Saturday, May 23, 2009

strange choices

Here we go, every few months I feel motivated enough to write something. Since I finished my Heliski season end of May the weather pretty much sucked here in the Bow Valley. Whenever it was good enough to go climbing, I went up to Bataan with Derek, who is working hard on his new guide book of the Bow Valley. Therefore we climbed lots of routes in the lower part of Bataan, and although I did most of those climbs in previous years, I got reminded again how much good quality climbing there is to have. Most of the climbs are long (20-30m) and in the mid elevens to mid twelves, with the majority in the high elevens and a handful of really nice tens. Most of the time we were alone or at most maybe 3 other parties, which we only saw on the way up or down. This makes you wonder, where are all the other climbers? I found out today, and actually last weekend too, when I took my kids to Grassi Lake. What a GONG show it is up there, there must have been well over 100 climbers up there, and about twice as many spectators and hikers passing through, and probably well over 50 dogs, most of them off leash (BTW I love dogs!). Almost all the climbs are dominated by greasy pockets, which present them selves with a moist inside (actually can't remember a time when they were really dry), and the setting is kind of ugly, with the exception of the areas close to the lake. So in short, why is everyone migrating to hell, instead of striving for paradise? Is it the lack of knowledge? The guides book certainly covers Bataan quite well and gives most routes 2 stars, and deservingly so. Is it the approach? Maybe, but even if you are really unfit, you make it in one hour to the first climbs, and maybe the next time you are a bit fitter. Most climbers are fit to begin with, they go to Grassi because of the short approach, but then they go for a run or a bike ride afterwards for cardio, go figure! If you live on the Cougar creek side of town or if you come from the Highway, it takes about 20-30 minutes to drive to Grassi, versus 1 minute to Bataan, by that time I am half way up the mountain already. Is it the grades? For a long time Bataan was considered as a hardcore area with no warm ups, which was partially true 15 years ago. Things have changed rapidly in the late 90s and early 00s, and it should not be news anymore that Bataan is actually THE 5.11 paradise in the Valley. 5.11 is generally a grade which most sport climbers should be able to manage at one point in their career, and it's also the grade I saw the most people climbing or hanging on at Grassi today.
Don't take me wrong, I kinda like the tranquility up there with no crowds, I'm just curious why it is that way. Oops, it's 9:30 right now and the sun is still hitting the upper wall of Bataan with a great orange shine, wish I could be up there right now!This is actually not a leader fall, in case you wonder! After all the bad stuff I just told you about Grassi, I should actually say something nice. There is a time for everything, Grassi is good if you only have a few hours for a burn, or if you have kids like me who like a few moves on rock, or as a good intro to the sport, since there are some really fun and easy routes in the 5.6 to 5.10 range.

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