Saturday, August 18, 2012

Climbing Rocks of Different Shapes and Sizes

Well July found me in the Yukon working the mountaineering section of the NOLS Yukon Semester. It was a wonderful 24 days of travelling through remote glaciated mountainous terrain, climbing unnamed peaks, teaching leadership and technical skills, and having lots of fun! As August came around I headed south to Squamish and Pemberton to do some climbing... enjoy.

Summit of Matier with TJ
I arrived in Squamish in the evening of August 3rd and had a nice night sleep... of course after making plans to go climbing.

These 2 weeks have been all mashed together for me.... I do know that I have had a tone of fun climbing with first Grace, Scotty P and Ben, then Mike and Gen, then Jan, Scotty B and Steph and more recently Sarah, Doug, Gen and TJ. Thanks for all the wonderful climbing!

Grace and I climbed St. Vitus Dance, Wire Tap and went cragging at Nightmare Wall with Ben Ven and Scotty P.
Scotty Palmer on Hypertension Squamish BC Photo by Ben Venter

Sending! Photo by Ben Venter

Hand Stacking... Splitter! Photo by Ben Venter

Relaxing.... Photo by Ben Venter

Mike and I went for a burn on Borderline to Blazing Saddles on the Sheriffs Badge... highly recommended!! The next day Gen joined us for a team of 3 and we went to the Upper Malamute and the base of the Grand Wall for some more cragging. We climbed Paul's Crack, Apron Strings, and a few other wonderful cracks! The next day we climbed Bullethead East a beautiful 5 pitch 5.9-10 crack system and then climbed the classic Rainy Day Dream Away so good!

Gen on the 2nd pitch of Bullethead East

Mike coming up a pitch on Bullethead East with Howe Sound behind.
That same day I was to meet up with Jan, Steph and Scotty to head into the Joffre Lakes area to climb a newly developed granite buttress. I got to there place at 4pm and we packed up for 2hr drive to the camp spot/trail head.

The climb we did was 11 pitches and went at hard 10d/11a crack and slab. The quality of the rock is amazing on this buttress! If you are heading up to the Joffre Lakes area from Pemberton the buttress is accessed via a logging road on your left about 1km before the 2km sign for Joffre Lakes Provincial Park. As you head up the road it splits go right and drive up until your car cannot go any further or if you have a high clearance 4x4 you can go a few km further. From the camp spot cross the creek on the right and follow the blazed trail, alittle route finding in a few spots, to the toe of the northeast buttress on the left of the valley.

A beautiful granite buttress up North Joffre Creek logging road.

The climbing is awesome! Bugaboo quality granite... here is the route description:
pitch 1 - starts off a bit wet and mossy then leads to drier terrian 60m 10a
pitch 2 - a short section of tricky 5.9 face climbing to a bushy climb for 60m
pitch 3 - starts with a 5.10 off fingers crack to a hard 10/11 finger crack 40m

Scotty B climbing some beautiful cracks
pitch 4 - is another hard 10/11 off fingers to hands crack to a nice traverse right on a cleft under a small roof 20m

Jan Dettmer and Step Peacock climbing up behind us

Jan enjoying the stellar granite

pitch 5 - is a steller 30m splitter hand crack that we linked into another hard 10/11 finger crack to a huge ledge
pitch 6 - move far right into a corner and hand jam up the flake, traverse up and right to a tree belay 50m
From here I would say the best climbing is finished the rest of the route wonders quite a bit and if you got off route the rap stations could be quite challenging to find. All rap stations are fixed on gear or trees. I highly recommend this climb! Even if you're not a climber the area is an amazing place to go hiking or scrambling.

We got back to Squamish that night at around 11:30pm so I headed back to the campground for a nice night sleep. The next day brought some relaxing and a few pitches of sport climbing at Zoe Wall and the Petrified Wall in Murrin Park with Sarah and Doug.

That night Jan and I planned on heading to climb Milk Road 10d/A0 9 pitches on the Tantalus Wall. We meet in the climber parking lot below the campground and made the short walk to the base. This route has wonderful sustained 5.10 climbing.

Me on pitch 1 of Milk Road
Jan on a 10b pitch on Milk Road
Jan on one of the upper 10 pitches on Milk Road
After Milk Road I took a rest day and did laundry, got groceries, went for a swim at Brohm Lake which is very popular but worth it. And that evening Gen and I planned on heading back up in the Joffre Lakes to climb the Northeast Face of Mt Joffre via the Flavelle-Lane 5.9 12 pitches.

Northeast Face of Joffre. Central Pillar is right of centre and Flavelle-Lane is the lower angle buttress in the centre.

Gen navigating the shrund
Gen 2/3 of the way up Flavelle-Lane
Fortunately I have some wonderful friends in Pemberton who made there house available to me whenever I wanted it while they were in Montreal so we stayed there Tuesday night. We woke at 4:45am and left the house at 5:30am we got to the Cerise Creek trail head at 6:30am and started in. The walk in is about 3.5-4km to the alpine then some steep moraine and glacier travel to the base of the thin buttress left of the Central Pillar. The crux of the climb is pitch 1 & 2 where you climb steep poorly protected 5.9 face for about 50m to where the terrain eases off to low 5th class terrain with a few more pitches of 5.7-5.8 climbing higher up. When you arrive at a large ledge with a big snow patch you have finished the hardest of the technical climbing and have 4th and low 5th class terrain to the summit. Though the terrain is less challenging the rock is of very poor quality and staying in the present is very important. We simu-climbed the last 6 pitches of the route and it was very very chossy.

Summit!! With Matier, Hartzell and more behind
The route was super fun and a full alpine experience. If anyone is going to climb this route be warned it is not travelled much and there is a lot of very loss terrain. We descended the South Face 4th class with 35 degree snow and where back at the car at 8:20pm.

Gen and I headed back to Pemberton for supper and sleep. The next morning was a bit slower. regardless we got our stuff ready and headed back to Squamish. We ended up climbing Calculus Crack and Memorial Crack. After a swim at Brohm Lake Gen headed back to Squamish and I head back to Pemberton to get a good sleep and then meet up with TJ for another adventure into the Joffre Lakes area. We planned on climbing Mt Matier's West Buttress 5.9 7 pitches.

As Thrusday went and Friday came I was up again at 4:45am ate breaky packed my stuff and then TJ arrived, Simone TJ's wife, owns a small organic farm in Pemberton called Root Down Organics if you are interested in learning more about the farm google them!!, and we head to the pass.

TJ on the first pitch of Matier's West Buttress
At around 6:45am we started in and made great time up to the glacier and across it to the base of the buttress. The climbing consisted of fairly good rock from 5.6 - 5.7 until you topped out the buttress. It is graded 5.9 but it really didn't feel that hard to me. After we topped out the buttress we traversed the ridge to the summit and then descended the North Ridge, 3rd class 35 degree snow, back to the glacier and made it back to the parking lot by 6:30pm. Another wonderful day in the alpine!

TJ part way up 
TJ close to the Summit
Upper Joffre Lake from the edge of the Matier Glacier on our descent
 Today I plan of eat a bunch of food, read Games of Thrones "A Feast for Crows" and play in the garden. A nice way to relax before hopefully some more climbing adventures to come next week.

Thanks for all the climbing again friends! I wouldn't be able to do these things without you all!!

Life is good! Photo by TJ Reeves

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