“This place is climbing Disneyland.” In his first few minutes, Dustin had perfectly identified a very important fact. I can think of no other place with amazing granite trad multipitch lines, easy cragging, and outstanding bouldering just 10 minutes walk from your tent. Your tent, which is pitched under a perfect canopy of large conifers, perched on a spectacular bluff overlooking Howe Sound. You eat dinner with an international cast of generally friendly, well-behaved climbers of every skill level, as well as a few kayakers, cycle tourists, and wing-suit flyers to boot. The stoke is typically through the roof, and if by chance someone happens to be on your route when you get to the base of it in the morning, they are more than likely psyched to either let you pass, or direct you to a similar or better route in the immediate vicinity. I do not spend enough time here.
The weather for the first few days of my trip had been less than ideal in Squamish, hence climbing in Mazama, and a quick stop to do some work on the Moon family cabin.
I had always talked up trad climbing, and the wonders of granite cracks, but my many past adventures hadn’t taken that particular form. Being willing, available, and proximate, crack climbing 101 was suddenly inevitable. His lovely lady Gaio, had never been climbing outside and was even still willing after watching the entire “Wide Boys Crack School“, so north we went on a clearing Wednesday morning.
We started on some easy cracks at the ever beautiful Burgers and Fries area in the Smoke Bluffs. It took Dustin about 3 hours to get itch to lead (the hard scary part of climbing). He is one of the most natural athletes I’ve ever met, so I gave the rack and a few tips, and he clipped the anchors in short order. We were off to the races.
We spent day 2 cragging away from the crowds on the incredible Malamute. 10 minutes walk from camp, the 400′ cliff boasts a wide variety of amazing cracks- with no road noise, few other people, and spectacular views of the sea. Ideal.
Dustin and Gaio were headed home for more work on the roof on Friday night, and I knew they needed to experience a multipitch line before they left. We accounted for being a team of 3 and our relative skill levels, picking our way through the forest to “Cream of White Mice” (II, 5.9, 4 pitches). It was the perfect outing- some finger cracks, a dyke, a nice 5.8 slab traverse and a tricky ending, with 4 rappels back to camp for a perfect outing. Disneyland sure is fun.
I probably wouldn’t encourage most beginners to dive straight into a climbing trip to Squamish. I’ve made a lot of mistakes in the last 10 years of climbing, and am thankful that very few of them have resulted in anything more than a couple hours of being cold and some lost gear. Dustin and Gaio were vocally grateful to have a dedicated guide to show them the literal ropes, and I realized that even as much as I enjoy climbing hard things and challenging myself, teaching climbing is one of the most fulfilling and rewarding things that I know how to do. It is of course far easier with fit, willing, and smart students. The experience of sharing this passion of mine with one of my closest friends is a reward that is exceedingly rare. I hadn’t planned on having that experience this trip, but it would have been far less rich without it.