Climbing From Bellingham to Squamish

Waking up this morning was the most beautiful thing, not only because I survived the pretend horrors of the night but also because we had pitched out tend right next to the edge of the island (cliffside) and when I opened the tent door in the morning, a full view of the ocean was staring right back at us.

We headed down to the rocky beach below and found purple starfish, crab the size of my pinky nail, spitting clams and tiny snails in the tide pools. After a couple of hours of exploring, we were finally able to tear our attention away from all the living details we found there and turn it towards beachside bouldering.

The approach to the boulders on Clayton Beach is long but very flat (minus the drop from the roadside onto the trail) and follows a path through a lush wilderness of fruiting trees, flowers and slugs. <- seriously, everywhere.  We went down once to check out the area which was about an hour excursion total, then again with the gear. As soon as our feet touched the sand on the return, it began pouring on us. We took cover back in the forest area which was so thick that, except for the noise of the rain hitting the canopy, we wouldn’t have known it was even raining.

Taking cover

The beach itself has tons of short routes running down the length of it. The area is not difficult at all, with lots of short, fun problems as long as the tide is out. We found ourselves suddenly at high tide again which made it impossible to boulder in and keep our shoes dry.

I’ve never had a climbing experience like the one I had today. Being on the beach made the day seem so relaxed and worry free.  The sand was soft enough to serve as our crash pad if we had needed it to. The place was perfect for taking photographs while bouldering. This has probably been one of my favorite days of climbing along with Exit 38 in Seattle.


When we were finished, we headed back to the American Alpine Institute again and met more of the folks there and talked about some people we knew in common as well as maybe getting together in the near future to organize some winter/ski workshops for Outdoor Women’s Alliance. Stoked on that, of course.

Headed out of the good ol’ USA to Canada. My pepper spray was confiscated at the border (again, this happens every time to go through).  We traveled right through the heart of the amazing city of Vancouver and on to Squamish. What an incredible drive!

“They” say it’s a small world- well today proved that yet again. After arriving in Squamish I headed into McD’s to get directions to a campground.  After asking a couple of people, a tall guy in outdoor clothing confirmed that I was looking for camping before letting me know where all the climbers camp.  We somehow ended up in conversation and learned that he was from Salt Lake and on sabbatical from work at… Black Diamond. I practically shouted at him, ‘Tom! You must be Tom!” He was Tom, the same that our campground buddies had told us about in Leavenworth. We heard all about this guy, how humble he was, how cool, how much he loved climbing, his work at Black Diamond, etc. It felt unbelievably good to not only run into someone along the trip, but also to have that someone be from the hometown. And yes, he and my friend Joe were work friends, as well. Makes you feel kinda comfy to have a piece of home in the middle of a new place.

He showed us back to the campsite and we made plans to hang out tomorrow if it stops raining. We’re sleeping in the car tonight because it’s too wet to set up camp.

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