4 AM again. True to the Chossboys style, Daniel and I (Nick) had attempted to climb the Northeast ridge of Bugaboo Spire the previous Wednesday, but instead got hopelessly lost. After four hours of scrambling up steep, dangerously loose choss in complete darkness, the sunrise revealed how far we were from the climb. Using bail gear left by equally disoriented climbers, we retreated back to camp and made damn sure to scout the proper way for next time.
So there we were, this time following the true approach. The night was quiet and still. A clear sky and soft breeze filtered in from the North and kept us shivering well into our hike. As if to spite our reconnaissance efforts, cosmic forces cast our approach in the beautiful, bright light of a full moon. In the dead of night, Daniel and I were preceded by our shadows all the way to the start of the climb: a softly illuminated right-facing slab.
The very first people we met in the Bugaboos were two robust older men named Pat and Paul. Pat is 70 years old and Paul is 77. They started the long, grueling approach from the Bugaboo parking lot ahead of us and were resting 100 meters from the campground. Nick and I (Daniel), eager to arrive at the campsite, briefly and politely stopped to chat with the two obviously seasoned mountaineers. Although evidently winded by the steep hike, their beaming grins, deep satisfying breaths, and willing conversation revealed authentic appreciation for the scenery and tranquility of the mountains. Later that evening, they recounted stories of their rich climbing and mountaineering history. We became friends quickly.
Tuesday, August 16th, 2016
Having considered an alpine start to the famously long Northeast Ridge of Bugaboo Spire, Daniel and I (Nick) were instead tempted by new friends into taking on a shorter and more leisurely objective: The West Ridge of Pigeon Spire.
On a rainy rest day in August, the Choss Boys went for a jaunt up the incredibly steep 'Sea to Summit' trail. Starting in the Stawamus Chief campground, the trail climbs relentlessly to the First Summit of the Chief. Hiking guidebooks suggest the apt hiker should budget 4-6 hours for the hike, although the Choss Boys had been challenged to complete it in under 30 minutes.
Did they succeed? Watch and find out!
Fully stocked up on non-perishables, Nick and Daniel have done all they can to prepare for the mountains
Sunday, August 15, 2016
From the Okanagan, we drove North-East through the mountain towns of Revelstoke, and Golden. Before making one final stock-up on gas and supplies, we finally arrived in Brisco, the turn off into the back-country.
Bugaboo Creek road is a 50km stretch of dirt leading through the valleys to the South-Eastern boundary of Bugaboo Provincial Park. Aside from simple descriptions online of the campgrounds and the climbs, neither Daniel, nor I (Nick) knew what to expect once we got there; it was a completely novel environment. Accordingly, excitement was heavily present during the drive in.
On our way to the Bugaboos, we drove through the warm and beautiful Okanagan Valley. I (Daniel) wanted the chance to stop in Penticton and visit my cousin, Nathan Alacoque. Conveniently, the popular climbing area, Skaha Bluffs, is also in Penticton!
I last saw Nathan in 1999. He was 6 years old, I was 9 years old, and we both barely remember it. Towering above me at 6 foot 3 inches, Nathan is now 23. His voice is low like his dad's and he is super friendly. He recently graduated from engineering and for the time being, he is happily working as a car mechanic with his best friend and roommate RJ. One of their life-long hobbies is buying and fixing up 'roaches' (old cars). So, they have a small collection of old, well-running vehicles. Every one of them featuring a large sticker of the never-before-used hashtag: #roachnation. Needless to say, Nathan and RJ loved our roach, Wesley, a 1985 Dodge Camper Van. Being complete car newbies, we used this chance to ask every basic car question imaginable...
"There is a little nob on the floor underneath brake and we don't know what it does," I explained. Speaking without hesitation, Nathan responded, "it switches from your headlights to your high-beams." We suddenly had memories of many vehicles driving in the opposite direction and frantically blinking their high-beams as they passed. Unknowingly up to that point, we had drove every night with our high-beams blaring.
The Skaha Bluffs is a picturesque, desert-like climbing area with many steep, short cliffs all within a half-hour's walk. Many routes have interesting, unique features and simply walking up to the climbs is as easy as walking into a climbing gym. Our time there was brief, and for some reason, it felt very much like a vacation.
Nick & Daniel's Experience
Just as Squamish started to feel like home, time was nearing for Daniel and I (Nick) to leave. Our pals from Newfoundland had arrived a week prior, and the campground was full of familiar, smiling faces.
Alas, we felt the mountains calling, so we planned one final big day on the Chief: The Grand Wall, the hardest climb we have attempted together thus far.
Tuesday there was rain in the forecast for Squamish. Finally, my (Erik's) chance to convince the boys of the perfect rain day activity: surfing in Tofino. Here's a few highlights from our trip.
July 29th, 2016
During a short visit to the Squamish Adventure Centre (in search of free wifi), I (Nick) noticed a sign reading "Squamish: the Outdoor Recreation Capital of Canada." It's true, there is a lot more to do here than just climb. In particular, I was interested in the world-famous local rivers.
My friend Seamus is living in Victoria this summer. Daniel and I paid him a visit already during our camper van search. Seamus and I began whitewater kayaking together 3 years ago in Newfoundland. With the grace of my fellow Choss Boys, I planned for him to live with us in the van for a weekend, creating an opportunity to get on the rapids.
We figured out, thanks to the help of a local kayak guide named Don, that our best (and cheapest) option for kayaking was to rent equipment from MEC and seek knowledgeable locals to help pick rivers that suit our abilities. So, with plans laid, and reservations made, I set out for MEC in downtown Vancouver on the busy Friday evening of the August long weekend.
Driving the van into the city to pick up the rentals from MEC was the beginning of my adventure. Limited blindspot visibility, tight parking spots, fast drivers, and a perplexing vehicle height limit on MEC's open roof parking area made the rental pick-up a white knuckle experience. The van pulled through unscathed, but, devastatingly, our french press was smashed in the process. I continued on to the Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal to find Seamus sitting on the sidewalk with his mountain bike.
"Oh! you brought your mountain bike with you too?" I said hesitantly.
"Yeah, I guess I forgot to tell you..."
The van soon became a very crowded space.
We are Daniel, David, Nick & Erik.
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