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