On The Cave Boulder, between Cerebral Celebration and The Crescent, is a nice crack of crisp half pad underclings with a perfect foothold and a big fat jug at the lip for a fun mantle. It has never been in a guidebook. I have never heard anyone talk about it. But there was no way it could have escaped the eyes of TD. Sure enough, he “climbed it back in the Worrall days.” It is unnamed. It is good. If you like Mantis, I think you’ll probably like this one too.
Sky Pilot Boulder
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.
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.
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?
UPDATE: While we may never know who made the first ascent of this dihedral, we do know Miles Adamson ascended it on May 28, 2017.
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.
V8 Sandbags and V10 Softies
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?
Creating the Squamish Bouldering 3rd Edition Graded Index gave me data that might expose a possibly mistaken use of grades in Squamish.
Less V9s than V10s?!
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.