Tuesday, August 2, 2011

20 Days on the Road: Our Final Day at Squamish

In my experience, the last day at an area is often the best one. Familiarity helps, and knowing it's possibly your last chance to send a problem makes you try a lot harder. That's how our last day at Squamish worked out.

We began the day on the Superfly boulder. The boulder was so shaded, I needed to use my camera flash. Superfly is a great problem. Not too difficult, but it really climbs like a boulder problem. Tension, positioning and insecure reaches are all required. If an experienced roped climber ever wondered "What is bouldering all about?" "Superfly" would give them a perfect introduction.
Ashley climbing "Superfly."
Other classics near "Super Fly" were still wet, even after two days without rain. Before we got too discouraged, we checked out our project from the first day, "Minor Threat." It turned out to be surprisingly dry. Dryer than it was on the first day we worked on it. A breeze was hitting it, that didn't reach boulders deeper in the woods. It felt like a different problem. Crimps and slopers that slipped on our first day, didn't slip anymore. Desperate moves felt much more casual. We both climbed the problem quickly, and Ashley repeated it for video. Watch Ashley climb it in her patient style.

I've tried to replicate Ashley's style, but it doesn't work for me on anything difficult. For me to send a difficult boulder problem, I need to struggle, thrutch, and go as quickly as possible. It's a battle not a dance. Some how I managed to thrash up "Mind-bender" using double left lunge beta, and got a bloody forearm in the process.

Whatever works.

We did three or four other problems in the area. We were feeling worked, but I wanted to find one more good problem to end the day on. While I went hiking around, looking for an easy classic, Ashley began working on Sit-down to Holm Boy. She found it surprisingly doable. And sent it soon after I returned.

That meant that I needed to do it too. And I did, but it took everything I had at the end of the day. The perfect note, to end the outdoor portion of our climbing trip. We visited family in Portland, and heat chased us into the gym in Boise on our trip back through Idaho.

Squamish was different than I expected. The town began as an industrial/logging town, and though it seems to be moving towards being more resort and recreation focused, it hasn't gotten there yet. The forest is thick, but you can always hear highway 99 and almost always see the huge power lines. It's an incredible outdoor environment, but it isn't wilderness, and it doesn't feel like it.

The problems aren't sandbagged, but they are tricky. Many problems climb features where it isn't obvious what the best holds are, or how to use them. Even the problems that aren't slopey lip traverses, often climb a lot like slopey lip traverses.

Despite a few things that detract from the bouldering experience. I highly recommend a trip to Squamish for any boulderer. It's good to travel. The scenery is incredible. The moisture, mists, and rain while frustrating for bouldering, were also beautiful in their own way. Squamish felt very far from home, for me. The climate, the groceries, the money, and the variety of languages spoken by the other guests at our hostel, made it feel like an international trip. It's Canada, but it didn't feel like the United States. It felt like a different country or something.

All kidding aside, it's good for Americans to see things from the outside once in a while, talk to people, and get some new perspectives. So go to Squamish if you get the chance. But if the forecast calls for rain, stay in Leavenworth until things clear up.

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