The Place to Be…

If there were two places I could have been this weekend, it would have been Ventura, California and Montreal, Quebec. More about that in a second because Squamish was a tight third. In fact, I got in some pretty damn good bouldering sessions and yesterday I hiked the Chief in the rain looking for new lines. I launched up the rugged trail with two ropes, two full racks and a bottle of water. I was actually product testing in the rain. One, I was testing out some new FiveTen footwear on the wet upper slabs, Two, I was testing the brand new Petzl 9.8 Nomad (Duratec Dry) 70 meter and Three, I was testing out a new base layer for Patagonia plus a new guide pant. IN the end I found a line of epic proportions, a line so good it caused drool to form under my bottom lip and spill out down to the forest below. It will need some scrubbing, but it’s probably one of the most beautiful features I’ve seen in Squamish so far, imagine one single (and steep) crack line that runs the length of three full ropes? CRAZY!

Taken just before my descent into the abyss from the First Summit.  The clouds were so thick at one point, I watched everything within 6 feet of me disappear.  I took this shot in case I didn’t make it back out so that people knew I loved this shit.  Grin.

The drop was so steep, I felt like I could have base jumped it, er, you know, if I was a base jumper that is. AND Check out this picture below of the Squamish Buttress, taken by Bourdon. There is so much unclimbed rock in this picture that it blows my mind. Check out the steep crag in the bottom left, Kashmir Wall, just beggging for hard 5.14 multipitch trad climbing, and in the upper right side, steep, clean and relatively unexplored. The Pan Wall. I’ve been to a lot of places in the world, and I still think Squamish is the best spot for establishing First Ascents, it’s pretty much unlimited when you start digging around and stray off from the main trails and crowded lines.

Okay, back to the opening, two places where I wish I could have been this weekend May 16th and 17th.

ONE: The Sacred Craft Expo in Ventura, California, A tribute to the masters. I think if I was a surfer I’d end up shaping boards, I just love the idea of building something so beautiful, a piece of art that becomes an extension of the body and cuts beautiful lines into the oceans surface, thus creating poetry in motion. No wonder Surfing is such a huge sport, it’s completely and utterly romantic. Climbing is too, but it’s different. Did you know that Andy Irons made over a MILLION dollars last year from Billabong? That’s just one of his many sponsors. While most climbers are scrambling to make a few thousand dollars. Either way, you have to respect this Expo, they won’t even let Billabong in the door, but they do invite surf legends like Gerry Lopez, Rob Mochado and Ricky Carrol. This year they put out a call to action in partnership with, all attendees are asked to bring an old surfboard to the SACRED CRAFT recycling booth. The boards will be broken down and put into cement as filler, keeping the landfills free of old surfboards. In addition to this, professional surfer Jeremy Sherwin, and business partner Benjamin Thompson, who is pursuing a PhD in Structural Engineering at the University of California, San Diego, will be giving a seminar on the enviro-sensitive materials available to backyard shapers. Expo producers are excited to also have a number of eco-conscious specific exhibitors on hand including Surfrider Foundation Ventura, Green Foam and Entropy Bio surfboards. Check out this cool clip of Jerry Lopez (the man who pushed me into my first waves) shaping a board this year. It’s a little long, but hopefully you can appreciate the attention to detail.

TWO, The Canadian National Boulder Championships in Montreal, Quebec. This year had a really strong showing, about 50 in the mens catagory, so not for the limp wristed. John Bowles came from nowhere to claim the crown, following in second place was super strong Terry Paholek. I can’t remember what year I did my last National Comp, maybe I was 23 or something. I barely qualified in 6th. The field was super strong, Sean McColl, Lil Jay, Seth Mason, yadda yadda yadda. Then in the finals I couldn’t even do the first move of the first problem, completely discouraged. It was a crazy mantle and I kept stepping on my fucking fingers, then I’d be stuck and I fall off of course. After that i think I let myself go a bit, I relaxed because the situation was so funny. Then I sent the next couple of problems and fell off a few moves from the top on the final one. In the end, i think I placed second to Nelly Rossasen, who at the time was pretty unbeatable by anyone standards (just ask Chris Sharma), so I didn’t feel too bad about it. But the event kicked ass, I will always remember the feeling of climbing in front a big cheerful crowd that like, it’s electric. In 2005 I helped set for the comp in Montreal, we drank Red Bull until 4 am and then went for the best POUTINE I’ve ever had. Montreal is pretty much the best city in the world, (between May 1st and Oct 1st). he he he. Check out this clip of ’05 and the highlight is Sean’s final problem performance, super huber highpoint.

  • Fraser

    Interesting clips Sonnie. For some reason, I assumed they shaped surfboards by machine, I didn’t realise they were hand crafted! (always wanted to try surfing but never had the opportunity.) Whilst on surfing mode, there was a great documentary on Dorian ‘Doc’ Paskowitz(?) & family on UK tv last week. Quite a character.

    As ever, Squamish looks amazing. Maybe one day….


    Dang Son. U kept dat lid in good shape.

    God Bless The Queen

  • Brian

    What ever happened to Rossasen?

  • word. the doc documentary i think is called “surfwise”

  • Mike Sampson

    I’d be extremely interested to know what sort of rope trickery you used to explore that zone that day; 2 ropes, 2 racks…solo aid, rapping in–ascending out? Maybe something a little gnarlier…?


    Mike – He probably didn’t even use ropes. Its Sonnie we are talking about. U seen the tattoo on his shoulder?

  • Its amazing what a bit of motivation in the rain can gain you- the cherries are everywhere, waiting to be picked- explore, explore! Nice work!