IMG_3526 Robert on the bolt ladder, originally uploaded by RichSo.
The first and only time that I climbed the Grand Wall was back in 2007 with Nick Elson. It was a pretty incredible experience, lots of continuous strenuous climbing, and lots of exposure. We hiked up to the top of the Flake, and I only lead Merci Me and the Split Pillar. I’ve always been meaning to go back and try to lead some of the other pitches on it.
Driving up to Squamish, Mike Blicker and I pondered what would be fun to do. Mike had just come back from a week of partying in the East Coast, gaining about 2lbs in alcohol, and claimed to be in poor shape. I casually suggested the Grand Wall, and Mike was happy to climb it again.
I started up the first pitch of Apron Strings. I’ve only toproped it once, and I remembered the topout to be really scary. I climbed up, feeling good, and got to the blue tcu placement. I yelled down to Mike to ask him where to go, and received some vague directions. I saw some face holds out left, and started climbing up the exposed face well above my last piece. Turns out that wasn’t quite the right way to go. Looks like others have done the same mistake, since the holds were well chalked.
A few stretchy moves leads to the belay at the top of the runout Merci Me.
The rest of the climb went fairly smooth. There was only one party in front of us (Robert and Tyree) who offered to let us pass them on top of the Split Pillar. I was a bit surprised since we weren’t climbing any faster, and I was hoping for a bit of a rest before trying to lead the Sword pitch. The first crux went well, but the final push to the chains was just as strenuous as I remembered it. Off-finger laybacking with both feet smearing on the face. Way down below the other three were cheering me on, telling me to push it for the chains. I almost gave them some spectacular action, but fortunately I held onto the chains.
Spectators below. Robert Tyree and Mike.
Mike on the aid ladder. Note the climbers below on Merci Me.
Robert nearing the chains at the top of the Sword.
Robert aiding the bolt ladder.
We stopped at Bellygood ledge, opting to head back to Squamish for some coffee instead of climbing a few more pitches up the recently re-cleaned Upper Black Dyke. Coffee turned into more climbing. Sarah and Mike have been working on the Zombie Roof, a classic roof crack right in the Smoke Bluffs. Somehow they even convinced me to try it. I’ve walked by it countless times, looked up at it just as many times, and it felt a lot better than what I expected. Numerous solid handjams and heel-toe locks in the roof makes the upside experience more enjoyable. Not sure about the moves over the lip though, didn’t quite try that part. Next time.
Mike warming up again on Old Age, a really good 5.9 on the right side of Zombie roof.
Sarah clipping the final piece under the roof.
A few more photos at my Flickr site