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The Climbing Club • View topic - The Chief: Calculus Crack/Memorial Crack/Squamish Buttress

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 07, 2011 12:23 pm 
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Raging Alpoholic
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Jasmine and I climbed the Chief: taking a line up Calculus Crack, Memorial Crack and Squamish Buttress. This line combined 14 pitches of great climbing to reach the first peak of the Chief.

Route shown below in green:


We had been planning this trip for over a month. After climbing at Leavenworth with Jasmine we decided that we’d make a good team for a longer outing such as the Chief. We set aside the weekend of the 4th and 5th of June as our climb date, being weather contingent of course. I had little hope of this actually working out, being June in the PNW, but figured we’d give it a shot. As the date approached the weather seemed to be lining up perfectly for the weekend, the only problem was the lingering rain on Thursday. Worried about seeping cracks on the Chief, I became a little obsessed with the web cams in the area. Here’s what the Chief looked like just before we left on Thurs. Eeew.


We drove up and hoped for the best. Friday was morning was wet, really wet. We tried the “fast drying crags” only to find them slimy. We hiked up the Chief via the well-maintained tourist trail instead. There is quite a view from the top. It was cool thinking that we might be able to gain this much elevation in one day by just pitching out rock.

Trail up the Chief is very well maintained!


Top of the Chief


Finally the sun was out and Squamish was about to have the warmest weekend of the season. We climbed at the Neat and Cool area of Smoke Bluffs warming up on a few classic 5.7 and 5.8 climbs, then having a go at “Flying Circus”, a 5.10a finger crack. Great climb!

Interesting to be cragging almost in someone’s back yard


With the warm weather, the crags were drying out fast! We readied ourselves for the Chief the next day, with the plan to bail at Broadway ledge after Calculus Crack if things got too wet.

We arrived at the Apron to find several parties planning to climb the Chief, one of which said that it had been climbed on Friday afternoon. It was a go!

Calculus Crack has an entertaining start, “yard your way up trees roots and the occasional crack for two pitches”. 5.8. tree climbing! Finally we broke out of the vegetation to a 50m 5.6 twin crack. This long pitch leads to a very small, exposed ledge with a gear anchor in a finger crack. Two nice pitches of finger and hand-sized cracks bring you to the 5.0 granite slabs and the top of Broadway ledge.
Tree climbing on P1 and P2


Long 5.6


More good climbing


From there, we scrambled up a nasty wet gully and over to the base of Memorial Crack. The base of Memorial Crack is a huge rock ledge with four plaques installed into the wall. I am now curious what they said, but I avoided reading them at the time in case they were similar to the plaque by Air Guitar in Vantage, as that would have been a little unsettling right before my first 5.9 lead on the day.

The party ahead shouted down that the crack was wet. Eew. “How wet?” “How comfortable are you leading 5.9 trad?” This was, in fact, a little worrisome. I watched closely as the follower climbed. It looked like it had good gear in all of the wet spots, so we decided to give it a go. Amazingly, Memorial Crack is SO good that it was still a fun lead even when wet!

Memorial Crack



We had now gained Memorial ledge. A 10 min hike brought us to the base of the 7 pitch Squamish Buttress Route. As is to be expected, the base of the route had a line, nothing too bad really, but about 3 parties ahead and three behind by the time we left. One party included Jenny Abegg. I had run into her when we first arrived at camp on Thurs, Neat and Cool on Fri, and would see her again at Upper Malamutte the next day. I think that the world is trying to tell us to climb together or something…

Jasmine strung together P1 and P2 which saved a lot of time and gave us a good lead ahead of the other groups (we’d need this later). Two enjoyable pitches of 5.7 flew by, then the 5.9 (a little wet, but reasonable). We now were staring at the crux 5.10c pitch. Holy shit, it looked hard! The face was steep, smooth and worst of all the shallow groove beneath the fixed piton at the crux was oozing. Interestingly the guide book had claimed, “by pulling on gear on the sixth pitch, the route can be climbed at 5.9”. I didn’t expect this to mean that one had to pull on ALL gear on the sixth pitch… Nobody was behind us for a little while, so we had time to work this out. I had a go at it. I surmounted the first difficulty after a small fall during a bear-hug like move and was pumped from the simultaneous squeezing and stemming, I backed off and gave Jasmine a shot at it. She got up several more feet and had good gear up to the middle of the final cruxy corner. At that point it became very difficult to place gear on lead (no rest and stemming opportunities lost because of the ooze), she made a dash for the fixed piton doing a tiring fingertip layback. With the piton almost in reach, she took a fall of her own. Because of her layback position she ended up upside down. Needless to say, it was frightening. But her gear was good and the fall was clean, so she was fine except for rattled nerves. My turn again. At this point we had another group waiting. They were supportive, but did tease us a little, “Never trust a guidebook!!” I aided the final 15’ of the pitch with generous profanity, “This is not fucking 5.9”, “Yeah, it’s a 5.10c!” they replied. Those who know me realize that swearing by no means indicates that I am not having fun! It was great fun! (type 1.5?). We finally finished the pitch, asses fully kicked. And we were not the only ones, as Jasmine set off for the final 5.6 ledges, I heard heavy grunting from below, then a yell and a “Fuck” that echoed down the South Gully, followed by more aiding. Be ready for this pitch, have lots of small gear (TCUs are perfect!!), and leave some time. We topped out at around 7:30 and were back to the camp at about 8:30 for a full 12 hour day. We met up with Jon, Lisa, Frank, Wendy and Nathan at camp, had some food and promptly fell asleep.

Slab pitches 1 and 2 of Squamish Buttress


P5 (5.9) on Squamish Buttress


Crux pitch






Sunday was a lazy day, and lucky too that we were not set on climbing too much because the lines for climbs were horrendous. We did High Mountain Woody at Upper Malamutte, a 45m pitch of 5.9, super classic. Then went over to Up among the Firs at Murrin Park were the joke was “take a number and get in line”. After 2 hours (no kidding!) Jasmine put up a nice 5.10b slab climb in great style. We took a lap on that, got some dinner at Howe Sound Brewery (don’t miss this place if you come through Squamish!) and headed home.

High Mountain Woody


Thanks Jasmine for being a solid partner, and a very strong climber!


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 07, 2011 12:55 pm 
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Wow! Nice job! Looks like it turned out to be a great weekend. :D


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 07, 2011 4:03 pm 
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Nice TR Val - you seem to have captured the ass kicking and the excitement of the 10c pitch! It was an awesome trip, really glad you made it despite the final -- which I hope went really well.

Memorial crack was definitely a highlight:


Exposed and fun 5.5 pitch:


Garibaldi looked amazing:


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 07, 2011 4:47 pm 
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 07, 2011 10:05 pm 
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Longshanks
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looks awesome! Did you have good views of the Tantalus Range, or was it all socked in to seaward?


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 07, 2011 10:14 pm 
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Calculus crack remains one of my favorite crack climbs ever. Way to get up the Chief despite the damp rock!!


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 08, 2011 9:44 am 
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 08, 2011 10:35 am 
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The Shepherd
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Looks Awesome! Do you think the crux pitches would have gone (aid free that is) if it were dry?


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 08, 2011 11:19 am 
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 15, 2011 11:07 am 
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yep, it's a fantastic pitch when dry! it's a legit 10c, if not short (in the 10c part). the bottom is pretty easy, from what i remember, and you finally reach a great hand jam just above the crux at the top. i led it clean last year in july (quite dry then), so i think my memory is pretty good (i think). did the same thing, actually - calc to mem to the butt. what an awesome day!!

way to get at it in the wet, ladies!!! next time you're in squish definitely get on angel's crest. it's amazing. if you can jam, the 2nd last pitch is pure joy. the 10c crux is just a short sporty bit. in fact, the whole climb is just so much fun. luckily my partner was "so tired from so much climbing" so i got to lead almost the whole climb, and i didn't think any of it was very hard - just really really fun! great photo ops, too!

christie


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 16, 2011 6:29 am 
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Raging Alpoholic
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Hey Christie!

Jasmine and I were looking at Angel's Crest and decided that the Squamish Buttress would be a better route for first time up the Chief, but are planning to train more and get on Angel's Crest later this summer. I spoke with a local a bit and heard that the cruxes on the several 5.10 pitches of Angel's crest are not sustained. Is this true in your opinion? So far, I've found that I can lead short sections of 5.10 trad, but can't keep it up for long pitches without good rests for gear placement. Either way, Angel's crest looks like a great goal for the season! Nice job on the route!


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 16, 2011 8:47 am 
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I believe the crux of Angel's Crest is .10c face climbing. The hard section isn't very long and well bolted. The trad crux is the pitch before and protects well. I found the crux of Squamish Buttress much harder. Angel's Crest requires the full arsenal of climbing skills - face, crack and chimney. It's quite the fun adventure.


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 16, 2011 10:23 am 
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yes and i totally agree with the last poster. no pitch on ac is harder than on sb. the crux 10c is very well bolted (think gym climbing!) and quite short, and i don't remember any trad pitches being too hard. [in fairness as i don't want to be called a sandbagger, i was in good shape last summer (for me) and onsiting 10s and easy 11s at the time. still, i don't think it's too hard for a 10.]

get at it!! and enjoy - don't forget your camera!!
christie


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 17, 2011 7:52 pm 
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Brings me back... Calculus Crack was one of my very first crack climbs... so beautiful. I envy you!

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Climbing crazed girl who loves working in the kitchen with spices, chiles, and from traditional Mexican cuisine!


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