Thursday, July 9, 2009

Stawamus Chief South Gully Highline in Squamish, BC

Last November Matt Maddaloni and I rigged a highline between the second and third summits of the Stawamus Chief North Gully. I was able to bag the second send of the highline. Josh Cross was the first to walk the line in 2005. Since that highline I've been itching to get back out and rig some high exposure lines that no one has done before. Luckily, my home in Vancouver is about an hour down the highway from Squamish. The Stawamus Chief provides two amazing gullies. The South Gully (pictured above) became my next highline.
Compared to the North Gully, it is logistically more challenging. First of all, there are no conventional trails leading up. The only reasonably level area suitable for a slackline is located at the top of the Apron. It is necessary to climb some 5.7 crack to access the spot. Furthermore, the trees are pretty spindly, so if you want a bomber rig, it's important to anchor off at least four or five. These facts were true to my thinking prior to the cluster fuck that unfolded on Saturday.

Here's a quick summary from Saturday:

I told my friend Chris, "the South Gully" and somewhere along this deranged game of Telephone, he heard "North Gully" which you can in-fact walk up to...So he brought his dog. So we started up the chief. Seven people + one dog (And one doggy harness) going up a 5.7 hand crack. There was one harness between the six people who had dutifully volunteered to help haul gear. It was time for some problem solving. On the way up I free-soloed the crack and built an anchor. I fixed one of our static cords and rapped down. At this point, a doggy harness was constructed and up went two men and a dog.
The next person I could grab was placed in a harness and we started up the fixed line with ascenders, all the while hauling 30kg packs.
Our faff session lasted a solid hour.
We arrive at the South Gully. We scope out a potential span, and I scramble around to the other side, around the start of upper echelon. Martin finally dug his burly baseball-pitcher-man arm out from somewhere in his pack, and hucked a rock connected to fishing line across the gully..narrowly missing my head by about a foot.
We start passing a static line across the gully. At this point, Chris begins to squish my head with his finger from across the gully. "Ahhhh...noo! Don't squish me" I yelled, as I attempted to pry his fingers apart with my arms from across the gully. (No, this isn't kindergarden play time!) But crap! If i was so freakin' tiny, that meant the gap was a lot bigger than I had thought.

Even after spending $200 at MEC, It turned out we were still a bit short on static cord for anchor materials. Not only that, but our line was about 5 meters or so too short!

We left two strands of fishing line up across the gully to act as a "pilot" line in order to drag static rope and webbing across for next time. Once I get some stronger and longer webbing I'll be back ASAP to rig and walk this line....but as always, support in the form of materials and money is always needed to help these projects.

At the end of the day I had been deemed the leader, so it was up to me to build temporarily harnesses out of our anchor materials. Since there was only one harness for six other people, I presented a quick "emergency-alpine-harness-building-and-munter-hitch-using-symposium" and then setup the rappel. Imagine two men on makeshift harnesses simul-rappelled with a dog! (the boxer was a good sport) I don't write this day off as a failure -- more like the first round.

more photos and video to come, and updates just as soon as i get some longer webbing!

1 comment:

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