Birthday weekend: Freeway and the Great Game

Ben Kunz and I had been eyeing Freeway in Squamish for months.  From the get-go, we seemed to be equally psyched on scaring ourselves.  I also we think we cumulatively read the description in Squamish Select 100 times before we finally headed up there, along with many many trip reports, online topos and mountain project comments.

While we climbed out of the sun for whole morning, the 90 degree heat and humidity made it a hard day. Ben and I made it to ‘The Truckstop” before admitting that we were not worthy of what awaited us above. At that point, we were both satisfied with the 6 pitches of amazing, hard granite climbing.

 

Some extensive beta for willing but nervous suitors

Ben on the final 10ft of the P1 slab. Mental crux was definitely getting to this bolt.

Pitch 1 – 10c slab with 5 or so bolts.  I pulled on a quickdraw after I decided I didn’t want to take a 20ft knee-scraper to start (or end) the day.  Crux felt to be around where Ben is in the first photo below.

Ben farther up P2
Ben farther up P2

Pitch 2 – Fun, sustained 11a corner system on small to medium cams.  Full on 11a and attention grabbing climbing through the bulge/flake.

Pitch 3 – The daylight crack.  You might be able to link with the previous pitch. Ben led this and placed the #3 15ft feet up from the belay, without larger gear to protect under him.

Pitch 4 – Ben led the 10b traverse to the base of the dihedrals.  This is in my opinion the easiest pitch on the climb.  Feet below the traverse and good hands make the down-climbing a non-issue for the follower.

Ben on the P4 10b traverse after the daylight crack - easiest pitch on the climb?
Ben on the P4 10b traverse after the daylight crack – easiest pitch on the climb?

Pitch 5 – 11b/c? This climbing follows shallow, left facing corners in the dihedral system.  Follow the corner left on finger size cams, before some tips lie-backing and smearing out left.  Place a few small cams or nuts (red X4 low,  then another higher up).  To get through this, I had to place two small cams, then gun it 15 ft to easier terrain. There is a good belay here, after passing a few flakes taking larger cams. After the belay,  again climb up a left facing corner with finger size gear before stemming up small, vertical overlaps to a bolt.  (Spoiler:  A good hold is hidden in the small ramp above the bolt).

Pitch 6 – The topo says 11a lieback, but I tried to stem my way up and took some nice falls.  The crux section, is 25 ft from the belay, takes small nuts and cams.  Farther up, above the tree stump protruding out of the corner, it is easiest to climb up the face into the chimney for gear (red C4?), then up the left learning crack via layback and face moves.  A final #3 goes in a pod before the climbing becomes hard to protect in the last 10 ft to the Truckstop ledge

Second half of P5 (11c)
Second half of P5 (11c)

 

First half of P6 (11a/b?)
First half of P6 (11a/b?)

We split up both pitches 5 and 6 on lead due to the confidence it provided in having the belay closer during hard climbing.

We brought a double rack through #3, and triples from .75? down + small /medium nuts.

Next time:

  • Like everyone says, the pitch 1 slab is hard, as is the second 11a pitch.  Don’t understimate them!  It would be nice to do the whole route (slab included, but I might leave that gas in the tank next time and climb around like everyone else does).  The photo of Ben shows what is probably the most tenuous and run out section (not actually run out – but hey, you tell me how it feels to slide down a sidewalk tilted at 80 degrees)
  • Only bring the triple rack if plan to climb Pitches 5 and 6 as full 55m lengths, if not linking these, a double would suffice.
  • The upper half of P6 seems easier as I went above, and is maybe a better candidate to climb as one full pitch than P5.  In general, I would link as shown in this topo here: https://www.mountainproject.com/images/3/98/108290398_large_78739e.jpg
  • Can rappel with some directionals and swinging from the truckstop on a single 60M rope.  From the Truckstop, angle climbers left to the dirty rock out on the large corner. Make a rappel down the on the face between the Freeway corner, and the corner to climbers left of Freeway.  From here rappel down into down this larger corner system left of freeway, which eventually leads down to the top of the Daylight crack.  You’ll need to put a cam or two in the cracks to keep you into the wall.
  • During mid-june, we had shade until noon or 1.
  • Ben was slotted to lead the 11s above P6, because we never got there, I did most of the harder leads down low. Leading 4 pitches of 11s back-to-back strains the mind – share the experience with your partner 😉

The next day, we climbed the Great Game at Slhanay with the whole gang, which was freakin’ ****.

Photos from the Great Game and of Grand Daddy Overhang

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