Could I potentially say; this is the best thing that ever happened to me? Almost dying and being a paraplegic for the rest of my life?
First Facebook post after the accident one week from August 19th in the hospital:
I wish I could’ve died in the moment of the accident. August 19th, having climbed safely for a long career, an oversight was made that caused me to plummet to the ground from 70 feet up, breaking my foot my leg and my back and yet unbelievably alive. Without a doubt in my mind I was a paraplegic from then on. Long story short, I was airlifted to reno and have gone through extensive, 3 out of the 4 operations needed to recover. The neurosurgeon, based on the MRIS, said I should not have any chance to walk again but the spinal surgeries were miraculously successful. Today I am waiting for a jet and bed to open up at Vancouver general Hospital to finish my final operation. defecating the bed and watching catheters inserted inside of you and having no ability to move because of the sheer amount of pain leading to constant screaming and crying and feeling like it will never end, all the while seemingly not even the morphine, oxycodone, phenteno tramdoll to help. But you know what? Death will always be overcome, and goodness will always have the podium. I have been overwhelmed by the amount of miracles from strangers and love from friends and family that have instantly materialized. I am definite not looking for social media success through this silly ‘like’ mechanism that fb created, but I do think posting it on facebook adheres to my idea of its use for acknowledging life changing events as a chronology: furthermore also to inform those few good friends that do care, who do not yet know.
In this rare moment I am happy to be alive, life is so beautiful more so are the people that can’t help but give. I have seen it so much.
Here’s to the next challenge,
2nd facebook post after my first checkup in the hospital after having been discharged for 2weeks, 6 weeks after the accident.
Showered for the first time in a month today! (New Personal Best) Full disclaimer: peed in the shower. Family troop who brought me to the hospital today for my first check up included a surgeon, a harvard MD., a vet (sis) and a nurse (mom). 6 months till I make a “full” recovery. 4 months until I learn to walk again. hey world! i’m coming for ya! friends, i love ya. god bless.
Why I’m writing all this?
A record. I’m 31 right now. I have 50 years left for my memory to fade. I’m not putting much thought into this right now, that brainstorm type of writing. I felt like if I have to put much thought into this, I would never write it. I’m in that ‘mood’ right now and I feel I should at least say something about this. It’s the best thing that happened to me. I would wish this on no one, the suffering, the extreme pain, the crying, and the wanting to die constantly the first few weeks at the hospital. But so much good has come out of it.
It was a miracle, that having fallen 70 feet, I didn’t die. The doctors all said I should’ve. Nobody lives. Nobody survives without being a paraplegic for the rest of their lives, especially when the spine is crushed L1,T11,T12. They took out the fractured bone pressing up against the spinal cord in the second surgery and installed screws/plates the second. My dad cried when he flew into Reno from Toronto and saw me lying there. No one knew how the second surgery would go; the risks were apparent. All said and done when sitting in Vancouver with my Doc friend alex who showed me the report and the CT scans, 90% of my spine was caved in, 10 more percent and my spinal cord would’ve been crushed forever. As bad as the injuries are/were, oh, how it could’ve been so much worse.
The grigri was installed backwards. I never did check. 15 years of climbing, so many big mountains, so many hard mountains, without an accident. Flying commercial planes, you learn to check everything: MULTIPLE times. My amazing climbing friends, trust me without reservation. When I climb, you sit at those anchors and check it all the while to make sure no pieces shift. When I belay you’re constantly checking to see if everything is right. When I place gear, it’s got to be reasonable, “perfect placement” is an art, it’s my art. Then it happened and after the fall, lead climbing, a sport route, with no helmet, I lay there thinking this couldn’t have happened, not me, this is not real. Quickly followed by how angry I was that I wasn’t dead given the indescribable pain that I was in. I knew it was bad, I didn’t black out but I almost did so many times; I knew it was very very bad. An hour later, the helicopters came that airlifted me out. I don’t remember anything more, it’s all hazy, the first few days.
You wouldn’t believe it. THe support, the friends the love that have come out of this. The meals that have been cooked for me every night. The gifts, the well wishes, the prayers, the hospital rooms that were decorated. The words, wow the words, that were sent via messages were powerful. Aimee, she slept by my bed in the ICU and bathed me, she changed my pee bottle and wiped my tears. My sister who flew in from hong kong, my friends who flew in from out of state, my dad who flew in to reno from Toronto to sit by my bed in reno for two week and when I could eat solid food, fed me cause I couldn’t & my mom who came to vancouver for 2 weeks to cook and care for me. Those that I thought were my best friends, my family, they came, they never let me down, they’ve been there for me. Those who I would’ve never had guessed came out of the woodwork. I wanted to die for the first 3 weeks, now I want to live, I’m better than ever.
The world; so much suffering, I’ll never understand it all. I understand it better though. I understand love better, and I understand friendship and care. My priorities have shifted. I can’t explain it but in many ways, as beautiful as life/world was before, it’s even more beautiful. I am not saying 6 months of rehab and the medical side effects of what happened and the psychological trauma won’t be difficult. I am saying the good that has come out of this is so much greater than the bad. I feel so lucky to be here, so blessed to have the support I do, and glad that through all the roads I have traveled before, they have taught me to carry my head high. Every small step and decision you make is a stepping stone to either make you stronger mentally for future challenges. I know spirit, determination and drive doesn’t come without practice, hard work and smaller sufferings.
Caleb’s Journal; I’m five weeks from the accident today. I am at home sitting on my butt a lot. A week ago, I started to take the walker to the washroom by myself a week ago; though I pee funny because my bladder muscles from the foley catheter haven’t recovered. I am looking at my foot as I write, and my mind wants to move my ankle but my foot won’t move. Well that sucks… doc says if I work/physio hard enough, it’ll move again.. weird. they’ve said high chance of early arthritis in the foot. we’ll see. I am motivated with all these goals I’ve set for myself, professionally, developmentally or otherwise; only goals that can be accomplished on my butt, of course. My back sorta hurts. I haven’t been getting great sleep. 4 hours a night. But I did get a memory foam mattress topper from IKEA yesterday. I love my friends, I love my family. and I am grateful. Kind of worried about my tiny left leg that won’t have been used for four months, 3 months from now, (and if I’ll ever run without a funny gait in the future) when I finally use it. I am going to spend the next half an hour working out my arms that used to climb 5.12 now with the red theraband. Red being the 2nd easiest resistance. ahhhh…. life. i’ll squeeze a few more years out of you.
The last alpine climb ( mount conness’ west ridge) before the accident. It was bliss.
Staring out after the best 5.8 in the world. Nutcracker in yosemite.
ICU after the fall, the first few hours.
THe external fixator, surgery one of four.
Medevac to Canada after 2.5 weeks of being in Reno’s Renown hospital.
The leg before the external fixator. Pilon fracture and shattered leg.
spine w/ hardware installed, after the 3rd surgery.
5 weeks after the accident, discharged from hospital, and this picture was taken after my first checkup. I was accompanied by my dear friends/family, nurse mom, DR. sister, DR Miller, Dr Choi. Here I am in good spirits and well loved.
More crappy homemade videos from yours truly!
Jason, Sam, Jarrett’s first time climbing a mountain with glaciers, and in the end after a powerful show of tenacity, leaving with a successful ascent of iconic mount Baker. Good job boys of Trinity Central, I love these guys!
This is a video of our first day back rock climbing this summer and how we are whipping ourselves into shape for this summers’ adventures.
UMmmm okay… That last crack makes the first crack on Juno’s clean break look like Choss!
Just went to the most beautiful place on earth next to the bugaboos & next to yosemite. Dare I compare?
again let me do this in hastily written bullet point style, since i want the time between information dissemination and people climbing in this joint to be as short as possible.
1) Views of Slesse/Baker/Shuksan and surrounding cascades were immensely mind boggling
2) Climbed the most beautiful crack I have ever set my eyes and paws on. Potentially a 65/70 meter splitter crack if followed in its entirety, starting with hands and ending in fingers. I split off where the hands end before the fingers start as i chose the early exit since i personally would’ve needed a quadruple rack haha. So has anyone done the finger crack exit? ( I might actually recheck this post to find out!! )
3) Okee Dokee. Gotta say, i’ve never done a route with So little beta. I.e. I looked at the face and followed a line. Mark Leclerc gave me the recommendation and when I read his trip report combined with Becky’s book, which called it the best line on the face [end of his beta], and I thought, “I think it is calling me.”
TOTALLY got lost in the mid part of the climb, ended up aiding up some c1+ foolery, got back on route whilst my trepidation subsiding, (YES, TREPIDATION) and finally saw perfect finger cracks line me up to the summit like a 747 at O’hare. When that particular finger crack deposited me at the most beautiful crack i’ve ever seen… well….. i took a picture.
4) Point FOUR. Apparently there is ethic of not revealing so much about the climbs here. Well, I for one am abstaining from that particular ethic, to a certain degree anyways. Why? Because such great climbing, and what i consider to be the most beautiful place on earth should be shared. Why? Because there are so many great climbs AND potential great climbs to be had, but I needed to nut tool out many of the crud for gear placements and i was hoping if you come ( yes you ) then it will turn into an alpine squamish. Lastly i solidified my stance when upon the descent, we met a prolific climber who mentioned that there was quite a ‘upturned nose’ attitude among some more better climbers to ward off the less seasoned, and that he agrees the whole area should see more traffic. Well i figure, I’m not going to post beta per say, but how about now some photos to complement marc’s trip report!! http://cascadeclimbers.com/forum/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=902482
Hopefully that’ll whet your appetite, and you know what? we were the only ones there for basically the entire weekend.. Hummm……….By the way if someone doesn’t want beta, i guess they could just not search online for it.. I GUESS.
So Splitter it Hurts! One of the best Alpine routes I’ve done in WA.
Starting late in the day @ 10a.m. we wandered up Millenium planning to do the whole route. Still recovering from Slesse, we took our time. The plan was that I would take the first block, Jon the second. On the fourth pitch, the clouds still covering the top of the chief, and the friction excellent, he asks if I want to do the Grand Wall. I seem perplexed that we would have to strain so much on such a relaxing day. He throws in the ‘let’s end the season strong,’ and the fire in my eyes is nothing compared to my upturned GRIN. I say to Jon, “Millenium is MY BLOCK, Grand is YOUR BLOCK.” I proceed to FREE the rest of the climb. and Jon f’n Effa smooth like butter frees the rest of the G-wall without a hitch, not even Perry’s was a problem. We call er’ a day 9 hours later @ the top of G-wall as the sun sets on another ineffable day. I never thought I’d be able to climb what I climb, how I climb, which leads me to tell everyone else: You also can do it!
No Camera for the G-wall! Fast and light, doing the G- wall in less than 4 hours. Only pics of my block.
A dream climb was completed recently.
Many weeks ago, my friend Andrew and I were given a deft blow by the glacier. It laughed me off of it, taunting me as if I could cross the glacier with no crampons or ice axe. Any other partner except Andrew would’ve fumed at my ill preparedness, the saint in Andrew enjoyed the approach and the backtrack calling it another “good day in the mountains.” The pocket was gnarled. The pocket was big. We heard it crash to the valley floor, Kaboom,! Andrew was off like a dart, not wanting to wait to find out what surfing on ice felt like.
As dreamy a mountain Slesse is to me and as captivating as the lore over the years has been, I’vent been able to ever think of attempting this mountain. There are but a handful of reasons, and the biggest isn’t that the glacier guards the approach like a sentry. That too is important, as navigating broken glaciers as such can be harrowing. But the problem is finding a good partner. Here I want to describe what I mean by ‘good.’ I don’t mean 5.12 good, or strong, or extremely fast, or even proficient. TO climb such a magnificent mountain, it is of all importance that yes, the climber must be proficient, but that the climber must also be an extraordinary human, full of good graces and highly affable. It has to be this way. Looking back onto a mountain most often brings about memories of the company prior to the mountain.
As Andrew has now moved South giving up the high peaks of Alaska for the Sandy blocks of Nevada, I call up my buddy Jon Effa and the scheming begins. Having punched off Freeway in Squamish a week prior and having simuled Diedre car to car in an hour flat for fun, we thought we’d be in top ‘go’ position to make it happen. Oh… yah, PLUS THE POCKET GLACIER JUST SLID.
Starting the climbing portion at six in the morning and a giant buttress later on the summit by five, we sat staring at Baker, confused by the quality of climbing. Looking for splitters, we found none, even the perfect finger crack that I tackled ended up not being on the Topo. Long? Yes. Stuart Granite? By no means. Pulling off rocks and seeing them tumble and explode thousands of feet below was as much fun as the climbing. But then after handing the descent beta off to Jon, and letting him lead the rest of the night, we arrived to see our line from crossover pass, and right then, we saw the most beautiful profile of a mountain I have ever set sights on. The grandest, most magnificent line I’ve ever climbed. If climbing for the beauty of a line is the objective, then we succeeded marvelously!!!
The rest of the night spun past, as we raced up crossover pass before the light descended on our day. Jon, lungs fresh from Robson, couldn’t be caught. We missed finding the raps by about 20 minutes. Except… by golly, SOMEONE had spray painted the descent route. Somewhere along the way, I LEFT MY NEW ARCTERYX SHELL UP THERE!!! (Anyone want to climb the route and retrieve my shell for a slight reward? What’s half a jacket worth to you-$200 dollars?) Anyways, Jon led fantastically, as I stumbled around tripping on granite blocks and glissading under a luminous full moon to God knows where. Somehow the man found the flagging and we trundled back our way to the car making it there by 12. We had been 21 hours on the mountain. We did it in a day. My climbing community so small, I was a hero to no one but to myself. Somewhere between six to seven thousand calories, the dream was complete. The Dream is finito.
Hey, and at the end of the day, I even got a ‘good job’ from Beckey as he was the one who pioneered the route!
Ohhhhhhh Canada!!!! – A forester did the trick, but barely. *Scrape * Scrape*
So Jon continued with the block lead on the next sunny pitch and I could be no happier as I thawed out on a warm grassy ledge. The rest of the temps on the route swung from t-shirt to long thermal comfort. Weather couldn’t be better.
This pitch was weird. You want to traverse and not go up the splitter dihedral. Splitter is relative. Compared to Squamish, which for some strange reason I thought Slesse would be of a similar rock quality. This is not true. Slesse is a granitic chosspile compared to my flawed imagination.
Looking down at the 2500 foot semi-choss buttress. I had immense amounts of fun pulling out huge blocks and seeing them down the mountain, hearing it explode on the slabs below. The things you do when you are the only people in a desolate area, many drainages from civilization. Denizens of Chilliwack being only semi-civil.I think maybe my preconceived notions of Slesse were due to the phenomenal rock quality that has been recounted to by others of Rexford et al across the valley.
Summit Shot waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat?!!???!!?!?!?!??!?!?! 5p.m. summit time.Sporadic Trip Beta – Turn Right at Unmistakable Gendarme on Descent.
Secret to successful shots – shoot all pictures @ power hour.This is the OMG look, ” we have so much left of descending to do and so little light “
Then we turned back and saw Slesse from this angle. It felt like we were in the TRANGO TOWERS!!!!! ( my imagination gone astray again) But it was truly breathtaking, and seeing this line blew my mind. The flat spot on the ridge at about the same level as the mountains is the half way point of the route, where the giant bivy lies.
Completed Freeway. Completing a dream I’ve never had. It just happened. Everything this year… Just happened.
Jon led the meat and potatoes pitches. He was a machine.
A beautiful poem written by Laura Burkhardt, (one of the best writers I know) about Clean Crack:
It arches right
He stretches in preparation
His slim body arches right too
The rock is complex
At first glance blank walls appear smooth and slick
A closer look and millions of crystals jump out
His brown skin wraps around toned muscles
He too seems smooth
But scabs, scars, and pores
The climb begins
Human meets stone and they become one
Tension carries him upward
Toes find the crystals
And stable his 135 pound body
With precision legs extend
And calloused fingers slide into the next lock
The dance continues
Save for the clanging of cams, as he shoots them into the ridged crack like pistons
The cams are not stone, not human, they are not natural
Bright red, blue, yellow, orange, and green decorate the crack
like ornaments hanging on a Christmas tree
They look silly
The stone and the boy though-
They are elegant and continue together till they reach the top
As if it was achieved in one peaceful motion
In one gracious and effortless movement
It was the most strenuous and rewarding single pitch of my life. By extension, it wouldn’t be far off to ponder if it wasn’t the hardest I’ve tried at something for the shortest amount of time to feel one of the greatest joys as I euphorically screamed my lungs off at the chains. Not unlike a 100 meter dash at the Olympics, I was elated beyond belief. I’m recounting about a route that may be a warm up for some but as I told Mike Patz, who was at the crag the day before – ” this is my China Doll ”
The route’s name is Sentry Box, located at the nightmare rock area. You can’t miss it. It is a perfect 10 handjam all the way until you step out of a roof and finesse a barely tips 12 finger crack. It is striking. It is magical. It was, as Kevin Mclane says, the first 5.12 in North America. When Eric Weinstein freed it back in 1975 he had nothing but nuts, hexes and two big nuts. I never chase the grade in trad since that is my ethic, whereby the line calls first and never the opposite and this line screamed that I learn it as did it to Eric. It just so happened to be a old school 5.12 and steeped in history.
The first two times on top rope seemed impossible. I couldn’t do it. I blamed my small fingers for being too big. But when I compared beta with those with bigger fingers than I and I discovered the sequence, in my mind it became possible. I fell at the crux and felt sloppy and scared as I still shook while placing gear on lead on my second day of trying. The second try of day after I had sweated out my nervous energy, I felt smooth pulling into the pod and resting there almost hands free. I breathed close to the wall and the distinct smell of granite filled my nostrils of how wonderful life, friends, and living was. As I moved to lock my pinkies in, Jon Effa (my other hero apart from, say, Optimus Prime) yelled from below, ( who typically isn’t a yeller ). Even as the traffic roared by, the barrage of encouragement was confidence of my safety. I sequentially locked in to tips that have never hurt so much as they lost all feeling. And I almost fell but didn’t. Then I almost fell but didn’t. Took a risk to chalk up, then hit the sloper up top before reality hit and I screamed for God knows how long.
peter and Tami, same spot many years prior.
Below, the cover is the upper crack on Sentry Box.
Hey! That was totally fun and always interesting. Needs some more traffic still to get rid of the inherent grittiness of a new climb. But who would’ve thought that I’d go south-east towards Baker to find a granite climb than North to Squamish? Is there anything else in that corridor? Hmmm.
Some hollow sounding flakes that apparently aren’t going anywhere. Some hollow sounding chunks that apparently were going somewhere whereby we dutifully tossed them to the valley floor.
The bolting was well done whereas I felt that no whipper would’ve been traumatic, yet bolted far enough that my idea of a Diedre-like jaunt up a cliff was an underestimation. Well done to the FA’s!
Don’t fret about the 5.11 rating as the free move was just that, one free move of 5.11 that was short & painless. One should be more concerned about whether your Slab-work software is up to date. There was some trickery, and some foolery too.
Approach Notes? Go towards the big boulder and do not follow the creek up too far until the end. We did this and had to bushwhack our way into find the trail. We easily found the trail on the way out, but would’ve been hard on the way in as it is all overgrown now!
I ask people I run into from Bellingham if they know of this climb and always I have been met with blank stares. Hopefully through time more people will find their way to this funny climb.
To everyone else Sully’s is a crowded crag that takes forever to dry, guarded by a 20 minute approach that is about 19 minutes more than anyone at Squamish is used to. The mosquitos are reminiscent of Alaska and Pale Cascadians need no more shade than they already do, and Sully’s has plenty of it. To me, it’s my favorite crag. It always has been, as much as I pull on limestone in spain or granite in josh, Sully’s is home. Amidst the old growth forests that give the crag its hidden nature is a friendly bolted temple of ancient granite. I’ve never completed all the climbs at any crag, except for Sully’s, and having onsighted the majority helps to give it a very familiar feeling. More than anything, it caters to my style, crimps and footwork interspersed by a few powerful moves here and there. I could climb each route time and time again and easily be entertained.
Shake Your Lettuce is a beautiful 10d dihedral that I’ve always wondered if it could go free or boltless. When I finally plugged in some gear; I found out it would go. The feeling of placing of precise gear placements and moving beyond gear that was semi-marginal and ignoring the relative safety of expansion bolts liberated my mind and focused my climbing. It was a thoroughly enjoyable feeling to climb without the constraints of another’s work. No wonder the recent rise of a new school of climbing that sends previously bolted routes on gear because it is pure. My feat of freeing the line, like the crag itself, gains no notoriety among climbing circles, but my favorite crag has once again produced what I always loved about it: affectionate memories in a dingy, mossy paradise called home.
MY FIRST LINKUP!!!!
The day I led 27 guidebook pitches in 12 hours, and with no better partner than Christian to enthuse our way up the routes. Here we are celebrating our day with fresh coconuts courtesy of Christian. Oh, by the way? It’s really Christian’s first year of multi pitch climbing too, and to do a link up on your first year like that? Not bad wouldn’t you say?
It’s Thursday morning, the 30th of August, 2012, the phone suddenly rings. I hear my mate and climbing partner on the other end. With slight hesitation and uncertainty, Caleb announces ‘Lets do it!’. I pause for a brief second and reply ‘Wow!…. okay, lets do it’. Tomorrow on this full moon, we hoped to be standing atop of the Stawamus Chief, towering some 702 meters above the beautiful Squamish Valley below. Our new project would require us completing – Rock On into The Squamish Buttress, followed by another challenging multi-pitch on Angels Crest. We would stand atop of the second largest, granite monolith, not once, but twice in one day. This massive rock would await our eagerness – ultimately testing our climbing endurance and mental stamina.
Later that night, while lying in the warmth of my sleeping bag, I push aside all thoughts that may try to creep into my minds eye. I gaze at the bright moon, slightly hidden through trees but exposed to the cool night sky and allow myself to drift further into darkness with every breath. Hours pass, when suddenly a friendly voice awakens my still body. I signal him with a thumbs up, confirming my commitment to the big day which lay ahead. I slept soundly under the nights sky, only to be woken by my swollen bladder on two occasions. Was it nerves?, I’m not really sure. I only hope my climbing partner drifted into the same abyss as I had earlier, however past stories remind me, that Caleb would have only had thoughts for what lay ahead tomorrow.
On this fine Friday morning, we enjoy breakfast under the stillness of mixed cloud and shining moonlight. With the final preparations been made to our provisions, we set off under perfect conditions. Now in the forest and under headlamp, we find our own rhythm which eventually leads us to the base of the south gulley. Looming above us, awaits a beautiful six pitch route, known to climbers as Rock On, which makes for an excellent start to the very popular Squamish Buttress. With hearts now pumping, bodies steaming and our eyes wide awake, we prepare for our first pitch of thirteen. Caleb reminding me, that we take this on, one pitch at a time. I wish my mate and climbing partner ’Fun times’, and reassure him that I have him safe, ‘Locked and Loaded’, is my reply. Caleb begins moving on the rock with total precision and perfect style. With every piece of protection he secures and with each minute passing, more daylight slowly creeps onto the rock face, exposing the beautiful Squamish Valley below. Before long, sunlight is upon us both. Have we missed our window of opportunity? Or will we succeed to mark our next big adventure together.
Continuing up, we thoroughly enjoy the movements Rock On has to offer. We eventually reach the Squamish Buttress, knowing full well, of what was expected of us. A difficult 10c pitch separates us from the top of peak one – almost our halfway point. Looking ahead of Caleb, I notice that an important piece of protection may be missing. Had I misread its location? Then my leader affirms my uncertainty. Caleb yells, ‘The piton has been removed, what the’? But who would remove such a crucial piece of protection? A piton that had possibly been there since the first pioneers laid down this route back in 59’. Already committed to the climb, Caleb lets out a few words of frustration and doubt, as I quickly reassure him, you can do it mate! After minutes of fighting his way to the top, Caleb moves over the last few feet of rock and tops out on the Buttress. “Well done mate!” I shout. As squawks of joy ring out and echo through the valley. Some moments later, I am atop, completely exhausted and totally pumped. We celebrate with a smile and I congratulate him on a great lead. I lick my wounds after a tough struggle with this pitch. ‘No time to hang around though’, Caleb kindly reminds me. ‘We need to keep moving.’
At moments during our struggle, different emotions creep in, and try play havoc with our minds. These obstacles are in place to help test our will and push our limits, but they only encourage us to keep going. When the rock demands our very best, and tiredness wants to encapsulate our being, we gain strength through one another. Working closely as a team, we individually move in silence. While alone in our own thoughts, we battle with our own demon, the likelihood of falling. Even though we climb with a safety line, both of us refuse the temptation of giving up on the fight. To be assisted by the rope, just once, would set us up for future falls. Most climbers believe that free climbing a route is the only pure form of climbing. To conquer it, it must go free. To maintain our mental clarity, each hand and foot placement is made with perfect precision and purpose. Being in the moment is all we know now.
Upon reaching the summit we look for the trail that will return us to the base, where we started some five hours earlier. With speed and caution we descend the almighty Chief, as an injury here would certainly throw us off course. At base camp we restock our provisions, down the liquid of one coconut each and drive to the trailhead marked Angel’s Crest. The next 14 pitches will provide us with one of the longest and most adventurous multi-pitches the Chief has to offer.
With time so precious, Caleb quickly announces our plan of attack for the next leg of our journey. Before I realize though, the car comes to a complete halt and the door to the trunk opens like the cage at the starting blocks to a dog race. I quickly jump out and we once again find our rhythm, in an all too familiar place, back in the forest. This time though our bodies are not so fresh. Our legs scream out for mercy, as our hearts race, and our lungs struggle to keep up with the steep terrain of switchbacks. We stop at times only to satisfy a need for more oxygen. My mind suggests that this is what SAS selection may feel like, if we were to ever apply. Struggling as we were, it doesn’t even come close to measuring up to the feats of alpinism. A style of climbing that demands various types of skill and experience. On our rock, we were totally safe from frostbite, had plenty of food, and would not spend weeks suffering in the mountains. These are only a few of the many visible dangers that I have only ready about, all tied in to the world of mountaineering. I push on, motivated by the thought that others have suffered far worse.
Upon reaching the foot of Angel’s Crest, I feel my beating chest and reassure my heart that the uphill struggle of the hike is now finally over, and climbing can now recommence. Slowly this brings life flooding back into my weary body. As he prepares and slips on his dancing shoes again, I strip off my layers of clothing, first the helmet, then my thermal top. I desperately feel the need to cool my body down. Before I have time to fully regain my composure, Caleb is off again, making the uphill climb safe with each piece of protection he places. I rest, while Caleb makes small work of our first pitch. Often repeating my mantra ‘Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, meaning I have him locked in and safe, so enjoy the climb buddy. This time though, as we set off for the top, peak two will be our celebration point.
Minutes into the first pitch of Angel’s Crest, while belaying Caleb, I feel the ground beneath me move with each breath I take. I steady myself as I begin to realize what is slowly happening in my body. My head feels light, my vision slightly blurred. ‘Have I cooled my body too quickly’, I asked myself. I wiggle my toes to desperately send blood back to my head, and focus heavily on each breath, filling my lungs completely with each inhalation. I take a sip of water, put on a dry shirt and strap on my helmet again. Moments later, as quick as it came, my feeling of light-headedness moves on. Caleb is nowhere to be seen on the rock, hidden somewhere above, completely oblivious to what is happen to his climbing partner below. I breathe an extra sigh of relief, knowing I don’t have to yell up to Caleb and inform him of my situation. As passing out while on belay, would put us both at risk. Once he reached the first anchor system and put me on belay, I feel ready to climb again. I move over the rock, with slight uncertainty and caution. Checking in with myself every step of the way. I knew my body was still struggling when I had left behind a crucial piece of gear on the first pitch, with having to go back down to retrieve it. I push all thoughts aside, trying not to think that we still had 13 pitches to complete before we reached our goal.
With the song ‘All you need is love’, by the Beatles, stuck firmly in my mind, we continue on up, making good progress through linking pitches, saving valuable time on the clock. I fall back into my rhythm again, singing loudly, I enjoy the varied movements the rock has to offer. Somewhere around the half way point of Angel’s Crest, I join Caleb again, this time asking him casually ‘Who’s bloody idea was this’. With a smile, he replies, ‘ Today we are putting all our training to the ultimate test’. I relish in this thought, and it reminds me of words I have used to others in past times. I appreciate that I have found a younger version of myself here in Vancouver, so far from home. A man who shares in similar passions, has a real taste for adventure, values safety, but is not afraid of pushing his limits.
I lean against the rock and imagine what sleep would feel like now. I briefly close my eyes. ‘No time for rest Christian, we need to keep moving’, echo’s through my mind. The Beatles fade out, as quickly as they had begun playing. Two pitches separate us from the top, and we can both taste victory. We can’t get complacent though, safety is back down on flat ground, where we left the car. I never thought I would ever wish a climb to be over. But this experience would bare witness to that very thought.
Caleb crawls out onto a narrow ledge and worms his way up the chimney. He makes easy work of this last fun pitch and yells down from above, ‘Off belay’. I get ready to join him for the final few meters that would place us only a short walk from the top of peak two. Moments later I top out and join him at our last anchor point. Both exhausted and ready to eat, we congratulate each other and follow the trail to the peak. With sun shining on our smiling faces, we collapse down by the cliffs edge and relish in the moment. Looking out over the entire Squamish Valley, we both knew we had completed our goal. We had been victorious in our achievement, having free climbed all twenty-seven pitches in one day. We pushed our limit and came up triumphant. What’s next on our hit list, who knows? What do you think Caleb? For me, I’m just waiting for that next big phone call. My reply of course, Lets do it mate!!!!
Yah… one of the most striking lines I’ve ever seen anyways…. Amazing that such a relatively simple line can ascend it.
Also… What’s great is that it is relatively sustained the whole way at the 5.9 level.
Also Very Very Very Cool Rock.
Reminded me of Tuolumne more than anything!
Every time you thought you would run out of places to place a piece, a spot appears.
My favorite part of the climb? There will be an amazing lie back finger crack SOMEWHERE there, which will make you say ‘oooo,’ ahhh…..
Anyone who has ever driven up to Roger’s pass on a good day has seen this mountain and has probably said to themselves, “WHAT IS THAT PIECE OF GLORY !?!?!!”
And if you haven’t, and you want to see the Matterhorn of Canada, you ought to do yourself a favor by a) driving up there b) and be able to climb heaps of 5.4 proficiently so that you don’t leave not having become intimate with the beauty. This 50 Crowded Classic is worth all the trouble in the world to scramble up. The position is tremendous & the stone, precious. In fact, this route is more infinitely bliss than Mt Garfield could ever provide.
We simuled the whole thing in 3 hours.. the rappels were tedious.
It would be a great one to solo, though I think it would be quite scary. I don’t think I would ever do it anyways.
Sooooooo… Such a great climb really deserves much better pictures and a much better write up than this.
If you aren’t into bad write-ups and even worse pictures, this post isn’t for you.
1) Don’t buy a 80 dollar wal-mart Camera, because you think the quality difference is negligible. These are the WORST pictures I have ever seen in my life in terms of quality. Take in to consideration that 80% of the pictures I took are indecipherable as to what is what. The quality was that bad.
2) Don’t write about your trip many months after, when you haven’t climbed in a long while and have totally forgotten about any of the good feelings that climbing big mountains often brings.
But as I write, 3 months after the climb, I am… very focused on other aspects of life. Semi-Permanently? I’m not sure. Yet I felt I should close off this curent chapter by at least somewhat chronicling this climb so that 20 years down the road when I actually am inspired to write, I won’t have forgotten everything. Maybe life is changing. Maybe less big mountains. But at the end of the day, I’ll always return to look, to play, to gather myself.
So cheers to bullet points:
- first Canadian Rockies climb (first time to the Rockies too)
- was very very long. we climbed for 24 hours straight
- (think of the calories!!!!)
- WHAT A LINE?!?!?!!???!
- Advice: PLEASE DO NOT think that a 5.7 in the rockies is a 5.7 at exit 32.
- ALSO DO NOT think that a 5.7 in the rockies is a 5.7 at index or Squamish or anywhere else for that matter.
- OMG … 5.7!!!??!?!?!
- OMG … people climb in the rockies???
- OMG … this is one of the best LINES in terms of Rock Quality in the ROCKIES??!?! OMG x 10
- I am not sure I will be climbing very much in the Rockies anymore. So anyone who climbs in the rockies…. every hat I own is off to you.
- Yah.. the black towers? Ever climb in a sandstone quarry?
- Since I have nothing to prove except to myself; yes I thought i was going to die on that summit ridge. (And I’ve only thought I would die on 2 other mountains.)
- The snow was sooooooo ISOTHERMAL, crampons wouldn’t bite; ice axe wouldn’t have arrested a fall, of which a fall would’ve landed you in Lake Louise village. I couldn’t find any ice for screws, not even deep deep down – probably should have bivied. But luckily the party in front bravely kicked steps as we somehow made it to the summit, lightning not too imminent illuminating around us.
- Got back to the car at 4 a.m. the descent feeling as if one had no hobbies while living in Eternity.
- Can’t believe we made it. This has definitely made it in that ‘ bigger climb ‘ category.
- Yah.. big mountains? Maybe we should just stick to rock. haha….
Laura, she says it like this:
scraped and bruised hands
grip the pen with love.
blood and dirt on hands
and mud under finger nails
write each word with vivid recollection
Lose rocks and fateful scree
Of vain jams
Of a dirty rope passing
through sore fingers
Of cold wet gloves and
gripping, too hard, on
plunging too deep into
Offering no ounce of reassurance
These hands eagerly write about that night:
And halfway across the summit glacier the sun said good bye.
Darkness fell and four head lamps flickered on. We continued through that iso-thermal shit, on moderate angle with wild exposure—ridge life.
While the image of the sunset still lasted in my mind’s eye, I took a look behind, and behold The moon! A dark, bold orange, ascending strongly into the sky, she watches us carefully as we slowly progresses across the snowfield. Five more feet and then I turn around again. To the north lightning flashes, illuminating the clouds with that same strong orange that was the moon’s. The lightning show continues with awe striking sheets Then a bolt! It struck a peak far off, but In my mind the storm traveled to our ridge. And I imagined the great serge of energy, electricity, mystery and might striking me. . .
I felt no joy in dying, which was surprising, for what a romantic way to go, being struck from the very heavens we hope to return. What a majestic way, yet there was no peace within my soul. Almost angrily I contemplated this beautiful thought of death, I did not want to die. I was not beautiful enough to die. My attitude was often foul and my manners ill. I did not want to die on a day when I took beautiful from life and returned it with ugliness. I do not want to die until I learn to live in harmony, to create peace, to carry joy and to give glory to God-the creator of mountains and valleys, of storms and of stillness, of friendships, of self, of life and of death. And then I will welcome any laugh of lightning or grinning crevasse.
“Your righteousness is like he mighty mountains; your judgements are a great deep: O lord, you preserve man and beast. ”
I put a verse to start off the post because when I remember, I’d like to put life into perspective. Ahh… Okay. May we always remember why we do what we do.
The reason why we climbed the North Ridge of Baker was for two reasons. The mountain had become of great significance to Laura during her stay in Canada and it would mean the world to her if she was able to stand on its high point. Secondly, the Coleman-Deming is not much of a challenge for anyone that has the ability to hike, and having never thrown ice tools before and having a friend willing to teach us, it would only seem logical to climb a formidable Cascadian classic route!
There is something about throwing ice tools that is different than placing a cam. I think it has something to do with fighting the mountain using the same primordial instincts that were used by our ancestors to fend of hungry animals. Now without those wild lions roaming around our city streets, the mountain becomes our new adversary. I really never once thought that placing a cam was gladiator-esque, even if I were to swing them at a mountain. I would be even more incensed if I had to punch a rock face to get where I wanted to go. But given my excuse for the North Ridge being my first ice climb and the realities of the lower end of a learning curve, I had all permission to grossly struggle up the ice with no hope for technique or semblance of grace. Oh, let me tell you, it was a delight! I was completely captivated by this strangely new blue medium that was only previously familiar to me in cold beverages. And to imagine that with some more experience, it would be possible to lightly lift yourself over these vertical blue expanses. After all, I still am utterly convinced that I’m a rock climber at heart, but being introduced to Alpine Ice was no less similar to gaining a small understanding of the significance of π to a student of mathematics since it really opened my mind to endless possibilites. So I went out and I picked up the very seminal book, Chouinard’s Climbing Ice to read through before I venture onto icy cliffs again!
Quick “TRIP REPORT”, which probably will be void of all critical details that you are looking for. Again, the main reason I write this blog is cause it’s my journal. Which is not optimal for reader comfort.
-We tried to go up and around the toe to the left. We got closed out because it was so heavily crevassed and there was no way to cross. So we thought we were screwed because the sun was starting to cook the face. We ended up deciding to take the variation that everyone else was taking and it turned out to be a bowling alley for those under us. I am glad that rocks that were dislodged due to sun melt didn’t kill anyone. But… although it is a potential bowling alley, it supposedly isn’t too much of a danger route even late in the day (as per Beckey’s 100 favorite climbs book). Got to the ice pitches, and there were 10 people trying to climb at the same time!!! And 7 out of the 10 were newbies to ice climbing! You should’ve seen the amount of cordage strewn across the wall, and the amount of screws employed similar to a construction site. The perfect weather and the disaster of a situation made me smile as I humored myself at the less than ideal situation. Luckily for our party, we had the most experienced climber on the mountain, John Mark (also known as on this blog and this blog entry only, DJ Master Mix (Climber) who did brilliantly using his fairy-like 220 lb frame to slither up the mountain where I later arrived at … HIS HANGING BELAY!!! on snow!!! how exciting. Thennnnnn….. we got to the summit, ate a lot of Candy and descended and celebrated our partner Kim’s second Alpine climb, only having done Shuksan’s North Face the year before. That’s right. Two climbs her whole life.. and these two were it. haha…
To sum it all up? GREAT FRIENDS on a CLASSIC PEAK in utterly AWFUL STYLE!
Doesn’t get better than this; except for when we rolled out to Wendy’s drive through and ordered everything on the menu. And didn’t feel guilty even one bit.
WE DIDN’T SUMMIT!!!!!!
The mountain I didn’t summit!!!!!!! What a despicable shame! And now I’m spraying online like I’m some champion of sorts; just ridiculous if you ask me.
Of all my favorite fruits; plumbs aren’t there.
Of all my favorite lines, it’s got to be plumb.
Next to you lovers of the Alpine; my experience runs thin.
Taking the previous statement into account, is it so bad that
I am enamored with this line and that I am about to say…
One of my favorite lines in the North Cascades!!!!!
One piece of advice – go climb it!
A piece of observation, not tied to the first piece of advice.
It had a finger crack. A chimney. A overhanging hand crack (thin hands + fat hands + perfect hands) and the crack that splits the headwall? A Delicious Offwidth! MMMMMMMMM
So what more can I say to add to any trip report prior.
How can I add value?
There is some snow at the base of which you have to surmount.
Secondly, people say that first chimney is well protected with small pieces.
I ran it out like 15 meters, and all these years I thought I was a CAM technician.
I must have been blinded by the white snow, and/or too impatient to fight the Offwidth above.
Then after I fought the Offwidth – the party below us gave me a big cheer. One guy’s name was Brad and the other guy I forgot – (HE LOOKS AND CLIMBS LIKE PETER CROFT) (wait, was it Croft?) (nah, couldn’t be.)
Got to the summit and didn’t REALIZE that the actual summit was the half-a-kitchen-table 15 feet off the deck. I considered climbing up to check it out but didn’t want since I was kind of tired having run out of Twizzlers half way through the climb. Also I didn’t want to down climb it. Later we were told that there was an old bolt you could rap of at the top??!!? I TOTALLY COULD’VE DONE IT. (As I write I’m at that warm coffee shop ‘Woods’ next to Boulevard Park in Bellingham, two weeks after the climb, having not climbed since, which explains my current delusion)
We rappelled down and ran into the guys of whom were super cool.
They gave us a present of a 7 second time-lapse of our life, which I’ve attached.
Thanks to Laura, Brad, and this fourth friend who I feel terrible for not remembering his name. If anyone knows his name, PLEASE SEND ME A PRIVATE MESSAGE.
And thanks to all of you for letting me not take myself very seriously.
Actual Peter – Not the “fourth” guy!
1) Definitely some of the most beautiful pictures I have taken (along with others showcased on this blog)
2) What a great feeling to be a dirtbag again as my sleeping bag is hued a dusty brown
3) Forgotten for many months this winter; that climbing fuels me, the mountains nourish me, and granite forms me.
4) Thank you God for Beauty, for Life, and for Friends.
It has been the most wonderful fall on record for climbing.
Last year’s fall seemed insurmountable as it was spent in Sunny Colorado full of sick sends and big walls. The Southern Sun specials and lone Flagstaff missions added to the indomitable position last fall has in my mind. Fast forward one year and the last three months haven’t surpassed or detracted from last fall at all, but has won a special place in my heart for a simple reason. The PNW crags have been open all fall long where seeping cracks, and dreary clouds have been all but non-existant providing favorable conditions for climbers’ desires insatiate. T’was the fall that Kept On Giving!!!!!!!
I was entirely convinced that after a California trip to the Sierras, and to the Tetons in Wyoming at the end of August that climbing season was over! We returned to the PNW and encountered our first dose of rain and much cooler temps than we had experienced prior. I sat in the garage a few days later and sorted out the cams, wrapped the ropes proper and called it good.
Then we got a weather window which found us silly at Sully’s Hangout. A great season for me, I finished up Special K, in fine on-sighting style, thus having on-sighted everything on the central wall that year minus that elusive 12a, Serene. Nevertheless, I have never been one to chase the grades, as I have always been into long-alpine routes that require endurance rather than hefty-forearm-brazing lactic-acid inducing pump project routes. But out of curiosity ,I jumped on to Back Door Party (12a) on one of these days, and found it to be highly intriguing and extremely enjoyable for projecting purposes. So much for a project, I came back the week after, and sent it second try! Used that undercling lock, and the motivation provided by my partner Mirjam and added my second 5.12 to my repertoire. Again, not one to chase the grades, what a boon to my existence the send was.
A couple of great trips to Skaha were had – both trips yielded great weather and great company – the notable send here was Wings of Desire (11b). Although many other great climbs were had here, I had never to the point climbed such a benchmark 11b to which all other 11b’s should be placed against. And on-sighting it was a pleasure since my mind considered letting go with every move, as the lack of training this fall was taking its toll.
Likewise many excellent climbs were had during our trip to Vantage. But none stood out as much as Jihad (11a), a handsome finger crack which curved its way into freedom. It had scared the bejesus outta me upon viewing it for the first time 2 years ago, and this time was prey to me climbing it (again out of curiosity) but ending up on-sighting the amicable beast.
Squamish was at its best as cragging took priority and the big walls fell out of favor! We discovered Area 44 and on our first visit, clipped hundreds of bolts successfully without shame. Staring at the Tantalus mountains with the sun on our exposed backs, being the only ones at the crag. Does it get any better?!?!?
Another weekend, we were sure it was the last. We moseyed up to Centerfold (3p 10c) and I on-sighted the climb and oh what a climb it is. Apparently a 50-squamish-classic, and well deserved too. Tricky little beast it was though. Makes ya think! And after walking down the south side (WORST IDEA EVER – better to rap), we decided, “Hey, let’s do another!” Feeling good and strong, we jumped on Hairpin (3p 10a) and realized that heaven was on pitch two in the form of better than perfect finger locks. We rapped the route successfully to a cozy blanket of light clouds enveloped by the setting sun.. ahh…
But what?!?!? Another day in Squamish?!! Yes, a sunny day found us there AGAIN. By this point I hadn’t been in the gym for months, and my forearms were feeling quite flaccid generally. But, feeling unusual, I decided to try a climb that I had wanted to project, but never got to it – Crime of the Century. (11c) Well, What’dya know? I red-pointed the sucker the second attempt of the day, and I felt better than ever, those locks feeling like bomber jugs! .. Walked over then finished Climb and Punishment (10d), another one of the climbs I had tried in the past but couldn’t manage doing due to weak mind and/or weak muscles, and excess fat?! “But why stop there,” I thought. I had always feared two other ‘easy’ climbs at the bluffs due to anecdotal evidence of people’s demise and deaths while climbing there – Flying Circus/Neat and Cool both are (10a). So I went to Flying Circus, the sun-ashinen, loaded up on TCU’s and found that fingers are my speciality, laying that very fear to rest. But Neat and Cool would not go. I was too scared. Since learning to climb 6 years ago in Squamish, seeing people thrutch over the edge, and Kevin McLanes description was enough to keep me at bay. Update; 2 days before on Nov4, 11. I climbed at Burgers and Fries for the first time, and upon finishing there, walked past Neat and Cool crag, and saw nobody there. My mind was into it, I knew I had to try, and I did. I led Neat and Cool with trepidation, embracing the rare occasion where not a soul was in sight, froze my fingers in the November shade touching frigid ice-white Granite, stuck a blue C4 before the bulge and On-sighted one of the last climbs that had stymied me due to its varied history.
This fall was fraught with wonders!! Nov6-11, on the day that this journal entry is entered, we even had a day at the Senior Center crag in Deep Cove!
And to think that the season ended at the end of August… shame on me.
“Let’s Brew” – Josh.Jon – 12a – Shady Deal
“Dah!” Zion is much too hot.
“I’ve got it and it’s on our way home – the Grand Teton!”
“Gasp,” she said, “Gasp,” I said.
It was by all means an impromptu decision, made on the cuff. For when the stars align, one chooses that which is most obvious. The stars being in this case, our proximity to the Tetons after a wedding in Utah, the unforgivable heat of Zion’s heat baked walls, and a near perfect forecast, and our own tenacity coming off the backs of three beautiful climbs combined with a retreat-like Jon Nellermoe wedding for recovery. Perfect ingredients for success mind you so then we packed ol’ twenty- year old Jellybean and puttered our way to Wyoming preparing for a mountain that turned me back once upon a time only by looking upon its snowy peaks. Mental preparation was critical!
How could one not convert to some sort of outdoor enthusiast upon arriving in Jackson? It’s as if Conrad Anker could be hanging out on a street corner, no corner in particular. Knowing of some of the prestige carried by the Exum guides, and also that this was their base in this historical climbing area made it all the more special. The excitement built as we visited the local climbing shop and beta mined, buying a guidebook in due course upon encountering one employee’s zest for life. I looked forward to returning to Jackson without anxiousness in my being.
Side note. One of the greatest misconceptions I had were generalizations about Rangers who had ticketed me before for stepping on a cauldron in Yellowstone. I did not like them and meeting the climbing ranger in the Tetons, of who issued our permits, changed everything. These guys were hardman-climbers, lovers of the mountains, and one of them Remy, who wrote the Teton equivalent to Becky’s guide to the PNW mountains, was a ranger himself. The Teton rangers were the cream of the crop by embodying conservancy in nature and in climbing, boldness, and I knew there helpfulness down low would translate into if necessary, aptitude and willingness up top.
We hiked up to the lower shoulder from ~6000 to 11650 ft during our day leaving in the late morning and leisurely hiking what seemed to be the longest approach of our lives. It sure was a beautiful, but I knew I was having trouble breathing since even at Tuolumne’s 9000 feet of elevation was not enough to prepare me for hauling a big pack over 11000 feet. We arrived to fine a full on gale at the shoulder, the gale reaching it’s upper limit speed in its definition. I was minutely distraught since there was a great chance that we would be turned around the next day on our limited time frame if the wind were too maintain it’s strength. It was reminiscent to the speed of the wind atop Mt Baker, if not more, making it the strongest winds I had ever encountered, so much so that it was impossible to do a reconnaissance of where our route would start. It was difficult to walk a few steps let alone pee without any significant collateral damage. Crawling into our bivies, we would wait for the morning to decide.
The night was long, the wind having made for a terribly noisy night, and at each arousal made me sure that any chance for summit bid would be denied. Pushing our bodies into the wind, we made it to the route’s base before the any dawn had arrived. It was pitch black, we knew not if we were at the right place, and the wind was relentless. I told Laura that we should be ready to pull the plug.
And when dawn did hit, we scrambled up a long ramp, I saw a crack and for some inexplicable reason, the wind felt as if it’s 60 mile per hour gusts had turned into a…. 55 per mile gust. Something told me that it’d be okay to climb and we racked up, put on heatless shoes with no degree of malleability and started up the first pitch in full alpine garb. This truly would be an alpine ascent!!!
Route finding was in a few sections difficult because the Granite was unlike Bugaboo or Squamish splitters. It yielded many possibilities with no distinct chalk marks. Knowing that I could be off route, and the very possible chance of thunderstorms that the Tetons are known for put me on edge for a long time. Then when hitting gold wall where the 5.7 lay, I didn’t imagine it to be what I consider the hardest 5.7 that I’ve ever climbed; good protection but not much, thoughtful, yet considerably tricky moves. Luckily, the favor of weather was on our side as the wind had become very bearable and had died down to a breeze with a few strong gusts. Therein finishing the headwall pitches we hit wall-street and became hopelessly lost wandering up the sea of granite and progressively became less sure about our position on the Upper Exum. Down climbing several routes we had climbed up on numerous occasions made me realize any more of this and we could be hopelessly stuck. We had been the only ones on the Complete Exum and those who were guided up the Upper Exum had reached their summit and continued down Owen Spaulding on the other side of the mountain. We would be alone. The altitude was starting to really tax the body also.
Suddenly, we saw someone far away on the ridgeline and knew that if we could reach that ridgeline albeit lost at the moment, we would be okay. A weakness in the mountain gave us a clue to how we would arrive and we started upwards, and finally when reaching the ridge, we saw a cairn, false summit, but joy nonetheless since we were back on route. But a bit longer, and we had reached the summit in Jubilation! ! ! We looked over to Yellowstone and saw the geyser’s producing oodles of steam and beyond that, plains of warmth and respite as far as the eye could see! We were alone on the summit, and the joy was short lived as the celebratory affair became replaced by getting off the summit. Lucky for us, a convoluted descent was offset by us hightailing it as fast as we could to the last party ambling down. One of the guys leading it had climbed Everest and his leadership gave me a sigh of relief.
It was 1a.m. when we hit the ground back at the car. I was destroyed! .. my body ached but we had done it as a team. WE MADE IT! We completed the Grand – Exum Complete on what started off as a whim. Although not a climb that I would put in my top ascents for climbing aestheticism, the mountain had produced many sets of complications I had never faced that made me stronger as a climber, and challenged my mind in numerous ways. In terms of mental challenge it produced; it is no less difficult and can be compared to the night spent on the Diamond on Long’s and the near death on the Bugaboo Spire. It feels like after having climbed this mountain though, that I get to be a part of a rich history and legacy that great mountaineers have left behind.
To celebrate – Snake River Brewing has(d)? one of the most delicious porters in the world J
One sexy outing! Treading in the footsteps of giants, and to think many of the old time pioneers never thought twice about employing any sort of safety measures past strength and skill. And to further think that the North-South Summit traverse is only half of the entire climb. Sure perhaps if I knew the route’s every difficult step, it might be fathomable. But then, even then does un roped climbing scare the wits outta me.
Simuling mostly all of it, the tricky sections were as follows: Finding the easy line of resistance to enter the traverse, then climbing a bit too high on the north summit and having to down climb a bit to traverse around to get to the notch. Then a “5’7” Fingercrack (?) Otherwise, it’s a ridge. Haha.
Not much to say, except for having the whole ridge to ourselves for most of the day until we encountered another party coming our way as we climbed up the North Summit. The views are incredible, to complement a climb with an unquestionably unique character. For this reason, every pilgrim climber must set his or her eyes upon Toulumne up high on this sterling masterpiece. Skip along, crawl like I did in parts, and don’t try to write a proper trip report. How can one describe a ridge, nonetheless, a near perfect one? Up and down it goes of course, but the only apostrophes in the experience are pure moments of bliss. And then the day’s biting wind reminds the climber that it’s time to rap off tatty sling on to the leeward, windless, sun baked side.
Yes we were somewhat tired, and now we were off, back to the car. Hiking past mount Cathedral lit by the setting sun, many deer of whom stopped in their tracks, perking their ears to identify positively our presence. It was a good-day, a great day and such days that when our bones are brittle and our hair thin, that we may look back to and will turn any bleak moment into a grin.
Why the best water and climbs in the world are respectively, free and freed?
Boston Basin is by all means an opportune place to become thirsty. Utopia drops beauty on you incessantly, in three dee. It is so beautiful, it hurts. The granite’s hues are an explosion of orange, but up high, a brilliant white! The rock is sound. THE ROCK IS SOUND! Fat marmots, unabashedly eat my food and leave their mini-dog-sized stools strewn across the same place I’m about to thrown down. I could spend days here, the peaks around all have their unique appeal none very intimidating, save the foreboding, looming J-burg down the way. Popping out of the trees, the sublime high country, is reminiscent of the Wind’s, Cirque of the Towers, not in granitic formations nor the sheer expansiveness of climbing, but as places that are genuinely worthy of being called, in Eden-like fashion, Paradise. SO it was, fjording streams that careened like spokes on a wheel, chasing the Alpen Glow, and taming creation. We hopped from rock to rock, and listened to the buzz-buzz of friendly bees sipping nectar from alpine lilies. Passing climbers on the way, laying on their mats, soaking in the rays, reading a book. Not a iPad in sight, no wireless connection would suffice. Basic necessities, the simple life, a reminder to the soul to regain its life.
So, the clouds broke, but barely the next morn. Look a the views, the best ever, a proud moment for my reflex lens. One only dreams of clouds that come to play, that aren’t invasive, that have a friendly comportment. Chomp chomp chomp, up the couloir, thin snow bridges that will hold for no more than a week, maybe two. Up to the summit, no hassles here, a cam here, a cam there. The best climbs in the world are freed, no rambunctious aid to gum up fluid movement. Lay on the summit for quick nap, slowly savoring each bite of our confectionary. One of the girls, Lea, her first climb in the alpine, not bad wouldn’t you say? Ran into two other parties on the route, one going up one going down. Not withstanding its iconic status, blessed for the most part to be a solitary experience.
We’re off to the races, but to Canada in that day. But not before filling up parched tongues with recent glacial melt. Lay on those granite slabs, and lapped up like dogs, perfect, pristine, clean tasting, fresh, water. No shameful shams called house hold water filters required. Seeing, experiencing sustenance from the source, while the rest of your body is warmed by healing hot rocks is why everyone needs a trip to the alpine. It is also why the best water is free.
50 Classic #12!!!!!! The easiest one of them yet!
“This is a serious snow-and-ice route of moderate steepness on one of the most beautiful mountains in the Cascades. No route on Mt. Shuksan is more dramatic than the seldom done North Face, which ascends the snow and glacier clad shoulder dividing the White Salmon Cirque from the Price Glacier Cirque.” (Nelson & Potterfield, Select Climbs of the Cascades)
A most magnificent climb!!!
Bivouacs in surreal environments, under hanging glaciers and beside cirques of ice. Sounds of ice and rock fall throughout the night, maybe that of a calving glacier’s, reminds us that we’re at most miniature creatures. Risk is around us, we feel alive, if risk is reward, we’ve the prize. Mitigation starts early in the morning, up through the Shrunds we go, eyes toward the sky. Pulse beats strong, stronger than ever, through both ears, and into the eyes, we’re climbing. Higher and higher, axes and crampons biting into snow, every point and all axe throws are felt in perfect North Face conditions. The agreement was bilateral, she invited us, then permitted us climb her, Shuksan that is. Haste, we were upon the summit pyramid, climbers all around having climbed up from Sulphide and Fishers on the first perfect weekend in a most dismal summer. We frothed in delight, after climbing 30 feet of ice and placing a screw or two to capture the summit! It was blue to the East, West, North and.. even the South. No words suffice. He who captures the summit, captures the experience. The wind was light, more, our eyes bright. Some candies, (hot lips and cherry coke if I may) and mandatory camera poses and we were off to begin our pilgrimage to lower ground. Fisher’s chimneys was elusive, and dare I say snowy and dangerous, and precipitated the need for down climbing with pickets and rapping off snow bollards…! This slowed our rate of descent, and landed us square in our bivies for night number two at the base of the forbidden chimneys. For food that night, I had a remaining… AHHH NOT ANOTHER FREAKING CLIFF BAR!!!!. Next morning, hydrated & hiked out. The carry-over was more exhausting than I had planned for; the mountain’s savageness much more accurate in my mind now. I admit, I am no one’s hero but my own, having been an original rockstar turned snowstar. We painfully trundled down the road on route for our car, looking up towards the temporarily tamed Massif, and in unison and ‘yipeeing’ in response to our souls’ solace via the summit of Shuksan.
Dubbed the “Most Beautiful Marathon in the World,” it isn’t too surprising for presumptuous Vancouver. Laura’s dad, a running enthusiast from Colorado, bought for her birthday her first half-marathon and combined a Vancouver visit with the event. Laura and I had probably ~3 or 4 runs each two months prior to this race, meaning we did not train and I am completely sore as I journal this.
- It was actually beautiful though; perfect 14 degree-blue bird weather. The smell of the ocean’s salt, while running along the shore, among tall pines does in fact make this race extremely picturesque and running into the city to finish in Stanley park was even better.
- The sounds of thousands of feet running in mish-mash unison is something to behold
- Laura finished the 21 KM’s in 1:49:30 and I in 1:44:19; Louis brought in the rear with a strong 2:09!
- Having never run a half or even trained for one, Laura and I were excited to post below 2:00hr times and Laura was even 32 place out of 230 girls in her age class! Not withstanding the course being more downhill than uphill, which may have contributed to those times, it was good for our esteems nonetheless.
- What I learned is the pre-post races are extremely fun, and the mental work of running is comparable to mind games mid mountain.
Many years ago, my first alpine climb and any climb whatsoever over grade 1 was done on the stellar Becky Route on the Bell. (who is Becky anyways?) Those days found me unable to decipher neither directions (you have to calibrate a suunto?!) nor cam color sizes. Without the steady lineup of August traffic trundling up the gully, I surely would’ve put up an embarrassing FA somewhere nearby (having already decided that the first bell like structure in sight would be summited by yours truly, not having seen the bell from its east face yet). The next day I went over to Cutthroat peak and repeated the same series of events, finally an old mountaineer graciously conveying that my balls were bigger than my brains. I got the point – that my brains were real big.
Between my first Becky love affair, and my revisit last summer, a few things happened. A: I was gifted an old copy of the 50 classics, and B: Fell in love with the mountains, subsequently they became my teacher and nemesis C: got rid of my Suunto
Again, the line had always appealed to me, the most distinct of lines on an unmistakable structured mound of granite glory. (oh AND a 1 hour approach!!)
Last year June 18th, I tried, but got rained off the 3rd pitch and had to go home.
This year I tried 1 week earlier in the season, hoping the weather would be better and the 2-day weather window lasted for its forecast length.
-Fixed first 3 pitches first day, climbed the second day.
-Blew a bashie last year, and brought bashies back for this year, but didn’t need to employ them. Some aid specialist bashed for me since then because all bashies and fixed gear is currently present.
-Started freeing at 8 and hit the summit by 4 pm
-Route is completely dry. (The traverse over to rap bolts is 60% snow laden as of yet)
-The record snowfall was evident as it took us 40 min to boot-ski our way to the car on descent off the notch. I’ll descend like that any day.
-Gear giveaway on the route – My lovely partner forgot the anchors at the first belay and gave up working on a new #1 camalot about mid-route. Hows that for motivation?
All in all, the route was as fine as it looked. Don’t get used to Squamish splitters so much though, it is more reminiscent of Eldo flares. I loved most the dominantly white landscape and protruding rock high above highway 20 as it reminded me of Patagonian cover shots and Bugaboo splitter days, all nestled within a resplendent, (and mostly hidden) Cascadian backyard .
Pictures are here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/calebng/sets/72157626956851366/
love the lower pitches; glacial polished slab that reminded me nothing of squamish friction.. the slabs were surprisingly dry given that it had rained all week long having only cleared up the day before… we meandered past the waterfall pitch, but decided to keep on trying to see how far we could get. the ONE bolt gully was disturbingly wet as my ankles were covered in running water, and the 10b pitch whose critical holds were wet as well didn’t stop us from packing on the chalk to dry up the holds… the rest of the climb was rather dry up until the 10a chimney at the top, where every hold was wet, and i aided each bolt., the summit pitches were dry, the top out fine.
comments: errr… the lower pitches have a unique character and the upper pitches are phenomenal. One of my favorite 10c’s given its sustained nature and exposed position. I must comment that I am not a fan of those runout 15 and 16th pitches… For the most part I think the climb is well-bolted, but given that it was rap-bolted and not a ground up ascent, why didn’t the bolter stick in a few on run out choss… anyone can climb runout 5.0 choss but choss won’t be friendly to all who pass by…. i think its a safety issue and not a psychological crux.. even bachar yerian is better bolted than this.
Location: Not divulging
Benefits of not divulging: Using a secret redneck’s cabin retrofitted with wood burning stove and propane barbeque
Purpose of this post: To photograph the groundwork necessary to become Canada’s next Ansel Adams.
Is Ansel Adams a demigod and will i never achieve equally or greater demigod status? Yes to both.
My Crappy TR: My legs are sore from yoyo’ing pristine Canadian pow and my bowels have recovered after discovering the joys of figs and then eating them in excessive amounts.
Note on Yosemite Comparison: The Anderson River Range is described by Becky as sharing, “yosemite-like topography,” but disimilar granitic quality! Our eyes were blessed to be set on this range and all her aretes looking back in fierce yet calm fashion warning, boding. She was a sleeping beauty, our taxes via deferences paid.
Steinbok’s spectacular 2000ft Nose-Like Arete (the middle peak) can be seen by this person’s summer photo. It goes at 5-11+ 2o pitches.
Thar peak on the Coq with above average humans and below average snow conditions (relatively speaking). Obscured visibility for most of the day relegated us to one long descent and yoyo’s on a more wind-sheltered slope. Always good to be out in them er’ mowt’ens. Always good to stay in shape for the imminent peak bagging season.
No better weekend than a rainy we(s)t-coast to escape and head south-east to Frenchmen’s’ coulee or Vantage as is more commonly known. Having been beat down by desert winds whipping across the barren landscape, a premature departure was imminent. That is until we discovered the haven of sunshine wall’s glories upon glories. From down jackets to t-shirts, we basked in the warmth and wind shelter provided there and trad’d and sport’d to our hearts contents. For me, the jury was out on the rock quality and climbing potential at the coulee, but jury’s in now and the verdict is that Vantage is a 5-star, winter cragging locale capable of forearm and sun burns!
What a blessing to be back at Josh and to be surrounded by magical mounds of earth. Newly weathered crystalline granite pebbles running under your toes on the approach. Picking the line among many to challenge, conquer and often be conquered by. Fire in the cam, the teeth lock tightly, cam stops pursed against the rock. Send that !@%^. It whips across the desert, a runaway train, scattered, the wind it aimlessly wanders. Hands tight, skin raw and wind-torn, goodnight is bid by a dramatic show of light from the sun which flies at the speed of itself on course for another part of planet earth. Reds, rouges, and rosas, is the color of the sky, my mind’s a’ blind. A simple day at Josh, that which He hath made, thank You for this day.
Warming up for the 2011 summer season with classic sends of HobbitRooF,BirdonFire,CactusFlower,SlashFace,Pope’sCrack,OverhangBypass,GunSmokeTraverse, BritishAirways, among many others.
Since I heard about it, the Diamond has always commanded my respect. Video footage and photos have always left me in awe at this high altitude piece of earth. Mostly all the recorded media combined showed climbers scaling the face in shadows after the sun has passed Long’s East face. This added to the ominousness of the wall. More than all mountains before me, the respect translated into a healthy fear, so much so, that without the right pressures, I’m sure the fear could only have grown to undue proportions.
When arriving in Colorado, the season was already late, halfway through September, Long’s had recently received its first snowfall. The season for the Diamond was out – “thank God,” a part of me sighed. But then the rest of September received generous amounts of sun and none of the statistical snowfall/rainfall common for September. The Diamond was in. The Diamond WAS IN! Running laps on the Monkey Traverse in Flagstaff put me into shape and gave me the confidence that I would be in shape. We packed our bags and set out Sept 31st and began the climb on October 1st.
Woke up from our bivy and started the climb. Instead of the North Chimney’s I saw this party ascend this route to the left instead. I had heard about the rockfall hazard of the North Chimneys and would have preferred a climb rather and so I was able to do that. It was hard and at one point, I said to myself, ‘leader must not fall.’ It is always better doing a climb with a hard grade not knowing the grade before hand as I found out later, that the 4 pitches that I had added onto the casual was called ‘overhang dihedral’ (10c). This bit of climbing would soon be our demise.
Starting out on the rest of the climb, leading all the rest of the pitches, reaching the 7th krux pitch I think of the Casual route, and went for it.. Clipped a good piton, clipped a really lose piton climbed up, and almost fell due to sheer exhaustion. It was the closest to falling I have ever experienced on a bad piece, and for the first time in my life, I lost my cool, stepped into the Chimney and cried for a minute. It was perhaps, in many ways, a defining moment for me, because I had hit the existential edge, and had to decide what to do from then on. I regained myself, and finished the pitch. Day-light was fading, and we realized that it would be a long night. We bivied on Table Ledge for the night, and nearly froze to death as it dropped below 32 degrees F and had no bivy gear. It was a long and cold October night, my greatest Epic to date. We slept none, but did everything to keep warm and I wondered if we were going to make it. Laura sat there and prayed for Boulder, and we thought about loved ones at home. At last, that first ray of light hit in the morning and we thawed for an hour enabling us to finish the last pitch to the summit. Cable routes home.
– Laura is amazing, to see her character in light of the situation and her view on what a blessing life is, and how quickly and how providentially that can be taken away and to be okay with that is humbling
– The Diamond is an amazing climb.
– If we had done the North Chimney’s we would have finished the climb. The overhang dihedral slowed us down considerably.
– Having led and On sighted every pitch was a great feeling, but our minds were not in the game, and I didn’t move as fast as I could’ve, also hence the breakdown.
– We had pulled off an October ascent of the Diamond.
Funny because it was not something I ever thought was beyond my reach, in the most literal way. Progression is logical, but not always apparently feasible. So it was like this for the Grand, whose granite sweeps shadowed us every time the sea to sky brought us past her majestic grandeur. And so we tackled her, swinging leads, and liebacking and jamming our way into oblivion. A fall on the sword and some struggling at Perry’s made for a good reason for a future revisit. Reality was upon us via much sweat, some blood, and a Howe Sound Nut Brown to replenish. The Grand was kinder than we thought, knowing that we fear that which we do not know; the Grand now is hardly unknown nor is it a foe.
It is only an accomplishment for me because I just started skiing this year! Ha ha! So just because I skied off the Roman Wall and the rest of Baker doesn’t at all mean that those climbing up that day didn’t wonder if I was going to yardsale my possessions all over the Coleman-Deming as I dropped off the summit in sub par style pizza’ing my skis and chicken winging my arms at mach 10. Oh yah### Merick Mortiz. Thanks for teaching me how to ski. I owe every chunk of chiseled granite hard fibres on my legs to you via continuous weekend warrior whippings.
Stats: Started at 12a.m. Summited at 10.30 A.M. Back to the car at 1P.m. the next day. First ones on the summit.
Sentiments: very tired.
Food of choice the whole way up: I brought 7 hamburgers from Wendy’s because my friend John Mark said when you climb long mountains, only bring food you want to eat. Every thousand feet, I ate a hamburger.
Something Cool: Smelling sulphur and seeing its smoke is unreal and a new experience.
Scaling the Roman Headwall
Snow pack oh so stable, conditions were ripe for the ripping. Trails of tele dust were thrown in a 360 fashion. My friends Mer and Moe to enjoy the dry dry coastal snow. We were free falling in Canadian deep freeze. I think we smiled more than usual, our reserves left empty; we had left it on the snow on needle bowl. Our hearts were joyed via pristine playgrounds leaving triune hearts content.