Trip Report: Squamish

Cover Photo by Jamie Finlayson

So the fall is upon us (kind of) here in the Pacific Northwest, and I have finally got to experience a little taste of “sending temps”. The thing about training non-stop this year is that I feel like my performance (and my emotions) go on a bit of a roller coaster… some days I feel strong, and some days I feel pretty weak, which makes me wonder “why am I even training?! Is it doing me any good?”… but then I try to remember that when your training volume is high, you can’t expect to be climbing your best. Plus it takes some time for the gains from training to fully materialize into your climbing.

This last weekend I took an extra day of rest from training in order to try and feel my best for a day of climbing in Squamish (AKA “cash in” on some of my training gains by getting more rest than normal). We arrived on Saturday morning and I spent the day basically being a boulder caddy for my husband. I went with him to all his projects, helped haul pads, and took video footage of all his attempts. It was hard to not climb at all, but I was hoping to cash in the benefits from these good deeds the following day, when it would be my turn to climb. I watched Josh absolutely crush that day… He sent his first v12 (the summoning), then went on to send a cool new 10 called Velcro and some other hard moderates. Super inspiring to see!!!

The next day was my turn. I felt good about the fact that I would have a very low pressure day… I often feel bad when I’m climbing with Josh because we end up spending way more time at my projects then we do at his (he sends way faster!!), so I end up feeling rushed when we are at my projects because I know that he wants to climb too. On this day, I was psyched to feel like I could completely set the agenda and not feel any guilt about it (I recommend this strategy for any climbing couples who struggle divvying up their time on trips!).

We started out at a project I had been working on (Sesame Street, v9), and I could tell that my psych level was not very high… I have put a lot of sessions into this climb, dialed all the moves, but haven’t sent and have started to see some backwards progress… So I decided that I would give myself 5 tries, and if I wasn’t having fun or reaching a new high point, I would just move on. 5 tries later we starting packing up our stuff. It wasn’t that the conditions were bad (which is often the problem with this climb), but I think I was feeling mentally burnt out on the movement, which was causing me to fumble a bit.

I decided to go try a v7 (Breakfast at Tiffany’s) that I had my eye on, but it’s one that requires energy and fresh skin, two things I didn’t have during my last attempt on this climb (it’s a sharp one!). I quickly did the topout, then had to work the first couple moves. Once I figured out the start, I was able to send it! If felt nice to have some success early on in the day after feeling defeated on my project.

I then decided I wanted to try a new climb that I had looked at before, but never tried the moves. Zero Zero, v10. I told Josh that either I won’t be able to do anything on it, in which case it would be a very short session, or maybe I would be able to work on it a bit and pick it as a new project for the season…. I started with the first move, rough! I quickly deduced that the first two moves would be the crux: pulling off the ground on small holds, deadpointing a sharp micro-crimp, using this to get a higher foot, then bumping to a small sidepull edge. I decided to start from after the crux and see if I could do the other moves. The climb incorporates some powerful moves on small holds, and then links into the Squamish highball classic Summer Vacation, V0

After about 20 minutes, I had been able to do each move in isolation… Could I actually do this thing?! I began to try it from the start and had one really good go where I was only two moves away from hitting the jug, which links the v10 into the v0. I couldn’t believe it. I started taking 10 minute rests between attempts, but after about an hour I could tell that my skin wouldn’t be able to handle very much more, and my energy was starting to dwindle… Our plan was to head back home that afternoon, so I decided if I was going to have any chance at sending this climb, I would need to take a rest, get some food, and see if I could recoup enough energy to come back and put it together.

Josh and I headed to one of our favorite brunch spots, a place called Fergie’s, and grabbed some food (delicious benedicts after about an hour wait..). Then we headed back to the chief parking lot. I still felt low energy so I tried to take a short nap in the front seat of our car. I could tell Josh was getting a little restless, so after about 10 minutes I decided to head back out and try again. I didn’t feel awesome and I didn’t know what the appropriate amount of warm-up was since I didn’t want to waste whatever precious energy I had. I decided to do a couple of laps on Summer Vacation to make sure that I felt comfortable if I did end up linking into it. I then tried the upper few moves a bit to make sure I had those dialed. I then felt ready and decided to try from the start again. I took a few deep breaths and told myself that it’s ok if I don’t send, I should just try my best to dial the moves so I can come back next weekend when I am fully recharged. The first go I got through the crux, but then fell sticking a weird gaston-undercling (the first redpoint crux for me). I took a 10 minute break and tried again. This time I hit the first move and felt like I was a little off, but decided to keep going. I bumped my hand to the crimp sidepull and ended up hitting it perfectly. “This is it,” I thought to myself. “Just relax, try hard, and be very precise with your movements”. With each move, I took a breath and just really focused on the next movement, and then I hit the jug… “Holy F%@#” (my eloquent words when I realized I was going to send my first V10). I topped out the boulder with the highball finish and came down with a very large grin on my face.

Climbing is not about grades, and so often climbing is filled with way more failures than successes, but damn does it feel good when the stars align, your muscles fire properly, and you get to top out a boulder that really pushed you. Anyways, here’s the video of Zero Zero 🙂


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