The final turn on the Sea-to-Sky highway, before first sight of the Chief, is always full of anticipation for the climber. Once the granite wall is in view, the newly arriving scans the cliff for any sign of life, some motivation to rack-up before pitching a tent.
As I pulled into Squamish, a town I once called home, I looked up at the Grand Wall, car swerving side to side on the highway, and spotted two climbers. The 10-hour drive from the Rockies went well, under mid-summer sun. I drove passed the Chief parking-lot, then the Apron parking-lot where I use to lock my bike up before running a lap on Banana Peel, and finally I drove over the bridge which spans over the Howe Sound tidal swells. In the parking lot at the Eagle Eye Theatre were signs of a climbing festival: two mangy dogs with bandannas around their necks fought over a stick while four people, presumably climbers, played hacky-sack next to their truck with ropes strewn next to it. Indeed, a climbers gathering was taking place.
I have come to town for the climbing and to enjoy the Squamish Mountain Festival. I had arrived in time to watch presentations by Jen Olson and Sarah Hart. I have seen Olson, one of Canada’s leading female climbers, present at other shows and each time she is entertaining and informative. She has climbed around the world and in our August issue she writes about coastal climber Senja Palonen. Hart gave a riveting account of her first-female-ascent of the North Pillar of Fitz Roy with Colin Haley, along with stories and visuals from her other travels in 2012, and a delicious banana-bread recipe. Olson and Hart are role models for young women and I look forward to their future adventures.
Next was a film called Shattered, by Tyler Stableford. A personal introspection by Steve House as he discovers his fear connected to love, life, death and alpinism. The film is short and powerful.
Lastly was Wide Boyz, by Reel Rock 7, which explores the lifestyle of wide-crack climbers and the two Brits, Pete Whittaker and Tom Randall, who climbed the worlds hardest off-width.
The Squamish Mountain Festival combines daily clinics with nightly presentations to create a place for veteran and new climbers to enjoy the sport of climbing.