So, I got back to Squamish from Utah in early February, and along with everyone else, I expected our usual high pressure system to roll in like clockwork, then (of course) we’d session the boulders and cliffs like headless chickens with friction fever. I am sad to report we never got that window this year. I have always bragged in the past how late winter is our “little secret” here in Squish, with sunny days and crisp temps, there are few places that compare, perhaps the Font Sandstone and England’s Grit. When it’s good, it’s the best. I had eager plans to send some off season projects and document some great stories from our little pocket of goodness in the Great North West.
But day after day, it rained. With no Arc around, I began to wonder if our house would sink? I sat on our window sill, chipping away at articles, and photo’s drinking coffee and tea and waiting for the sun to shine. Overdosing on vitamin D and wishing I had invested in a ski touring set up. I sat and waited. Frustration built slowly. I was doing deadhangs and yoga, running a bit, and working from home, but I wasn’t climbing real rock, only dreaming about it. Then the earthquake hit Japan, and the powerplants began to leak, and the bodies washed up on shore. It was all so terrible. I thought to myself, “how dare I feel down about the weather”. The World is full of catastrophe, chaos and unfairness and here I am, a selfish little child moping because I couldn’t go outside, and do exactly what I wanted to be doing. My psychology changed in an instant that day, and I’m no longer in a hurry for the weather to change, I’m loving it no matter what comes this way, because we all know there are more important things to life than slopers and pinches. My heart goes out to those suffering and rebuilding in Japan.
Not long after, in mid March, I took a work related trip to Red Rocks, NV for the RRR, it snowed and it rained, and the wind howled, but it was beautiful, and always an adventure. I met some great people, we watched sweet slide shows by Emily Harrington and Mark Synnot, we climbed new routes, sang Karaoke and stayed up late at the Black Diamond booth drinking Whiskey into the night. What’s not to love about the RRR?
On my final day I went out with a crew of friends to try the most famous roof crack in Nevada. Desert Gold. 5.13. The name says it all. But it was 40 degree’s and wet. Brittany Griffith was the highlight of the day, singing songs and cracking jokes, her energy is contagious and she kept our spirits up, above the clouds and hail storms. It was fun to try, despite the conditions. Normally we would have just gone into town and thrown a few bucks on the craps table, but this was my last day, and I only had 2 tries left. In the end, I underestimated the wide hands at the end of the roof, and didn’t tape up for it well enough. I assumed it was just a simple hand crack, and if I made it there, I’d punch it to the lip. Not so. With stiff knuckles, I stuck the 5.12+ crux, but after the transition to the steeps, I felt the pump in my forearms escalating with every second inverted.
(Below, another climber enjoying clear skies on DG, one of the sweetest features in the South West. Click for more info)
I cupped my hands, but couldn’t actually feel them anymore. I switched and switched back again, reaching for my number 3 Camalot, I thought I was going to drop it, I plugged it in and switched hands a few more times trying to get some feeling back, but only making matters worse. I could see the lip, a flat hold only a meter away, but the clock had ticked it’s last tock and I began to bleed and slip from my knuckles. Knowing there was only one way to go, I grabbed the cam, and barely clipped the rope before my fingers uncurled. It was a fight. A fight to stay warm, dry and psyched. I lost. Darker clouds approached, I still have the scar on my knuckles which reminds me that I should have taken it more seriously. I was warned by many Vegas hard-men and women that the end of the roof was the redpoint crux, because it’s the widest and most strenuous section.
Leaving Black Velvet Canyon I smiled, knowing I got in a few punches, and that Desert Gold would always be up for a rematch.
Now back in Squamish, all the flowers are out, the sun shines, the temps are warming, and I’m putting the winter blues behind me. Far, far behind me. The only way to look is forward. It only gets better from here:)