Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Pacific Northwest, here we are!!

I left you last as we were spending Labor Day weekend in Vancouver, BC and enjoying the city life! We explored the Gaslight district a bit and saw a steam powered clock along the sidewalk. There were live bands playing all over and I got to do a bit of shopping:) In the West End, they had rainbow colored crosswalks which we really liked! Plus, an amazing Himalayan restaurant. It was delicious food, but also a reminder of the devastation that area received with the earthquake.  The city of Vancouver was filled with amazing culture and unique connection to both the sea and the forests. It was a great place to be!
Driving across one of many bridges in Vancouver:)
On our walk through Stanley Park in Vancouver.

These transport ships are giant!

Sea selfie:)
But we had spent our time in the city and our outdoorsie selves were ready to climb some rocks! Our next stop is a mecca of the climbing community, Squamish. We had heard whispers of amazing things, but have been let down in the past by having high expectations. Carefully, we made our way through the winding road squished between Howe Sound and the rock formations of old. As we turned the final bend, "The Chief" greeted us with his massive stature and cast a long shadow over us. We looked up in amazement and found a campsite just under his watch.
Climbing in Squamish.

Beauty in the small things:)
To be living and being so close to such a huge rock formation was amazing!!! We could wake up and walk to a multi-pitch climb just feet from our campsite! There were lots of other climbers about and as we drove by one of the parking lots, I recognized two bad ass girls we had met a few times before at different climbing places. Tara and Polly take on some epic routes and are really awesome people! It was great to hear what they had been climbing and find out some of the ins and outs of Squamish.
Another person we knew from climbing in California, Michelle, lives in Squamish. She drives a VW Rabbit and I kept an eye out for her car the first few days we were there. Finally, as we walked back to our campsite one night, she was pulling in to go bouldering! We got to catch up and she told us about a yoga class on Saturday mornings at the Farmer's Market. Zach and I ran from our campsite Saturday morning to the class and I got to stretch my stiff self alongside Michelle. I am always the one who needs lots of corrections during the class, but the instructor really helped me do the moves right and it was a lot of fun:)
We ate out for breakfast and said goodbye to Michelle. There is a strong wind that usually blows in from Howe Sound and windsurfing is very popular. Zach and I walked out to watch them and got to see a great view of Howe Sound with "The Chief." This really is the perfect place to be a climber!!!
A nice rest after following one of Zach's leads on a 5.10 finger crack!
Zach and I racked up some proud climbs while we were in Squamish! I lead a wet 5.8 crack that was a lot of fun, but a little muddy. We also shared a multi-pitch climb where I lead a 5.9 pitch and Zach lead the 5.10c pitches above! Its always fun sharing leads and helping to push each other. Our favorite day and climb was "Right Wing." It is on the "Slhanay" formation and climbs a very prominent crack separating the light and dark rock with an added bonus of a giant flake at the top. I lead the first 3 pitches of 5.8 (Eagle Domain) and an aide pitch through wet and slimy rock. Zach took on the endurance pitches called "The Filibusterer" and did AMAZING! He lead these tough pitches with out falling or taking on the rope!! It was so fun climbing with him and we were exhausted at the top!
Zach starting up the Filibuster Pitch!

Zach getting psyched to climb to climb a big crack!!!

So happy with his #6:)
The next day we were so tired and took the day off. Unfortunately, the forecast for the next week showed lots and lots of rain. We decided our time in this amazing area had come to a natural end and we were so happy with what we had accomplished. Squamish, you are our new favorite climbing area!!!
We stressed about getting across the border with our home inside our van, but the US Border Agent was really excited about our trip and only questioned us further because he wanted to figure out how to do it himself. It was a fun welcome back into the US where we could find free camping!!!
My grandparent's friends live in Bellingham, WA and we took one morning to pop in and say hi to Art and Nan. Art took us on a fun drive to view the mountains. Unfortunately, the clouds blocked our view, but we had fun chatting with Art. He took us out to a wonderful lunch at a little diner on our way back. Vanventuring is a great way to connect with people and we enjoy being able to stop in and see friends!
Our morning with Art:)
Our next climbing stop was Index, a few hours outside of Seattle. It was a really great place to lead crack climbs!! It has lots of hard climbs, but I was able to lead my first 5.10a crack climb (Breakfast of Champions)!! I loved it so much and had to try so hard to get it without falling. The gear placements were so fun and the hand jams inside the crack were solid!! It was a goal of mine on the trip to lead a 5.10 trad climb so I was pretty excited to get it! I could not have done it without Zach coming with me, belaying me, and encouraging me up the climb.
This is my 10a crack, Breakfast of Champions!

Zach repelling down after our climb:)
It was raining that day and I was not sure about leading it. I got up early that morning and rain to the base of the climb to see if it was still dry. There was no water running down the route and the rock felt dry. I had been reading my friends posts on facebook about invisible illness week and she struggles with a disease that affects feeling in her hands and feet, among lots of other things. She is a strong climbing, but is limited by the illness. She wrote some very encouraging posts and I really felt like I had no excuse, but to get out there and try this climb. So, I dedicate my climb to you, Ange! Thanks for helping me get out there!
View from the top in Index!
After my climb, the rain turned from drizzling to pouring and we headed into Seattle to meet up with our good friend, Adrian at Seattle Bouldering Project. He hooked us up with a day pass that including SHOWERS!!! I was so very excited and cannot thank Adrian enough:) We had a lot of fun bouldering inside while it rained cats and dogs outside! And the shower. Oh the shower was so refreshing:)
Zach's cousin, Miles, lives in Seattle as well, so we got to meet him for dinner that night! He girlfriend, Kila and her daughter, Aaliyah. We had such a great time getting to know them and completely failed to take a picture with them! Although, I think Aaliyah may have snapped a few on her game pad:) Thank you Dan and Mel for dinner! It was awesome:)
Adrian took us on a tour of Seattle the next morning and introduced us to some yummy food and cool sites in the Public Market. We also had some amazing finds at the Goodwill near the climbing gym. Seattle was a great stop for us!
The only time the Space Needle could be seen out of the clouds:)

Market selfie!

Happy flowers!!!
Now we are hanging out in Leavenworth, WA trying to get in shape for bouldering again. We tried a bouldering day in Squamish and felt very, very weak, but its good for us to try hard and push ourselves, so today I am going to try and send a project I have been working. It is a V5 that is a roof crack with hand and finger jams:) Right up my trad climbing ally! I can do all the moves and just need to put them all together!! Zach already got it done, so once I get that, we can do some more multi-pitch climbing!! We already did a few days of bouldering and one day of crack climbing. Zach did some aide climbing and I tried the aide technique on top rope. Its pretty fun!!
Oh bouldering!

I got it!!

The awkward positions bouldering gets me in:)

Zach looking strong!

My bouldering project, "No Pain, No Gain"
Fall is my favorite season and an awesome season for climbing!! We are so excited about the next few months and all the climbing we have ahead of us!! Our final months of the vanventure begin and I think they will be our best yet!!!
Zach and his aide hooks:) So happy!!

Aide climbing!!

Zach partaking in his cultural heritage:)

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