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After months of listening to Alain raving about the amazing rock climbing in Squamish, telling fantastic tales about multi-pitched walls and slab this, and crack climbing that; I was eager to go out climbing again, specially after the improvements I had made during our time at La Mojarra in Colombia. Also, I was curious to see how it was to rock climb in a different country, in another language.
For my first experience rock climbing in Squamish, we headed down to the Apron in a late July afternoon, as this would also be my first try ever in multi-pitched climbing, meaning a climb with multiple sections. We intended to do Diedre 5.8 but there were a couple of climbers just starting out when we arrived, so we decided to do Banana Peel 5.8 instead. Back in Colombia, I had my first brief experience on granite slab at El Peñol; but I was by no means comfortable with it just yet.
This was a total different experience than anything I had climbed so far, it was like learning to crawl once again. My terror to slipping away and grating my body against the merciless granite was what kept me going up, pitch after pitch. After all, I was still sore from my mountain biking injury from that morning; and I was done getting hurt that day!
The view of the highway below was definitely not easing my experience; so in a particularly steep (from where I was standing…) section I broke down and freaked out. Patiently, Alain guided me up to the ledge from where he was belaying. As I was starting to calm down, there comes this über-cool climber all decked in black and wearing shades just whisking pass us soloing the climb. She moved like a ninja, I just looked on in wild disbelief and admiration with half-dried tears down my cheeks. So yeah, welcome to rock climbing in Squamish, baby!
Another day we went to Shannon Falls, starting our day warming up on Urine Too Deep 5.8 (they crack me up, these names…) and the all time Squamish classic Klahanie Crack 5.7; all nice and easy. Then Alain challenged me to get on the first pitch of Local Boys Do Good 5.10b, a scary-looking piece of slab; and I just went for it! I tried to get up that wall as fast as I could, fearing what the granite might do to my legs if I gave it the slightest chance to touch me; all my usual hesitation was gone as I did my best to work the friction against the rock.
My favourite route was definitely Skywalker 5p – 5.8, also located near Shannon Falls. It’s five pitches long, all of them different from each other with some fun moves and pretty sweet views; it’s great fun for beginners. Skywalker was just cleaned up and ready in June 2011 and it became one of the most popular for rock climbing in Squamish that season; there was always someone on it. I also liked the little metal plate on the anchor just before the traverse pitch, which reads May the force be with you. Plus, after finishing Skywalker it’s nice to hike up a bit (about 200 meters, I think) and you get a prime spot to enjoy the view of Shannon Falls from up close and personal.
During our time in Squamish, we also visited a few other areas for climbing such as Upper Malamute, where it’s almost all crack climbing and you have to rappel down to access some of the routes; the Smoke Bluffs and Cheakamus Canyon. It was an amazing experience to climb in one of the best locations in Canada, I feel very lucky as a beginner to have done as much as I did!