I just got back from four wonderful weeks in Canadia, our friendly northern neighbors (although locals pronounce the country’s name a bit differently, something like “kan-uh-duh,” but I stuck with the American pronunciation, just to prove how American I really am). Becca and I were warned about how expensive the beer and cheese were up there, but the granite was good enough to make us overlook this apparent exploitation of the climber’s diet to fund socialized health care, maple syrup production, and one half-decent pro football player a year.
We spent the first half of our time in Squamish, which is, according to the tourism bureau, the “Adventure Capital of Canada.” It certainly offers a whole bunch of fun. The climbing lives up to its reputation, and we didn’t even partake in the most popular of the climbing disciplines: bouldering. Apparently, it’s popular in Canada, too, as by my count there were more crash pads than cams in the parking lot. Alas, we didn’t drive 1700 miles to climb on little rocks, so we meandered past the moss-laden blocks and up to the super-classic one- to twelve-pitch climbs on the Chief and surrounding cliffs. In the two weeks we spent there, we sampled some great cragging and spectacular multi-pitch routes.
After doing little more than whetting our palette for Squamish (we’re currently scheming about how to spend most of next summer up there), we drove to the other side of British Columbia to hike into the Bugaboos, “One of the World’s Great Alpine Rockclimbing Centres [sic],” as the guidebook’s cover proclaims.
I found that, by and large, Canadians are a whole lot like us, culturally speaking, so I’m still kind of surprised at how different their grammar and spelling conventions are. Rockclimbing – as one word? Really? And I know that I’m taking on the whole Commonwealth here, but the whole er vs. re and or vs. our is just plain stubborn. No one, in the whole world, says flavour as if it rhymes with hour, so they shouldn’t be spelled the same way. It’d be like measuring things in esoteric fractions of fourths and twelfths and sixteenths while the rest of the world used convenient decimal units of ten. Oh, wait.
For whatever it’s worth, you still order a beer, as sharply taxed as it may be, by the pint in Canadia. US 1; Canadia 0, although with the current exchange rate, it’s technically US .97; Canadia 0.
Back to our climbing adventure, we had a blast in the Bugaboos, too. I had been there once before, and it was a pleasure to get to experience it again with Becca. The Bugs are special in that they are a pretty remote, backcountry climbing area that is, at least in my experience, uniquely accessible. The rock is quite solid for alpine granite; some walls are among the best granite out there. The approaches are generally short if you stay at Applebee Campground, and the routes are generally well developed. There are several folks, both individuals opening routes for themselves and people working for the provincial park, who put a lot of effort into making the Bugaboos a relatively user-friendly place to climb. Many features have well-established trails and descents, often involving bomber double-bolt rap stations. The campground is nicely set up with food boxes, bag hangs, and pit toilets (which are emptied by helicopter, which seems unfair to me that my excrement has flown in a helicopter while I haven’t). Despite all these comforts, the Bugs still have a learning curve, what with fickle alpine weather, glacier travel (which we semi-arid Coloradans had no idea what do with), and the general abuses of the backcountry environment.
I just can’t bring myself to write a long list of the cool, rad climbs we sent (or didn’t send, on several occasions), and that wouldn’t be an adequate account of our adventures anyways. There’s a lot more going on than just hard rock climbing when one travels, especially to places like the Bugs. Instead, I’ve selected a few, no, a lot of photos to give a bit of a glimpse into our experiences for the last few weeks. Here we go . . .
And then off to the Bugaboos . . . .
Really, our time up north was quite a journey, mostly fun, but with enough adversity to make it feel not quite like a vacation all the time. I’ve posted even more photos on the Roconista Facebook page; check those out, too.