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Squamish Chief in a day

We climbed the Squamish Chief in a day last Friday. Two weeks prior I was at Index with Christine and we met a friendly couple at Private Idaho. Torry said he had some time off. As we were leaving, I gave him my card and said that I was hoping for a long weekend at Squamish.

He texted me last weekend and said he was heading up with three friends and did I want to be the fourth? I said yes and we left Tacoma at 9AM. We climbed Star Chek Thursday afternoon, then got a dawn start on the Chief Friday morning. We started up Diedre at 7:30AM, topping out on the top of Squamish Buttress  after 11 pitches at 9:30PM. I also led S&M Delight cleanly, and cruised up Skywalker again, but the highlight of the trip was our journey up the Chief.

I’ve been seriously trying to get up that thing ever since I first saw it in 1979. I have no idea why I finally got up it. I do have a lot of knowledge of the lower approaches now, plus we had a strong and confident team. There was a moment at the top of Boomstick where we gathered together and considered whether we should go up or retreat. Committing to the summit meant we might have to bivy on the cliff in our shirts. We didn’t even have matches…though with the fire ban that was a non-starter. But we all looked at each other and said: “Let’s do this thing!”

The trail was easy enough to find…you simply scramble up from the top of Boomstick along the cliff edge until the trail heads left, joining up with the trail from Memorial Crack. A 20 minute hike through forest leads to the base of Squamish Buttress and a slab with one bolt. It’s rated 5.8, but feels like a 10A. Though that might have just been my heavy full frame DSLR, and the full rack of offwidth gear I carried up it. I was so scared I hung two fours, two threes and the five on the bolt to shed some weight. I felt sorry for Jaclyn, but there was no way I could make it up that loaded down. She was game though, and followed it carrying our water, shoes and all that gear.

She swung through and led the next two seven-ish pitches. I arrived at the start of the Butt Light pitches, which are both 5.9. I was so tired I had to rest on both bolts. I need to remember to eat steak and potatoes the night before, along with a big breakfast. The chimney move on pitch two of Butt Light was easy. I had a #5 and it fit perfect, but there was some decent finger sized cams as well, along with a green camalot slightly higher. I had my left shoulder in and walked my feet up the outside arete edge of the chimney until I could reach the jug with my left hand. It felt delicate and barely possible…but worked great.

After that pitch it was two easy pitches to the walk off. We were all super stoked. For me it was a 40 year goal, but for Torrey and Jaclyn it was their first time on the Chief, and they got to the top.

Jaclyn and Chad on Diedre
Jaclyn and Chad on Diedre

 

Jaclyn pitch 6. Pitch 1 of Squamish Buttress
Jaclyn pitch 6. Pitch 1 of Squamish Buttress

 

Jaclyn pitch 9, Butt Light ledges
Jaclyn pitch 9, Butt Light ledges, horrific exposure here

 

Jaclyn and Chad pitch 9, Butt Light ledges

 

Jaclyn on top of the Chief at sunset
Jaclyn on top of the Chief at sunset, we were pretty happy

 

Torrey on top of the Chief. His first try, and he makes it to the top!
Torrey on top of the Chief. His first try, and he makes it to the top!

 

me, Chadd, Torrey and Jaclyn on the summit at 9:30PM, 11 pitches
me, Chad, Torrey and Jaclyn on the summit at 9:30PM, 11 pitches

And then we had to hike down the tourist trail for an hour, in the dark, with all that gear. There was definitely some drinking when we got back to the tents. Man, were were so happy to have that in the bag. The next day we slept in and sat around in the sun until noon before heading to the Smoke Bluffs for some cragging. This was one of my all time best climbing trips ever. It’s funny how you can start a trip with total strangers, but after an epic adventure like this we were a band of brothers (and one sister).

 

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Selling our house

Sue has been after me to move closer to town for a decade. I was at guitarbecue at Fletches house 6 weeks ago drinking some beers with friends when Kristi mentioned that she had passed her realtor exam 6 months ago. Kristi and Alex have become good climbing friends over the last few years. She plays amazing violin when she accompanies us on our songs.

She has perfect pitch, and is able to simply “play along” without sheet music. I guess it’s called “jamming”. I do the same thing on my harmonica, and sometimes we play together. When the 8 of us are together (Fletch, me, Karen, Lee, Kristi, Craig, Brett and Alex on the bongo) we make a beautiful sound.

So there we were, standing in the kitchen:

Kristi: “I’m working as a realtor now!”

Me: “Sue wants me to move, could you sell our house?”

Kristi: “Heck yeah!”

She came out and told us what to clean up, replace, and how to stage the house for photos. That one sentence doesn’t begin to describe emptying out 34 years worth of accumulations in the house, the garage attic and the yard. Four dump runs begins to describe it. Tearing down the old metal shed was a 6 hour epic of dodging spiders and swinging axes and crowbars. I also replaced the toilet and bathroom sink…that was interesting.

She listed it and put the sign up on Thursday. We left for a painting trip to Cape Flattery Friday. I painted both Rialto Beach and the Cape.

Cape Flattery
Cape Flattery
Rialto Beach
Rialto Beach
living room
living room
Clint's bedroom
Clint’s bedroom

No one came to the house all weekend, but as we got back from our trip and drove around the cul-de-sac there was a car in front of us going very slowly. It stopped at our driveway, blocking the road. Sue got out and asked them if they needed help. They had found our house using the realtors app. We took them down and gave them a tour. He even climbed into the crawl space. He said it had very good cement and beams….that they don’t even build houses that good any more. I think they are 4 x 12’s or something. Anyway, they loved the house. Next day we had an offer from them. It has now passed inspection and septic, so we are waiting out the closing process. You could say that Kristi sold it in 4 days, for a great price.

I wonder whether it was good that the buyers met us? We like to think we are good, honest people, and this house has been very good to us. I felt like we made some instant friends of the young couple who are buying it.

Speaking of new friends, I’ve been seeing a Ukrainian climber around our gym and the northwest for a few years now. We took a 4 day trip to Squamish this last weekend and had an awesome time. We got up Snake, Karen’s Math and Memorial crack, all cleanly. While I was doing that, Lisa was up climbing Mt. Olympus with some friends she met at work. Lisa and Clint (our kids) also skied down Glacier Peak in the last month. Both climbs had epic 45 mile round trip approaches with 50 pound packs.

The photos they are taking look just like the photos Sue and I used to take when we were mountaineers. Worrying about your children on mountains appears to be a rite of passage in this family. I certainly did it to my folks. What goes around comes around.

Jess on the 9 to the right of Klahanie
Jess on the 9 to the right of Klahanie

V. looking up at Coronary Bypass roof
V. looking up at Coronary Bypass roof
Vitaliy leading Memorial Crack
Vitaliy leading Memorial Crack
Vitaliy on Memorial ledge reading route description
Vitaliy on Snake
Vitaliy on Snake
Vitaliy on Snake
Vitaliy on Snake
Vitaliy on Snake
Vitaliy on Snake
kalahanie with a couple of reds
kalahanie with a couple of reds