Classic Climbing in Squamish, British Columbia: Octupus Garden in the Shade

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This route was pretty good! As I mention in my previous Squamish post, the rating felt off. It is rated a 5.8 in the guide book and 5.8 on Mountain Project and I am ok with that rating, because the climbing felt about 5.8.

octupus-garden2However, the gear placements are what felt weird to me. For a route to be consider a “Top 100 Classic” like this one, I feel like it needs to have some outstanding features: sustained, high quality climbing, great gear, maybe exposure, and possibly a spicy crux ( these are just examples of things I have noticed when climbing other classics ).

The climbing on this route is awesome, but I only felt confident climbing above about 3 pieces that I placed the whole way up. I am not really sure why this was. It was a perfect crack for climbing, sustained and steep. It had great qualities of a classic route except for one thing…

The inside of the crack was not smooth. It had large crystals. It flared in pods with a narrowing entry point to the crack which made it really hard to get a large enough cam or stopper in. And when I was able to delicately place something, it would walk once I made a move above it, even with draws on the cams.

The route starts on a large shield of a flake that you climb to get to the bomber, slightly left-sloping hand jams. The crack is sustained with a few solid foot holds and ledges inside and outside of the crack.

The crux comes as another crack is close enough to reach on the right side of the main crack just below a bulge. Jam your feet in the main crack and use the double crack for your hands until you reach a sloping jug where the two cracks meet.

It’s one or two more sustained moves to get your feet onto this jug and your hands into a solid horizontal hand crack. I placed a BD #3 here, in the horizontal crack… It is not very often that a horizontal cam placement is your most trustable piece of gear on the entire route, but this felt like the case for me.

Flaring, cupped hands back into the vertical crack bring you to stand in the horizontal crack and make a somewhat awkward move to get your feet back into the vertical crack. More flaring hand and feet jams get you to the chains.

I guess I have a bittersweet sort of feeling about this crack because it was really awesome climbing, I was just really in my head about the gear the entire way up. This could be because it was the first climb of the day or because I was just feeling off. I am sure others would say that I am crazy because they thought the gear was great. I don’t know.

I have been trad climbing for about a year and a half now, which isn’t too long, but I feel like I have reached the point where I can go up a route and place gear confidently. I did not feel this way on this particular route at all.

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