Saturday, October 06, 2007

A Pogo Named Ogo

I just rolled into town and was greeted with a very wet Vancouver evening. I was travelling home from Penticton and work for Russ Turner in the Skaha Bluffs, instructing 45 teenagers from West Point Grey Secondary in Vancouver. Will Stanhope was working his very first contract as a rock guide too, and in between polling the kids on the 50 vs. Kanye battle, Will made sure he educated all on Ogopogo safety. According to Will, pogo identifies the species of reptile, and Ogo is the name of the Okanagan Lake inhabitant (The Lock Ness Monster being another identified Pogo). The most important safety precaution when dealing with the Ogopogo, says Will, is to never approach the Ogopogo. A very concerned student named Franklin was adamant that there should be more scientists studying the creature, we all agreed thoroughly.

I threw the rock rack into the trunk before heading east as I heard about an unclimbed roof crack on one of the Bluffs' northern-most crags, the Jug Haul Wall. In Skaha Rock Climbs Howie Richardson describes the the line as 'the biggest unclimbed roof in Skaha, split by a crack'. Well, Skaha isn't exactly a Mecca of roof cracks nor a bastion of traditional climbing, but I was very intrigued and willing to hike (and hike some more) to get to what very well may be a disappointment.

Will was easily convinced to come along as he was keen to continue in his tradition of establishing short, hard, poorly protected gear routes in Skaha. Several years ago Will and I scrubbed a short seam on a crag east of the Euphorium. The only gear we could find was a 00 Metolius Power Cam about mid-way up. Undeterred, Will went for the lead and the result was Groundfall Alice's, a stout 5.11 named for the local strip joint Slack Alice's, an establishment neither of us were old enough to patronize at the time. I remember a young Will being quite disappointed that Sean Dougherty, the man behind wouldn't add the line to the online list of new routes in the bluffs.

Groundfall Alice's
The thin seam of Groundfall Alice's

Groundfall Alice's
Will, inspired by a 'borrowed' Blurr hoodie (it's finders keepers in the Isuzu) gives his best B-Unit stance at the base of Alice's

As we stood under the roof looking up at the unclimbed seam I couldn't help but think of some similarities between the two routes.. As we pondered how hilarious it would be to be known for putting up scary, sort of stupid trad routes at a destination sport cliff, Will booted up for an attempt.

A local climber had apparently tried the line before and a few small slider nuts were in place in the roof. Will dogged out to the lip and managed to back up the crux piece, a #1 Slider Nut, with a 00 Metolius TCU. Thin. After a few tries at the sequence, he handed the sharp end over saying 'just don't die', and I went up to take a look.

The Pogo Named Ogo Crack

I struggled and chalked up a couple more holds, then lowered off to try and lead it from the ground. I was unsuccessful, but found a very thin crimp that set the body up for the reach to a miserable sloper at the lip. From here, it was just a matter of sticking a ridiculously fun flying-squirrel move around the lip to an arete jug. Yeah, definitely a silly route, but fun nonetheless. The boulder grade might be something like V6 or V7, so 5.12+?

We both did it in the next try or two, pinkpoint. The stunning line has yet to see a redpoint, integral. You don't need much, but bring the 00 and 0 tcu. Before we sent we even had a name for Skaha's biggest, boldest, proudest roof crack. In a land of hard roof cracks, The Pogo Named Ogo Crack is a King Line...

The Jughaul Wall
Gangsta Will and the new route..

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