Legend has it that in the Pacific Northwest of North America there lives an elusive being, a man-like beast, inhabiting the forests of areas just like the one i currently call home. I believe i may have found him.
Admittedly, the scientific community may not be as sure, as with this particular Sasquatch, the meeting was arranged mainly by mobile phone, but the elusive nature of the creature did certainly seem reminiscent of the legend. He is truly incredibly hard to track down, and thus to photograph, and yet, at about 6:30 last night, through the forest towards us, walked a large mammal, seemingly towering over the surroundings, walking upright like a man, but some seven-feet tall, and four foot wide. Naturally, i ran off into the forest, keen to get a better look at this mythical creature, certain i may never get another chance. I jumped over logs, and dodged through boulders, running through foliage in order to get closer to the Sasquatch. Then, tragedy, and i was spotted. Instantly, the decision was made to confront this hideous beast, and i ran at him, arms raised aloft. He had by now clearly spotted me, as i him, and i made a direct run straight to him, closing in quickly…
This is where the Sasquatch analogy ends, as i embraced my old friend, the jibes of a lack of existence of Stu from Simon and Victoria disappearing as i introduced them. I had been waiting all week and longer to meet up with Stu, a man with whom i had traveled around Europe on several occasions, and who had, in his short stay in North Wales, become, for a brief time granted, one of my closest mates. We had first met back in September 2009 when he was working at the Pen y Gwyryd, and needing climbing partners for a Spanish trip in danger of falling apart, he accompanied us to Albarracin, in the Iberian mountains in Central Spain. We had also hooked up in Reims, en route South to Italy last June, where we had enjoyed the Alpine granite, and his departure last December had left me sad, in need of a new bouldering partner and travelling companion. Needless to say, it was good to see him again.
This was not, however, at the start of the day, and it had already been a spectacularly good one up to this reunion. It began with sunshine and eggs Benedict for breakfast, before once again making the drive North, this time to the Titanic North area near the base of the Chief itself. Where the day before the sky was grey and brooding, today it was blue and inspiring, and smiles all around as Victoria joined us to finally show the forest what i could best deliver. After a two-minute walk in, i suddenly realised that not all the landings in Squamish are over pointy and jagged rocks, and we began to tick off the problems one by one, with The Mantis V4, Tweak Freak V3 and the classic Titanic V3 all falling with relative ease. Okay, so not massive grades, but a promising day after such abject failure the day previous.
We moved on, Simon showing me the Made in the Shade boulder, with an excellent sandbag mantle problem, with hidden beta that i managed to see, and on to the Thighmaster Area. We looked at some classic hard problems, although sadly the energy seemed to have been sapped from me into the open handed slopers this destination seems to love so much. Finally, we headed down to check out Airtight Garage V7, to really drag out the last of my energy before heading off for food and hockey, but while in search of hidden foot holds, i fell and bounced my ankle around in a small group of rocks. With more than my bones rattled, we dropped down slightly to Black Mark V4, another classic up a small dyke, but when again my foot ping-ed off the hold, and my knee smacked into the rock, i decided it was time to call it a day. Still, a great day, in the sunshine that broke through the canopy of trees, with the incredible Stawamus Chief always standing tall over us. The reunion tipped off a great day.
That is until, sadly, the final whistle of this years Stanley Cup, between the Boston Bruins and Vancouver Canucks. I feel slightly awkward reporting this, but nevertheless, it is what happened, and while the city had been set up to allow hundreds of thousands of fans to watch the game along some of it’s major routes, the final score of 4-0 to Boston sparked scenes of rioting, fighting and looting. While this was obviously pre-planned, and has been denounced by all of those associated with both the hockey and the city itself with whom i have spoken or read of, it is still a black mark on the history of this great city, and of these great and friendly people whom i have praised since my arrival. People have been talking of the reasons for the riots, not being freedom, or protest at extortionate expenses for education as two examples but for the loss of a hockey game, but as i read more online, and trawl Facebook for photos of the true extent of the damage, it seems this is more rioting for rioting’s sake. While we do have plenty of other problems, and foibles back home that no-one can be proud of, we can grateful that we do not feel the need to riot and loot when a sports team loses, perhaps our British propensity not to make a fuss overriding our natural agressive instincts that these people seem to give in to. I will now, sadly, be spending the rest of my trip trying to prove to myself that those whose pictures currently circulate on the internet are the minority.