Thursday, August 28, 2008

Summing up summer

A mid-summer whirlwind of work wrapped up with an amazing day of guiding on the Chief. On August 7 I guided two women whom have only been climbing a few years up the Squamish Buttress via Diedre (a 12 pitch 5.10c route up the Squamish Chief). This would be a proud feat in its own, but is made truly inspiring by the fact that the climb was in celebration of one of the women's 70th birthday! Both women have fabulous determination and climbed well and maintained their spirits right until the last slabby moves onto the summit of the Chief, where their husbands were waiting with champagne and smiles.

Sandy the 70 year old dynamo climbing the Squamish Buttress

Susan and Sandy enjoying a few sips of well-earned champagne on the summit

The next adventure of the summer was some sorely needed personal climbing time in the Bugaboos with Mandoline Clark. Numerous obstacles tried to impede us from getting there, including a night at the worst bivy spot in BC (imagine a train track sandwich with you as the filling), a broken down truck (we abandoned it on the road and hitch-hiked, got a ride with the nicest Spaniards wearing the shortest shorts I have ever seen on a man) and pouring rain at the trailhead. After the gruelling approach to Applebee Camp with backbreaking packs, we arrived just before dark to a huge crew of friends who fed us food and booze and immediately we were PSYCHED.

Our first day dawned crystal clear and hot, so we decided to work the kinks out of our travel weary muscles on Energy Crisis, a 2 pitch 5.11+ route on Cresent Spire near camp. We sent that and foolishly decided to simulclimb up McTech Arete, despite the ominous black thunderheads looming overhead. BAD IDEA. Shortly after reaching the last station the wind began to wail, rain began to fall, and we began frantically to rappel. To make a long story short we got pummeled by the biggest hail stones I have ever witnessed for about 2o minutes. At one point I was alone at an anchor and couldn't move due to the sheer volume of hail raining down on me. By the time we got to the ground there were 3 m high piles of hail at the base of the wall and peoples ropes were frozen into them. I was truly hypothermic and soaked to the skin, so I had to strip down in front of various random people to get a dry layer on. There's nothing more humiliating than trying to wriggle dry clothes onto wet skin when you are shivering uncontrollably and blue all over. Only one day into the trip and a dozen climbers in the Bugaboos had seen my boobs... great start to the trip! To add insult to injury, we got back to camp to discover our tent had been blown away in the storm. Luckily for us some climbers saw it getting away and put heavy rocks on it for us, but not before it sustained serious damage. The large tears in it did not help the situation when it rained and snowed for the next two days. Most of our friends left to dry out in Golden, but we decided to tough it out and wait for the good weather that we just had to believe was on its way.

Muscly Mandoline unconsciously getting ready for the hail

"Yay, this whole alpine thing is awesome.. ha ha ha ha (sucker)"

"It might be raining and all our stuff might be wet, but we're still here!"

Our tent, before it was blown off the mountain and torn to shreds

A CMH heli looking for a lost climber (who was located safe and sound in the Radium Hotsprings!)

The rest of the Bugaboos trip was pretty chill in comparison to that first day. We climbed some beautiful routes including The Power of Lard and Sunshine Crack on Snowpatch Spire, and had a fun day of soloing around on the West Ridge of Pigeon and the Kain Route on Bugaboo Spire. Our buddy Jon Walsh ( shot a cool pic of me leading the last pitch on Sunshine Crack (IV 5.11a)

Sunshine Crack - Jon Walsh photo

The posse - Jon Walsh photo

My camera battery died on day three of the trip so that's all for Bugaboos images. Pretty amazing place, I am excited to head back in September for my ACMG ski guide glacier skills training week.

The second phase of my summer vacation was spent in the Slocan Valley visiting my Mum and sister Nyree. We did some climbing in the Valhallas and some mountain biking out of New Denver. My sister is a biking machine and I almost died trying to keep up with her... my only hope was to get her telling me stories about how many billions of trees she has planted (she works as a tree planter). We also did some really great runs in the rain and even had a survivor style adventure where a landslide blocked the highway when we were out getting groceries and we ended up running 10 km in the pissing rain on a muddy, bear shit covered trail to get home. Sometimes I feel like I have gotten to be such a city girl since I left the Kootenays! It was great to spend time with family and help my Mum out with here bakery business... yum yum. Nothing like coming out of the mountains to a garden full of all kinds of ripe goodies and two women who really know how to cook amazing food. Following are a few snapshots of some of my Mum and sister's delicacies.

Rustic apple tarts

Festival of sushi


Nyree making pesto

Mum making apple tarts

The final adventure to report is the new addition into Evan and I's family. No, it's not what you think, I have not caught the 'Squamish flu' that is spreading like wild fire through the women of Squamish. No babies for me. My Mum adopted a puppy from some neighbors and offered him to us. If you meet him you will understand why we will never, ever give him back. He does great at the crag, is really friendly and even exceeds Evan in his ability to laze around for hours. I named him Benny, after my friend Ben Demenech who taught me a ton about climbing and tragically died in the spring of 2001.


Well that's all that's fit to post, and then some.