Saturday, August 8, 2009

Playing catch up

The glorious Squamish summer is passing by in its usual flurry of work, play, friends and adventures. Late June was marked by a rare and treasured visit from my sister Nyree. She is an avid mountain biker so we spent our time together riding in the pouring rain. I also had a great day on Southern Lights with Jen Olson. Paul Bride rapped in to was there to capture some pics of The Calling.

Early July came, accompanied by a flood of guiding work, a few rainy days, and some resulting time at Chek. I was excited to redpoint Heifer Down, a route that formerly fell into the category of "not my style" but somehow repetition, time and stubborness caused me to be proven wrong yet again. I also had a great afternoon out with Evan on Freeway. We left after work (climbing by 3) and managed to be home by a very civilized dinner time.

The next adventure of July was teaching a women's crack climbing technique course with Jen Olson and Kinley Aitken. The participants were wonderful, and one of them was even someone I took out climbing for her first time during my first summer of guiding. Here are a few of Jen's shots from the weekend.

Getting burly, slot-style

A glamorous day in the life of a rock guide

Is damage to your leg-modelling carreer included in the waiver?

Guides and participants celebrate in the Chief parking lot after a burly weekend of jamming, stemming, chimneying, chickenwinging, butt-scumming.... you get the picture

Next in the steady stream of July action was backyard shed building with my Dad and an awesome day of guiding a Mother-Son team up the Chief, followed by a beeline to Valhalla Mountain Touring where I spent a busy week of hiking guiding and cooking for a group of guests along with my Dad and my friend Rich Wheater who was snappin' pics of the hiking, the wildflowers and of course, Benny. I will include my amateurish portrayals of the week here, but check the VMT website in the next few weeks for Rich's pro-version.

Lunch break in the heather below Pyramid Peak
Dad and Benny chillin on Little Cariboo Ridge

Summiting Big Sister
On Big Sister with Shannon Lake in the background

Marvelling at the pallete of colours: painbrush, valerian, arnica, lupine, aster

Albino Paintbrush

Stopsign paintbrush

False Helibor up close and personal - grizzly bear food

The troups traversing from Cariboo and Shannon

Next stop was Revelstoke for a quick hit on the Keystone Standard Basin mountain bike ride with Dad, Rich and Rob, a Nakusp local and rider extraordinaire. Rich captured some great pics of the amazing, sinuous singletrack winding it's way through the alpine wildflower meadows with a rugged panorama of glaciated peaks in the Monashees as a backdrop.

Rich Wheater photo

Rich Wheater photo

Rich Wheater photo

Hiding from bugs at the sledder shack at the end of the ride. Rich Wheater photo

Forest fire at Galena as seen from the ferry

When I arrived back in Squamish, it was back to work for this girl, but not before I spent a day of urban-fringe-alpine climbing with Senja. We wanted to do something fun, but the 38 degree heat prevented us from getting psyched for any technically difficult rock climbing objective. After perusing the Alpine Select guidebook, we came up with an option with low-key logistics and high quality adventure: Widowmaker Arete on Crown Mountain, III 5.9. Depending on who you ask, this route is a 20 hour round trip death-defying choss heap or a 7 hour pleasant stroll up a straightforward alpine ridge. We were pleasantly surprised to find that our experience was closer to the latter, despite a full 7000' of uphill travel, black flies galore, and some seriously strong sun. Here are a few snapshots from the day.

5:30 AM at the bottom of the Grouse Grind, but wide awake and ready to suffer
Clutzy McClutzerton skidded out on a gravel-strewn boulderThe Widowmaker in all it's fearsome low-elevation fury

Sweaty and psyched on the summit

Back in the Grouse Mountain wilderness theme park, we stumbled apon these captive Grizzlies goin' at it to the amusement of a large, multicultural posse of tourists

Several precious days off were spent climbing University Wall with Evan. We had a great time on the route, and Evan completed his first continuous send of the entire climb on the same day that I redpointed the first and third pitches.

Following the second (crux) pitch

Well that pretty much brings things up to date. The only new things of note are that last night I was climbing Split Beaver in the Smoke Bluffs because my buddy Andrew Burr is in town and wanted to get some after-work pics in before the torrential rain began. I sweated and grovelling my way up the gaping maw as it baked in the evening sun, and relaxed just a little too much as I began palming the slopers at the top of the cliff. My knee slid down into a constriction and would NOT slide out. At first I tried some careful but by no means graceful extraction of my leg while still on lead, but to no avail. Then I tried pulling my leg out with both hands, but still no budgie budgie. Andy was laughing and happily snapping my grimace-faced portrait while Evan shouted up impatient, mosquito-plagued suggestions from the bottom of the cliff where he was belaying. After 5 minutes I could feel my leg swelling and images of John Howe leading the Squamish search and rescue with a gallon tub of Crisco and a winch plagued my thoughts. I really didn't want Operation Lard-Leg to be on the cover of the Chief next week, so I got Andy to pass me a loop of his static line and was eventually able to extract myself. Today my knee is a little bruised, but at least I didn't have to wither away in Split Beaver, allowing the next guidebook to read "once you clip the fixed femur, the difficulty abates as you mantle to the chains".

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