Victoria Day Climbing: In Which Tim Emmett and Fred Beckey Were Ross-ist

Canadians are lucky to have three days off in May to commemorate Queen Victoria and the monarchy. Several VOC members couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate the royal family than to climb. With that, faff began on planning a Victoria Day climbing trip.

On the Wednesday night prior to the weekend we had decided to go to Skaha since the Squamish forecast was not ideal, but Thursday morning the weather went whoopy doopsy diddily doo and there were forecasts of sun for Squamish, or at least I convinced myself the forecast was for sun, so I decided we would go there. Eventually, after much email faff, people losing faith in my stubborn optimism, and a car bailing to go to Vantage, we had four cars heading to Squamish Saturday morning with plans to camp at the Chief Campground. We arrived at 9am at the car park and discovered a grand total of three other cars. Things were not looking good with grey skies and a brief patch of rain a little bit south of Murrin Park. After limited discussion, we went to Burgers and Fries, because no one has ever climbed there before and found bone dry rock. To be fair, most of our crew hadn’t actually climbed there before. Jens and co. had decided they liked sleep more than climbing and arrived a little later, and ended up at Neat and Cool. With the exception of some Victoria climbers and some guy named Fred Beckey at Neat and Cool (I think I read his name somewhere once), we had the crags to ourselves. Clemens needed a new pair of shoes after blowing a hole in his Stonelands, and thought that that Fred Beckey fellow was crushing pretty hard so he ended up getting the same shoes as him. Around lunch, the sun came out since it decided that clouds aren’t the best company and hung out with us for the rest of the day. After a lunch break, we relocated to the obscure crag known as Octopus’ Gardens. We farted around there for the rest of the day and eventually we left for the campground. One car decided to go to the Chek campground since campfires are allowed there. In a fit of wisdom, I decided that I needed to gift the crag my chalk bag and new trad shoes apparently, and have yet to receive anything back from the crag to that end. Selfish bit of rock that is. We spent the evening at the Chief campground with the VOC barbeque. We spent the evening discussing Rossisms and being Rossist (Editor’s Note: After Ross used the term windy wipers to describe windshield wipers somewhat recently, we attempted to use as many silly terms as possible to bring out our inner Scot.) A coyote came by to hang out but he didn’t like our selection of beer. A bear was somewhere near the campground as well, presumably looking to get Fred Beckey’s autograph.

Sunday morning we woke up and after the previous day’s Crack Climbing Revolt of 2014, we went up to Chek to crush easy sport, where we promptly took over Foundation Wall. We enjoyed our time there, climbing every route on the wall. We mostly enjoyed sun, but admittedly it drizzled lightly at points through the day, just enough to make the routes exciting. What was also exciting was a trio of children running around unaccompanied at the top of the crag. They decided to let loose a microwave sized rock that fell to the side of the crag. Luckily no one was hurt, but we had to use our adult voices to get them down. Jens continued his sport rampage and faffed around on Rug muncher for a little while. Ian, Jim, and a few others went further down the road to go try an overhanging 5.8 among a series of 5.13+ routes so they could feel like hard men. As we wound down our day in the Chek parking lot enjoying warm pineapple Hefeweizens, the distinctive curly locks of Tim Emmett, hidden under a hat, floated past us. I got giddy as soon as I realized who it was. Shortly after, Ian and Jim returned from their latest 5.13 redpoint and proudly proclaimed that they had been climbing beside Conrad Anker. After some discussion, I managed to convince them that it was actually Tim Emmett doing a very bad Conrad Anker impression and they didn’t know their climbing celebrities well enough. We returned to the Chief Campground and had another barbeque and swapped stories with a few other climbers about their experience that day. One couple had attempted Over the Rainbow and it rained for three of the six pitches. That they managed to get up that route in the rain is a feat of modern climbing rubber technology. Eventually the rain chased us to our tents/cars for sleep.

It had rained rather hard throughout Sunday night, so we didn’t quite know where to go in the morning. I made a reconnaissance trip with Jim to the Smoke Bluffs and Murrin, and we were suprised to see that much of Murrin’s rock was dry, so we directed the cars there. Jon, Jen, Lauren, Erica, and Knut joined us in Murrin to enjoy the quality rock there. We split up that day more than we had on any day. We started the day at the Zoe crag, where I got turned back by a wet 5.8 slab route. We wandered over to Pet Wall where Jon danced his way up a couple of the routes there and I got an eye on my project for the summer. Lauren got upset that her project was wet and she decided she wanted to nap. It drizzled lightly at points throughout the day, but the sun broke through several times. We regrouped in the Sugarloaf area, where I bore witness to some phenomenally bad belaying. A family had brought their young children to climb at Sugarloaf on top rope and they were belaying from a small tree nearby, but had no idea what they were doing, and then defending their useless belay because “the children are so light it doesn’t matter”. Disgusted, I told them that their practices were not safe, then Clemens and I went over and had some fun on Jugs Not Drugs, which is about as much fun as you can have with your pants on in Squamish. Criminally underrated and highly recommended, with the exception of clipping the last bolt. Practice your yoga before you try the route. Eventually the rock capitulated and gave in from us crushing so hard all weekend, and we decided to return to Vancouver as benevolent conquerors.

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