Rock On, North Gully, Squamish
Posted by sibylle in Canada and PNW (Tuesday August 28, 2012 at 4:51 pm)

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Rock On,  pitch 4

photo by Andy Cairns

Pitch 4  requires more technique and also a bit more pulling than the other 4 pitches of Rock On.

Above, I’ve passed the difficult first few layback moves –  a fingertip layback in small, widely-spaced  tiny pockets spaced at intervals that felt entirely too long.

After those first few fingertip layback moves, the corner steps back to merely steep, or vertical, instead of overhanging, which permitted me to stem to the side on decent footholds, taking some weight off my fingers.

This pitch, in my opinion, is one reason Rock On merits the “Top 100″ climbs designation.  It’s exciting, in a beautiful corner, and the belayer gets to watch form a spacious ledge.

Furthermore, you can choose to rappel the entire climb and hike back down the North Gully, should you not wish to continue to the summit via Squamish Buttress or the Ultimate Everything.

Tenaya Peak, Tuolumne Meadow, Yosemite
Posted by sibylle in Yosemite, California (Monday August 27, 2012 at 4:27 pm)

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Our “lunch” stop on Tenaya Peak

This past July Hal and I romped up Tenaya Peak. I hadn’t climbed for many months,  and felt too out of shape to climb any truly strenuous or difficult routes; so climbing the  long, easy  ridge of Tenaya Peak seemed like a good way to get in shape.

We hiked around Tenaya Lake to  the stream, which we crossed on  alog near the lake.  Head toward the Peak until you reach the trail, and turn left (east).  Follow the hiker’s trail until you see a big cairn, and then turn right, uphill, toward the ridge of Tenaya Peak.

The trail weaves back and forth through the manzanita shrubs toward the peak, staying near the right edge  of the bushes. When the slabs looked reasonable ( this will vary according to personal reference), traverse right and continue up slabs.

If you’re comfortable on friction, the slabs are easier and quicker than slogging through the shrubbery. We continued up slabs to the high spot in the photo, above  - a very large, flattish slab of rock that provides a cozy lunch ‘table’.

After eating a quick snack here, we roped up, and belayed the next (crux) pitch. here one has various option - head up the break between arches, or head up a layback and crack  to the left of this break. If there are several climbers on the route, the left-hand version, perhaps technically moe difficult, provides a nice way to avoid a traffic jam.

From here, I traversed far left, and then various options allow one to reach the summit. We belayed only for these last three pitches, the second of which comprises an easy 5th class traverse.

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View towards Mathes Crest from Tenaya Peak

Area 44, Squamish
Posted by sibylle in Canada and PNW (Sunday August 26, 2012 at 2:50 pm)

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The climb, “Flight Deck”, at Area 44

Photo by Andy Cairns
We recently visited Area 44 to climb several of the newly cleaned and  bolted sport routes found here. We’d hoped that it would be quiet on a weekend, and instead were surprised to find many large groups of UBC students with ropes rigged on all the easier routes.

We opted to climb the only route in sight without a rope (or several climbers) on it  -  “Flight Deck”, rated 5.10b.

After struggling on the steeper parts of our “warm-up”, we went on to the easier climbs — Nuts and Bolts (5.6), Nuts and Raisins (5.7), and I’m Not Against It (5.8),  to 5.10b (Monkey Barrel). Both of us found Nuts and Raisins (5.7) to be easier than Nuts and Bolts (5.6). Nuts and Bolts is very easy  for most of the route, but has one technical move that’s quite thin, and a beginner may struggle on this move.
Next , we hiked  up around the corner to the Top 100 Rocky Horror (5.10 a). This climb is truly fun — it combines face climbing with jams, underclings, laybacks, stemming, and  a large variety of movement to keep every foot up interesting. It’s well worth the steep, scree-filled hike in (or out).

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Merci Me, Squamish Chief
Posted by sibylle in Canada and PNW (Friday August 24, 2012 at 2:42 pm)

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The run-out pitch 1 of Merci Me

photos by Andy Cairns
In the heat spell last week, we opted to climb in the shade, which, in the morning, includes most of Squamish Chief.

Andy suggested Merci Me, one of the approaches to the epic Grand Wall,  which I quickly agreed sounded good.

Pitch 1 of Merci Me is rated 5.7 in one of the guidebooks, with the first bolt 30 feet above the belay ledge. The new Squamish Select guide rates it 5.8, which is more how it felt to this visitor, climbing the pitch on sight.

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Belay at top of pitch 1

The climb follows a prominent dike for two pitches, and diagonals left to end below a large roof. The second pitch of Merci Me also starts the approach to the infamous Grand Wall — about half-way up the pitch, instead of follwing the dike left, instead, head up and then right to the small roof below the Split Pillar.

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Pitch 2 of Merci Me

While I’ve led runout friction pitches on the Glacier Point Apron, and in Tuolumne, this presents a different type of climb. It’s much steeper, and not smearing on friction, but face climbing on flakes and edges formed by the dike.

Equipment is simple:

3 bolts on pitch one

4 bolts on pitch 2.

Not much gear to carry for this climb!

Murrin - World’s Toughest Milkman - Squamish
Posted by sibylle in Canada and PNW (Monday August 20, 2012 at 6:12 pm)

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At the top of “World’s Toughest Milkman”

photos by Andy Cairns
The new guide book to climbing at Squamish, British Columbia, “Squamish Select“, in addition to including routes new since the last published guidebook, also offers a “Top 100″ routes list.

As a long time, compulsive list-aholic, we’ve been ticking off some of the “top 100″ climbs  (the ones that are easy enough that I may have a slight chance of getting up them.  They include 5.13s on the top 100 list that I won’t be trying!)

After climbing Rock On, we  were not yet completely exhausted — plus, the weather remained good (always an issue in Canada, or any high mountains), so we decided to drive to Murrin Park , a cragging area which sports over 50 short, mostly one-pitch climbs, several of which are on the Top 100 list.

Out first stop was  the Milkman Wall, to climb “The World’s Toughest Milkman“, originally rated a sandbag 5.8, but upgraded in the new guidebook.

The route follows steep cracks and flakes to a bulge at the top - which, luckily for me, had a crack in it. I threw my foot up in the crack, and pulled myself  up sideways –  perhaps not standard sport technique, but, I had a top belay.

The climb’s as steep as the picture shows - but not that difficult, except for the exit move at the top.


Jungle Warfare, (Squamish)
Posted by sibylle in Canada and PNW (Sunday August 19, 2012 at 12:54 pm)

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The steep first pitch

photos by Andy Cairns
The first pitch of Jungle Warfare - one of the easiest climbs on the Squaw - gets in your face  from the start. Step into a vertical crack, which  gets bigger, wider, and takes you over a pumpy roof.

The next pitch starts with an awkward traverse left– I scooted and crawled across the start, but was finally forced to stand up in order to continue up the crack above.

My favorite pitch was 4 - a delightful thin finger layback (bring lots of small cams and wires), with occasional face holds that made it easier to place gear.  One more easy pitch led to the top, from which we scrambled down through the “cave” descent.

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The top of Jungle Warfare

Rock On, Squamish
Posted by sibylle in Canada and PNW (Saturday August 18, 2012 at 12:24 pm)

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Pitch 1 of Rock On

photos by Andy Cairns
During last week’s heat wave, we hiked  to Rock On, which remains shady most of the day.

Pitch one, shown above, starts with a tricky finger crack to a corner. I found laybacking  around the roof to be burly, but well-protected (I was glad of the #3 Camalot for the wide crack).

After this, I  stemmed the corner easily, until the next flake to layback around - but this one is easier and less strenuous than the first steep part.

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Rock On, pitch 3

Pitch 3, though rated harder (5.9) than pitch 1 (5.8) felt less strenuous. It involves stemming a corner, jams, a chimney move, followed by a traverse left under a roof.  The traverse protected well with 0.5 to #1 Camalots - use long slings to avoid rope drag.

Andy led the crux pitch - the thin fingertip layback of pitch 4, which looks much harder to protect, since it leans quite a bit.

We chose to climb pitch 5 to the top, and rappel down to the Apron descent, but the climbers in front of us rappelled the route. The ledge above pitch 3 became very crowded then: I was there, plus the two climbers in front of us ( one of whom landed on my foot when rappelling); plus the guys who’d climbed “Hard On”, a two-pitch route to the same belay.  Yes - expect crowds: this is a (well-deserved) Top 100 climb!

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