Identical brick houses flank the gridded metropolitan streets of Southern Ontario. The horizon is confined to a few blocks. After living in Hamilton for five months, I (Nick) felt an inkling of suffocation, so I booked a plane ticket home to Newfoundland on a whim, and took a deep breath… is salt-spray in the air?
Friday, 16 February, 2018
My dorso-ventral girth is doubled with the addition of my hiking pack, and its brain rises a full six inches above my own. Crouching like a spelunker, I attempt the low-ceilinged staircase and manage to ascend eight steps before my ski bag rams the door at the top. I curse. Letting go of the carrying straps, I pinch the far end of the bag and advance to the top step. Reaching up, I twist the knob, flooding the passageway with light. Through eight or nine convoluted maneuvers, I finally make my escape from the basement.
Three flights and thirteen hours later, my beaming parents collect me from the bottom of the ‘Arrivals’ escalator in YYT. Dad’s jocular efforts to heft my baggage from the conveyor metastasize into a comedy of errors, drawing chuckles from onlookers. A warm welcome indeed.
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.
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.
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!
Today the Choss Boys went trail running.
We often go trail running because I (Erik) believe it is excellent cross training for climbing. Before you say "COME ON how can that BE?!" take these points into consideration. And then watch the video edit if you still don't believe me :)
For our next seemingly simple excursion in Mainface, Flatrock, Choss Boys Nick and I (Daniel) devised an infallible plan:
On Saturday, June 11th, at 3PM we carefully packed the haul bag in my living room (probably not great on the hardwood) by following some popular articles for "packing a haul bag." It weighed 73 pounds which was lighter than we anticipated! Aside from taking 2 hours to do it, we didn't encounter any hitches. We set off to Flatrock at 5PM, excited and slightly nervous.
With many ambitious goals for the trip, we are taking our training very seriously. On our journey we will face many challenges both on and off the walls. We really like choss, so we need to prepare ourselves if we even want a chance at scaling some of North America's most iconic faces.
So, this past weekend, the weekend of June 3rd, 2016, the Choss Boys embarked on a training mission. We set off on a Saturday afternoon to the town of Swift Current, Newfoundland. The developing crag boasts high quality trad and sport routes, and local climbers had even been cleaning and bolting new routes earlier in the season. Unlike the local climbing area for St. John's - Mainface, Flatrock - the rock in Swift Current is granite, which gives us the chance to practice on something a little more similar to the West coast.
The plan was simple: 1) find a nice camping spot near the cliffs, 2) heat up the delicious supper Erik had prepared for us earlier in the day while replicating van cooking conditions, 3) sleep well, and 4) wake up and spend the next day climbing on some beautiful granite...
We are Daniel, David, Nick & Erik.
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