Squamish Buttress - Second Ascent (?)

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Anders Ourom
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Squamish Buttress - Second Ascent (?)

Post by Anders Ourom » Thu Aug 28, 2014 9:42 pm

The probable second ascent of the lower half of Squamish Buttress was done on August 26th, 2014, by Kris Wild, Reuben Shelton, and me, partly as research for the history project. The first ascent was in May 1959 by Hank Mather, Fred Beckey and Don Claunch (Gordon). They named the climb "South Arete", presumably because it was beside South Gully - although if anything those features are oriented west, not south. They took two days, first climbing the lower half and then escaping into South Gully and down, returning a few weeks later and climbing the upper half. Their route on the lower half was unclear, with the descriptions in the various guides inconsistent. As a result, the first route to go all the way to the top of the Chief - not counting the gullies, of which at least South Gully is a somewhat technical climb - was not repeated until our climb.

In 1962, Jim Baldwin and Hamish Mutch did the second ascent of the upper part of Squamish Buttress, approaching via the first ascent of what was named South Arete, then shifting down and left to (probably) join the last bit of the lower half of Squamish Buttress, as it reached the forest above the Apron. The description in the 1967 guide was accurate, although brief, but no one seems to have taken up the puzzle until now. The upper half is now well-travelled, with most parties approaching via routes on the Apron.

On Tuesday we found and (mostly) followed the 1959 route, using bushy ledges and ramps. A strenuous outing, but we found incontrovertible evidence of a late 1950s/early 1960s ascent. Seven pitches total, or maybe 250 - 300 m of actual "climbing" - although we probably did less than 10% where hands and feet were on the rock at the same time. (Our line probably varied from the 1959 line for about a pitch.) As we checked alternatives on the way, we created a new one pitch variation, possibly to be called the "Wild Variation", or the "Wild Man Variation". Kris led it, and it's probably his first ever first ascent at Squamish where no cleaning whatsoever was done.

Details to follow when I get a chance, but thanks to Kris and Reuben for a great outing, and hauling me along! As with the first ascent party, we'll break up our ascent, and return for the upper half in a week or two. We did our best to imitate their techniques and mindset - climbing in approach shoes (OK, boots would have been more authentic), carrying day packs, visualizing. We're already thinking of our next project/exploration, possibly the second ascent of University Wall - the three lower pitches may never have been repeated.

DirtBagClimber
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Re: Squamish Buttress - Second Ascent (?)

Post by DirtBagClimber » Fri Aug 29, 2014 8:34 am

Thats a awesome project sounds very interesting.

Ive just done the south arete juste recently and I was so surprise how good it was and how clean.
Looking foward on the details for the rest of the route.

Oli

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Re: Squamish Buttress - Second Ascent (?)

Post by scrubber » Sat Aug 30, 2014 8:39 pm

We'll get some pictures up soon. It was a hilarious bush-thrashing adventure. We were so scratched up from the forest burrowing that we looked like we had tried to bathe to feral cats. Showering afterward was excruciating.

K

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