle and Nina were climbing above us, on a one way train to senderville. Before heading up the Pillar I made the realization that we had forgotten a #3 Black Diamond Camalot (a key piece of protection for the layback crux moves) in the car. I had to make the decision at that point to either prove how lite I was and rap off, or send it anyway. I decided to say fuck it and send. So off I went, all shreds of doubt or uneasiness vanished as I pulled the beginning of the crack to reach a stance. My hands slipped behind the massive detached flake and with a small amount of effort locked into place so I could walk my feet up. The Split Pillar is a massive flake that is barely attached to anything and yet somehow manages to cling to the vertical wall, the crack on the right side grows progressively wider as the Pillar leans away from the wall(fingers at the bottom, chimney at the top)and meets the Sword. After happily jamming my way up to the wide bit I placed my #2 bd at the last possible place I could find to slot it and still feel confident in it’s stopping power(it really didn’t matter a lot though, since I was going to climb this bitch clean) and pulled past the it, swinging my weight out of the crack and laybacking upwards. I made great progress but I felt my strength fading and my fingers going numb, and the mental wall I had built up to ward off unwanted thoughts began to crumble. As fear gripped me I forgot about my feet and began slapping my hands higher, each move of upward progress my hands made not followed by the corresponding foot placement and soon my weight was shifted over my toes.
It didn’t sound like my voice but I figured it must have been me as I watched singular crystals of granite join and smear into streaks, and calmly observed my acceleration. It was quite interesting really; quiet yet violent, and as elegant as a ballet dancer gravity slipped it’s tendrils around me and pulled. I became aware that I was in fact falling and that I had been for a while, when suddenly the static reality I have come to know over the years returned. I looked down to find Nathan a few meters below me,
“You ok?” He asked, concern in his voice.
“Yea dude, what about you” I responded(last time Nate caught a fall on the Pillar our friend Big Mike’s weight had pulled Nate up and his finger through the belay device).
“Yea all good down here” He responded and we both looked at each other half laughing.
I had fallen close to 60 feet, through clean air and survived thanks to that trusty #2. Wooooooooooooooooohhhhoooooooooooo I hollered over the valley below before pulling the rope and returning to my last placement. The #2 was close to being tipped out but it had held strong, thanks black diamond! Kyle lowered a #3 off the top of the Pillar and I happily plugged it in a couple meters above the #2 before sending the rest of the pitch and joining Kyle and Nina at the belay for the Sword. The rest of the route was amazing, the whole damn thing was mind blowing. I unfortunately ended up slicing my finger open on the Sword which ended my continuous lead due to an excessive amount of blood loss so I followed Nathan up the Sword and then decided I would lead Perry’s Layback. Shortly after making this decision I found myself desperately clinging to a quick draw 800 feet above anything considered flat as blood dripped down my arms and I felt the sticky red liquid threatening my grip on the cloth sling. My mind was reeling as I made a few free moves to reach the next bolt and then scramble myself into the oh so beautiful and awesome chimney rest. I waited there with my back against the over hanging rock and my feet on the wall for everything to slow down, I wiped blood on my pants and sweat off my face and wriggled the last moves to horizontal ground. I had reached the “Flats”. The last two pitches were delightful, after taking a moment to collect myself and assess the damage I had inflicted on myself I followed Nathan along bellygood ledge and we both barefooted belly good ledge. Good lord whata climb.
Now that I have gotten that outta the way, heres some photos from last weekend which are also the first photos I have taken with my SLR all summer..
The Kid Cormier on Brunser Overhang 5.11a
NFR on The Washington Bullets 5.10c
Walking to Nightmare Rock
Kyle on Who’s Your Daddy? 5.10d
Kyle on Who’s Your Daddy? while TKC climbs the Grandaddy Overhang 5.11c
TKC on Grandaddy Overhang
Early morning at the base of the Grand Wall, Rory takes a second to pre-acclimatize himself by getting high. This will help avoid any confusion between his mind and body once he has gained substantial elevation.
Luke has a huge rack but only one friend(he says he has 5, but I’ve only seen 1)..
Using this greasy chain to reach the next ledge leaves you exposed over a 50 meter drop, with slop on your shoes and seepage all around you this move can be sketchy(watch your feet!)..
Harnessing the power of gravity with a 3:1 pulley system; Luke “The Kid” Cormier makes the pig fly 60 meters up to our ledge, in style..
Luke looking up the slightly damp first pitch of Mercy Me. This 40 meter pitch of 5.7 face climbing only has 3 bolts to protect the distance making for a strung out lead, I bagged the onsite despite some drizzling rain in between the last bolts..
The Kid getting some in the sun, high above the sea to sky..
Luke would arrive at the belay anchors to find that I had avoided the nice shiny bolts and instead set up my personal anchor on a rusty button head that must have been as old as I am, there’s nothing like living life on the mank..
Luke happy as can be before tackling the soaking wet second pitch of mercy me(the kid wasn’t even wearing his climbing shoes!), He is still 2 feet below the first bolt in the photo on the right, his only point of protection being the carabiner at the bottom of the frame..
At the first bolt Luke takes a moment to plan his attack on the even wetter, somewhat blanker section of climbing ahead of him. After realizing that free climbing the rest of it was hopeless in the wet, he attempted aiding to the next bolt but after making almost 6 body weight only placements with his sky hooks(making it an A3 aid lead(aid routes are only rated out of 5)) we decided to descend and wait for the route to dry. We fixed our ropes and rapped down to our bivy..
Cormier enjoys the moment while lounging in his hammock..
We take a break to brew some tea and enjoy the view while waiting for Rory to return with beer, hoots and smokes. Rory made it back in good time and promptly headed up the fixed lines to see if the route was drying. His happy shouts from above signaled the rock was good to go so Luke and I jugged up to meet him at our previous high point. Luke lead the now dry upper pitch of Mercy Me with ease and Rory and I followed after him.
Luke multi tasks while Rory climbs the 2nd pitch of Mercy Me. Proper belay technic should allow for phone calls to be taken at any time during your partners climb..
By the time all three of us were at the top of Mercy Me the sun was dropping behind the mountains that rise from the western shores of the Howe Sound. Luke pushed on to try and aid the 1st pitch of The Golden Throat Charmer, just past the point he is at now Cormier was placing pieces and making progress when he began to sing(to the tune of “if you’re happy and you know it”);
if it’s bomber and you know it, don’t bounce test
if it’s bomber and you know it, don’t bounce test
if it’s bomber and you know it, don’t bounce test
Only three verses into his song, as he bounce tested a cam, it popped. He took a small whipper and let out a big “woooooo” before getting right back after it. He said it himself; if it’s bomber and you know it, don’t bounce test!
Rory was the voice of reason, calling it a day for the team when luke took a second whipper while moving into the seeping section of the under-cling, the light was fading and we were forced to use our headlamps to make our way down to the ledge(CLICK THE PIC TO TAKE A CLOSER LOOK)..
Rory raps down to the bivy and the beer..
The Kid dances down the rock behind him, The Golden Throat Charmer looms above and to the left..
Enjoying some sacrificial smoke to please the granite gods before eating some oatmeal, as we slowly woke up on the ledge we heard a wooomph above us and looked up to see a base jumper floating through the air. Early morning entertainment indeed…
The strongest cup of coffee I’ve ever seen.
Rory packs up his camp site..
The hammock hangout, in total we spent a little over 24 hours on the wall and at least 8 of those hours were spent snoring in these hammocks…
The camera died before we headed out on our morning excursion so I left it behind and we jugged up the lines to the first pitch of The Golden Throat Charmer. Luke walked on his etriers and cams back to the point he reached the night before and continued into uncharted territory. After successfully reaching the end of the horizontal crack(some interesting downwards aid moves make the end of the traverse a little spicy) he had to clip his etrier into a manky sling attached to a manky piton and then step up on it to be able to place another cam in a short crack above so he could scramble onto a 6 foot long douglas fir that grows horizontally out of the base of the 2nd pitch. The 2nd pitch follows an incredible right trending crack that splits the wall below a burly looking roof. I followed second and tried to free the 10c under-cling but after a few falls I chose to try aid climbing for a change and finished the route standing on cormier’s cams. I took my leave at this point; rapping down and fixing ropes at another set of bolts for the boys, then lowered myself to the hammocks. I took a second to enjoy a cold beer and watch Rory clean the traverse before packing up my things and walking off the ledge whistling a tune. As I wandered down the trail I let out loud hoooo’s to test out the hearing range on the wall. The boys responded each time, even when I hollered from the highway as I hitched my way back to the city.
The ride back to the city was another story altogether…………
To find out what happened after I left or if your just looking for some interesting blog candy keep an eye on THEKIDCORMIER’S BLOG
super natural sessions with more booze then budget…