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.
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.
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.
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.
I (Dave) have joined Nick and Dan for three and a half months of climbing! For the last 5 years, a road trip around the United States has been a big goal of mine. Recent grad school acceptance has led me to resigning from my job and joining Nick and Dan under pretty short notice – It’s an awesome opportunity to be able to join the "Choss Boys" after they planned such an amazing trip!
Living in the "Chossmobile" (a 1985 Dodge Ram Get-Away Van) is more comfortable than I initially expected, but not without its quirks – here are a few stray observations from the first couple weeks on the road.
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.
Nick, Seamus, and I (Daniel) were heading from Squamish to Tofino, dropping off Seamus in Nanaimo on the way. Thanks to a conversation with my cousin Anna along the way, we chose the name Wesley for the van. Upbeat, we were happily bouncing around in our newly named Chossmobile.
Once we crossed on the ferry to Nanimo, Nick and I slowly said our goodbyes to Seamus. It was almost dark when we started the 3-hour drive to Tofino. Nick happily drove while I chatted to my girlfriend Sarah Jane in the back of the van. As we neared Tofino, we were getting tired but the winding turns in the road kept us on edge. Nerves were high. All of a sudden, Wesley's engine abruptly stopped and the Chossmobile puttered to a stop on the side of the highway. Nick informed me that "the accelerator just stopped working". We were 17 kilometers from Tofino. The time was 11:30PM. It was dark and no other vehicles were in sight.
The Chossmobile was chugging down the highway when the accelerator just stopped working. The engine abruptly turned off and Wesley rolled to a stop on the side of the highway.
We knew we would face this moment at some point on this trip, but we didn't expect it so soon. We weren't ready. Neither of us knew enough about carburetor engines, we didn't have any extra parts, and we didn't even have cell service!
The trip is off to a great start - our first week in Squamish has been a blast. Here's what we've been up to.
I (Nick) have been trying to conceptualize what this journey means to me. For quite some time, there's been a murky fog surrounding my enthusiasm for the trip, and I've been pondering... Obviously, it's a mixture of many different thoughts and emotions, but I am experiencing them together as one. I've dubbed this feeling leaving. Rather than an action I am about to make, I've decided leaving is a feeling I am experiencing. I'm writing this post to sort through my various sentiments, and hopefully give others who are encountering leaving something to relate to. Here's what leaving means to me:
We each did the Myers Briggs personality test to help us figure out how we'd get along during months together.
We are Daniel, David, Nick & Erik.
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