We all have project plates. They're usually never empty for long, always being filled, emptied, wiped clean and piled high again. Food and climbing, they just go together so well!
This summer, I piled my project plate VERY HIGH. Too high, I would in fact learn. I had begun the summer with a bang. I had moved back to Canmore, Alberta from Vancouver, BC for another summer of working as a student nurse and clinging to my favorite limestone. In May, with spectacular early season conditions for the Rockies, I was able to quickly send one of my dream routes: Fudge Packer (5.13d) at Planet X. It was a surprise to me, but it made me want to push myself more this summer. So I quickly piled the projects on: Leviathan (5.14a) at Acephale, Blue Jeans (5.13b, 7 pitches), and Yamabushi (5.12d, 8 pitches) at Yamnuska. All were formidable projects.
I have not yet sent a 14a, and Leviathan, being at my most favouritest crag in the universe, was the perfect choice. Blue Jeans and Yamabushi were also large undertakings. I am a newb when it comes to multipitches. Both Blue Jeans and Yamabushi are relatively new bolted multipitches on Yamnuska, the Chief of the Rockies (but chossier). Both had seen few ascents, with Blue Jeans (established by Nick Rochacewich) seeing only one ascent by Bow Valley guidebook author and sport climber extraordinaire, Derek Galloway.
All 3 projects were doable with the secret ingredient: time. Unfortunately for me, I just didn't have that secret ingredient this summer. With the June Monsoon in Canmore, plus 3 very busy online nursing courses, a full time job, and a pesky surgery all working together to separate me from the rock, I was unable to complete a single project. I left Canmore feeling more than a bit dejected. However, there is icing on the cake (I'm sorry, I'll stop!) for each project that have made me a stronger, more determined climber:
Leviathan: I only managed a few days on this route. It's burly with one of the craziest, hardest foot moves imaginable right at the crux. My first few tries on it were laughable, and I remember hiking up to Acephale on my last day at the crag hoping that one of the Acephale strongmen would be up there so they could retrieve my draws for me, seeing as how I hadn't yet be able to make it to the top of the route. On that last day, however, I made progress in leaps and bounds and did every single move. I had done all the moves on a 14a! Yahoo! It wasn't a send, or even close, but it was a milestone and put me one step closer to one day (hopefully one day soon!) sending my first 5.14.
Yamabushi: Yamabushi was a memorable experience, 100% due to the fact that I got to work it with Jen Olson. Jen is a powerhouse and it was so fun to climb with her. She's a full-time rock guide, so I was able to learn a lot about rope management and multi-pitch technique from her; invaluable advice! In the end, we also only managed a few days on the route together. In those few days, we got chased away by a fearsome Rockies thunderstorm, got absolutely baked in the sun, hiked to the top of Yam twice, and shared a lot of laughs and words of encouragement. Yamabushi seemed entirely doable, and I'm looking forward to going back and ticking it off with Jen.
Finally, Blue Jeans: This was my main goal for the summer. I put the most time, effort and emotion in to this route. Blue Jeans is special. It has rarely been climbed, and I wanted to be the one to do the second ascent. Overall, the rock on Yam is loose and scary. But Blue Jeans takes a special path up (mostly) solid rock. It's overhanging, pumpy and varied. Each pitch is unique and it gets harder and harder until P.5, the crux pitch. I was lucky enough to rope Derek Galloway (first ascentionist) into working the route with me (again). I don't know why he kept coming back up with me, but I was thankful for his support and endless beta for the route! By my last day on the route, I had done Pitches 1-3 (12b, 12d, 12d respectively), fallen once on pitch 4 (13a) and worked out all the moves on pitch 5 (13b crux). It was major progress, and if I had another few days on the route, I felt it would be entirely doable! Hopefully it remains a hidden jem and I can snag the second ascent next summer!
So there you have it. A blog full of excuses of why I didn't send anything this summer :) But wait, it's blue skies and sunny back here in Vancouver, and there is a very special project awaiting me on the island. Maybe there will be success this season after all. Stay tuned!
Keep up the Love and Happiness!