An Escape to Powell River and a Master’s Degree!

After two long, hard, fun, and incredibly rewarding years, I proudly defended my MSc thesis on September 5, 2014.  Despite how anxious I was going into the defence, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience, and it was great to have so many wonderful friends there to support me.  

 (1) Defending my MSc thesis (2) Super awesome LCSRG t-shirt from Meg!

Then, following a weekend of celebrating and editing, Graham and I took off to Powell River to meet our friends JF and Sophie for a week of camping and climbing in the Eldred Valley. What a spectacular place! We drove 34km up a logging road to reach the Colin Arthur Dionne Memorial campground – base camp for all the climbing in the valley. The campground was impeccable, situated within a beautiful stand of second growth right beside the Eldred River. The valley is breath-taking and surrounded by the giants: Psych Slab, Carag Dur, West Main, West Main Buttress, and more. 

CAD campground in the Eldred Valley
The Eldred River in the morning
A view of Carag Dur from Psych Slab

We climbed three days on Psych Slab. The granite is very fine grained compared to the Squamish slab crystals that we are used to. Each day took us to new levels in trusting our feet to stick to what seemed surely impossible. The first day on the slab we climbed the first 4 pitches of S.R.I (5.10). Graham and I swapped leads, which was a huge new accomplishment for me – first time swapping leads on a trad/slab multipitch, and as an onsight! The next day we attempted Schizophrenia, the 12-pitch classic 5.10 that climbs the centre of Psych Slab to the summit, but heat, nerves, and time stopped us at the top of the fifth. We also tried Day Pass (5.7) and Racknophia (5.10/11).  It was really eye-opening how challenging the climbing was. The slab felt impossible to stick to – and yet we did – creating an interesting mental challenge between the spaced bolts. Being a place mostly untraveled, much of the slab had lichen on it, which only accentuated the challenges. 

JF nearing the top of P1 on S.R.I.
Sophie leading P4 of S.R.I

All racked up to lead Day Pass!

Graham leading P1 of Racknophobia, and me trying on top-rope after

Our other two climbing days were spent bouldering. The granite is sticky and textured, there are boulders everywhere, and there is tons of potential for new development. We were like kids in a candy store! We climbed a few fun problems that were already established, but spent a good chunk of our bouldering time scrubbing and climbing new things.

Sophie, me, and JF bouldering at the powerline boulders
Graham working the moves on his newly scrubbed problem “The Princess” V5
G working the moves of a project by the river, just before the send. He called it “Biere dans la Riviere” V7
Sophie on the first ascent of her problem “Safety Fun”, and me scrubbing my line “Safety Club”

The rest of our time in Powell River was spent enjoying the gorgeous weather, hanging out by the river, eating delicious food, practicing our French, and enjoying evening campfires.

Aftermath of the celebratory-champagne-mishap

Graham and I during “river bathtime”

“Wild Kids” and “Safety Club”

We are very excited to return to Powell River next year, earlier in the season perhaps to avoid the heat. If you are interested in heading over to check out the awesome climbing and potential in this area, check out Kevan Robitaille’s blog here.
Inside a giant tree stump!
I have now completed all the requirements for my degree, and Graham has finished his job at MEC. This weekend we moved back to the island to begin working on the Millenium FalcVan, our travel vehicle for the next year ++. We are really going to miss the people of Vancouver, from SFU, MEC, and the climbing community – we hope to cross paths with you all on our future adventures.

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