Sunday, 31 March 2013

The Abyss - a totally non Powell River related climbing film

The Abyss - Still from the movie.

Well, I'm going to break from my regular routine of posting Powell River / Eldred Valley related content, and post a climbing video that I just watched instead.

 The Abyss is a short, very well done film about the development of North America's highest bouldering area, not too far from the already majorly famous Rocky Mountain national park in Colorado.

 It's often challenging for me to convey the exact feeling of developing an area: the challenge, the sacrifice, the love, and the reward that you experience are so unique that it can be very difficult to put into terms that climbers who have never had the same opportunity can understand.

 This video deals with issues like sharing a new area vs keeping it a secret - when and why to make the transition, and when and why an area will actually take off as opposed to just being 'some other area' that though beaming with potential might be entirely ignored.

Developing the bouldering in the Eldred Valley was at first a very solo project, because no one else in town was very interested in bouldering, and anyone from out of town didn't want to travel so far just to scrub boulders (or even clean big wall routes) when they could go to Squamish and climb a life times worth of classics. This film sums up the joys and frustrations of developing an area wonderfully.

Of course, it also has all the elements a good climbing film needs - beautiful scenery, and hard climbing!

Maybe this video will get people stoked to help me scrub more boulders this season....Enjoy!

The Abyss: America's highest bouldering - on Youtube
The Abyss: America's highest bouldering - on Vimeo

The makers of the film - Louder Than 11
"Theres always a few people out there that do the bouldering development. One percent of the climbing population does 90 percent of the devlopment. It's that 1 percent...they're wired like that, it's their lifes work. It's what they'd rather be doing than anything else"- John Sherman

Sunday, 24 March 2013

B Branch: The problem formerly known as prince

Sophie on 'Prince'

 The Open Canvas boulder, well featured, over hanging granite. A face of rails, slopers, crimps, and a giant random block - it's also home to my current favourite problem in B Branch - The Problem Formerly Known as Prince

Working a sequence

This boulder is exposed to the sun, is always first to dry out after rain, and stays remarkably clean. Three problems all start on the same low rail and move into the amazing block feature pictured here before branching into different sequences.

'Prince' is a short problem that exits left - it's the most obvious sequence of easier moves.

Here's a partial sequence of me on the first ascent of 'The problem formerly known as Prince" (V3/4)  Instead of moving left to climb Prince, establish on the rail, and move to a good hold on your right. 

Throw to the triangular feature in the center of the boulder.

First ascent

A series of delicate technical moves will allow you to establish a solid foot on the big low rail. Then you can pull a final crimp and stand up to a straight forward top out.

Matt on the FA of Open Canvas

Open Canvas follows the same first sequence of The problem formerly known as Prince, but instead of exiting straight up the face, you throw left to the same side pull that Prince uses and exit on the top left. Very fun, gymnastic style problem.

Note: All grades are unconfirmed.

Friday, 22 March 2013

Shower Time in the Eldred

  As I watch the (hopefully) final major dumping of snow melt here in Montreal, I can't help but dream of the valley, and sunnier days ahead.

 The Eldred River is a clear, aqua green shape shifting flow of glacial melt water. If you catch it during the spring melt or the winter rains, you'll find yourself in front of a deafening white wall - a giant wave repeatedly crashing in place of where the gentle, trickling waterfall usually runs in early summer. 

Gettin' clean, Eldred style

In late summer, there may be no water in the groove at all, and the waterfall is nothing more than a calm stream. If you happen to be there when the groove is full of water, there is no better way to rinse off the dirt after a long day of climbing.

Just don't slip - sliding off the waterfall could drop your onto a large slab of granite, and undoubtedly result in a few injuries. If you could control the direction of your fall, you might be O.K, but it's probably not worth risking a season ending injury.    

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Stillwater: The spiritual capital of the climbing community

Andy climbing at Moss Mountain - Photo credit: Matt H

 Stillwater is a very special place. I could explain why, but it's easier just to post a few photos. Colin referred to the area as the spiritual capital of the climbing community - and with good reason. All it takes is one visit to understand what he meant.
Silhouette  of a climber at Moss Mountain - Photo credit: Jason Addy
 The entire area includes some forest bouldering, the beautiful casual sea-side trad cliff Moss Mountain, the Catcheratcha wall that literally comes straight out of the ocean, and of course the highball bouldering sea-side paradise of The Stacks, which you can read about in one of my previous posts.

  These photos inspired me to do an area profile photo series when the season starts up again - It will be a big project and likely take more than one season, but I'm looking forward to the challenge.

Monday, 11 March 2013

Khartoum Valley: Powell River's Other Valley

Khartoum Valley big wall in the mist
As if 6 walls in the Eldred weren't enough granite for one town, the locals just had to go and put up stellar routes in a whole other valleyThe Khartoum Valley is currently home to 3 longer multi pitch routes, and a few routes in the 1 to 3 pitch ranges as well.
   Oh, it also happens to be closer to town. Plus, all routes so far go free.

 I never had the chance to check it out last season, which makes it a top priority this summer. Stay tuned for more posts on this place, I'm sure I'll have a few.

Routes - so far

The routes that have gone up so far look beautiful, and there's sure to be more to come. Huge props to Andy for developing the area.

I'm told the wall is very well featured and has some stellar crack systems. Surely more routes to come.

Photo (and route!) credits: Andy D and Matt H.

For route info click here

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

The Dark Pool: Fun in the fleeting sun

Deep water soloing is the 'cool' thing to do. Even if it's in the frigid, dark river waters of coastal B.C.
Eric playing around on the roof

The Dark Pool is a swimming area on Louis River, more commonly known as Eagle River. The area is known by many different names - when I grew up, my friends and I called it 'the caves', due to a little cave you can swim through that puts you behind the waterfall.

Climbers call it 'The Dark Pool' - due it often being covered by shade. Its in a canyon, which can make for some cold waters if you go too early or too late in the day - but that also makes for a few cool lines of deep water soloing.

 While climbing the traverse "The Dry Circuit" that goes along this well featured roof, I noticed a few holds that seemed like they would link up to the top of the wall.
Matt eyeing up the crux on Big Splash.
  Turns out, after turning the roof, there is a fun bouldery section that links up with easy climbing straight to the forest above. You could walk down, but I named the route Big Splash (5.10+?) for a reason - the jump down is the reward.

 I can barely guess at the grade since I only climbed it once, and I have a very bouldery style. It felt pretty easy to me, already knowing the beta for the roof and only having one hard move after. It will need a few other sends to get a consensus.

  No photos were taken of the upper part of the route, but from where Matt is staring in this photo, it goes right through the slightly lighter coloured section on his right, then straight up.
There's a rad boulder at the dark pool too. I've played around in the cave of it, and I know it will go. The trouble is the landing, or more like lack there of. You'd pretty much fall down a slippery canyon. If I can figure out a way to build a landing pad across it and make it safer, this will definitely be worth cleaning. 

Friday, 1 March 2013

Call of the Granite - second ascent?

Credit: Mikey Shaefer
  A few years ago, a team of climbers headed up the West Main Wall to snag what was likely the second ascent of Call of the Granite - a 23 pitch route that goes at an impressive 5.12+ C2, though as far as I know, the route is still yet to be freed completely due to one very tricky move. Fully story here, at the blog of climber/guide Julia Niles