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Squamish Mountain Festival: "If you're not belaying, you're just climbing."

Sara Lingafelter
Sara Lingafelter
3 min read
View of the Chief, from the Squamish Mountain Festival website

The Arc’teryx Squamish Mountain Festival is under way in beautiful Squamish, BC.  Running July 14-18, the Fest features three nights of film and live presentations, a Thursday night “Steep Shot” Photo Shoot Out and Party at Howe Sound Inn and Brew Pub, climbing clinics, a vendor Trade Fair, and tons of other activities.  I can honestly say, the weather is better than I’ve ever seen in Squamish, and I am completely stoked to be here.

Day one of the Fest was “Oh Canada” night, starting with “Hey Presto” featuring Sonnie Trotter.  Sonnie was nearly upstaged by climbing partner and “world-class belayer,” Cory Richards, who stole the show with demonstrations of such belaying warm-ups as the “Ghandi Triangle” and the “Archer.”  Quote of the night was from Richards:  “If you’re not belaying, you’re just climbing.”

And how could I forget the intro… a short featuring William Shatner and El Cap.  There’s no write-up for it… I’m still just speechless.

Next up was “Sentry Box,” featuring a 1975 ascent of the classic Squamish route by “the most fearless of them all:  aid climbers.”

The first slideshow was by Barry Blanchard, featuring trips from 1985 to present, punctuated with memorable asides from Barry.  In off-the-grid alpine climbing, Barry observed, it’s possible to not “see another human being or have an interruption of your purpose for a week” or more.

Jason Kruk followed up with a solid dose of humor… he is one funny brother.  He described alpine climbing as the “ultimate pop quiz of climbing,” and told stories from his coming up as a climber in Squamish and Yosemite (his observation after his first attempt at El Cap:  “We are boys.  We are not men.”) then moved on to Patagonia and Mount Robson for more alpine climbing “because it’s so macho.”  The Patagonia trip started with a month and a half of bad weather — “snow camping, with the only climbing being bouldering in town and ice bouldering around camp.”  Jason and partners stuck with it, and squeezed in a lot of time on Fitz Roy, including a 10 hour summit followed by a one-rope descent after partner Hayden Kennedy extended his plane ticket by one day to allow the attempt.

The feature length “Welsh Connections” left some scratching their heads about why Wales, on “Oh Canada” night… but footage of first ascents, hard trad onsights on crumbling rock, and committing deep water soloing kept the audience captivated despite the change of continent.

Tonight is the “Steep Shot” Photo Shoot out and Party at Howe Sound Inn and Brew Pub, with doors opening at 7pm for a 9pm show.  Tomorrow (Friday) is “Big Wall Climbing Night” with much anticipated live presentations by Royal Robbins and Tommy Caldwell, plus a screening of “Alone on the Wall,” featuring free soloist Alex Honnold.  I’ve been waiting for this one ever since I saw this Tweet from @banffmtnfest in February and almost peed myself laughing.

The weekend holds a trail maintenance day on Saturday, and more alpine climbing movie goodness (because it’s so macho) in the evening at the Eagle Eye Theatre.  Live presentations by Cedar Wright and Rob Pizem are sure to make me squirm in my chair in nervousness (because I’m not so macho).  Saturday’s events culminate in a “West is Best Cowboy Festival Party” at Howe Sound Brew Pub starting at 10pm.

If that’s not enough… Saturday and Sunday both feature climbing clinics for beginning to advanced climbers, yoga at Rose Park, a free Trade Fair and matinees at the Squamish Adventure Center, and more activities for the vertically inclined.
For more information, the full festival schedule is online.  Most events are sold out online, but tickets are still available locally for some events.  And, say hi if you’re here… I’ll be here the whole time, covering the events here and helping out the team from Arc’teryx.
A huge thank you to Arc’teryx and Waypoint Outdoor, for the chance to join in the fun!  And, thanks to additional sponsors Black Diamond, La Sportiva, Five Ten, Howe Sound Brewing, Canada West Mountain School (my 4-day basic skills class alma mater), and Mountain Equipment Co-op.

Sara Lingafelter

Sara (Grace) Lingafelter takes steps forward and backward toward a right-sized life on a daily basis.