History of the route
Yup, it’s true, I’ve just made the second ascent of the famous route “Dreamcatcher“. For those of you that don’t know what Dreamcatcher is, it’s a route on the Cacodemon boulder in Squamish, BC. Chris Sharma made the first ascent of the route back in 2005 and gave it a grade of 5.14d (9a). Although many strong climbers over the past 4 years including Sonnie Trotter, Ethan Pringle and Paul Robinson have tried the route, none have been able to make the second ascent. Before today, the route was unrepeated. I am also the first Canadian to climb an established 5.14d. Another funny thing is that Chris Sharma made the first ascent on September 23, 2005. Thats EXCACTLY 4 years ago to the day… An old article from Climbing Magazine dates his send. So, maybe it’s just the time of year, maybe it’s the position of the moon but something about this days brings luck to that route.
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Here’s a picture of me taken today by Simon Parton. This attempt was the one just before the send.
A day to remember…
Today was a pretty random day of climbing. I have school every day during the week so getting out to Squamish is usually pretty hard to do during the week. Today, I planned a trip with one of my good friends Jamie Chong. I picked Jamie up from the SeaBus after school and headed straight to Squamish. We arrived around 4:30 and figured we had about 3 hours of usable light. We did a quick warm-up on easy boulders, went to some harder boulders then ran up to where Dreamcatcher lived.
My first attempt the day wasn’t very good. I had only gotten through the slab section and stuck the dyno once before. On my first attempt, I fell on the dyno because I had my foot way to high. I came straight to the ground and rested 5 minutes before my next try. My second try of the day was pretty good, I made it through the dyno, past the hard moves at the beginning of the rail all the way to the pin scars. There’s a hard move where you have to bump your left hand from a small pocket in the pin scar about 2 inches higher to a bad sidepull. While I was doing that move, I completely missed the hold and subsequently fell. I fell too far to jug back up the rope so I once again came to the ground. After resting about 30 minutes, I was getting nervous about the sunlight. The sun had dropped down behind the mountain and would be dark in about an hour. I figured if I fell again on the route, I wanted to rest another half an hour and give it a third burn. I decided that if I didn’t do on this attempt, my third burn would be more of a working session than a redpoint session.
When I got on the route for the third time of the day, I felt confident. The air was getting cooler and there were no distractions. It was just me, the route and Jamie. I walked up the slab pretty fast and started setting up for the dyno. I jumped and it felt relatively easy. I tried to move fast through the first hard section to save energy for the two harder parts at the end. I made it through the bouldery moves at the bottom pretty fast. There’s a pretty good rest about half way up the route right before the pin scars. I got there and I was feeling good. I rested until I felt recovered and kept going. I started up the pin scars and everything started to click. On the move that I fell on last time, my feet blew off… I quickly threw my left foot back into the pin scar and made the desperate move to the jug. This was the last jug before the final crux of the route. Chris fell 6+ times in the final crux of the route and I was getting to it for the first time. I rested each hand a couple of times and started to get psyched up. Before I left the rest, I took a couple really deep breaths and decided it was time. I made the hard move around the corner with my right hand and quickly brought my left hand to the pinch on the corner. I lunged right to the crux hold and felt pretty good. I made room for my other hand to come in, then matched feet then did the move. My feet blew off as I was re adjusting my fingers on the hold but I still felt good. I pasted my left foot on the corner of the wall and threw into the next gaston. Two more moves and I was done… I moved my left foot to a higher smear in the crack, matched hands and threw for the final jug. I hit the jug and a stream of endorphins hit my body. I rested back and forth a bit then did the last 4 moves and clipped the chains. As I clipped the chains, I let out a victory cry that could be heard all around. I had done it, the second ascent of Dreamcatcher.
As I lowered down off the route, I could barely believe it. I had redpointed my first 5.14d. Not only that but it was one of my longest projects to date. One year after Chris made the first ascent in 2005, I started working the route. It was more of a joke for me at the time because I thought that the route was too hard. I could still do every individual move except the moves in the pin scar and up at the top seemed too hard to do on redpoint. I had also never stuck the dyno. All of that work took me about 3-4 days. After that first year of trying it, I didn’t try it again until this year. Since getting back from Europe at the beginning of this month, I tried the route a total of 8 times. The first time I got on it again, it still felt so hard. The slab hurt my feet, the dyno was big and the last crux moves seemed unfathomable. The more I tried the route, the easier it became. My muscles started to remember the individual moves and it started to feel strong. The last time I was on the route was 3 days ago. I had made it through the slab, past the dyno all the way up to the pin scars. I only fell because the upper part of the pin scar was soaking wet. When I went to pull the hardest move in the pin scar, I fired right out of the wet hold. After that, I pulled past that part and worked the last crux about 5 times. Since I had done the last moves so many times over and over again, when I got there on redpoint, the moves seemed natural. Unlike Chris, I was very lucky in the fact that I never fell in the last crux on redpoint. The redpoint crux for me it turns out was the hard moves in the pin scars. Either way, the route was really hard for me. Whether or not I fell on the same moves as any other climber has very little relevance. In total, I probably spent over 8 days trying the route. Although my redpoint burn felt easier than any other time, I do agree that the route deserves the grade of 5.14d (9a). This route took me longer than any other route that I’ve done. I also feel that I’m the strongest I’ve ever been in route climbing after competing on the World Cup circuit in Europe this whole summer.
This is the video of Chris Sharma doing the route in Dosage4.
About a week ago, I finally redpointed Velcro Low (V13) in Squamish. This line has a stand up at V9/10 thats been around for a long time. A few years ago, Tim Doyle made the first ascent of the low which starts on two almos nothing holds, and makes hard moves into the stand. This problem took me about 4 days to do. A couple of those days, the top out was unclimbable and on the last day, I brought my video camera to document the ascent. It took me about 10 or so tries this day to do it. One of the hardest part about this problem is the left hand start hold is pretty sharp and you have to grab it really hard. The first couple of days I was on it, my skin would just rip apart and I’d have to stop trying it. Another huge piece of beta you should know if you try this problem is the placement of your left foot to get your heel up next to your hand. You kind of do a reverse toe hook at the bottom of the wall. This makes your left hip press against the wall and if you’re flexible, you can throw your heel up there. This is the 3rd movie I’ve made and I had a really big problem trying to use Premiere Pro from the CS3 edition so again, it’s in Windows Movie Maker. The problem I had with Premiere Pro was that I couldn’t load the video file into the program without having a 4 second gap in the audio. Anyways, I hope you enjoy my movie.