Canada Adventures | Squamish & Whistler
When you live in the Pacific Northwest and get involved in the outdoor community, it doesn't take much to go from a simple hiking hobby to being involved in multi-sport disciplines. It's occasionally overwhelming to learn to be good at everything, but it has major perks when you don't really know what nature is going to present you with on a given weekend.
Take the past weekend, for example. We were so excited to go ice climbing, but it's late in the season, it's been warm, and so I had my reservations. Still, we packed for ice climbing, but also skiing and rock climbing...you know, just in case.
After work, I threw all my climbing things in one pack, all my ski stuff in another pack, and lounging clothes in a duffel and drove out to meet up with Aaron and Russ. We loaded Russ's sprinter van (seriously, the most well thought through and laid out sprinter van I've ever seen) and took off for Squamish.
We arrived pretty late in the evening and pulled over across from the Chief to get some shut eye and so we could scope out the ice situation first thing the next morning.
Unfortunately, when the sun came up, we zoomed in on the wall with the camera and, much to our chagrin (but not entirely unexpected), the ice we had hoped would be there was nothing but a flowing waterfall.
So with this information, we set off towards Whistler and were pointed in the direction of Lillooet by a nice gas station cashier (where we also purchased a Sasquatch...more on that in the photos) for some climbable ice. We made it just past Mt Currie when Russ and Aaron spotted a rock that looked like a promising climb. We stopped to scope out the situation, and lo and behold, there were already bolted routes on the rock and we promptly ditched our ice climbing plans! (I tried looking up what the routes were on Mountain Project but they didn't exist!)
Aaron lead the first route (okay, so he lead all the routes...showoff...) which, from the ground, seemed relatively simple and straightforward. We noticed a belay station about three clips up and initially thought nothing of it, but once Aaron got up to a crack, it became apparent that it was a mixed route, not a sport route and the belay station was there because the route was too long for the rope to reach the bottom. So he came down, and we grabbed the trad rack from the van for him to continue up the route past the crack to the next bolt. Turns out, the route ended a good 20 feet or so above the last bolt and, from where I was standing, it was pretty nerve-wracking to watch (the boy forgot to put his helmet back on after grabbing the trad rack and it would have been a pretty far fall sans helmet...and then Russ bet that he would take at least one fall). But Aaron managed to anchor in without falling, but not without a bloodied finger, and we moved on to the second route.
Russ said this route looked easy. Turns out, when he says that, it means he looked at the route up to the third bolt before coming to a conclusion. This route started out with a wide crack where a good lean and counterbalance was essential. Then there was the first overhang. The seemingly good crack right above the overhang turned out to be an absurdly shallow crack (we're talking like maybe to the first knuckle if you have tiny hands like me) and literally nothing else to hold. If you can reach high enough there was a tiny bit where you could wrap your thumb around vertically and do a crimpy one-handed pull up on (absolutely not happening for me). I had a couple dozen failed attempts at that section where i tried every heel hook, counterbalance, finger jam, pseudo-pull up combination I could come up with before I cheated and had that two or three feet aided. The crack was decent (haha, well in comparison to right above the overhang), for about two feet before reaching the second overhang, where it was almost as hard to get up, but once you do, there is a blessed crimp on the right which at that point basically felt like a jug. This route absolutely killed us, and yet, none of us could resist a the draw of multiple attempts at it.
We ended the day on a nice route that was straight up, had wonderful hand and toe holds, and went right up into the sunshine, before the topic of prime ribs came up and made our stomachs rumble and spurred us on to pack up quickly in search of some steaks.
We found a restaurant called 21 Steps Kitchen + Bar for our post-climb steaks, courtesy of Russ, and the steaks and drinks could not have come closer to perfection (Aaron claims it's probably the best meal he's ever had in his life, while I'm pretty sure I've never had a better old fashioned in my life). Ultimately, we had such a good day and everyone was such great company that dinner was a beautiful bow at the end of a pretty perfect day.
We wound down the evening at an RV park near Whistler with stunning views and starry skies and turned in for the night in the van.
We struggled out of bed the next morning but finally made our way to one of my favorite places to ski....Whistler! It was Russ and Aaron's first time there so it was particularly exciting to be able to share my excitement of the stellar views and long runs that Whistler had to offer! We spent most of the day riding the Whistler Village Gondola up to near the top and taking long runs all the way back down to the village with Aaron and Russ hitting the terrain parks a few times. There was pretty decent spring snow on the mountain, starting out slightly icy in the morning and turning into a nice pliable slush by the afternoon. We ended the day heading back to Blackcomb via the Peak 2 Peak Gondola (which is always the coolest views and experience!).
We headed back towards the good ol' USA making a few rest stops here and there and taking Sasquatch out for a few last sunset photos of the trip and finally making it back home in time to crash for a few hours before our normal lives resumed on Monday morning.