Diamondhead - a hike above the Howe Sound
Posted by sibylle in Canada and PNW (Tuesday August 31, 2010 at 9:38 am)

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Looking down on Squamish Chief and the Howe sound

On our hike (jog)  back down from Elfin Lakes and the Gargoyles,  we jogged mostly through dense forest surrounding both sides of the old logging road.

It was 11 km from the parking lot to Elfin Lakes and another  6 km to past the Gargoyles.

One opening in the trees allowed Andy to take this photo, looking down on Squamish Chief and the Howe Sound.

Hiking Diamondhead, near Garibaldi
Posted by sibylle in Canada and PNW (Monday August 30, 2010 at 6:13 pm)

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Elfin Lake, an  11 km hike from the trailhead

June and I had been admiring Diamondhead,  the mountain which greeted my every morning.

“Before I leave Canada, I’d like to hike up there,” I suggested.

I got to have my wish when Andy arrived  to climb. It was June’s last day at Squamish.

“Andy, want to hike up Diamondhead with us?”

Andy did.  We drove bought a  map, drove 4 km north to the Mamquam Road, and then a further 16 km up a logging road to the trailhead. At 1:30 pm, we started hiking to Elfin Lakes. After an hour to hike the first 5km, the trail forked into a bike trail and a foot trail. A brief lunch, lots of photos, and another 1.5 hours of hiking, and then we reached Elfin Lakes and the shelter.

Now, at 4:00, we wanted to see the fabled “Gargoyles” and thought we should turn around by 5:00 - that gave us an hour to cover the next 5  - 6 km.


Mamquam icefield

We  headed uphill - and up — and up — and encountered a geologist, collecting rock samples for her master thesis. We continued up a steep hill to view the Gargoyles - bizarre rock formations of loose cobbles with holes through them. Finally, at 5:30, past all of our deadlines, we reached the summit.

“Want to run back?” I suggested to Andy.

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We started running down the steep trail, walking when it got too steep or rubbly.  We’d come in about 17 km, and needed  to jog and walk back 17 km in the next three hours.

After a brief stop for lunch at the Elfin Lake shelter, we ran  more.

“Do you mind running downhill?” I asked Andy (who, at 61 years of age, may not have bargained for running back down the trail.)

“Oh no.” he replied. “I like it. I’ve not tried running on hikes, but it’s  exhilarating.”

Well. That settled, we ran  more and reached the trailhead by 8:30, just as it got dark.

We’d hiked 34 km, with a 1:30 pm start, and not even broken out our headlamps. What a great day!

Fun Climbs voted one of the top Extreme Sports Blogs
Posted by sibylle in Uncategorized (Sunday August 29, 2010 at 2:02 pm)

Thanks to my readers for nominating Fun Climbs Around the World as one of the top blogs about extreme sports.

And thanks again for voting  this one of the best blogs for information about rock climbing.

As on 2012, Online schools discontinued their awards program, and no longer  gives awards to blogs.

Squamish - fall is coming
Posted by sibylle in Canada and PNW (Wednesday August 25, 2010 at 11:03 am)

We had a few days of much cooler temperatures, and one day with sprinkles, but not steady rain.

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We hesitated to climb long routes with  clouds  threatening to rain on us, so we headed to the Smoke Bluffs, with its plethora of one-pitch climbs.

Andy lead Power Windows ( and I fell off following it!) - a very thin face climb.

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Power windows starts with a thin crack, protected by small wires near the end. When the crack ends, traverse right on very small edges. Andy has fingers of Steel, and held on to the crimps I fell off that move, but then managed the remaining traverse right on small edges for the feet.
The leaves are turning, and I’m climbing with a fleece hat and two layers of long underwear - we’re experienced a few days of colder temperatures.

Squamish - St. Vitus Dance
Posted by sibylle in Canada and PNW (Monday August 23, 2010 at 2:55 pm)

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June leading St. Vitus Dance

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The crack gets wider the further up we climbed!

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Luckily we brought wide cams this time!

A few years ago, one of my first climbs on the Apron, Tristan and I set out to climb Calculus Crack.  We had not looked at the routes carefully from the parking lot, and after a pitch decided we must be on the wrong route since the cracks were uniformly wide.  We later  learned That we’d climbed St. Vitus Dance (without big gear).

This time, June and I brought several large cam number three and bigger, which made the climb much less frightening.

After the first two “approach”  pitches, St. Vitus Dance comprises three more pitches of crack climbing, all rated 5.9. The first heads up a crack that continually widens, and also gets steeper, until we encountered off-width sections (but they were short).

On the second pitch, I climbed up a hand crack to a traverse to a second crack to the right.

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This traverse proved easier than expected, since I could almost reach  from one hand jam to another.  After the traverse, the hand-size crack  eventually morphed into an off-width and then an almost chimney, but all with good gear.

I’d actually found the most awkward  move to be on the second “approach” pitch, supposedly 5.8. It may be, but I found the one section harder than anything in the following three pitches. So if you struggle on that pitch, don’t give up on the climb - the erst seems easier to me!

Squamish - an international destination area
Posted by sibylle in Canada and PNW (Friday August 20, 2010 at 7:06 pm)

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Shouta, from Japan, at the Smoke Bluffs

I arrived in Squamish on  Wednesday evening. Talking to the guy parked next to me, in the parking lot where I was camped my first few nights, I mentioned I was  looking for a climbing partner. Jon told me he was here with a group from Japan, and invited me to come along.  He then proceeded to introduce me to Uchido,

“Uchi doesn’t speak English, and is here to climb Astroman,”  he told me.

“Konichi-wa!” I  said ( it means either hello or good morning).

Uchi and I smiled at one another.

“Do any of your friends speak English?” I wondered. Some did, and we all headed for the Smoke Bluffs, where I variously climbed with Jiu, Jon, or Yotasha (?).

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Shouta, Smoke Bluffs

Next, a Ukraine climber invited me to climb, anda climber from Australia, and one from India.

Once I got a campsite, I was next to a group from Korea one one side,  and some Aussies and a German three sites over. I ran into four French, and some Swedes at the base of the climb. The climbers next to me lent their car to two Swiss climbers.

I’ve practiced my German, but not much Spanish yet.

More info:

Stawamus Chief Park 

Squamish climbing homepage


Elephant’s Perch - sideline
Posted by sibylle in Uncategorized, Idaho (Thursday August 19, 2010 at 6:43 pm)


Elephant’s Perch with Saddleback Lakes in foreground

After we climbed the Mountaineer’s Route, and a rest day, we headed up to Sideline. This route is basically Astro Elephant, with an easier start that avoids the first two difficult pitches.

Though the description for  Astro Elephant  states that the climb is 5.10-, I’d been told by three climbers (who climb harder than me!) that it’s hard 5.11. To back up this claim, when ryan and I went to the store named Elephant’s Perch in Ketchum to get topos and recent informaiton,  one of the people who works there said,

“Oh, Astro Elephant is 5.11c”. Why, when the general consensus names is 11c, it remains in the books as 5.10 is beyond me, but that’s the prerogative of first ascents - call it what, and how hard, you like.

Sideline started with a pleasant, short 5.8 pitch to a comfy ledge, that I led.  Ryan led the next 5.9 pitch, with a face-climbing crux,  to another good ledge. We found amazing  face climbing on incut solution pockets and small, incut edges, unlike any I”ve seen on granite elsewhere.
After that , he ran together pitches 3 and 4, to the big ledge that traverses half the face. Two traversing pitches followed , to get us up to the crux pitch - seven. Ryan, who’d shown himself to be our face expert, started up this one. It’s inobvious, and we had one wrong start before traversing first slightly right, then up a thin layback flake, and then left. This traverse left provided some excitement - it’s hard for 5.9+ (never trust 5.9+; we both thought it had 5.10 moves) and would engender a pendulum  for the second. Luckily we both made it across, to another good ledge.

I led the supposed 5.8 off-width to chimney pitch and struggled at length. After placing every piece of large gear we had with us, I belayed partway up this pitch, letting Ryan lead the  next section of hard, semi-runout, face to yet another good ledge.

We reached the top in good time - about 6 hours, and descended the gully in good light.


Myopia with climbers in the shade on the left-facing corner
Next day, we watched two climbers start up Myopia, a 5.11  up prominent corners. It looks like a great climb, and one I’d like to come back to when I’m strong enough!

Posted by sibylle in Canada and PNW (Wednesday August 18, 2010 at 5:34 pm)

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Jon on a 12a  climb at the Smoke Bluffs

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Unknown climber on Cold Comfort

Squamish is dryer and hotter than I’ve ever seen it. I’ve climbed here twice, and both times it’s been wet and cold. Now it’s hot, sunny, and dry every day!

Apparently,  a high pressure  area is over the  south coast of British Columbia.

Saturday’s hottest spot was Squamish, with a temperature of 36.7°C, which set a new record high. The previous record, 31.8°C,  was set in 2008.

Can’t say I mind this weather!

Weather for climbing
Posted by sibylle in Uncategorized, utah, Wyoming, Colorado, California, Idaho (Tuesday August 17, 2010 at 2:38 pm)

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“It’s way too hot to climb there now!” I heard this morning.

Weather, temperature, and the presence or absence of rain become frequent preoccupations among traveling (or even stay-at-home) climbers.

Here’s a great site for weather in the United States:


They don’t yet post weather outside the United State.

The weather site helps to avoid spring snow showers.

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That’s my tent, buried under the snow!

Elephant’s Perch, Mountaineer’s Route
Posted by sibylle in Idaho (Monday August 16, 2010 at 4:23 pm)

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Below the “diamond” on the Elephant’s Perch

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The Mountaineer’s Route followed the right-facing corner that runs left of the large “diamond”. It took us 4 pitches, over 600 feet, to reach the base of the diamond!

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The “Triple Roofs”

I’m not sure whether the “triple roofs” are the lower, more prominent, of the two roof features , or the one above. I’d been so worried about climbing the dreaded “triple roofs” -   I’m bad enough at climbing one roof, let alone three of them! And then we bypassed them on gentle face climbing to the side!

I passed the lower of the roofs on pitch four traversing left below the roofs and then turning the corner to ascend on or near the arete to the left.

Ryan passed the upper roofs on pitch five, traversing left on the face and then again following the arete up.

We got lost on pitch six - stayed too far left and added an exciting variation to both pitch six and then traversing back onto pitch seven - some of the hardest climbing we did.

We reached the top of our  in about five hours, hiked around the back, and scrambled back down the descent gully.

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