The time we “didn’t” climb Siwash Rock

The following TR is entirely hypothetical and the pictures are photoshopped, probably.

“Siwash itself is not a quality climb – using the standard ‘star’ system of quality ratings it wouldn’t get even half of a star” –

How could you not see the appeal?

Ascent of the choss pile needed to take place in the middle of the night for obvious reasons of (il)legality. In early January we made our first attempt, we had the tide window (you need the tide to be low so you don’t have to swim across, incase you’re not familiar) and we kind of had the weather window. Dry days in January were rare, so we decided to go for it. Our group consisted of myself, Jo Klungseth, Bryan Starick, and Prescott Delaware. We managed to borrow a ‘less-than-awesome’ rope that it was deemed ok to lead on, but also marginally more acceptable than usual to get covered in mud, sea salt, and guano. Bryan led it first, opportunities to place protection seemed scarce, and even when a potential placement was found, it was usually necessary to scrape mud and various insect life out of the cracks beforehand. Some progress was made, but it was quickly impeded by the combination of incoming rain and characteristic lichen covered rock; creating a love-child that rendered even the firmest of jugs to be slimy and unhelpful. This ultimately resulted in Bryan taking a pretty good whipper onto a #6 nut. Progress ground to a halt; the rest of us gave it a shot, but to no avail. We ended up lowering the last climber off the previously aforementioned nut, and leaving her behind (the nut, not the climber). Until next time.

Next time arrived! Four consecutive blue bird days in February? Of course we had no choice but to give it another shot. Lowest tide was a bit earlier tonight; around 1:00am, but that shouldn’t matter, we’ve got the weather window and a waxing gibbous that would shame helios himself; prime for midnight mountaineering. Prescott was replaced by Nick Uleryk-Carvalho, but our group remained otherwise the same. On approach, we decided we didn’t want to walk 200m around to the stairs, and instead cut off the trail and rapped 25m down to the seawall off of a Douglas fir. This added >15 minutes of faff, and I think set a precedent for the night, as we descended the wet, loose, muddy cliff through various bushes and branches. But it sure was fun.

Bryan got the ball rolling again with the first lead of the day, obviously stoked that his nut was still firmly placed from last time, but later found himself stuck on the same bird shit covered ledge as the previous effort; we needed new eyes up there. Nick U went for it next and made some progress, placing a few pieces along the way, but then got stuck a bit higher up on a great section of slip’n’die slab. I gave it a shot next, and managed to circumnavigate the slabby bit, putting myself in the perfect spot to get familiar with one of the many joys of ‘urban’ climbing; broken glass. Hand was a little cut up but nothing to worry about, smooth sailing from here to the top.

Trusty tree and a rusty fence

The various pieces of tat around the tree at the top were a nice subtle nod to climbers of the past, accompanied by a small rusty fence, undoubtably the City of Vancouver’s weak effort to dissuade people from climbing it…once they’re already at the top? With a top rope set the rest of the group flew up the 13m spire, it is only like a 5.8 after all, but the ‘wtf is this’ factor adds a certain degree of uneasiness. We each rapped down, and Jo began to pull the rope after his rap, but right at the top, the rope stopped cooperating.

“Did you take the knot out?”

4:00am at this point and it’s worth noting that when the tide starts to come up, it comes up fast. Nick and I crossed back over to cut our losses and cross while the water was only ankle height, and also to spectate while Bryan made a rapid trad lead in a race against the tide. Pretty sure he was just stoked to finally have a complete set of nuts again. By the time they had finished up, around 12 minutes later, the water was about thigh height, climbing shoes got wet.

We finished off the night at Timmies where we sorted gear and ate timbits at 4:45 in the morning.

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