Monday, January 26, 2009

HeavyFest slackline festival in Squamish, British Columbia

Recently, as you may have noticed, the sport of slackline has been exploding in popularity. It’s been all over the news, in Nike commercials, college campuses, and city parks. In the past few weeks I have been taking part in weekly slackline sessions with local Vancouver slackline enthusiasts. (If you’re in the Vancouver area, we meet at Kitsilano Beach every Monday at 6pm, come on down!) While slacklining on the beach one evening durring the Vancouver Folk Fest a friend mentioned there was an upcoming slackline festival in Squamish. So I went.

This festival was definitely not your typical festival. If you’re not familiar with Squamish, many describe it as the the Yosemite counterpart of Canada. There is a lifetime of climbing to be done in Squamish. Of course today we were here to slackline. HevyFest was set at Nexon beach, the sparse architecture there was as if an Antoni Gaudi was into climbing and had a spare afternoon at Nexon beach. The organizers had setup huge burly logs set in concrete in a square configuration which allowed for some interesting line configurations.

I brought my threaded line and rigged it a medium length, which we really tightened down hard. This thing is a ton of fun to surf and jump.

After some warming up on the low lines, we headed over to the water line. (Thanks Matt for rigging it) This thing was nuts! At least thirty meters long, made of of a single strand of tubular webbing. The tension on this line did make us a little nervous. Earlier that morning the wind had been pretty strong and the line was proving to be a sail. This line was making some pretty insane noises as it whipped all around. This line proved more challenging than it looked. I made it a little past halfway perhaps. Next year we’ll rig it again and see if it wants to be walked.

Walking a slacklie over the ocean

Walking a slacklie over the ocean



falling into the water

falling into the water

In all, HevyFest 2008 was a success, thanks to Hevy and everyone who helped put it on. Let’s do it every year!

YouTube - Slackline Front Flip - line to line

YouTube - Highline across Trail 3

YouTube - Squamish North Gully Highline

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

By Robin Avery

In early November the Varsity Outdoor Club (VOC) at the University of British Columbia, where I attend, organizes a climbing trip to Smith Rock in Oregon. Smith Rock is one of those epic places you have to visit at least once in a lifetime. It’s a sport climbing Mecca of sorts, a place where sport climbing was popularized in North America.
The park is pretty accessible for the day traveler so it sees a lot of tourist traffic. For the life of me I don’t know why Smith Rock isn’t a National Park. It’s a pretty small place considering the amount of bolted sport climbs it hosts.

Day 1: After the obligatory phaffing around, time wasting, etc… We started driving from Vancouver, B.C. around 3 pm. Arrive at the US border. We stop to use the washroom, and the Canadian Border Guards swarm in. Perhaps we got profiled? I guess an Insane amount of miscommunication lead to our friend getting detained, long story short, we have to leave him behind…in the end the Royal Canadian Mounted Police showed up, and they let him go. We never did figure out what happened in the first place. Worst of all he had to take the bus back to Vancouver from the border. One man down…

While passing through a small town near Smith Rock at around 4 am, a cop pulls us over for speeding, I immediately chatted him up and actually got him to give me directions to our campsite instead of a ticket. Local cops are nicer than the Canadian Border Guards.


Day 2: An easy day, full of world class sport climbing in Smith Rock, cheap American beer, Mexican food, ending with the inevitable pallet fire jumping by VOC members.


Day 3: Wake up at the arse-crack of dawn. Dark o’clock. Walk in to the Monkey Face. Begin climbing it. It’s a rappel down to the notch, then a flashy pitch to a small ledge.

Then it’s another pitch up to an exhausting bolt ladder. (…and of course I forgot my etriers!)

This is a popular route, so we had to wait for a party ahead to finish. Finally just before the sun was setting we were able to rig our second anchor inside the monkey face mouth, and tyrolean traverse off by headlamp. Evening time: cheap American beer, pallet fire, and Mexican food. what could be better?!

Day 4: Up at the crack of dawn, pack up camp, head back to the Monkey Face. The wind is howling! Visibility has gone down significantly with all the dust being kicked up. It seems I’m the only one here who actually wants to walk this thing so I end up rigging a 3rd anchor and have a friend belay me on rope in additional to my leash attached to the line. This rope ends up acting like a sail in the wind trying to pull me off. I don’t suggest this method at all, but it was time saving.

I fell quite a few times, the wind was so intense! No whippers though :-)

On the drive home we turned on the radio and heard that most of Oregon and Southwestern Washington was without power due to “hurricane force winds” Hmm… perhaps the wind was stronger than I thought it was…