BCMC Essentials of Rock Climbing, May 2005- Day 1

After meeting at the St. David Church parking lot, we arranged some carpooling and headed up to Squamish for our first field day. It was drizzling when we left North Van. We had high hopes but when we reached the Smoke Bluffs lot, the rain was still pretty steady. Jack, Arnie and Paul conferred and agreed to set up at Zombie Roof but when we got there, it was already taken by another group so they decided to head us up to Neat 'N Cool. By the time we got up to Neat and Cool and got all our gear on etc, the rain had started to ease off and for the rest of the time we were there, it was essentially dry. A perfect day for learning anchors and doing a little bit of rappelling. The Mnemonics for the day and course are SERENE and ABCD.

Secure. Is the anchor secure?
Equalized. Are all points of attachment receiving and distributing the force equally?
REdundant. Is there sufficient redundancy? If one part fails, will the system still hold?
No Extension. If one part of the anchor fails, will the other part(s) undergo an extension?

A- Check your anchor. Is it SERENE?
B- Check all buckles. Are they doubled back?
C- Carabiners. Are all the gates locked or facing the proper direction?
D- Devices. Are all devices, including cordelettes and prussiks "installed" properly?

If all the above check out, you're ready to climb or rappel!!

Jack sets up one anchor systemJack and Paul and Arnie broke us up into 3 stations with each of them covering a different technique and when we had "mastered" the station we were at, we moved on to another one. Paul taught us how to clean an anchor and set up a rappel back down, Jack taught us how to set up the anchor station with fixed bolts and Arnie's station dealt with constructing an anchor using natural features, in this case, a couple of trees.

Paul demonstrating how to break down a stationOne of the groups with Paul

Arnie expostulates on his anchorA group with Arnie

Our Instructors

and the "students" starting with CrisCris


descriptorEveryone finishes putting on their harnesses etc to get ready for our lessons!

Jack sets up his stationJack is setting up his teaching station

Here's some of the views we had from Neat 'n Cool during the day.
view from Neat n Coollooking West

view from Neat n Cool

view from Neat n CoolLooking South at the Stawamus Chief

view from Neat n Cool

Ramsay checks oneRamsay checking his placement

pine needles

tying tapeTying tape around a natural feature. Is the knot dressed properly? Is there enough end length (minimum 6") protruding through the water knot so it won't come undone? Was it left there by another party and if so, do you trust it?

We spent the day building anchors on preset bolts and natural features, breaking down anchors and setting up rappels. By the end of the afternoon, it was starting to rain so it was break down everything, pack up the gear and head over to the Brew Pub for dinner and conversation. Everyone is really looking forward to tomorrow when we get to set up our own anchors and USE them!! The schedule is to meet in the St. David's Church lot at the same time so folks say their goodbyes and head back to the "coov".

BCMC Essential of Rock Climbing, May 2005- Day 2

Now we're on to Day 2 and it's raining cats 'n dogs in the morning so we do the sensible thing, go to Squamish and hope that it will not be raining there. Of course it is and so we do the sensible thing, start off the day at Starbucks in the Squish! Isn't that how all climbers start their day in Squamish??

Kit and others in Starbucks

Since the rain isn't letting up, we decide to head over to the gazebo near the Brew Pub to practice some anchor construction with Kit as our head instructor, today.
my first anchorThe task: set up an anchor imagining that the wood fencing posts are trees. This time, set it up using only one "tree". Kit checks it out and declares it a success, although it would be better if I had used a figure 8 knot instead of the overhand because it doesn't tighten up as much and as a result, is easier to break down.

another anchor another simple anchor.

Eleni checks oneEleni examines one of the many anchors we set up.

Kit checks oneKit looks over our work, constantly checking and teaching the fine points.

a bad fisherman's knot!Uh Oh, this is not good! Who tied this fisherman's knot? The fisherman's a tricky one. Practice, practice, practice!!

girth hitchA girth hitch is great for anchoring down a belayer but don't use it as part of your anchor for the climber(s)!! Too much slippage in the wrong direction.
Ok, now we get to kick it up a notch!

2nd task: a 2-tree anchor and our choice where the direction of the climb is. I chose straight ahead and this time I use the figure 8. Looks pretty SERENE to me. I always like the KISS method for when I'm learning. You know, Keep it simple, stupid!!

my 2-tree anchor

Eleni's 2-tree
a couple more 2-tree anchors with different ideas, directions and systems.

Now, how do those climbers keep all that gear looking so nice and neat on their "racks"? Kit shows us how to neaten up our cordelettes and slings. Organization and neatness can make a big difference if the conditions break down and you need to get to something in a hurry! neatening up the cordelette

top down belay Kit demos how to setup a top down belay which in his estimation is a much underused and useful climbing technique.

japanese maples surround the gazebo more Japanese maple leavesHey, is it lightening up? The leaves are looking quite beautiful on the Japanese maples that surround the gazebo.

Sheriff's BadgeThe famous Sheriff's Badge on the Chief

Hey, it IS lightening up. Let's eat lunch and head over to the Bluffs!! Once at the bluffs, we break into 2 groups, one at Pink Cliff with Paul and Arnie, and one at Fern Gully with Jack and Kit.

My first natural anchorPaul says here's the stuff, who wants to set up an anchor!? I set up my first anchor under Paul's most excellent eye. He proclaims it "good to go" and so Dominique gives it a try for a short rappel!

a closer lookA closer look at it. And then a quick try on a short bit of climb and of course, we do a top down belay!!

Practice at Arnie's station as he has to leave early so we break it down, I set up the rappel and he takes off. Hey, he used my rappel set up and didn't even question it!! Alllright! rope managementOk, so how do you pack up this rope thingy?

coiling the ropeYou coil it, of course. Nice and Neat and everything like that.

After coiling the rope, we call it a day and head back to the Brew Pub for yet another good feed and to tie up the loose ends. Everyone who needs to, exchanges the necessary info and we congratulate ourselves and humbly prostrate ourselves before our most worthy instructors. A weekend of instruction and friendship and we call it quits. BCMC Essentials of Climbing 2005 ROCKS!!

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