A Week­end in Squamish with Arc’teryx

For the Arc’teryx Climb­ing Academy

Gripped - - CONTENTS - by Matt Stet­son

Squamish is one of the most iconic climb­ing des­ti­na­tions in Canada. It has crags, big walls and hun­dreds of boul­ders that are vis­ited by the world’s best. There are lakes, a route to the Pa­cific Ocean via the Howe Sound, brew­eries, cafés and a grow­ing pop­u­la­tion. It’s an ideal back­drop for the Arc’teryx Climb­ing Academy, which takes place ev­ery sum­mer. Arc’teryx is sewn into the fab­ric of Cana­dian climb­ing his­tory. The academy is a week-long festival fea­tur­ing climb­ing clin­ics, films and pre­sen­ta­tions by in­dus­try-lead­ing ath­letes and creators. If you’re a climber look­ing to con­nect with oth­ers in the com­mu­nity, then it’s the place to be in Au­gust. I was lucky enough to at­tend this year and climb with a num­ber of leg­endary ath­letes. Arc’teryx’s name and logo re­fer to the ear­li­est known bird, which evolved wings to adapt to its haz­ardous en­vi­ron­ment. And as the name sug­gests, the Arc’teryx Climb­ing Academy cen­tres around dozens of clinic-based classes taught by lead­ing climbers and guides. The clin­ics ac­com­mo­date a range of abil­i­ties, from com­plete be­gin­ners hop­ing to learn the ba­sics to ex­pe­ri­enced climbers look­ing to gain new skills and tech­niques from pro­fes­sional men­tors. As an in­ter­me­di­ate climber, I was the per­fect can­di­date to soak up as much knowl­edge as pos­si­ble and hope­fully add some skills to help push my abil­i­ties and stay safe.

Be­fore the hour-long drive to Squamish, I was treated to an in­sider tour of the Arc’teryx de­sign fa­cil­ity. Arc’teryx was founded in 1989 in North Van­cou­ver by Dave Lane. He had started a com­pany called Rock Solid, but was joined by busi­ness as­so­ciate Jeremy Guard, who changed the name to Arc’teryx in 1992. Al­most as soon as they were founded, they start­ing mak­ing high-end gear. The Va­por climb­ing harness be­came their top seller, as it was based on new lam­i­nat­ing technology su­pe­rior to any­thing else on the mar­ket. They then re­leased the Bora back­pack, us­ing the same technology. They re­lied on word-of-mouth and re­tail­ers for pro­mo­tion. Their prod­ucts won many awards dur­ing the first few years. They were even­tu­ally li­censed to create Gore-tex out­door ap­parel. They in­vented a zip­per that elim­i­nated bulky and ir­ri­tat­ing flaps found on other jack­ets and pants. Af­ter that, they cre­ated the soft-shell cat­e­gory.

While many peo­ple out­side of the com­mu­nity likely only see a brand that fo­cuses on high-end jack­ets and sleek packs, those in the climb­ing scene know that Arc’teryx’s roots are in hard­core tech­ni­cal climb­ing. Old mag­a­zine ads from the early days are framed in the hall­way lead­ing to a boul­der­ing wall in their de­sign cen­tre. The area also has a test­ing fa­cil­ity for qual­ity con­trol where we saw a be­lay-loop break­ing test. We toured past thou­sands of fab­ric swatches and pre­cise-look­ing laser cut­ters, and fin­ished the tour in the sewing depart­ment where we saw the all-new C-quence harness. Our tour started in a hall­way fea­tur­ing their first harness and ended with their most cur­rent harness. It’s good to see the brand hasn’t strayed far from their roots, even with their suc­cess out­side the in­dus­try.

Af­ter the de­sign cen­tre, it was off to Squamish. If you haven’t been on the Sea-to-sky Cor­ri­dor, then add it to the list of places to visit. Steep drops to the ocean and big moun­tains rise from around ev­ery cor­ner. We ar­rived in Squamish with The Chief loom­ing above and checked into our ho­tel, be­fore head­ing down to the festival grounds. The evening events are al­most as much of a draw as the climb­ing dur­ing the academy. The first night fea­tured talks and photos from Nina Caprez, who later in the week­end on­sighted the Shadow 5.13a, as well as alpine sto­ries from Ines Papert and

Luca Lindic. The stage was set for a week­end of send­ing.

I was a lit­tle ner­vous head­ing into our first day of climb­ing. On tap was a multi-pitch en­deav­our up An­gel’s Crest led by none other than top alpin­ist Will Gadd. A 5.10 route that would likely be at my limit, con­sid­er­ing that I had only ever climbed a sin­gle-pitch. So, when I awoke to pour­ing rain and we de­cided to go crag­ging, I was a lit­tle re­lieved, even though An­gel’s Crest would have been great to tick off my list. Lit­tle did I know that I was go­ing to have an epic day, multi-pitch or not. We made our way up a tech­ni­cal ap­proach to the Monastery crag, a small area with sev­eral hard sport routes rang­ing from 5.11 to 5.13. Be­cause it was a rainy day, we fig­ured there wouldn’t be many peo­ple there. Upon ar­riv­ing, we were greeted by top climber Jon Siegrest and event or­ga­nizer Tom Wright. It was hum­bling to climb next 5.15 climber Siegrest, who was warm­ing up on a route right be­side me. I was at my limit, hang­ing off of gear while he was warm­ing up on

Leg­endary climber Lynn Hill

Nick Bousse on Swank Stretch V5

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