Monday, April 20, 2015

Early Season Skaha Climbing

15 hours of driving and 1300 km for a day and a half of climbing? Seems a bit excessive, but Kyle, Liam, John, Jon, Andrew and Brett all were pretty excited to head out to Skaha to trade poor snow conditions and a cool overcast forecast for a warm sunny weekend of climbing! To maximize our weekend, we left Calgary at 1 pm and arrived at the Okanagan Falls Provincial Campground within seconds of the other car, perfect timing! It was wonderfully warm and we had some beers and a campfire before heading off to bed, stoked to get on rock the next morning. We all were up very early so had a leisurely breakfast before we met Liam (who was staying at his mom's place) and his mom at the parking lot. We spent the whole day at Claim It All Wall, which was about a 40 minute hike in from the north parking lot but it was worth it. We were the only group there for most of the day and were able to set up tonnes of ropes and take over the whole crag.
Brett working his way up Stubborn Streak (5.10b)
It was a beautiful day and warm in the sun (20 degrees) which made for very comfortable climbing. Everyone was able to get on something fun, Liam red-pointed his first 5.10d and 5.11a, I lead one 5.10a and Kyle lead another one, John lead his first ever route (5.8) and Jon red-pointed the same 5.11a as Liam! What an awesome day. We spent over 6 hours at the crag and got lots of climbing in. I was really happy with the day as I was able lead some routes that I had been top roping in October, and Kyle tried out a 5.9 mixed route (and took a fall on a well placed nut which was quite exciting!).
Good views of the lake from up on the wall
Looking down the Big Red Wall at Claim It All Wall
John on his first lead, a tricky 5.8
Kyle looking for holds on Colours of the Wind (5.11a), Liam's first 5.11 redpoint!
Another shot of Colours of the Wind
After climbing we all did a tick check, because they are out already! Andrew had one biting his stomach but everyone else was tick free. Kyle and I went straight back to the campsite and set up the slackline for some dirt bag fun, while the others stopped for a quick and chilly dip in the lake. Beers were enjoyed we had some delicious guacamole courtesy of Brett and grilled way too many burgers. We had a big campfire (complete with my mystical fire) but everyone was tired from the full day at the crag and we were all in bed by 11.
We were greeted by the boys in their boxers upon their return from their swim, much to the amusement of the park warden
John being the ultimate Canadian
Andrew looks so cozy in his hammock
Playing on the slackline at the campground
Sunday morning was just as nice as Saturday. We parked at the south end of the park this time and climbed some of the closer crags. Liam, Kyle and I climbed a few 5.10a routes on The Fortress before making our way up to Redtail to meet up with everyone else. John lead his second route and was practicing placing some gear, and the other guys were warming up for an afternoon of hard routes at the Doctor's Wall. Since my car was leaving at 1 pm to be back in Calgary at a reasonable time, we said goodbye to the group and made our way up to Assholes of August (5.10a), a trad route that Liam really wanted to climb. It was a really fun crack route with lots of exposure (it can be combined with the pitch below to make a 50 m route). So was it worth all the driving? Absolutely. Skaha is a great early season destination, it was really hard to tell that it was April!
The rope got so twisted somehow. I am trying to lower Liam after he lead Plum Line (5.10a) at The Fortress
Me climbing Plum Line
Kyle getting ready to climb Plum Line
Liam leading Assholes of August (5.10a Trad) and making it look easy
Upper Red Tail Wall, waiting for my turn to climb
Great view of Skaha Lake from the hike back to the car
Full car and celebratory beers after another good day of climbing

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