I have travelled a lot lately but this was the first long trip I can think of where I set off completely solo. I would normally travel with Dave or the GB team or friends and it was kind of invigorating to just set off alone! I felt like a true traveller: independent, self sufficient and happy with my own company.

Arriving in Vancouver I collected a car from the rental place and began (at what felt like 4am to me but was in fact around 9pm local time) to drive on what felt like the wrong side of the car and the wrong side of the road! Needless to say, I got lost. Things were said in the car that make me glad I was alone.  Eventually I made it to my friend’s place in North Vancouver with lots of wrong turns but only one near miss with a pedestrian.

After a zombie-like post travel sleep at Tiff and Simon’s place, I headed straight to Squamish to check out the place and climbing that I had heard so much about. Even the drive from Vancouver to Squamish is impressive; beautiful lakes and coastal views all the way. Simon and I went straight to the boulders and he jumped into the role of tour guide, pointing me at problems and demonstrating how to climb in Squamish by effortlessly floating up the classics. I spent a few days in this way, being shown around and climbing as much as I could on the Magic Wood-esque rocks. I managed to cross classics like No Troublems, Worm World Cave low and Resurrection off my list as well as Ride the Lightning (high mantle crux on this one!), Sesame Street and some other great problems.

Ride the Lightning, V8, Photo Brian Goldstone

 Ride the Lightning (V8), Photo Brian Goldstone

Resurrection, V9, Photo Brian Golstone

Resurrection (V9), Photo Brian Goldstone

During my stay in Squamish I was grateful to be offered a spare room in a house with some local climbing ladies, Elise and Laura– this was my first taste of the hospitality and generosity that flows around Squamish. They really made me feel at home and being there made my trip all the more fun and sociable.

I also spent a few days doing photo-shoots with Brian Goldstone from Arc’teryx and working with a film crew to get footage for Arc’teryx’s short film about the Squamish Mountain Festival (SQMF). I was psyched that they wanted to use me to showcase their festival, an honour indeed.

ATD, V7, Photo Brian Goldstone

 ATD (V7), Photo Brian Goldstone

Squealing Pork, V7 - Photo Brian Goldstone

Squealing Pork (V7), Photo Brian Goldstone

Next up was a much-anticipated tour around Arc’teryx’s offices and factory in Vancouver. Really impressive to see how their complex technical gear is produced at factory level; amazingly skilled workers and a very organized system! I felt really grateful to be involved with a company that took the time to show me their inside workings and to involve me in their development. I even got to throw ideas around with the designers about upcoming Arc’teryx products!

Arc'teryx factory

Arc’teryx Factory magic

Heading back to Squamish, there was one thing remaining that had been on my mind all week: my lecture. I was very nervous and the time had come around to face the music and get up and talk. I had put a lot of effort into preparing a slideshow for the SQMF and this helped calm my nerves, I had a plan and I just needed to follow it through. The evening began with other speakers and films and I got to watch for a while first. Craig DeMartino’s lecture was the most notable of the evening for me; an articulate, interesting, emotional and inspiring story. If you ever get the chance to go to one of his talks, take it.

Me and Craig DeMartino after our talks! Photo Brian Goldstone.

Craig and I after our talks, relaxed! Photo Brian Goldstone.

As with most things that make me nervous, once I started the nerves dissipated and I found myself actually enjoying it! It went pretty smoothly, I think I only lost my train of thought once…. I received lots of positive feedback afterwards too, which was really nice and reassuring. Thanks to anyone who came for putting me at ease and making it a fun experience!

SQMF Lecture, Photo Brian Goldstone

 Mid-way through, clearly saying something very profound 😉 Photo Brian Goldstone

The next day it was time to travel home! A whirlwind trip, but a fantastic one.  My favourite things about Squamish? Hmmm…let’s see:

1. The people and their generous and friendly nature.

2. The climbing of course….

3. Swimming in lakes after climbing or just for the sake of it

4. Awesome Sushi

Now a short break at home before Dave and I head to Rocklands on Monday! Can’t wait!