Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Angels Crest



A classic amongst classics!

I had never climbed the chief before, nor had I even seen it. It was my first time in Squamish.  I had no idea what 600 meters worth of granite would look like. As a Canadian climber I had climbed quite a fair share of crags around the world but never had I experienced what I had in my own backyard. A few days prior to arriving in Squamish my friend Phil hooked me up with this crazy-fun philosopher called Ben. He had the gear and the guts to climb the chief. He told me he’d been wanting to climb Angel’s Crest for a while. He was waiting for a climber who could hold up his end of the bargain and share leads through 13 pitches of fun.  It’s graded 5.10b-c, but let me give you one word of advice. Pulling 5.11’s in the gym doesn’t necessarily get you ready for the crest.

The next morning, the alarm clock went off at 5:30 am. Coffees down, we were racking up and ready to go as the sun appeared. Rock, Paper, Scissors. Ben wins for pitch 1.  A strong move through a few wet holds but he makes it look like a piece of cake. Personally, I found that first pitch to be super heavy with the full backpack. So I made it my mission to drink a lot of water early in the day.

Pitch 2 was the ‘’Angel Crack‘’ a beautiful piece of the puzzle. I got to go first this time. I might have over protected it a bit but what was sure, was that I wanted more! The crack felt smooth and solid with a powerful move near the end for a tiny ledge.

Pitch 3.  Ben’s lead on a short but burly pitch.
Pitch 8

Pitch 4 & 5, my go. An easy section leads to an intimidating roof.  I managed the roof which felt easier than it looked but still let out a few grunts.

Pitch 6 & 7. Ben did his magic through a long and dirty section that led us to a quick scramble at the base of pitch 8.


Pitch 8. When you get there, an amazing off width crack glares at you! Shit! We only brought cams up to N.4’s and this guy needs N.7’s said Ben. So I ended up climbing to the right, in a less appealing but thinner crack that led to the base of the Acrophobes.


Now people say pitch 9… It’s actually pitches 9 or more commonly referred to as ‘’the Acrophobes‘’. This is where the adventure happens so put your Indiana Jones hat on! It’s the easiest pitch, but very exposed. You climb up and down these sharp towers. It feels like your scaling a sharks jaw. Ben did an awesome job running across the towers, literally! AHHH Look at the tiny cars down there… Its guaranteed fun!
Pitch 9 (the acrophobes)
I was only supposed to climb pitch 10 but ended climbing number 11 with it. The first bit climbs up to a fairly exposed position, the base of the ‘’whale back’’ pitch. The whaleback is this slabby arête were you hump your way up using barely any protection at all. I wouldn’t want to do this pitch when wet or raining!

Pitch 12 mmmmh felt like the hardest pitch to us. Luckily for me, Ben did this push as a good rock warrior would. It’s a beautiful power crack. But after a long day of climbing and stamina getting low it sure felt harder than what it really is.

Finally, the last push. Instructions were: Crawl into a big chimney and worm your way up to the summit. We reached the top just in time for sunset. Lucky as I am, this is the tale of my first climb up the Chief.  It was a gorgeous and exhausting climb. Where else do you get to climb this many pitches with awesome exposure and such a dramatic background! Squamish, I love you!

Left: Vincent. Right: Ben
Author: Vincent Kneeshaw