Thursday, 21 February 2013

B-Branch: Pre Power Lines

Ah, the luscious green forest of the Eldred Valley. This boulder happens to no longer be covered in moist green moss - and actually isn't technically in the forest at all anymore. The top half of the B Branch area has been exposed to the elements ever since the power lines went through, which keeps them moss free and super clean (to look on the positive side of a strip of forest being taken out of the valley).

Here we we see Emma spotting Angus on what was then an un-named problem, likely a V1. Since then, it has taken on the name Log Jam, from the pile of discarded logs clear cutting left behind -  with just enough space to put a crash pad on. 

Friday, 15 February 2013

Eldred Valley Art - West Main Wall

In my attempt to patrol the internet for all Eldred Valley related content, I came across a beautiful painting by Peter Corbett, entitled "Pysche Slab, Eldred Valley".  The main subject of the painting is actually the West Main Wall, which is understandable, considering it is undeniably the most striking feature of the valley. The fringes of Pysche Slab encompass the lower right corner of the painting.  Being the boulderer that I am, I can't recall the name of the amazing peak in the center.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Eldred Valley Road Trip 2008

 When I graduated high school, the first thing I did was pack up my gear and move to Squamish. It was pretty much the ideal summer, and lead to meeting a lot of amazing people, climbing every day that I could, and getting my first photo ever published in  Gripped Magazine. The set of photos in this post will be 5 years old by time this year's season kicks off, and are mostly poorly done snap shots - but they bring me back to the first time I ever had the privilege of sharing the first area of the Eldred Valley boulders I started to re-clean with a crew of super fun, equally stoked individuals. The B branch boulders had been partially developed already years ago by Colin, Rob and crew - but had subsequently grown back over. Whenever I brought one of the original developers into the woods to show them my "new" line, they'd say "I think (insert name here) climbed that.....yeah....probably". Since many of the names had been forgotten, the 'first' ascentionist still gets to name the problem, and there's even the chance that it was in fact a legit first ascent - but it never really mattered, in my mind it was still the same feeling. Discovering a new line, cleaning it, working it to see if it goes, then finally sending it.You can't beat that experience. I must have really been hyped, seeing as I was able to talk a crew of people with limited vacation time into actually leaving Squamish for a place they had never even heard of.
 Starting off in Squamish, we packed up everything we had but the kitchin sink - I mean kid's pool - and hit the road.

After taking the boat from Horse Shoe bay over to the Sunshine Coast, driving the length of it, and taking another ferry into Saltery Bay, we were feeling the need to stretch our limbs. The Stacks is a seaside high ball area in Stillwater, and since it's between the ferry and my mom's house (where we inevitably crashed at for showers and real food), we headed straight there to take advantage of the last hours of sun. I've spent countless hours at The Stacks over the years, traversing back and forth and soloing the easier problems - just myself, the ocean, and the cool orange-grey granite. When you lay back for a break, all you hear are the waves, and on some days, the sea lion colony on a near by island barking away.

Mica heading up the areas classic hand crack "Meat Grinder". It's graded using the YDS like all the other highballs in the area, as it was primarily a tope rope area first. It's rated a moderate 10c/d, but boulderer beware - the top out is the crux. There are no holds, so be prepared to use your crack climbing technique for the near 20ft top out. I happened to fall topping out and flew over my spotter, and the 3 crash pads we had below, landing feet first on the granite shelf. Miraculously I walked away with nothing more than a bruised ankle, and a slight case of the 'Holy fucks!'

Below left - Ilah styling one of my favourite problems, which I renamed 'new school' (V3) after it became apparent no one knew the name of the problem, or like some of the more bouldery problems in the Eldred - it was never named. When I first started climbing, and Aaron Black was working on his mega project Call of the Granite in the Eldred, I bumped into him at the stacks on one of his 'in town' days. He showed me the line, which he felt was 'new school' compared to the others, and it may have been the first boulder problem above V0 I ever climbed. 
Below right -  Mica near the last move with the ocean a few feet away.

A short walk from The Stacks is the Dead Point, a very technical, short top roping wall that you could high ball...but you would have to deal with a double technical slab finish on the already 20+ft high barely less than vertical slab. If anyone does want to solo this wall, please let me know so I can come take some photos (and evacuate you to the hospital if you fall!)

A seagull joining us for lunch, and Jasmine checking out a more fortunate starfish.

This shot is actually not the same day, but I had to throw it in.  Nothing like a post climb swim to end a perfect day.

We left the next morning after stocking up on supplies for the Eldred Valley. Seeing as this was before I owned any trad gear, and everyone else was on vacation, we didn't have enough gear for multiple party ascents of any of the multi pitch routes. We spent our days exploring the many boulder fields, climbing on the few lines I had established (or re-established) in B-branch, and soaking up  sun beside the emerald green Eldred river.

Static Cling, V4 - The first problem on the first boulder at the entrance to the B Branch boulders. This is one of the well known original lines. Colin suggested the grade of V4, and because of that, this problem became the bench mark standard for all the grades I assigned from then on in the area. It has recently been spray painted "B BRANCH" in big blue letters - so the loggers won't miss the turn I assume.  Not the prettiest thing in the world, but at least you can't miss the area's entrance now...

Below is the John Galt project. (For those of you who haven't read Atlas Shrugged, the name is a reflection of the difficulty to get through it.) I don't know how hard this project will be, but it's definitely beyond my ability for now.

 There were two possible betas we were trying, neither of which felt very possible - but the holds are all there, so it will eventually go. Just over an arm span away from the hand hold Bryden is on is a legitimate jug, which once you've latched, will set you up for what appears to be a dyno to the perfectly flat lip - sans foot hold. It's possible there might be a different Beta, but it will take someone a lot more creative than me to figure out. I kind of hope the no foot dyno is the only way, because come one - how cool would that be?

Above are two shots that remind me how far the cleaning process has come over the years. I can't believe we even tried this problem looking back at how dirty it was. Today it's one of the cleanest lines in the forest - and it has to be, because of the intense smearing needed on your left foot and the bad slopers you desperately slap at. This problem was for sure climbed back in the day, but the name had been forgotten. We re-named it Savage Cling (V4), though it may appear with a different name in the new guide book.

On our last day in town, we headed to Powell Lake to do some sport climbing at Higgy Land. Ilah warming up on the classic 5.9, Knobulator. This route has a lot of sentimental value for me, as it was the first route I ever top roped, lead, and free soloed.

I can't wait to get back to town in May and start sending.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Project in the Buttress Boulders - Eldred Valley

Matt styling it
I'm happy to report that last season I realized I actually had established more problems than I had projects, which isn't to say there still aren't a ton of projects yet to be sent - in fact every time I go exploring I find new potential lines. Here is a beauty line that Matt showed me right next to the V4 he established and FA'd that day: "Smokin beers". 

There is literally a pit of death underneath this project, which we partially covered with small fallen trees, but you better make sure you have a pad covering them and have some one spot you on the first move.  
We originally thought this would be super hard, but after sessioning it together, moss and all, we figured out the lower moves. Though it's still definitely stiff (heart-breaking top out crux), I feel that it will go down for sure after some work.  
Learning the sequence
First full attempt - shut down on the top out

PR à la electronica

 Check out this video I found on Youtube. A montage of some of the areas in town.  When I have more time, I'll list all the specific details so you can use it as a visual resource. Thanks a lot to "D. Flanagan" for putting this together.

Great new Beta source - This is currently the best resource available online for new routes that won't be found in the old guide book. Also, I'm not one to spread rumors....but rumor has it a new guide book is on the way in the near future. I expect it will be at least twice the size, and since immediately after it gets published there will be new routes going up, be sure to book mark mountain project for all your beta needs.

The old school Powell River Climbing

As I said in my last post, there are indeed resources available online. Some of them are not so up to date, but some may still find them very useful.  - The original PR climbing page. I think this is the first thing I ever came across when I was a young grom drooling over some Aaron Black photos I saw in a Mamut gear catalogue that featured breath taking photos of the valley. I never knew the valley existed, and had to do a double take when I read the photo caption "Powell River". I even asked my dad if there was another Powell River somewhere, in the states maybe, but he didn't think so. I remember my heart speeding up and immediately going to my computer to Google this mythical valley. This is what came up then, and is still what comes up now. One important yet very regrettable edit to point out however is  that the contact information listed on this page is no longer available, as Colin tragically passed away in the summer of 2011. This site serves as a reminder of some of what Colin and crew accomplished in the early years. Colin was the driving force behind the development of the area, and was respected and loved by everyone. His passion and efforts, his beaming personality and humble persona will never be forgotten. I hope this blog can be a continuation of the torch Colin has passed on - ignited by the fire he had for climbing and developing the area.

Check it out!

Welcome to PRclimbing - a place for all things climbing in the Powell River/Eldred Valley area. Seeing as most online resources are scattered at best, I felt it was high time to get a centralized, local resource for the community. If you have any photos, stories, beta, or links to other resources, please let me know! I hope this will serve as an outlet for the community to share information on the area, as well as an easily accessible source for trip planning that can be constantly updated. Happy sending!