Writing contributions from our friends
The Choss Boys invite friends who have shared in their adventures to contribute stories from their own perspective.
Megan recently moved to Sudbury, Ontario to begin a degree in outdoor adventure leadership. Consequently, she had a very busy fall starting classes at a new university, and settling into a new home. Nonetheless, Megan took the entirety of her midterm break to travel to California and visit me (Nick). Her love for the outdoors, and undying excitement for trying new things are two commonalities that brought us together. In Yosemite, we took full advantage of our first week together again after three months apart. Here are Megan's wonderful accounts of her visit with the Choss Boys.
Well, this post is quite overdue.
My name is Megan, girlfriend of one of the stud-muffin Choss Boys: Nick! In October, for my reading week I decided to visit the little gooseroonie in San Francisco. I knew leading up to the trip that I would be writing a guest post about it... But of course it has taken me weeks to get around to the task.
My defence: To start off, as a full-time student there never seems to be very much time to designate for fun writing, and to be honest, this piece may just be another distraction from one of many assignments and papers flooding my to-do list at the moment.
And then there is my thought, “oh my buhgoodness, how am I supposed to even begin to write a guest blog post for the Choss Boys? How can I follow up such incredibly talented, smooth and elegant writers when the majority of my vocabulary consists of words I conjure up in my brain pretty much as they are coming out of my mouth?”
Oh boy, here I go...
Hey there folks,
I know you’re quite alright without hearing all the mooshy gooshy details of my trip, so I will try to skip over all of that, and dive right into the adventure.
I arrived in San Francisco on the morning of October 9th. Having not seen Nick for almost four months, I raced off the airplane, running through the airport to find him. Of course, going the wrong way... Nonetheless, I soon found myself staring at Nick’s cute little face on the way down an escalator. Nick (being such a hopeless romantic) was standing there with a big grin and a bundle of beautiful red roses for me (oh right, I said I would skip the gooshy bits…). Next came the meeting of Wesley!
I had been very excited to see the van (how could you not be! Wes is such a DREAM); pictures only go so far to show the conditions that occur when you have three boys (men?) living in a van. The issue of space was evident immediately, especially with two added passengers the boys were taking on for the week. Five people, one van!
Driving was an absolute blast, with very few moments of relaxation. It is a true test of your reflexes since you always need to be alert and ready for oncoming danger! There is always something flying past your head, clanking against the inside of the van. Not to mention the added threat of heavy clothing totes falling from overhead from even the lightest tapping of the breaks. What an adventure considering I had only yet experienced the driving.
The next two days would be spent goofing off and doing some sight seeing in the City (San Fransisco)! Knowing that the van would not be the best place to keep a beautiful bouquet of roses, we opted to hand them out to people we passed on our adventures around San Fran! My favorite story: when Daniel handed his rose to a elderly couple getting a picture with the big heart mural at Pier 39. What a dapper little ray of sunshine he is <3
Some delicious Irish coffee in our bellies, and sounds of the sea lions in our ears, and we were all set for the next leg of our journey, visiting my aunt in Brentwood, California.
I hadn't seen My Auntie Margot and Uncle Alan since my last visit to San Fransisco, 3 years prior. Despite the long time apart, they opened their arms to myself and the four (stinky) boys for the night, spoiling us with an amazing thanksgiving supper, great chats, and even a luxurious dip in their hot tub (for most us that is. Dave caught a case of turkey fever and had to sleep it off). Sending a HUGE thank you to my amazing family for treating the boys and I like royalty!
Now, off to start some even bigger adventures… We head to The Valley!
I had actually been to Yosemite before, but only for one day on a tourist bus. It was quite the tease and I was itching to get back and see more of it this time.
We arrived late at night, looking out the windows at the massive walls of granite that shot up in all directions. We had to lay down just to get a look at the amazing starry sky that spread out above. The most brilliant part of this already incredible view was when we passed El Cap. The twinkling lights of stars in the sky didn’t stop when they met the huge wall of rock... There continued to be little speckled lights all over the face, marking the climbers and their headlamps as they bunkered down for the night, some thousands of feet above the ground. I couldn't believe how many of them there were, and that soon the boys would be among them! Little rock stars <3
We arrived at the camp site, said hello to some stellar new friends, and were soon bundled up in bed, ready for the craziness of tomorrow... My first lead climb!
Just to paint you a little picture: I am not quite at the same caliber as the boys; I’m more of an aspiring climber. My first outdoor climbing experience was when I met Nick in August 2015. It wasn’t until after the experience that I actually started to get into the sport. Another thing to keep in mind is that I am terrified of heights. It’s something I have been working on, (as I’ve come along way from that kid who wasn’t be able to go on water slides because they were too high); good thing I like being scared! Before coming to yosemite the tallest climb I had ever been on was a maximum 40-foot high route at the crag in Flatrock, Newfoundland. The next few days in the valley were to be quite the learning experience, as well as a possible shock to my system.
Wednesday, October 12, 2016: First lead climb
Nick chose a great route to get me started on lead! The 'Sloth Wall' is a 5.7 slab climb that gradually stretches approximately 140 feet. Starting off with some crack climbing, the route becomes much more slabby at the top, with lots of jugs they call “chicken heads,” making for an easy top out.
We didn’t have any blips in the system; I was super eager to learn and didn’t have much of a hard time with the heights! Sweet! Nick had already given me a run-down of some important parts of lead climbing on our way into the valley (mainly covering how to clip the rope, but also different equipment such as cams, nuts, quick draws, alpine quick draws, PAS.. and i’m sure some I can’t even remember). We started off with a mock-lead where Nick belayed me from the top. After a few moments of appreciation for the view (and some bouncing around with excitement) we lowered down so I could practice belaying Nick with a grigri, eventually doing a full run through of the real deal!
It took me a little while to understand "no foot behind the rope," but everything else went well. I even got a bonus lesson on placing cams and nuts in the wall! It was a rewarding experience with an absolutely stellar view (not to mention the best coach anyone could ask for)!
After getting a nice sunburn on my back and sweating for a few hours, we ran back to the van, ate some food, and then took off to explore. Eventually we decided to take a plunge into a freezing cold mountain stream, and fought each other to be the first to get out after the huge shock to our bodies. Back to the van to bundle up for a while. We sat together, overlooking the valley and awaited the boys who had ventured somewhere a little bit further to climb for the day.
Thursday, October 13th, 2016: First multipitch
How I wish this went:
“She moved up the wall with grace and confidence, sending casual glances back at her handsome boyfriend simulclimbing 15 feet behind her. The breeze swayed her wavy blonde hair as she moved across the granite, admiring the view of the valley floor as it became further and further out of reach.”
How it actually went:
I started off with a lot of excitement and confidence. The previous day of introductory lead climbing had eased my brain, as did the fact that Nick would be climbing close behind for encouragement. Of course… the encouragement can only go so far when your mind and body are screaming with fear…
This most definitely freaked me out. Trying to control my breathing, I opted for the terrible strategy of hugging my body to the wall (which, if you know anything about slab, is the worst possible body positioning). However, after about 45 minutes of climbing (panic), I made it to the top. Now, sitting on a ledge overlooking the amazing view of the valley, I was finally able to relax. The view of half dome was incredible.
After a few minutes to recuperate, get everyone to the top, and drink some water, we all started on our way to what the guidebook had described as “swimmable pools” at the top of Lower Yosemite Falls. Eager to take a dip, we hit the trail and quickly found ourselves looking over some beautiful, sludgy green pools of algae. Looks like we came a little late for a swim (the fact that the falls weren’t running should have been a good indication of this). Hanging out, snapping some pics, and scarfing down some delicious pb+j, we decided (after hanging out for double the time it took us to climb) to make our descent.
This was a whole new adventure.. Much scarier than the actual climbing that had shaken my system just hours before... But this time it was not okay to be scared. It was about two hours of pure choss (what else could you expect for these three boys) and sand, any misstep could have taken us on a dangerous tumble over the cliffs.
Well, we made it! And celebrated with a brilliant BBQ supper at camp 4! For the boys, this adventure was most likely their easiest climb all trip, but for myself, it may just be one of the scariest things I’ve ever done. I am so happy to have pushed my limits further, and am amazingly grateful that the boys would take time away from their busy, long days training for El Cap to show me the ropes (quite literally). If I wasn’t before, I’m most definitely hooked on this amazing sport.
Though the multipitch scared the bujeezers out of me, I would do it again in a heartbeat (and hopefully will soon). Axel was leaving for the airport the following day so we decided it was time to head into the city. We finished up the trip with some sight seeing, and most definitely packed in as much as possible in my short six day visit.
THANK YOU BOYS,
see you in Mexico