Contemplating Fratricide Part 2: Dancing Sasquatch

So, with Cyril out for the Canada Day long weekend we were taking advantage of his temporary 'family-free' status to get him out to the mountains.

After scrambling Cascade (which he admitted would probably be a bit much to do with a kid carrier on his back) we were looking for a good Day 2 option. Turned out Cyril's never been rock climbing and was interested in trying it out. 

Like I said, I spent most of my childhood thinking Cyril was the cruelest prank my parents ever played on me, so the thoughts of finally offing him certainly occurred while scrambling up Cascade, but his first climb? This was almost too much to resist.

Seriously though, I love climbing and I love sharing that and the idea of introducing my brother to it was pretty sweet. The issue (and there's always an issue) was that I hate cragging and most of my gear was with Christine's sister at the moment so I had to get creative.

I decided we'd climb Dancing Sasquatch - a new route put up by Brandon Pullan this Spring on Tunnel Mountain in Banff.  It's three pitches of mellow climbing that's graded at 5.7, but I'm calling shenanigans on that grade. There's soft and then there's Dancing Sasquatch. If there's a 5.7 move on that route, I can't find it. Hell, I can't find a 5.6 move on it. My personal opinion is that it's a 5.5 tops. The nearby Le Soulier (the shoe)'s easiest pitch is 5.5 and feels broadly similar. Regardless, it's a fun mellow climb and a great first multi-pitch. 

To get to the route we parked at Surprise Corner and wandered down the Hoodoos Trail for a few hundred meters until a faint trail breaks off to the left towards the face of Tunnel. If you reach the Black Band area, you've gone to far.

At the base of the climb I surveyed our gear. Our quick draws were mostly slings due for retirement and used whatever ratty old biners I could find including a bunch of lockers. The rope was one of my half ropes for ice climbing because other than the one currently functioning as a rug, I didn't have any single ropes currently at home. Cyril had never belayed before and the idea of having him learn on doubles was a recipe for disaster. In a nod to the reality of the situation, I handed him an assisted braking device so even if I fell and he freaked out, the device would hopefully catch me without his intervention.

Well ain't that a pile of manky-ass draws...

I justified these normally no-no moves because a) I would almost be willing to free-solo the route and b) the route is so low angle that even if I did fall, most of the fall energy would be absorbed by cheese-grater-ing all my skin off as I slid down the slab. Good enough.

Anyway, I started up and things went swimmingly. Then Cyril joined me at the first belay, easily working his way up the route. When I explained he should trust his harness and the bolted station and lean back so he wasn't trying to precariously stand on a ledge while belaying me, he decided that maybe he didn't trust the gear that much and instead opted for the hilariously awkward balancing act of trying to belay, manage the rope and balance on a six inch wide ledge all at the same time.

Cyril, happy, but less than comfortable at his belay stance

The result is that he sort of forgot about the whole 'giving me slack as I climb' part of his crash course on belaying and what resulted was me trying to climb with the drag of trying to haul the rope through an assisted breaking device. Good times.

Cyril climbing up pitch 3 of Dancing Sasquatch

Seriously though, Cyril did great. His very first rock climb and we knocked out a multi-pitch. He learned to belay after only a few minutes of instruction at the bottom of the crag and despite being nearly as afraid of heights as I am, he killed it and even seemed to enjoy himself. 

Well, he seems happy enough...

So, two days in the mountains, two opportunities to fulfill childhood dreams of fratricide and instead, we just had  a great time. 

Grumpy, cantankerous, wildly opinionated and so much more! Getting really tired on skis is what makes me happy.