Wednesday, August 22, 2012

SwEnV 3

Just another Squamish sunset, not a bad view from the dinner table. This place is absolutely unbeatable when everything comes together. Which mostly means the weather and me having time to be there.

I am currently working 40-45 hours set hours a week behind a computer, which I like to complain about, but it's a good first world problem to have. Life is about variety, and while it looks like I'll be doing this for a few years at least, I'm sure it won't be forever. My goals are constantly shifting, but I got into this career because I hoped I could find a way to make a living in a creative way, but not to be chained behind a computer, or beating my body up too much to climb. I am currently heading towards the creation of a small design firm with fabrication shop. More on that some other time.

Below is a view from the top of the 4th? pitch of a route called the Snake on the Apron buttress at Squamish. The biggest thing I've ever lead, and also my second real trad lead after my first the day before.

Based on my career and geography, I am typically introduced to a very small segment of society. Middle class, mostly caucasion, people are cool and all, but it's great to be exposed to other world views. One of my favorite people I've met recently was a guy named Alon, who's campsite we shared while staying at Squamish. He was a friend of a friend, but we'd heard he had a cool spot and was nice enough to share it with anyone. This was all true, and even more, on a boring rainy day he had added his campsite to couchsurfing as a joke, and now has a steady stream of non-climber visitors. Alon is an Israeli who left the military 4 years ago to start a 3 month road trip. Since then, he has been able to maintain without a traditional job, or probably housing, at times even being efficient enough to live off his interest alone. Since leaving, he has spent several months in New Zealand, sailed through Southeast Asia to stay in Thailand, and somehow ended up in squamish for the dry months this year. I didn't climb with him, but he seemed psyched every day we were there, getting on some tough multi-pitch trad and sport, or taking a rest day to work on a bench or home-made oven for his campsite. He's put in his time, and will continue to live the (climber's) dream.

Looking up towards the Snake, cool features and good but often runout protection. It seeps just enough to be a little bit scary if your name is Erich Purper, or to take down the confident leader who was catching up to me on the second to last pitch.

View from the top.

I don't like the fact that it is difficult to, and often looked down upon, take frequent or extended time off in the US. Seattle has a better work culture than most larger cities, but two weeks vacation a year is just barely enough to keep you sane. There was a German girl couchsurfing at Alon's while we were there who said it was incredible that we could live like that. According to her, a month each year is typical in Germany.

That's my happy face after finishing the route. And deciding to lead one more harder pitch instead of taking a dirty/sketchy scramble to the trail.

And a proud Erich, too good to look at the camera.

This is the Apron, with the Snake clearly visible on the left side of the Diedre dihedral. The Chief is cut off in the background so you can't see how much more proud it is. Next time, Angel's Crest!

Moral of the story, you don't get exposed to people or circumstances like this climbing in a gym. While there is something to be said for still trying to stay fit and living in the middle of a city, I'm still working on planning out my next trip out.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

SwEnV 2

Q: What kind of cigarettes does a hippy smoke?

A: Yours

Day Two:
Murrin Park and rain

We went to Murrin Park, right down the road from Squamish proper and the chief, even thought the day before it had been hot and super crowded around the lake there. Assuming it would get hot equally fast and be crowded, we at least wanted a parking spot so we could jump in the lake later. 

By the end of the day, the sun had yet to burn out the clouds, we only saw two other climbers in some gross chimney, and the rock stayed cool. A side effect of the sun not coming out is that it started raining in the afternoon; a nice way to make us stop climbing for the day.

I have really enjoyed heading to new places without a guidebook, and with my old, outdated one for Squamish, it wasn't that different. On the approach to "up among the firs" we found a recently cleaned crag with some good looking cracks. The routes were nothing special by Squamish standards, and still dirty, but someone had obviously put a lot of work into cleaning them, and they were fun.

We continued up the very steep hill to our original goal, where we got on 2 awesome cracks and toproped a slab without shame, before the weather turned. These were some of the best climbs I've ever done, and when you topped out the sound opened up below you. So good. 

View from the top-out, south towards Vancouver.

Veronica with her first hand jam. 

Crappy belayer can't even stay awake. 

Erich being a champ and putting up a 10c crack so that I could TR it. 

After the hard rain, it was a slug party, but we went to a cool shelter in town to make dinner, and went back to hang out with our gracious host, Alon. He is a great person, with an awesome campsite he shares freely, and good stories. More about him some other time.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Squamish w/Erich and Veronica 1

How much does a hipster weigh?

An instogram!

-courtesy of Veronica

The three of us went up to Squamish for 4 1/2 days, and crushed! And by crushed I mean we did some easy trad, lightweight bouldering, drank beers and somehow managed to get rained on twice despite a 0% chance of rain forecast. 

Day one:

We arrived Saturday evening after taking an extended drive due to traffic (why?!?!) and the fact that none of us has a smart phone so we got lost. Getting lost wasn't too bad though, we ended up cruisng through Vancouver, which is such a pretty city, and there were so many people out with all the nice weather. Then, after missing the last unsigned turn of the day, we found ourselves at the beach, and decided to go stick our feet in. People were out swimming, trying to pretend the water was warm, but it wasn't.

This is why Veronica HATES mosquitos. 

Erich on his first granite trad lead.

The next day we woke up to get an early start, not realizing it was one of Cananda's monthly 3 day weekends, and that everywhere would be packed. we were excited when we pulled into the Smoke Bluffs parking lot and saw Sonnie Trotter, until we got out to the crag and we realized he had set up top ropes for a learn to trad clinic on all of the routes we were psyched on. In Erich's words, "It sucks, but if you're going to get cockblocked it might as well be by Sonnie." He and his friend were actually super nice, and offered to let us top rope or pull their ropes, but it still got so crouded and then hot we only got two routes in before it got too hot. Still, great routes at the Octopus Wall, and we crushed 5.8. 

It was a scarier fall than it looked, but climbed awesome. We worked on some other things, but didn't get pics.