Updated: Jul 31, 2021
Experiences of one month of travelling and climbing in Squamish. October 2019
First of all, one might ask: why?
Because we have all the time in the world! Why Canada in October? Actually, maybe not the best idea, I admit. But I had to leave the country for Visa issues and Canada felt so close. I have never really been there and always dreamed of the beautiful landscape, adventurous mountains and precious indigenous heritage.
One out of three weeks was "land over" as we would say in German. It was raining and raining and raining into our car...
Squamish is one of Canadas most attractive climbing destinations and we decided to spend most of our time there. Hundreds of trad routes were waiting for us on some little valuable sunny days. After my first experiences of trad climbing I was psyched to learn more and experience more on such beautiful rock. Lots of single pitch crags are around "the chief" and provided perfect training terrain. Compared to the Gallatin Valley, the lines and positions for your gear are easy to find and you can actually learn more about granite/crack climbing. I don’t remember any really scary moments on this single pitch terrain. I learned to trust my gear and in very exciting moments, like a 5.10b I send, I could just go for it, even when my forearms burned down.
When I think of a climbing vacation or even free time we can spend somewhere and climbing is around, you build up a certain expectation. I think Aki and me had similar expectations. That means: climbing as often as possible.
For Aki, I think, that’s a standard he can pretty much perform.
Me, not so much. Of course, I would like to perform every day energized and motivated. But the truth shows other. I need rest days for my body and my mind, time for myself and for the new environment I am in.
On one day it was so cold (for me), that I couldn’t stand one more minute after belaying Aki in that cold, dark and moist forest. I literally run away to a sunny spot on a close lake. I was so frustrated. I wanted to climb, but the coldness is holding me back and make me want to leave Squamish.
In a moment like this, it is hard for me to not blame myself. Or to question myself “what am I actually doing here, if climbing is so terrible for me.
An intense nap and a supporting Aki bring me back to my beautiful life. At the same day Aki proposed an easy climb on a sunny rock right by the water and my world was in the right angle again.
Normally, I think of myself as cold resistant. But when we attempted to climb "Cerberus" at the east site of the chief, I had to bail after one pitched because of my frozen feet. The approach was so adventurous with a lot of forest scrambling that I was pretty motivated for the route. The first pitch was an endless undercling traverse (30m?) with bolts and gear. My feet felt like ice cubes which I am trying to smack against the wall while underclinging the sided crack. I fell in that traverse, which added to my frustration. I even cried, I just wanted to leave that damn wall.
In climbing (for me at least) there are two types of exhaustion. One is, where you can grow in. You push yourself and in every tiny break you can rest and make the impossible happen. Afterwards you feel strong. Even if you cant hold a glass anymore. The second type is when you feel tired. You cant put yourself together to even try really hard. You might be physically strong, but your mind is leaking so bad that you can’t activate your strength. After a climb like this, you just feel like poop. You feel weak and bad and you are not able to imagine yourself climbing hard.
The next day Aki was careful with our plans for that route. He did not want to scramble up the loose rocks in the forest again. Bailing after the first pitch was not very safe. He had better ideas what we could do with our day than an exhausting and unsafe approach and rappel. Nevertheless I wanted to try that route again. I knew there was the possibility of failing. After some convincing of Aki, we started three hours later and were able to climb most of the route in the sun or at least sun with clouds. I led the second pitch which was graded 11.a and I was scared to death for the run-outs and traverse moves which would have let you fall all over the wall swinging from the very right to the very left.. But luckily you feel so free at a clean and high wall like this one, that you know, at least the fall is going to be exciting, the crash probably not though. Aki let the other 11.d (Deutsch:8) pitches and I followed. I would love to project these pitches since they are so tricky, technical and insurance.
Thanks to #vanlife or #trucklife we got rained on pretty bad. Our truck leaked just right over our bed and it soaked all the water it could get. Fritz and Kaitlynn flew for a week into rainy Squamish. Only one day of climbing was possible for them under a roof with havy raindrops falling behind them. I really enjoyed their company after staying with Aki in a moist truck bed. Luckily, we could stay all together in a hostel and dry out from our day activities.