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.
Nick Gibbs working towards the first ascent of either That Long Distance Feeling or TNT. Wait! What?! Isn’t that Black Hole?
This photo has been replicated by many but this is the original by Jude Spancken.
Nick’s original handwritten notes in one of my old spiral notebooks describing his problems That Long Distance Feeling and TNT. The pencil is my writing after he told me he had changed the name of one to Black Hole. None of these versions start where people usually start the problems today.
The Hydra boulder has a 5 meter dihedral that has caught the eye of many. This summer, I took a friend over to show him the dirty dihedral. Instead of being dirty, it was completely clean and heavily chalked. Roadside and majestic, it seems odd it sat dirty for so long.
Does anyone know anything about this? Who cleaned it? Is it climbed?
We’ll see if someone pops up saying this isnt an FA. It’s the dihedral on the back of the hydra boulder. Start on the jug. Amazing problem
UPDATE 2: Mystery solved! It turns out that Tim Doyle made the first ascent of this dihedral and named it V. He did it sometime around when he did the first ascent of the problem listed as Echidna (not Tim’s name) in the guide book. That would put Tim’s first ascent sometime around 2002.
Squamish V8s have always seemed to cover a wider range of difficulties than other grades. Ask most people and they will probably agree that problems like The Weasle, Sharma’s Arete, Vitamin D, and Corner Relief are all pretty damn hard compared to many other V8s.
People definitely want to climb “double digits” but throughout the forest you’ll hear endless claims that No Troblems should be downgraded. It’s not the only V10 that’s considered soft.
At the same time, it seems like there aren’t all that many V9 problems in Squamish.
Does Squamish really have a bunch of V8 sandbags and V10 softies that should be V9?
From V3 up, V9 is the only grade that has less problems than the next grade up. I cannot think of anything inherent about the shapes of Squamish granite that would make V9 not lie along a smooth decay curve as the grades increase.
Looking at this data, it appears we should not be shy about moving a few V8s up to V9 and some V10s down to V9.
Sort of high. Sort of bad landing. Sort of burly. Sort of intimidating. Totally rad. Stu Worrall’s problem Pale Rider is one of Squamish’s finest medium-balls.
Here’s a picture of Stu climbing Pale Rider in the summer of 1998.
If you are new to Squamish (arrived in the last decade or so) you probably haven’t climbed Pale Rider as the top has been overgrown for years. Possibly neglected due to its famous neighbour Ride the Lighting just around the corner to the left, Pale Rider is a worthy destination in its own right.
Knowing it needed a bit of care, I packed up my cleaning gear and hiked up to give it a quick polish. When I arrived, I looked up to see a jaw dropping sight: a gillion ton log laying across the top out. Ill-equipped for such a mighty task, I turned around defeated.
After days of effort and several collaborators, Pale Rider is finally cleaner than ever and awaiting your attempts. After a good rain, it should really sparkle.
If you haven’t been to Israel’s Cave yet, it is worth the effort. Relatively steep hiking for about 15 minutes leads you away from the highway noise and to a unique cave of very clean, top quality granite.
The following video playlist shows most of the problems listed in Squamish Bouldering 3rd edition. (Some videos might not play on a mobile device.)