Climb: Everything Under the Sun
(New route at the Solarium, Chief Backside)
Date: June 10 and 11, 2006
Climbers: Brian Pegg, Karl Manzer, Damien McCombs, and Robin Pegg (as the expedition photographer and the guy who brought the sake)
Last weekend we finally did it – finished a project of almost a year, on the Chief Backside about 60 m north of the classic line of Sunblessed.
I had first scouted this line in 2001 when my brother and I were scrambling around the backside of the Chief on a rainy day. We decided to visit the vast, unknown crag of “Above and Beyond” because no-one ever climbs there. Well this is still true, but in the process I realized there was a 150 m wide swath of cliff between the last of the Solarium routes (Message from the Stars is the most northerly I think) and the first of the Above and Beyond routes that had never felt the loving touch of a scrub brush.
Last summer, on yet another lazy day, my brother and I hiked up with gear and rappelled down onto our proposed line to scout. When I get scared by the exposure on rappel, I know the route could be a good one. This was a gem.
Looking from below in 2001, we had seen a steep and great line that seemed to top out by a big undercling past huge roofs. What we had not seen from below, however, was the PROUD line of dyke holds that led past the roof to the right, on a steepening face over top of more giant roofs at the bottom right of the wall. Once this line was seen close up, I knew it was worth some devoted effort.
Spent a few weekends over the rest of summer 2005 scrubbing and equipping the route with rap stations, chopped a few trees, and decided to keep a Rubbermaid tub full of cleaning gear and static line up on top of the Solarium. Had some great moments sitting up the top of the Chief by myself watching the sunset and sipping sake…… Yes its sometimes hard to convince your friends to go scrub some obscure line that maybe no-one will ever climb.
Well by last weekend the route was ready to go. We spent Saturday scrubbing, and digging out the bottom 10 m of crack climbing. Watched a frog crawl out of a crack in mid-cliff and proceed to do solo slab dynos up a blank 5.12 face before he sketched out. Put him (well threw him maybe) into a nearby tree.
The bottom of new routes are always the dirtiest because of that pesky GRAVITY. Too bagged after scrubbing on Saturday for the lead, so up to the top for yet more sake.
Sunday morning dawned bright and clear, three pitches of rappel down to the bottom of the climb. Karl takes the first lead, makes it in fine style to the Pitch 1 crux and then goes for a short fall. Bah! Back to the ground (silly rules), and then Karl FIRES THE PITCH. Crux moves traverse under a roof on tiny finger holds, tiny footholds, and tiny gear.
Pitch 2 was mine; I was scared and miserable at the anchor. Just as I started to lead this scary, steep monster, thunder and lightning crashed, with strikes on Mamquam and Brohm Ridge. The snow followed soon after, making me rush the lead somewhat!
Another traverse under a roof, on slightly bigger holds and gear, leads to the dyke. Move after juicy move led to stance after stance and rest after rest. Good thing too! Up the last dyke holds, then finish the pitch by a wild layback around the top edge of the roofs.
Pitch 3 Damien cast off. This pitch was the cleanest as it was scrubbed first, and the rain had touched it up nicely. More underclinging (can you ever get enough?) dumps you at a flaring crack which needs to be climbed by “oozing” up like a slug. Slab moves at the top complete the full spectrum of climbing. The route has every technique except off-width and chimney.
Down the trail to buy brew pub off-sales and sit by the Stawamus and bullsh*t. Fixed on a route name at last.
Enjoy the topo; I may upload some photos later. Any questions regarding access not answered by the topo:
For the future: two access pitches below the Secret Garden, which will give a five pitch line 5 minutes walk from the bottom of Sunblessed.
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As it happens, on that day (Sunday May 4) I had taken my parents, who were visiting here from Ontario, on a small-plane flight around Squamish. We flew behind the chief and I had a look down onto EUTS - and saw your party on the route. From that distance I could not tell if it was climbers or gear that I saw under the second pitch undercling, but there was definitely something there and I was surprised to see it. Hadn't thought about it til now when I saw your posting date.
I have been so busy in the last year that I still haven't completed the pitches on the bottom. They would only be good to eliminate the rap-in approach, not as "stand alone" routes because the rock down there is not nearly as good as the upper stuff.
Take care, stay safe.
A couple of weeks ago I was up there and climbed this for the first time, and I have to say that it is fantastic. In particular the second pitch is outstanding. I hadn't heard of anyone climbing it, so I brought a wire brush, and sure enough the beginning of the first pitch was pretty dirty, but after that it seemed to be in good shape. Such a fun route!
The topo was spot on. We rapped in from the top, but some other people we saw had come up from the bottom. With all the other new routes nearby, this looks like a good destination.
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