In August 2016, I looked from Mount Habrich across the end of the Shannon Basin to the Sky Pilot group. There was an obvious big boulder.
It looked like a big one on Google Maps at 20+ meters wide. See (49.64577, -123.081082).
From the top of the gondola, it is about a 11 km hike round trip with 600 meters of elevation gain.
The boulder is high quality pink granite. Unfortunately, it is flat as a pancake. I had to sit down to make the lip overhead. Actually this looks like a half decent short problem with a difficult lip encounter on small holds.
The downhill side is a bit taller.
And the tallest section doesn’t have many holds but does have a very long steep hillside landing.
There are several small, very white, very clean, high quality, granite eggs nearby that you can see in Google Maps. I wasn’t inspired to lace up my shoes.
Overall, I didn’t see much in the way of boulders on either the Mount Habrich and Sky Pilot sides of the Shannon Basin. Maybe right down along the Shannon River. The biggest boulders usually roll the farthest.
The north side Mount Habrich has way more worth exploring.
I continued bashing down the hill looking for the big one. Only about 60 meters away, I arrived at a true beast of a boulder: The Mastodon.
The 8 meter tall line on the west side caught my eye the most. A shallow dihedral and sharp arete above a jumble of three big blocks for a landing.
Ryan Davy and I had been planning on getting out climbing. Ryan’s shirt fit the plan quite nicely.
Last Tuesday, after messing around with two lines on not-so-good granite on the other side of the boulder, Ryan and I worked the dihedral/arete getting up to the crux. Lots of delicate footwork while laybacking the arete.
There was a bit of a rain delay this weekend but I was happy to find it dry this morning. While I waited for Ryan to arrive, I worked the top on a top rope.
As soon as Ryan arrived, it was time. I could barely wait to climb the thing. Ryan propped his camera against a tree and recorded this video.
I went up it a couple more times because it is such a fun climb.
The Mastodon V4 ★★★★★ Peter Michaux, July 23, 2017
Climb the 8 meter tall striking dihedral/arete combination on the west face of The Mastodon boulder. Perfect granite.
Israel Cruces, Jack Fieldhouse, and Stu Smith invested a lot of time developing the UFO Boulders in secret. They have moved on and the area is no longer secret but the information about the area has not been disseminated.
I’m starting to gather information. This map is a start and should help you get to some of the classics of the area like Hueco del Norte and Spoken Word.
From Highway 99, descend the obvious trail. After a few switchbacks, cross a creek. The trail will rise a bit to the “Welcome to Area 44” sign. The trail to the rope climbing cliffs goes up to the left. You want to go just behind the sign and follow a faint trail to the right that traverses the hillside.
Jude Spanken spent time in Squamish in 2000 around the time she took a photography course in Victoria. Last year, she was kind enough to send me some of her Squamish bouldering pictures.
This picture of Jude’s really caught my eye. The boulder is the one with the problem Pavelini but the first ascent of Pavelini is listed in the guide book as being in 2013.
Nick Gibbs, Brent Mickelson, and Mike Chapman (left to right) watch and Tim Doyle spots while Israel Cruces looks uncharacteristically dynamic.
I started asking around. Mike Chapman remembered:
Summer 2000 below the Bulletheads. This is in the book as Pavelini, but that problem avoids the sit start and traverses in from a stand start from the left – and was done 13 years later. The original lines all start from a sit and go right, direct and to the left for three different topouts. Left exit is super spicy for the spotter as the landing leads to a 50ft drop off a cliff just pass the fallen tree.
I cleaned the boulder but gifted the problem anyway, hence the name.
Pavelini V7 Martin Pigeon 2013
Primer V7 Tim Doyle 2000 sit start
Shell Casing V5 Mike Chapman 2000 sit start
The Gift V6 Alistair King 2000 sit start
[Mike made up the names Primer and Shell Casing in 2017 as neither he nor Tim could remember their original names.]
The Beefy Yellow Gate is becoming a great place to park.
Out exploring the forest north of Peter and the Wolf, a glowing granite boulder appeared in the distance.
Someone must have been very psyched when they found this because they sure did develop the area. Based on the regrowth around the small maple stumps, it looks like the clearing was done in 2015 or 2016. There are still ropes hanging from the boulder and it looked like fresh chalk on some of the holds. A couple old Cordless crashpads are tucked under the boulder.
Paul Mcsorely snapped the following picture of Luke Neufeld cleaning what would become Moroccan Blonde.
It is a big boulder with the lip at about 5 meters and three steep sides. Don’t let the videos fool you. I’m 6’5″ (195 cm) tall and make a terrible model for showing scale.
Some very cool problems in the V3-5 range and some harder.
The first problem I climbed was a beautiful independent line up the middle of the a face. About 25° at the bottom and easing to 20° at the top. Slightly reachy moves between great holds. Likely around V4. The kind of problem I dream of finding. (A nice variation shares the same first move but then goes out right on slopers towards the dihedral.)
Right of the previous problem is a dihedral with a granite tufa similar to the tufa on Corner Relief. More fun, long moves and some surprising and welcome crimps near the top. Maybe V2 or V3.
The line that impressed me the most leads up a slightly overhanging face to a serious mantle. I tried the version that comes in from the left but there is a line of very small crimps directly below the mantle.
Jason Ammerlaan made the first ascent of this mantle problem.
Early One Morning is a relatively easy problem (probably V1) up a 40° overhang with four or so nicely flowing moves on horizontal edges. Just 15 meters behind Peter and the Wolf, Early One Morning makes for a good (re-)warm-up for its much more difficult neighbour.
In June 2017, Sundev Lohr visited Squamish and started spreading a rumour that The Bulb is not actually named “The Bulb”. How could this have remained secret for so long? Curious to learn the true story, I asked Sundev to connect me to Dain Smoland for the first-hand story. Dain wrote the following…
I spent a month or so up there in the summer of 2000. We climbed frequently with Jack Fieldhouse, who showed us most of the classics, including Drive Shaft. I do not crimp very well, and started trying to go up and right from the start instead, out those slopers. Called it John Shaft, because I considered it a variation (I believe an awful remake movie must have just come out or something to put it in my mind). I consider The Bulb just as good a name, though I have no idea where that would have come from. It is kinda bulbous I guess.
More old school goodness provided by Harry van Oort. This is a picture of Nick Gibbs on an ascent of The Bulb circa 2000, soon after Dain’s first ascent.
While “The Bulb” has received great reviews over the years, the movie Shaft (2000) certainly hasn’t stood the test of time as well.