Since moving off the island back in 2012, we’d spent a grand total of six days at Horne Lake. These six days were spread pretty evenly among the years and usually our visits would go something like this: We would get super excited about the prospect of climbing back at Horne. We’d plan to go for a few days. We’d get our butts handed to us on the steep terrain after day one. We’d be too sore and exhausted to climb any more days, and would opt to visit family and drink wine in Victoria instead.
The above pattern repeated itself over and over and over again, so this year we tried for a different approach. We had a week of vacation time in October, and we wanted to go somewhere nearby that would be climbable no matter the weather.
Fortunately you can climb at Horne on days that look like this:
And days that look like this:
On day one of our mid-October trip the weather was miserable. Cold, windy, rainy…and Graham and I were the only people at the crag. We were so discouraged by the climbing that we almost fell into our old pattern and left. “The weather is good in Leavenworth right now, right??” That evening we met up with friends Cody, Joe, and Jared – and they fired up our psych. They were camping on the heated cement floors in Cody’s mom’s garage in the nearby small town of Bowser, and we’d been invited to stay as well. “Hmm… this isn’t so bad!”
Graham had one main goal for our trip: Dinosaur Highway (5.14a). He’d been giving half-ass (sorry babe!) attempts on the route for several years, without ever buckling down to commit to projecting it. My goals were far looser… compared to Graham I had climbed very little in the amphitheatre, so I felt like a kid in a candy shop. Everything was an option. Horne has a selection of awesome 5.13cs, so I did have my eye on those – 13c was a grade I had never climbed in Canada.
This time, Graham’s focus and commitment paid off, and quickly. Within two days he had finished off his Horne Lake dream route. It was a fantastic way to kick off the trip – there was still so much more to climb!
He would go onto climb Moment of Silence (5.13c), Suburbia (5.13a) Silence in Suburbia (5.13b) and Driven (5.14a). Driven is a beautiful line that begins with some slightly runout technical climbing, continues to a long section of completely horizontal roof climbing, faces a brutally hard boulder problem at the lip of the roof (just like Graham likes it 😉 ) and wraps up with pumpy 5.12 climbing to the anchor.
I fell in deep with Moment of Silence (5.13c). The route is an extension of You Enjoy Myself (5.11a), one of the most fun moderates around. From the first anchor, you launch into some excellent three-dimensional roof climbing before encountering a compact and intense boulder problem just after pulling the roof. I was super excited to finish up this route – it marked my hardest route in Canada, and the most difficult thing I’d sent since wrapping up our last road trip over a year ago.
Alongside working Moment, I was also able to finish up my multi-year project Code of Honour (5.12c), Smooth Bore (5.12c), Subdivisions (5.12d), Moonraker (5.12b) and Ahead by a Century (5.13b).
Throughout the week we were joined by Luke and Kirsten & Yannick – the crew was awesome. We had longed for these days devoted to climbing, and it was so so sweet to return to them. Plus, we had a #dailydoseofmona, and who wouldn’t want that?
At the end of trip we returned to Vancouver and got back to work and training feeling content and fulfilled.
It was a great vacation. Maybe we would do it again next year?
We had begun to turn our sights back towards fall Squamish bouldering when we received an unexpected message from Luke. He had been SO close to sending his project, Jesus Save The Pushers (5.13a) during his week-long trip, but it had narrowly alluded him. From his home back in Edmonton, he’d been reflecting on the route. “If I fly to Nanaimo from Edmonton for the weekend, would you guys be interested in joining me at Horne?” HOW COULD WE SAY NO TO THAT? we thought. We were only facing a ferry ride… Luke was considering a plane ride! Yes, we could match that psych, we thought. Yes. Let’s do it, yes!
The weekend was a blast. The routes felt new and exciting all over again. We had finished our projects on the last trip, so we spent time trying new things. Graham focussed on ADATO (5.14b), and I started working Dinosaur Highway (5.14a) and Fast Cat (5.13c). Luke sent his project on his first go (YESSSSS!) which was awesome and set the tone for a light and carefree weekend. #worthit.
What followed was the true symptom of our autumn limestone addiction. Graham and I returned to Horne Lake every single weekend for at least a day. Sometimes we drove, and sometimes we walked over from Horseshoe Bay to be picked up by gracious friends on the other side.
They were long and tiring days, but every single day was worth it.
It’s hard to resist a place that is so beautiful and with such a community of super psyched people. Each week we worried about the intensifying cold, the dying light, and the risk of the rock starting to seep – but we returned anyways to give it all a go. We got closer and closer, falling heartbreakingly close on our routes. At the end of each day we knew we would need to wait another week, with no control over changing conditions in the season.
We opted outside and returned to Horne on November 23, Black Friday. The day was perfect. Clouds and drizzle melted into golden light in the amphitheatre, cast by a sun low in the sky. I sent Fast Cat (5.13c) and Graham followed it with a send of ADATO (5.14b) immediately after: his hardest route on Canadian rock. It was a perfect day.
What is even more perfect though, is celebrating with the community. It was so fun to be back climbing with a crew where everyone is so invested in each other’s process. Kirsten sent Pushers (5.13a) for her first of the grade. Ryan sent Code of Honour (5.12c) for his first of the grade. Catherine and Krista sent You Enjoy Myself (5.11a). Marcel sent Northern Man and Jesus is a Dinosaur (both 5.14a). Julia sent Suburbia (5.13a) and Silence in Suburbia (5.13b). Joe sent Dinosaur Highway (5.14a). Amanda sent ASDATO (5.14c) for her first of the grade. Luke sent Pushers (5.13a). Josh sent Fast Cat (5.13c) for his first of the grade. Jared sent ADATO (5.14b). Christy sent Le Petit Prince and There Are No Trees On Mars (both 5.12b). Cody sent Globetrotters (5.13c) for his first of the grade. These are just a few of the celebrations from this fall.
Because we just can’t stop, we of course have other projects at Horne ongoing. This time though, they might actually wait until next season :p