My second trip up to The Constellations was alone and my first day of bouldering up there. I climbed on the boulders Scot and I had explored. As I left, I unintentionally took a different trail out than how we had approached and left before. Hidden behind a clump of trees and in the distance was the featured face of a boulder I hadn’t seen before. It looked huge. Maybe 8 meters tall! Maybe too big to boulder on up there with limited crash pads. I too tired to wobble up the talus to the boulder so I took a crappy picture from the distance and spent the following days down at sea level fantasizing about the monster face.
On the third trip, the first thing Sasha and I did was walk up to check out the big face. With every approach step, the face mysteriously shrunk. It wasn’t too big. It was almost the perfect size. We found so much to climb that day around our warm-up area that we never made it back to this hidden face.
My priority for the fourth trip was to climb this face. It is the first problem up at The Constellations that has the genuinely overhanging, gymnastic quality many of us desire.
In astronomy, an occultation is an event when one heavenly body passes between Earth and another more distant heavenly body blocking the view of the distant object.
Pentagram Arete at The Constellations is a striking arete and kind of a scary highball above a two-tier talus landing.
A pentagram is the five-pointed shape most of us make when we draw a star. The pentagram has symbolized many things to different cultures. When it has only one point upwards, it symbolizes the triumph of spirit over matter or mind over limbs. This arete wasn’t a physically difficult problem but with an insecure move at the lip it did take a few tries for my mind to push my body over the top.
The Sickle is the most obvious asterism in the spring evening sky. It is the head and mane of the constellation Leo and shaped like a backwards question mark.
This problem is one of the most obvious lines at The Constellations and is also shaped like a backwards question mark.
It is an easy problem but first ascents of easy problems can still be sketchy over bad jumbled rocky talus landings like this one’s. This face of rock is particularly solid. I just walked up to it and climbed it without cleaning a thing.
You can see how deep the snow is when I first pop up.
As I set up to try this line, a hummingbird startled me by zooming towards me. It stopped to hover just in front of my face and stared at me. Maybe it was my red shirt.
In North America, there is a legend about how the world was always in daytime. The animals angered The Great Spirt, so he covered the world with a blanket to punish them. The other animals tried but failed to solve the problem. Hummingbird could fly up to the blanket and poked holes in it with his beak to let the light through. He drew pictures in the blanket of his animal friends. The Great Spirt was so impressed by this effort, he removed the blanket for half the day and covered it again with the unmended blanket for the other half. That is how hummingbird created the stars.
No one would hike with me up to The Constellations so I had to go alone and scoop up some of the most obvious classic lines.
A few butterflies visited me so I named this problem after the open cluster of stars in Scorpius called Butterfly Cluster.
It is so clean up there that I didn’t need to brush anything to make this first first ascent of the area.
(This video shows me bouldering it for the second time.)
I took a 10 inch folding saw. With a bit of cutting at the most branchy parts of the trail, I managed to wear a small crash pad the entire way up the trail with less difficulty than I thought. The trail is still rugged but it is improving at least a little bit with each trip.
“Why don’t we have a cool, summer alpine bouldering area?!” was all I could think as I sat early last summer stewing in the hot, humid air locked in the windless forest surrounding the Squamish boulders. Summer is the most predictably dry weather here but it’s not exactly sending conditions. Colorado has RMNP. Yosemite has Tuolumne. Why not us? We need an escape.
I searched Google Maps for a solution. A few potentially interesting rock piles appeared in the Squamish area. One pile looked particularly good but with especially arduous access. So I did the easy thing and I went to Tuolumne for the rest of the summer where the boulders are only a few minutes from the road. It was rad.
This spring, as we made our way through record-breaking 30°C weather in April, the same problem started creeping up. What am I going to do to make it through this summer? That pile of rocks was on my mind again.