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I like being outside if it's nice out. This includes mountain biking, trail running, sailing, climbing, skiing and much more. If you're going on a fun adventure, let me know!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Fun Times in Squamish

I broke my Voile Switchback bindings on my last ski trip to Frosty Mountain, so I had to go climbing instead of skiing last weekend. It turned out to be an action-packed weekend of off the couch climbing. It started off on Friday evening, when Ned and I left Vancouver after work and climbed the South Arete on the Apron, a nice easy crack between Calculus Crack, and St. Vitus Dance.

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Ned enjoying the evening sun and granite on Pitch 3.

Ned and I didn't know what to climb on Saturday, but we ended up with Sarah and followed Jeremy and friends on the first ascent of his new route, The Milk Road which is a combination of old and new pitches up the Tantalus Wall. Unlike the others (Jeremy and Kelly, Nick and Sarah) who were all great trad climbers, our slow trio consisted of Ned who hates placing gear but rather aid climb, Sarah who doesn't like chimneys but boulders V10s, and me who is scared of falling and a wimp in general. The climbing ended up being more varied and demanding than I was hoping for but it was still a great day to be outside! It was a good way to remind myself on how to climb. See Jeremy's writeup here and the topo for more details on the route. Go and climb it!

It must be the north facing aspect and maybe since it's still May, but there was some serious seepage at the start of the route. We still followed the others up regardless, even though we could see a large streak coming down the crux corner pitch on Milk Run.

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The slimey streak wasn't much fun to climb though. There was a little bit of suffering here. It reminded me of this pitch and this pitch. The crux on the pitch was keeping your feet dry, but since my were covered in slime by the time I made it to the slab, I decided to just pull on the bolts instead of working out the slabby sequence.

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I ended up leading the crux corner pitch since it was my idea to climb the route without a ropegun, instead of doing something more reasonable like Angel's Crest. There was a long wet streak on the 2nd corner pitch, so I had to aid through most of the lower half. The upper half was dry, but still quite sustained and hard for somebody who hasn't climbed much all winter.

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Sarah nearing the top out of this unrelenting 45m pitch.

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Ned and his granite coloured outfit in the Changing Corner pitch.

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Sarah following the ramp pitch. The second half of the pitch was pretty cool since it was mostly rambling easy terrain, but lots of exposure. Jeremy did a great job of cleaning this pitch, which is no longer vegetated.

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Happy to be outside and only a pitch and a half from the top.

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Evening light over Howe Sound. Ned, Sarah and I have never climbed in a trio together.

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Ned belaying Sarah up Pitch 7, which goes the Crescent tower, first climbing a bolted chimney, and then a splitter finger crack with lots of air below you.

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Sarah topping out on the spacious ledge on Pitch 7. Lots of exposure below! The lighting was quite fantastic at this point in the evening.

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Ned and Sarah at the belay. I ended up leading most of the last couple pitches since it was my idea to keep going past the top of Milk Run, instead of rapping home and going bouldering in the forest.

IMG_0218 The Milk Road
Looking back at the belay while on the final delicate 5.10c traverse pitch (The Crescent Dyke) of the Milk Road. The pitch is quite sustained, with tricky moves after each bolt, and you have to commit to slabby feet and some crimps. I was quite happy with myself when I made it to the anchor without falling.

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Sarah following the Crescent Dyke.

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Tenuous moves after each bolt. Jeremy's advice for somebody following, was to climb past the bolt, do the hard move, and then unclip from the bolt to save yourself from a big pendulum.

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Hardmen drink root beers. We were alot slower than the other two parties (Jer and Kelly, Nick and Sarah) ahead of us, who were already in Squamish drinking margaritas at this point. Jeremy left behind some root beers and chips at the top of the route to celebrate the completion of his big project.

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After over eight hours on the route, averaging an hour a pitch, we joined our friends back in Squamish. We made it back just in time for some pinata fun.

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The next day, after enjoying a lazy morning, Craig and I went off to the Papoose to climb Harpin and some routes in the Bluffs.


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Frosty Mountain


Scott Nelson and I enjoyed a perfect spring day touring at Mount Frosty. We skinned up the icy switchbacks from Lightning Lake, climbed up the East Peak, and descended the northwest face down towards Frosty Creek. We then skinned back up and skied out the Windy Joe road.

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We encountered almost the entire spectrum on snow conditions possible. From icy bruise your knee if you fall snow in the lower trees, to fast gliding snow on the flats, icy corn on the steeps, and perfect corn while skipping the meadows. The only thing missing was deep powder, and isothermal slush.

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Our original plan was to ski this couloir on the West summit, or at least look at it from the top. But there wasn't enough snow on the lake and in Frosty Creek so we decided to head to the East Summit via the trail instead. This turned out to be a good decision, as it looked like a big chunk of the cornice fell and triggered a big wet slide down the whole thing. I don't think the skiing would have been enjoyable at all.

DSC_5318 Sticky Skins
A love and hate relationship with spring skiing. Clear blue skies, warm temperatures, and sticky snow.

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Scott skiing towards the East summit, with Castle Peak to the left.

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Chiizu! On the summit of the East Peak of Frosty. We were in no rush to go anywhere, so we took our time to perfect the Matt Gunn shot, but with a bit of a change! The pink sunglasses are actually from MEC, and they're called "Thriller". Combined with my pink poles with the racing bend, I think they really help my skiing!

DSC_5381 Steep jump turns
Scott Nelson descending the northwest face of the East Peak of Frosty Mountain. It was about 45 deg at the top, for about 200m vertical, and then "eased" to 30-40 deg for a long ways. Conditions were quite variable, thin breakable crust overtop of solid snow (so it wasn't too bad) at the top, then hard grippy snow with a line of frozen ice runnels off to the side. Definitely the most sustained/scary thing I've skied. If the snow was any harder, I think a fall would send up all the way to the bottom, 700m lower.


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Scott threading a careful line through the frozen avalanche debris. It's not the large chunks that you have to worry about, but the barely covered baseball sized chunks that are ready to knock you off your feet.

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Avalanche debris from the cornice fall off the West Summit, and our ski tracks.

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Looking back at our tracks off the summit. The northeast face is more commonly skied down into Frosty Creek.

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We decided not to ski out Frosty Creek since the trees below 1500m would be a nightmare. Instead, we climbed back up onto the shoulder, and traverse towards the col south of Windy Joe.

DSC_5462 Skiing in the Larch trees
And we even found some highly enjoyable corn snow through the larch trees on the way out.

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Scott skiing out along the Windy Joe trail. We hiked the last kilometre and a bit to get to the road, and hitched a ride back to the car. What a cool trip!

Frosty East Peak
This is a photo taken by Scott, last year, from the West Summit looking east.