Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Pacific Northwest-Sehome Hill & Squamish
Over the Christmas holidays, we usually visit my wife's family in the Portland and Seattle area. We're about halfway through our visit and the NW has been very wet and rainy so far...but that hasn't stopped me from trying to visit a few new bouldering areas and send some (wet) routes. This visit we have been mainly in Seattle, but over the past few days we took a trip up to Vancouver, British Columbia, and then up to Squamish to check out this legendary climbing and bouldering area.
On our way up to Canada, we caught a quick break in the rain and stopped off in Bellingham, Washington, the home of Western Washington University and a little bouldering area called Sehome Hill. Sehome Hill is a sandstone area in an arboretum above the college. The boulders can be pretty tall, as they jut out from the steep evergreen rainforest hillside, and the routes may not be of the best quality...but I love to check out new places and send a few routes to experience something different. I climbed a few warm up routes and started to notice a big difference compared to back home...the grades are off by as much as 2 V grades. I got on a couple of V0's that felt like 5.5's and then I sent a wet V2 in my hiking shoes that really felt like a V0. I almost sent Brain Cancer, a V4, in my hiking shoes, but finally needed to put my climbing shoes on to top it out. I enjoyed visiting this area, but it made me miss the sweet southern boulders and the solid grades I'm used to.
After a rainy day in Vancouver, we took the hour drive north to Squamish and the giant vertical cliffs of the Stawamus Chief. The main boulders at Squamish are located under the Chief, in the enchanting evergreen forest that makes you feel so small in comparison to the giant conifers. The place was still pretty soaked, but I had to at least climb a route or 2. After checking out the area and getting familiar with the different sets of boulders, we made our way to Titanic, a popular V4. This was the route that I was hoping to climb, but due to the rain I had to settle for a couple of easier routes instead.
Here is a shot of me sending a V0 right beside the Titanic boulder, and I also got to send Twister, a pretty easy V1. Once again, I thought these routes were a little too easy for their grades...but then again, I've always thought that Rumbling grades (what I tend to compare everything to) can be stout compared to other places I've visited. It was tough to be in one of the proclaimed meccas of bouldering and not be able to pull down at my limits, but it was nice to see this amazing place and experience it as much as I could. We plan on taking a trip out here in the summer sometime soon and hopefully I'll be able to climb til my tips are bruised and bleeding.
It looks like we're about to catch a break in the weather over the next few days, as we travel down to Portland for the second half of our trip. I'm hoping to be able to check out a few bouldering spots near Portland and on up into the Columbia River Gorge and actually climb some dry rock. Every time I travel away from my home bouldering areas I get to experience new and different bouldering spots...but they all remind me of how awesome we have it in the South and how even some of our worst boulderfields are still better than what most people have to climb on! Check out the guestbook/messageboard for the first question of the week...What's your favorite bouldering area that you've ever been to?