Unfinished Symphony to Karen's Math and Memorial Crack to Squamish Buttress

29 August 2009

pitch two Snake start

traffic jam on Sea-to-Sky Highway Traffic Jam

Now that Squamish has been ruined by a teenager's essay on nytimes.com, I might as well wax poetic about more of the beautiful climbing to be had on the Stawamus Chief.

Ryan and I left Vancouver with the intent to do a linkup of Unfinished Symphony/Edge of Anxiety to Lower Pantease to Squamish Buttress. A Sea-to-Sky embouteillage put the first damper on our ambitions.

Two parties were starting Snake just ahead of us. Strike two, but my sense of chill was bombproof. Ever since my near breakdown and eventual recovery about a year ago, I've been working on my chill. The ultimate goal is to develop a state of chill that's impervious to the steamiest situations. Except I don't really want to call it a goal, because that's not chill. In fact, I couldn't care less. I'm nonchalant as all hell.

third pitch Rock climbing is fun!

Ryan got the first challenging pitch. A slabby corner, climbing pin scars through two roofs. Ryan led it in good style. I was too busy being chill to give him enough credit, so I'll do it now. Great job, Ryan!

The next pitch was too easy. Or maybe I was too chill. Nevertheless, good times were had by all.

Ryan retook the reins and the climbing became more serious. Once again, he dispatched his pitch in good style.

Then what happened? Try as I might, my chill evaporated on the warm, sunny slab. We had two options. I'll quote McLane. The next pitch of Unfinished Symphony would go as follows:

Pull out left to the open slab, pad and edge with sustained difficulty up to easy ground (11b).

This, reportedly also a classically runout bolted Apron pitch, was something that never piqued my interest. All along, I was counting on this:.

Move up 8m or so, and go boldly left across the wall at a break to belay on the arete (10c).

fourth pitch Almost too easy.

fifth pitch It gets real.

Chill doesn't really count for much when you get stuck on "go boldly." I would compare this pitch with a much more difficult version of the move on the 2nd/3rd pitch of Snake. After much quivering, weeping, gnashing of teeth, and all other manner of non-chill behavior, I was finally able to go boldly. Whew.

We had arrived on a sea of steep slabs. Instead of climbing the traversing 10a slab pitch of Anxiety State, Ryan accidentally led an 11b pitch of The Crossing. It was fun to hear him hyperventilate after each clip. Cozily crouched at the belay, it made me feel rather chill.

sixth pitch The "go boldly" part

Memorial Crack Memorial Crack

We considered the options. Rather than climb more .11 slab, we bailed to the top of Snake. I wanted to lead Karen's Math and Memorial Crack. We struck a deal. I could lead those, then Ryan would get to test himself on Squamish Buttress.

Karen's Math was a blast. I let my guard down after the layback, just to get stung in the tail by the more difficult traverse and finish to Memorial Ledge. Good times. Memorial Crack was quite enjoyable. The start felt cruxy and difficult to me (for 5.9).

Squamish Buttress Squishy Butt

Squamish Buttress Crux Squamish Buttress Crux

It was our first time to leave our headlamps while climbing the Chief: a natural harbinger for our first descent in the dark. We met two very nice women, Katy and Senja, at the trail junction. They were nice enough to share their light with us. Thanks again, ladies! And sorry if I butchered your names!

Upper Squamish Buttress Upper Squamish Buttress


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If only we could trade April and May to get two Marches and two Junes....