Sunday, June 16, 2013

Squamish: Endless Slabs and Perfect Splitters

Caitlin and I were headed up to B.C. to visit family and we had a few extra days so we checked out the climbing in Squamish for the first time. Our friend Chris was able to join us up there as well, and actually drove up a couple days early to climb the Grand Wall. Which he did, although he made it sound like a struggle. This made us decide to ease into the grades and we started with Skywalker (5 pitch, 5.8) at Shannon Falls. It rained on us during the first two pitches and this made the 5.7/5.8 slab fairly challenging and scary. After that the sun came out and the low angle climbing on perfect granite blew all our expectations out of the water.

Looking down from the top of pitch 2 on Skywalker. Wet slabs are fun!

Caitlin belays Chris up pitch 2.

Chris, up around the corner, leading pitch 3.

Anchor bolts at the top of pitch 3, right before the Skywalker Traverse on pitch 4.

Chris comes around the corner on the Skywalker Traverse.

After Skywalker we climbed Klahanie Crack (5.7), a perfect splitter hand crack in blank slab surrounded by 5.11 sport routes that consist of being able to smear your way up a tilted parking lot of lichen speckled granite (not really what I call fun). We climbed some 10a slab-crack which felt pretty easy and TRed one of these 5.11s which was an exercise in frustration with my floppy multi-pitch shoes. So ended day one, it was light out so late that we cooked dinner at 9:30 and were convinced it was 7.

Me leading Klahanie Crack (photo by Caitlin).

Yes, this is only 5.7, sustained 5.7, but still just 5.7 (photo by Caitlin).

Almost there on the Klahanie Crack (photo by Caitlin).

On day two we went to the Apron. Our first choice was Diedre (6 pitch, 5.8) which is supposedly the most popular route at Squamish. There was practically no one on it. The three of us flew up the route, our rope system already dialed from the day before. We went car-to-car in about 4 hours, including stopping for lunch at the top of the route.

Caitlin follows the polished slab on pitch 1 of Diedre.

Caitlin and Chris following pitch 3.

Caitlin follows pitch 4 on the endless slab dihedral.

Caitlin and Chris prepare to follow pitch 5.

Caitlin and I hang out at the pitch 5 anchors.

Lunch-time nap at the forested ledge atop Diedre.

Diedre follows the crack/dihedral in the lower right, Squamish Buttress rises above it.

We then headed over to Exasperator (2 pitch, 5.10c). A recent issue of Rock and Ice referred to this as the "best 5.10 in the world." I'm not sure how you could ever say that about any climb, but it was definitely the most amazing 5.10 I have ever climbed in my short and undistinguished climbing career. Unfortunately two guys were "running laps" on pitch 1. I'm not sure how you could ever feel like this is an okay or polite practice on such a popular 2 pitch climb, even on a weekday evening. So we decided to get pizza and do it first thing the next morning.

We went to get Little Caesar's Hot and Readies and (here is where I jump on my soapbox, as if I wasn't on it already) found out that they are now mediums for $5.55 instead of larges for $5.00! I don't know if this is just in Canada or if the US locations now rip you off too. Little Caesar's, let me tell you, the only reason your crappy pizza was ever worth getting was because you could get a ridiculous amount for such low cost. I know that a medium pizza seems comparable to a foot-long sub sandwich but at least fast-food sandwich shops produce a food product which you can actually look at and see that some of the ingredients came from real food at some point in the not-too-distant past. Simply put, your product is crap and instead of a good value it is now a mediocre value. If this was Rome and I was a Caesar you would be fed to the lions for the amusement of the masses. Then I would decree, "FREE LARGE PIZZAS FOR EVERYONE," at your company's expense (end soapbox monologue).

Squamish bouldering statue says, "stick your head up my finely chiseled backside Little Caesar!"
The next morning we had no one to contend with at Exasperator. I led pitch 1 and Chris led pitch 2. We both stuck with it on some tenuous feeling sections and got it clean first try. Chris used up his small cams early, then kept going on passive pro, then dropped his nuts (but not his cahones) and was still able to make it to hand crack territory and clip the chains for the on-sight. The whole climb was fantastic. Normally I'm the type of person who would rather get up a big multi-pitch and top out than do some cragging like this, but I have to say this was the highlight of the trip for me. It was just so flawless and when I close my eyes at night I have the line of that perfect splitter seared into my retina as if I've been staring intensely at it all day. Wow, okay, I'll stop waxing poetic. Anyway, now I really want to go back, especially for the longer top-out routes on the Chief. Rock On, Squamish Buttress via another good Apron route, and Angel's Crest are definitely on my tick list for next time.

Starting up pitch 1 (5.10a) on Exasperator (all pics from this route taken by Caitlin).

Almost to the anchors on Exasperator pitch 1.

Chris leads through the crux on pitch 2 (5.10c).

Belaying Chris on pitch 2. Apron Strings is visible behind me.

Chris finds the perfect hand crack on the upper part of pitch 2.

P.S. I did not crimp, full crimp, half crimp, lock-off on a crimp or make any semblance of a crimp during this whole climbing trip... so strange.

Following Chris on Exasperator's second pitch.

The Chief shrouded in mist.


  1. Hi Sam,

    Great TR and nice shots. I wonder if I can get permission to cross-post on and link to a couple of photos?

    Dave Jones

    1. No problem Dave. I sent you an email too.