FULL SWING

If you have not signed on to save the Niagara Glen yet, go to the post below and please click on the link.  For those of you who did, good job.  I hope we’re not too late to have our opinion counted.  In hindsight I wish I had acted sooner, the Glen after all is my old stomping ground, a place where I learned to scramble and it would be a tragedy if it was ever taken from us.  Out here on the West Coast, they don’t close things down so much, but they will blow them up.  The Highway in Squamish is in Full Swing and we are all counting down the days for completion.  With that being said, the weather is outstanding and the crowds are all gone. Could it get any better?  I fuggin LOVE THIS PLACE.

In 2001 I dropped into Squamish Valley for the first time. A friend of mine showed me a route that had been left unclimbed.  It was a three bolt boulder problem tucked in the Grand Wall boulders. I put in some effort, made a jump across the gap and crimped my way out to the top.  We called it Silent Menace 5.13d/14a.

Roughly 6 years after this, some inconsiderate yahoo yanked off the starting hold.  It looked as though it would be possible, but hard as nails.  It would take a motivated soul with steel fingers to campus and grit through the opening sequence.  Ben Harden was that soul.  5 feet 2 inches tall, 110 pounds soaking wet, 24 years old from Kelowna, Ben “Butters” clamped his grip down and ripped through one of the shortest 5.14b/c routes in the world.  Ben rated it 5.14b, but just by looking at it, I like to tag on the slash grade, the line looks desperate.

However, the whole time I was working Silent Menace, I kept looking over my shoulder and staring at this wildly steep feature that stretched across the adjacent boulder.  This line would eventually become The Cream Snatcher 5.14d.  I kept meaning to go back to it, year after year, but time passed and I never did. Until one day in 2005 like a thunder storm, the Petzl Roc Trip swept into Squampton one muggy July.  I ran into this Chris Sharma guy in the boulders and he said with dilated pupils, ” WHOA! – Dude, I found a line” and then I said “Whoa! – dude, let me guess?”

Sure enough, we had envisioned the same line.  The next day we went back out with a hammer drill and 10 bolts.  We debated for a second about leaving it as a mixed climb, but we quickly realized that clipping 8 bolts and then placing one cam was a stupid idea so we slammed in the final bolt and called it done.  I was able to play on it just once with Chris, we solved the lower crux pretty quickly, but I had nothing left to keep going.  Chris on the other hand, was able to huck and dyno his way through the final two cruxes and came back a month later to connect all the dots.  Dream Catcher quickly became one of the worlds hardest sport climbs and certainly one of the most beautiful.  You can see the video on youtube and it will surely get your finger tips glistening.  Good work by the Lowell Bros.

So three more years rip by and now I am standing at the base of the climb with my friend Ben with his blond hair sticking out from his little cap staring up at the route and feeling the weight of intimidation.  I went first, then Ben.  We worked out the lower cruxes and were able to make quick links.  But the upper problem was still hard, as hard as anything I’ve known.  It was wet too, but we could hang from the holds for a second with enough chalk.  In all, we were able to do nearly all the moves but a few. The Cream Snatcher boils down like this.  V8 slab directly into a V9 sloper traverse to a jug with NO FEET, clip and climb directly into a V10 crimp and pimp section finishing with a desperate lunge into a slot. Again, no feet.  from here, take a deep breath, smile and reach right past the arete and around the corner entering the final V11/12 campusing section – all capped by another flamboyant dyno to the top.  JEEEEESH.  I think I better get fit for this one.  I’ll try it again in the spring when I feel stronger. Until then, I better hit the hangboard.  Hard.

  • Dustin

    Sick Sonnie! I hope this project takes hold and grips you, I’d love to see footage of you sending that jam… especially now that it’s in your back yard!

  • http://jamiechong.ca Jamie Chong

    It was no asshole yanking off the hold on purpose: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ARLlaGZI-5s

  • elias

    my hands are soaking dude!!! wanna climb right fuckin NOW!!

  • Charlie

    I would probably pay to watch you work this route. The motivation I would get from the viewing pleasure would be worth your weight in gold :)

  • David

    Are you sporting the same pants Chris wore on the first ascent for good luck?

  • Sonnie

    Jamie, thanks for posting that clip, I remember seeing that way back when (I think someone emailed me the link). It’s a great clip actually and I’m sure ripping that giant block was quite a surprise for that guy. I know it was an accident, I was just playing around when I called him a yahoo. Of course, now the line is still there, just a wee bit harder. Grin. btw, great job on Frontside, very impressive.

    Charlie, how much would you be willing to pay? Ha ha ha, ‘Ain’t nuthin going on but the rent’. Joke, but thanks for the enthusiasm. I actually tried the climb again yesterday, you wouldn’t believe how sticky the rock is right now, unfortunately, the upper cruxes are still wet. I’ve got the slab dialed, the heel hooking traverse and a few moves in between, but the meat of the crux was wet and I still think I need to earn some more power.

    David, other way around actually, Chris is wearing the same pants as me. Rip off. ha ha. My pants were made in India, total coincidence. Besides, luck won’t get me up this climb, iron fingers will – it’s far too powerful.

  • Apes

    Hi Sonnie!!! Its probably no big deal, but poor Benny seems to often have his last name spelled incorrectly. He probably does not care, but I think we should give the guy some credit and spell it the way it was given to him. So here is the correct spelling for all y’all out there; it is in fact Ben Harnden. There is an extra sneaky “N” in there to trick you all. I would want people to know my correct name, wouldn’t you? But that’s just me. Take care buddy. I hope to see you soon.