Car failure, Seymour, and Self-propelled ascent of “The Camel”

Chris vs the Camel, originally uploaded by RichSo.

The oringal plan for the weekend was to climb Mount Willson at the southern end of the Clendinning area. Chris Michalak picked me up at 5:45am on Saturday, and then Fred Touche, and we were off towards Squamish, and then the Squamish river valley. We started hearing tapping sounds, and I figured it was just our ski poles tapping against the window. Somewhere between the Ashlu turnoff, and the Elaho turnoff, we heard a really loud bang, so we stopped. Turns out the rear left spring had popped out of place and into the trunk of the Subaru! Luckily the more mechanically inclined Fred and Chris came up with a plan. They took the rubber cap from the right suspension, and rigged that up into the left wheel mount thing. We managed 20km/h on the logging road, and even 100km/h on the highway. Turns out you don’t really need suspension on paved roads, it’s just a marketing scam.

After getting home, I figured I couldn’t waste a sunny Saturday (how many more are left in the year?), so I convinced Jordan that Seymour would be fun and casual, and I’ve also never done it. It was until I decided to go up the First pump on the way back, and ended up descending some old trails, and seeing a little black bear! Jordan has some nice photos here

The weather on Sunday was also looking too good to stay at home and do hmwk, so with Chris being carless, we decided to do a self-propelled of the Camel. I was actually hoping to just take the bus, but Chris rather bike, so we meet in Stanley around 7:45 (I was late, and Chris went for Starbucks first). The ride up to the Grouse Mountain parking lot is long and steep, and I was getting slighty trashed. At the parking lot, we had to rush to get onto the Grind, due to fears of it closing for the Annual Grouse Mountain run (like 500 people)! We even contemplated taking the gondola if we couldn’t do the grind. For some reason, I thought the rock rack that Chris brought would be heavy, so I took the 60m half rope instead. So up we went at 9am, giving us an hour head start from those hardcore Grinders. It was actually quite quiet on the Grind, (no scenery). Chris caught the Grouse Grind fever early on, and I never saw him again until the top. I was avergaging a measly 8m/min rate of ascent. At the top, I enjoyed my blended coffee, and Chris agreeded to the rope and the rack. Turns out the rack consisted of draws, 3 little nuts, and 4 tricams.

On the trail towards Crown Pass, I started getting pretty bad cramps in my quads. It went away though, which was good. Chris also explained all the types of processers that existed prior to my Pentium 3. I didn’t really understand too much of it.

On the way up to Crown from Crown Pass, I had cramps again, so I took an advil. I never saw Chris again until the summit. After a quick break, we followed an easy ledge, but as Fairley puts it “incredibly exposed” ledge, just to the left of Crown. It doesn’t feel scary walking across, but if you look at it from the Camel, its just vertical slabs dropping down about 1000ft or more.

The Camel is actually lower in elevation that Crown, which is strange concept in that usually people bring a rope to climb the taller summit from a hiking sub-summit. There was a thick rope for the 20ft section of loose Class 4, which was very useful. Not being strong or burly climbers, and our limited rack, we opted not to climb the slightly overhanging 5.9 finger-fist crack, or the 5.6 offwidth (who would carry a bigbro all the way up! and how did the first ascentionist back in the days climb it? ) .

Chris lead up the 5.2 route on the north side, saying he’s done harder scrambles in the last little bit then that. We roped up for the slightly scary traverse across the Camel’s hump (we were wearing approach shoes, the rock shoes were in the pack being useless). A rappel off a block took us into the Camel’s “neck”. To get to the head, there’s 8m of 5.0 face climb. Not having climbed in close to 3 months, or leading in the alpine, I figured this was the best way to start. The anchor at the top is a rusty piton, so we downclimbed/belayed back to the neck.

We took the gondola back down, making the trip more multi-modal. You’re not really using energy when you hike down something like the Grind, you’re just trashing your knees. The bike descent down Capilano Road was very exciting! I was home in East Van by 7:30pm, giving me plently of time for dinner and the Simpsons!

The Camel is fun, but it sure is a long ways to go for 1.5 pitches of rock.

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