Squamish Climbing:
North North Arête, Angel's Crest, and Great Game

north north arete The North North Arête is the striking ridge in the sunlight, featuring fecund foliage elsewhere.

2009.08.08 - North North Arête

Ryan and I wanted to climb Angel's Crest. The forecast called for rain, but not until the late afternoon. We hoped to get on Angel's Crest and cruise it before the rain came, then do some leisurely cragging the next day.

But we had no clue where we were going. We drove too far on the Mamquam River Road. In retrospect, this was obvious from the instructions. But it wasn't obvious before six in the morning with sleep in our eyes, plus the lush coastal rainforest blocking any possible views of the Chief for orientation.

Beta for future parties: the sign along the Mamquam River Road that says 1 mi. is indeed too far, as a metrically-enlightened individual might expect when looking to go ~0.5 km. Also, the correct trail features many small signs marked with "AC" for Angel's Crest.

As humans are so wont to do, we kept trying to see what we wanted to see. Based on a snippet of the description for Angel's Crest, I can't count the number of times I said, "This seems kind of like some blocky 5.8, maybe Angel Crack is just up here."

By the time we realized that Angel Crack was definitely not in the cards, we had gained a lot of ground. It seemed better to just finish the climb as quickly as possibly than to retreat.

Synopsis: Lots of scrambling and hand lines, some vertical bushwhacking, some interesting dirty climbing with very interesting variations possible, a couple of fun chimneys, some steep dirt, fun stemming, finished by the excellent birthing pitch. Get some.

The next day was lots of fun cragging with Monika at the Smoke Bluffs. Monika made some good leads at Burgers and Fries. Good job, Monika! Monika rules. Anybody who says otherwise gets kicked in the dick. Ryan rules, too. Right now I'm drinking Peet's coffee, courtesy of that stud. I can't get Peet's here in Vancouver, as far as I can tell.

2009.08.15 - Angel's Crest

Game on. Round 2. This time, it's going down.

angel crack is t3h love! Angel Crack is t3h love.

wet rock! Wetter is better.

Another party appeared on the road when we started toward the trail. This route is classic and weekend queues seem inevitable.

We made for the start on the right. I thought it would be good to maximize the climbing and was all for giving the other party a chance to pass.

Then another party appeared as we were getting ready at the base. They seemed set to third-class the first pitch, so I told them to have at it.

All right, no more deferrals. It seemed best to wait at the base as opposed to creating a bottleneck at some awkward belay, so we watched somebody lead through the rather wet pitch after Angel Crack. It was clear that it would take good gear; as for the water, tant pis.

Angel Crack was superb. There are good rests the whole way and the moves are fun.

easy layback Easy layback

more wet rock! Avertissement!

Ryan was not stoked to lead the wetness, but he did fine. He made a belay after a very short pitch to make room for a party of three Italians behind us. I led through his belay without collecting all the gear and enjoyed an easy little layback to a tree.

Ryan led a strenuous, slightly dirty corner to the left of what I think was the "correct" corner, which looked to be a stellar finger-crack affair. A long, easy pitch put us at a sharp point on the crest next to the gully escape.

wet layback! Layback, wetter is better.

Get higher, baby.

Ryan styled the next pitch, which was a bit wet. We busted a booty nut from some guys who had just bailed on the heinous wetness. If you want your nut, write me an email and you can have it!

acrophobe tower sweetness! Acrophobe is t3h love.

acrophobe rappers Party atop Acrophobe

After some simulclimbing, we reached the corner to the right of the big badass looking offwidth. It was my lead and I was stoked. There was a steep corner. Then there was a block. The block featured really positive hands on both sides of it. It felt so good to layback past it with two positive hands, I let out a shout and made a couple pelvis thrusts, because it just felt that good. Then it got even better. The upper half of the pitch featured a wet crack in a groove. I had been getting jealous of Ryan, with all the wet pitches going to him. It felt good to put my fingers in that wet crack and get my grip on.

It's like Jaime told me on the bus after school when I was nine, "It's not a date if you don't get wet."

More simulclimbing led to a totem pole in the woods. Then came the stellar pitch up Lower Acrophobe Tower. Both the views and the friction are spectacular.

jamming so high "We're jamming" like Bob Marley

angel's crest crawl of shame! Crawl of shame!

A rappel off the tower, a scramble around the second tower, a downclimb on a handline, and another scramble put us on the upper crest. From there, two rambly pitches led to a beautiful, steep crack.


There was a roof with cracks on either side guarding the start of the pitch. I cruised past it with a stem and a sidepull instead of jamming. I was wearing my baseball cap instead of my helmet, because the mojo was in full effect. The first few moves were so fun, I yelled to Ryan, "I wish you could see me! I feel like a ballerina and a powerlifter all at once!"

Ryan chose to crawl the ledge to the final chimney pitch. I dutifully captured his crawl of shame with the camera.

A guide finished leading the crack pitch while I was belaying Ryan up the final chimney pitch. I asked, "Fun pitch, eh?"

He replied, "It's OK, like all the times I've climbed it."

chimney atop angel's crest Final Chimney

howe sound magic Purdy

File that under dbag. Ryan was done with the chimney. Not another word, I'm gone.

Angel's Crest sure was fun. We smoked a cigarillo atop the Chief. The clouds parted and beautiful light filtered through them above the Howe Sound.

After chips and tall boys at Ryan's truck, we noticed a note from Kellie. Before we knew it, we were headed to the brewpub. Uncommon self control was exercised throughout the evening: we quit eating the chips before they were gone and saved our appetites, then we managed to just have one beer each at the brewpub and didn't order food. But we did eat Kellie's fries. Nice to meet you, Micah!

2009.08.16 - The Great Game

great game p1 Top of Great Game, p1

great game p3 Great Game, p3

Nobody was in a hurry the next morning. Just chilling, not necessarily feeling sluggish. Those giant Squamish slugs were everywhere. Squamish, Squish, I bet the slugs go squish if you step on them. I thought aloud, "I should lick one of those slugs." I recently read that licking the underside of a slug would make your tongue go numb.

Ryan replied, "When did you ever regret licking anything?"

There's a thought-provoking question.

great game top File under "stoked."

File under "stoked."

Ryan and I wanted to up our game, so we aimed for The Great Game. The first pitch whooped my ass! The handcrack-layback start was great. I enjoyed being engaged and finding good rests and protection on the face section after that. Then the traversing finger crack to the steep finger/hand crack slayed me. I was so happy to see the chains, because my gear was gone.

Ryan led the next two pitches and I led the last. This is a stellar climb! Live reggae music from Squamish created a chill afternoon vibe. We did the walkoff barefoot. The descent through the cave is neato and that is one huge chockstone.

Mondays are like hangovers after weekends this good. Maybe I'd do better to spend my weekends just drinking like I did in college? Probably not.

This trip report was brought to you courtesy of LN2 duty at the lab. I was awake at 6 am this morning to check that the hate-pie detectors filled fine. One failed to fill. I was able to make it fill remotely on a second attempt without having to rush to the lab. Whew. Then I couldn't go to sleep again. So I wrote this. I got an email a while ago from one of my bosses, saying that he would take my word that the second fill was successful - for some reason the automated email wasn't sent correctly after the second fill.

Maybe they'll fire me and I can go climbing tomorrow? Pretty please!?