Friday, 29 August 2014

Photo Spread

Lots has been going on in the Eldred Valley lately. My season has wrapped up, but here's some photos by Matt Hodgson of some projects being worked on.

Brent Goodman on a project near the swimming spot

Matt Hodgson on his Blessings in Disguise project

Big Balls Lazarski jugging on the Mad Mardigan project

Kevan Robitaille being lowered into space to jug out from a new project

Kevan starting up the short bolt ladder on the new project

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Three First Ascents in 3 Days

The heat wave is over, and cooler temps means crushing temps. On Saturday, July 19th, Matt Hodgson got the FFA (first free ascent) of the infamous Dunamis, Lake Blufs, suggesting a possible grade of  5.11.D.  I was hoping to be able to take photos of the FFA but ended up being on belay instead.

 Matt also cleaned a new route to the immediate right, and realizing it was well within his ability, decided to free solo it before ever tying in.  I've heard rumors that this was also a nude ascent....No comment. Suggested grade of 5.10 or 5.9   This brings a whole new meaning to the idea of a 'free' ascent. The route is called Nuts in Honey, luckily there were no accidental nut placements or I don't think it would count as a free ascent...

 Today I made the FFA (after doing it on TR before bolting) of my long standing project 'Falling Up' (5.12.c?)  This route had a lot of personal value for me, for a number of reasons. It was the first route I ever bolted, meaning the bolts aren't all in the most ideal places, but most importantly it was a route I bolted under the guidance of Colin Dionne.

I fell from the final few moves, way back in 2010 when the route went up, on the last day of my season. I moved to the city, and pretty much stopped climbing seriously for the next few years. The route was never named, though during Colin's celebration of life ceremony, I heard that the term "Falling Up" was something Colin used to refer to. Aside from the obvious euphemism for climbing, it was also a term for relating to the challenges of life. Sometimes you fall down, but sometimes what seems bad ends up teaching you something valuable, sometimes it's for the best, sometimes, it feels like you fall up.

 The route sheds a lot of rock. At the time, I wasn't thinking about rock quality, I just wanted to put up something hard that hadn't been done. The last time I tried it I broke a key foot hold, and even on the FA I broke a hand hold but was able to stay on. As much as I'd love to say it's a 4 star route, the rock quality just doesn't allow that high of a quality rating. I found it very difficult to grade, and it definitely needs more consensus. There is only one 12.b at Higgyland, which I was able to do fairly quickly after figuring out the crux,  leading me to suggest the slightly harder grade for Falling Up.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

A Day at The Lake Bluffs

When's the best time to discover your lens is broken? I don't know, but it probably isn't while hanging from the end of a rope minutes before you plan on shooting. I was still able to get a few decent shots, despite the quality from the busted lens. Enjoy!

Matt Hodgson - Coma (Old guide gives "5.11-/5.10+", probably 10.b or C. 

To the left of Coma is a series of rails, micro crimps, and a thin seem with one old rusty hanger and a 1/4 inch bolt. After studying the guide book and rapping down it twice, it's still hard to say what line it is.

 I think it's a link up of the start of Coma into the C4 Aid route 'Perseverance" into Coca Cola Classic (5.12).   I've heard this link up has been done in the past on TR, though it isn't written in as such in the old guide book. If this line does in fact go, it will likely be in the 5.13 range, or very close to it.
"Perseverance" is listed in the guide as route #27, twice, in two completely different areas of the crag. Regardless of what it might be called, it sure is an amazing line.

Super hard link up

Cruising through micro crimps pre-dyno.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Moss Mountain photo by Tourism Powell River

Andy belaying Marc on either Taco (5.9) or Taco Direct (5.10) At Moss Mountain, Stillwater
Photo courtesy of Tourism Powell River.

There's even a short clip of Andy topping out here in this video.  Skip to 1:10 for the clip.

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

The Lake Bluffs: Powell River's Trad Climbing Area Revival

Over the last few days the left side of The Lake Bluffs, the Sunny Side Bench Area and Crack the Whip Area have seen some serious scrubbing.

Dylan Merrick spent 3 days cleaning Dunamis (5.11b), which is now a contender for one of my favourite routes in town. I've never seen a route cleaned so thoroughly, mad props to Dylan for the quality of work.

 To get there, you simply take a left when you reach the top of the approach trail. You can't miss it.
The first time I went to check this area out, many years ago, I noticed a few of the completely over grown/unclimbeable routes and basically passed the whole area off. That was also back when I hadn't spent so much time trad climbing in Squamish, so those kind of routes didn't really stand out to me, and I was too used to bullet clean granite.

Every route there is great, with lines to rival any 4 star route at The Smoke Bluffs. I never thought I'd be saying that, but, I guess I just did. That being said, remember, this definitely isn't Sqamish. Expect some scruff, a few sand bagged grades, and routes with no anchors (Adds to the adventure).

Dylan Merrick cruising through the crux of Southern Exposure (5.9) *** Photo  © Christie Dionne 2014

There is still lots of cleaning to be done, and even a new route being worked out by one of the areas long time cleaning-veterans.

Scan of the 2002 guide book Sunnyside Bench Area topo

Below are excerpts from the old guide book of the area, some of which I have changed entirely to add more detail.

Sunny Side Bench Area + South Face

Southern Exposure (5.9)*** 
 Not in the 2002 guide book. Around the corner/up the trail from Barad-Dur. There is a rocky plateau at the  base of this route. Fun face and crack climbing, and your choice of which crux to tackle.
 There is new webbing and a rap ring on the tree above this route, safe to use as an anchor and to rap from.  A 60m rope will reach the ground for TR/rap from here. Single rack.

Barad-Dur (5.9) ***
 This route starts just to the left of a small plateau marked by a small rock bench at the far left of the crag. Starts out as blocky face climbing leading into the crack which offers good pro and excellent climbing with solid rests between moves.
 Fixed static line anchor shared with Dunamis. 60m just reaches ground for TR from anchor.

Dunamis (5.11b)****  
 To the right of Barad-Dur, at the base of a right facing corner/column. Step into the column from around the corner on higher ground (starting from the very base is out of reach of the first hold). Minimal/no gear down low means climbing to the one and only bolt several meters off the ground. Follow the obvious, stunning finger crack to the top. Bold and very reachy.
 Currently the anchor is fixed static line with two old biners on it. You can rap from this anchor to the ground as well as TR, tie knots as rope just barely reaches ground. Small gear.

 "I (Chris Amrstrong, author of the original guidebook) took a 35-foot upside down whipper attempting the first ascent of the direct variation, pulling 3 pieces of gear in the upper crux. So while the direct variation (starting as described above) hasn't been (lead)climbed yet keep in mind that the gear isn't as good up high. I had dizzy spells for months from post-whiplash effects. Definitely height dependent, bring your longest set of arms for the crux, and a helmet." - From the description in the 2002 guide book from the author and route developer.

Khazad-Dum (5.9) **
The series of broken cracks between Dunamis and Crack of Doom. Seeps down low, so wait for a few days of continuous sun. Good gear, with many possible variation. Great upper section. Scramble up to the top of the crag and build a tree anchor, belay from above for TR.

Crack of Doom (5.9 PG13) ***  [Original book says 5.8+....definitely at least a 5.9 though]
Dihedral to the right of khazad dum, joins it near the top. Follow the obvious inside corner/face holds into a scary and fun exposed block section. This climb has face climbing, hands, lay backing, and even two short chimneys up top. After the blocks, step left onto a ledge and a hidden crack provides safe gear and easier climbing. However, a fall could still mean hitting the shelf below so place your gear well.  Double rack ideal, though can be climbed with a single rack if you are into very long run outs. Big gear needed in the last several meters.
 *Roughly 45m long, and like all other routes in the area there is NO bolted  anchor. Be sure to know how to build an anchor from a tree a few meters back and belay from up top!

Crack the Whip Area

Suspended Animation (5.10 PG13)***
 Sustained climbing and small gear.

*next two climbs listed in scanned pages above

 It's very important to know that there are NO bolted anchors in the sunny side area. I found this out the hard way after on-sighting Crack of Doom (which is now one of my favourite climbs in town). I ended up half free soloing it due to the length and lack of gear I brought, and wasted a lot of time building a frankenstein anchor with what little webbing I had left off of a small tree. Not ideal at all. You may be able to build gear anchors on one or two of the routes, but I'm not sure, and given the length of some of them you'd likely be out of pieces by time you need to build an anchor either way.

Other than the fixed static rope on Dunamis and webbing on a tree above Southern Exposure, you must build your own anchors off trees.

  You either need to know how to build an anchor using your rope or lead with / haul up very long webbing or static line, which wouldn't be very practical. So learn how to build your anchor properly, and be safe. It also means that on routes such as Crack of Doom, once you get to the top, where you would expect to find anchors/rap rings, you actually have to scramble up through the moss/brush above your last piece of gear unless you bring a few #4s - so be careful. (It's easy class 4 scrambling.)  It's something you'll want to be prepared for.

The style is good traditional ethics, and something you don't see as often making it unique.  For people used to climbing in Squamish or Skaha, this may be off-putting, but the climbing is worth it.  Plus, if you're into trad climbing, the more anchor building experience you can get the better....right? (Starting to learn this for myself...)

Don't leave your pils on the ground, the slugs here move fast.

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Powell River Climbing Guidebook Teaser - Bouldering

I'm working 6 days on 1 day off until late June, but on those few days off I've been working away at the bouldering section for the new guide book.

Here's another sneak peak at the work in progress.

Above is the completed map of the Bulldozer Boulders in Stillwater. The names of the boulders will likely change once I gather more information and find out what they were originally called back when they were first developed. Some really outstanding problems in this cluster, from V0 to V7.  Four star V3s and V4s in the mix too.

Number 22 is Matt Hodgson's "The Leprechaun's Wand", a contender for the hardest problem in Stillwater. Check out a brief video clip of it here.

Jesse H reaching for the finger-lock  A must do problem.
Pitch Mouth - V2/3 - Expansion Zone
Nearing the crux top out of the most classic line at The Stacks.
Meat Grinder - V2 (if you're a crack climber) V3 ish (if you're not)

Matt doing a balancing act on Whaler Rock - The Dead Point. V6? 

Another yet-unknown problem at The Dead Point. V3.
Cool mantle to a slopey top out.
Eric showing how to use proper face-smearing technique.
Un-named V2 - Second Point

Friday, 4 April 2014

Eldred Valley Adopt a Crag Party May 2nd-4th

It's that time of year again. Time to get the community together for the annual Adopt a Crag event. We head into the Eldred Valley to do trail work, have a big ol BBQ and party the night away. The Access Society also sponsors the event so there's some prizes to be had on top of everything. Don't forget the climbing, weather permitting. I hear this year there's plans to check out and potentially put anchors in to the main face on the buttress.

"This years 14th annual Eldred Adopt –a-Crag will be held on May 2nd to the 4th, Bring your trail building skills!! We will be working on the Carag-Dur trail, repairing 2 areas where rock fall has damaged the trail quite spectacularly.
Saturday evening after everyone’s much appreciated hard work there will be a Salmon BBQ pot luck and prize giveaway!! So bring your best climber campground fair to share!! 
Sunday Funday!!! Don’t forget to bring your climbing gear!! There’s a good chance that Psyche Slab will be dry and climbable!!!"
**Reminder that the roads are closed util 6pm Friday. So head up in the evening or the night before. 

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

A New Route on Mt. Bute

Mt Bute is just outside of the Powell River area, located in the Coast Mountains north of Lund and passed Desolation Sound. Near the end of Bute Inlet stands this amazing mountain of sheer granite, which now has two routes to the summit. I tend not to post anything about mountain climbing in the PR area since it isn't my forte, but this is an outstanding route on an incredible mountain - and too close to home to not mention.

The line (1) 'School of Rock' established in 2009 by Bruce Kay, Jimmy Martinello, and Jay Sinnes.
Click here for the story
 -Not exactly 'new', but still recent enough that I had only just heard about it, and thought I'd share.

[All photos pulled from Google images]

Monday, 10 February 2014

Winter Inspiration

I recently had the pleasure of meeting and climbing with +Sasha DiGiulian , the top female sport climber in America, as well as one of the top female climbers in the world. She happened to be in the gym I climb at in Vancouver - The Hive, while in town to host the Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival.  Climbing in the gym can get really boring for me. As fun as it is to have so many different problems to work out, meet new people and hang out with friends while climbing to good tunes in a warm and controlled environment, no matter how you look at it, it still isn't rock climbing - there's no rock!

Sometimes I wish I wasn't back in school, and that I spent my money to travel all winter and just keep climbing forever working odd jobs when I need to. The inspiring thing about meeting Sasha, beyond the privilege of watching someone climb who is a master of the sport, amazingly fluid and in control and so above and beyond my skill level - was learning about how much work she puts into balancing her life as a professional climber.

To say she is a busy person is a serious understatement. If someone can travel the world on a weekly basis, compete and train at the highest professional level, AND stay in school and stay so positive was both eye opening and motivating. It goes to show that at times, when you feel like putting off school (or work) to just go climb because it feels like that's the only way to really get where you want to be in climbing - it's grounding to know that a top end pro is able to balance a life way more complicated than your own and still be the best. Sure she was crazy busy, probably stressed out from time to time, and obviously school and personal life suffers from a career with so much time away - but she still somehow manages to pull it together, focus, and do it all with an amazingly positive attitude.

A few years ago I saw this video of a young Sasha (at age 18!) becoming the first woman in America (and one of three in the world) to climb the grade of 5.14d, and have always remembered this very wise and inspiring line -
"While no American woman has ever climbed 9a (5.14D), I think maybe not enough have tried"

Thanks for for the motivation +Sasha ! You continue to inspire the climbing community, and even when things seem impossible and crazy, if there's anyone with the focus and attitude to get through it all and come out on top it's definitely you!

And now some more winter motivation...some random pictures of climbing in Powell River. A few from the Lake Blufs, the Eldred on a rainy winter day,  Matt crushing on a boulder hidden away on top of Carag Dur, and a less bearded younger version of me at Higgy Land.
Starting out on the beautiful second section of Great Gig in The Sky (5.8)

Stemming on Great Gig (5.8)

Andy D plugging gear into the amazing detached flake of Pink Isn't Well (5.9), Lake Bluffs.

Getting rained out isn't so bad :) 

Matt Hodgson crushing. The Red Wizard - V Awesome.  
Me clipping on a route at Higgy Land years ago - Photo: Tara Trigg
Frayed Ends of Insanity (5.12a/b)

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Buttress Boulders and B-Branch Photos - Eldred Valley

Just a few snap shots I snagged from Matt Hodgson. Hope everyone is staying warm and dry this winter. The first two photos are of the awesome new boulder discovered in the 'other' side of the road in the Buttress cluster. Eldred Valley bouldering at it's finest. This thing looks like it's right out of Ferngully. It's tall, and the rock quality is stellar. The line moves into a few crimps before hitting the crack to top out.
Anna's Green Fables - (Ungraded) 

Low Card - V1 (The shortest problem in the valley, it's an odd one)

Bulge Project - B Branch
This boulder in the Buttress area needs a bit of scrub down to get shiney, but after the carpet moss was pulled back some rad problems revealed themselves. Not a bad view of the Mainer in the background either.
Blessings in Disguise - Ungraded. West Main Wall in background.
Unknown problem, right side of Blessings
The classic block hold on the Open Canvas Boulder

Happy New Year....?