Monday, 21 August, 2017 - The Bugaboos
Fresh off our ascent of the glorious Northeast buttress of Mount Slesse, Erik, Toba, Jamie (another good friend from NL), and I (Nick) beelined it straight to Brisco, BC where we were eager to make the most of an auspicious alpine forecast at Bugaboo Provincial Park. For myself and Toba this was a return trip to the Bugaboos and we were ecstatic to get back to Applebee Dome campground during the best conditions of the year.
As luck would have it, we happened to time our arrival with a special astronomical event: a solar eclipse. We took it as a sign that the stars were aligning for our stint in the mountains.
Our ascent to Applebee dome coincided with the August 21 solar eclipse. At our latitude, the maximum coverage of the sun was around 85%.
Wednesday, 16 August, 2017 - Squamish Chief Campground
"It's no problem, we just have to make it to Chilliwack. I booked us two Greyhound tickets leaving Thursday at 10AM."
"Ok, so where's the Greyhound station?"
"Don't worry about it Erik... I'll just call Greyhound's customer service and ask them to have the bus pick us up in downtown Squamish. It's a 45 minute walk. Easy."
Friday, 18 August, 2017 - Highway 99
Soon enough, Erik and I forgot about our roadside trek. After all, we were finally on our way to Mount Slesse, the cynosure of our expedition, and nothing could stop us.
And then someone flipped the “On” switch in my brain. Under a title that read “What’s Next for the Choss Boys?” was a photo of the soaring North East Buttress of Mt. Slesse. The image was taken with impossible exactness, with every contrasting relief of the knife-blade North East Buttress etched in perfect detail. I shuddered in my Rubbermaid chair. The steep ridge led directly into a dark, ominous, black headwall of gneiss that towered above neighboring peaks. A plane had crashed into Mt. Slesse in the 1950s, exploding airplane fuselage and body parts all over the mountain, a history that added a sense of tacit foreboding. Nick said he was hoping to climb the peak next summer… “maybe.”
With that, the presentation was over, and a chapter was closed on the Choss Boys' epic adventures. Although I sensed a whole new chapter was just beginning…
This post is all about mine and Nick’s climbing adventures in British Columbia during August of 2017. It’s our “prequel,” highlighting some of the planning, training, and preparations that went into our two-week-long tear through the alpine that resulted in successful ascents of two "50 classics," and three stunning mountain summits. So “Read More” and jump into another season of Choss Boys adventures - and stay tuned for three follow-up stories featuring each of the mountains we climbed.
Throughout the trip and since we returned home to Newfoundland, the Choss Boys have had a couple opportunities to practice our public relation skills.
Coming to Mexico, Daniel and I (Nick) were looking for two things: bolts, and a break. After five straight months of trad climbing, big walls, and alpine climbing, we wanted a vacation from our vacation. Well, El Potrero Chico gave us all that we wished for, and more.
One of the finer crack climbing test-pieces in Red Rocks is 'The Fox.' The 140-foot pitch begins with a finger crack, but gradually widens through all sizes into a short chimney, and then narrows to a 5" offwidth to finish. During a climbing trip in April, 2015, Dave onsighted The Fox after a real battle, and inspired Nick to give it a try as well. Not having much crack climbing experience, Nick was quickly thrashed before even reaching the fist crack, 1/3 of the way up the climb.
Daniel and Nick were both motivated to return to The Fox and gauge how far their crack climbing technique had progressed. Check out the photos, and a brief recap of their sends.
On November 4th, 2016, the Choss Boys became the first Newfoundlanders ever to climb El Capitan. Their ascent of the Salathe Wall captured the attention of the local climbing community in Newfoundland, and an overwhelming outpouring of support and congratulations followed. A leader in the Newfoundland climbing community, Greg Locke, wrote an article in a local sports page, and Nick's mom, Marie Wadden, tipped off her friends at CBC. As a result, the Choss Boys spoke with Heather Barrett, host of CBC's Weekend Arts Magazine. Below is the recording of their interview.
In case you haven't realized, a common theme has emerged in many of our climbing exploits.
"We head up the approach trail and in good Choss Boys style get immediately lost and disoriented."
- Erik in "Choss Boys tackle The Grand Wall"
"4 AM again. True to the Chossboys style, Daniel and I (Nick) had attempted to climb the North East ridge of Bugaboo Spire the previous Wednesday, but instead got hopelessly lost."
- Nick in "A ridge tale: Summit fever"
Yeah... I guess you could say we haven't exactly been slaying it on our big climbing days. This time, however, I (Nick) am happy to report that we finally managed the first ever Choss Boys anti-epic!
Another mauzy evening in St. John's. It's only 6:30pm, but the sun has already set. I (Nick) am sitting in front of my laptop at our kitchen table, hunched over a sprawling pile of notes, staring through glazed eyes at slide 44/112 in a lecture titled "Nineteenth Century Foundations of Experimental Psychology." After 45 minutes of studying, my pace has ground to a halt. I absentmindedly open a new tab in my browser and type "yosemite mountain project" into google.
Daniel, Erik, and I have been planning a climbing road trip for over two months now. The three of us have a spreadsheet titled "Big Trip 2016: Finances," and Erik started a slideshow where we can lay out a vague plan for the route, and the places we will visit. I open this slideshow in another new tab. There are 7 slides, but only 4 of them have content; its just a skeleton. Slide 3/7, "Yosemite," is the only one with an image.
Back on mountainproject.com, I search for "El Capitan," and immediately start browsing through world-famous routes. Although all are renowned in their own right, two climbs in particular stand out: "The Nose," and "The Salathe Wall." I open the page for The Salathe Wall, and feel my vitality returning immediately.
The hardest part of any big objective is getting started. Apprehension and nerves are rampant. However, once underway, even the most daunting projects can unfold with relatively little anxiety and stress. This is a detailed account of the Choss Boys' most ambitious climb to date.
The Salathe Wall on El Capitan is 35 pitches, with 3500 feet of climbing; the difficulty rating is "5.13b or 5.9 C2". Since the Choss Boys were not skilled enough to free climb 5.13b, it required using a combination of free climbing and aid climbing. After training for months leading up to and during their time in Yosemite, the Choss Boys finally committed to the climb at the beginning of November, 2016.
We are Daniel, David, Nick & Erik.
Keep up to date with our adventures! Subscribe below to get an email for each new blog post.