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review: Squamish Bouldering (2010) (Read 9138 times)

ukb

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review: Squamish Bouldering (2010)
August 22, 2010, 05:50:09 am
The second edition of the Squamish Bouldering guide was authored by Marc Bourdon and released in summer 2010.  This guide is a serious upgrade from the initial version that was completed by Marc and Scott Tasaka in late 2002, and has nearly doubled in thickness, with an appealing form factor that is well thought out and attractive to look at.  The format works well for the Squamish area, and will be instantly familiar to climbers from around the globe used to RockFax style guides.

The most obvious upgrade from the previous guide is the use of full colour throughout, not only in the action shots and photo-topos of the individual boulders, but also in the grading profiles, which have a ski-run type colour coding; green for V0-V2, blue for V3-V6 etc – this makes for an easy way to pick similarly-graded circuits if you’re so inclined.  The other major upgrade from the first edition is the sheer volume of new problems and areas that have been added – this is a result of the ongoing rapid rate of development in the Squamish area, and it’s likely that the guide is already out of date with the number of new venues that are constantly being found and cleaned.  In terms of coverage, the guide has dropped the venues close to Vancouver, and has added several other venues in and around Squamish, the most significant being the Paradise Valley boulders.

In general, the grades of the problems that were in the first edition have been unchanged; it’s not known whether this was because the grades were felt to be more or less correct, or because it would be too much effort to regrade them all but, for the most part, the grades are reasonable (though often veering to the stiff side) and are fairly consistent throughout the guide.  If you fail to nail your sloper project during the warm dry summer, you may need to wait for the (admittedly infrequent) spells of cool dry weather in the winter or spring that make many of the problems feel significantly easier.

The starring system has been revamped so that the bulk of the problems (approx 2,400 of them!) receive between 1 and 4 stars, and the Top 100 problems receive their own star rating.  These topnotch problems have been carefully picked, and examples can be found at most of the venues, so that the inevitable focus of boulderers, increasing numbers of whom are visiting, can be diffused – I think this has worked well, and some fantastic problems in less-frequented areas will hopefully receive the attention they deserve.

For getting around and finding the areas and specific problems, there has been a lot of work put into improving and updating the maps; navigating between boulders in a dense forest is not simple when you’re unfamiliar with the area, and Marc has done an admirable job in this regard.  The maps are well-scaled, use landmarks that are identifiable even to visitors and clearly drawn with all the useful info included.  Similarly with the problems themselves, the phototopos are clearly marked out and identifying starting holds/variations etc. is straightforward.  Descriptions are provided for the problems and these add detail, some hints where appropriate, and generally help to give the guide a pleasingly ‘readable’ feel.

As befits a guide to a bouldering area that is increasingly becoming a destination venue, it also includes info about where to stay, rest/wet-day options, amenities, access issues, environmental issues, geological setting of the boulders and a guide to local flora and fauna.  These sections provide some useful pointers for visiting climbers, but don’t expect a Rough Guide to everything in the Sea-to-Sky corridor.  It also offers a decent stab at documenting the history of the bouldering in and around the Chief – reading this section, you realize just how recent most of the activity has been and also how much there is still to do!

Are there any major gripes?  Well, to be honest, not really - a handful of the phototopos are poorly exposed, some of the action shots could best be described as average, and the Grand Wall overview map could really have used page number references for each of the sub-maps, but these are minor quibbles.

Should you buy this guide if you’re visiting Squamish to go bouldering?  Really, your alternatives are limited to select-climbs guides that will get you to the classic problems in the grand wall boulders, but not many other places – one of these select-climbs guides would be fine if you’re on a short stay and plan to mix-up the boulders, sport and trad, but the bouldering guide is your only choice if you want to find all the best problems and areas.  If you do buy it, you’re unlikely to be disappointed – Marc Bourdon has done an excellent job in documenting this expanding bouldering area with an aesthetically pleasing and useable guidebook – recommended.

Contributed by AndyR

« Last Edit: April 05, 2015, 06:36:30 pm by ukb »

SA Chris

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#1 Re: review: Squamish Bouldering (2010)
August 22, 2010, 07:21:17 am
Are there any major gripes? 

So you mean they used Font grades? :)

Sounds good. Does it still cover the stuff up around Pemberton too?

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#2 Re: review: Squamish Bouldering (2010)
August 23, 2010, 10:50:21 am
Quote
Are there any major gripes?  Well, to be honest, not really - a handful of the phototopos are poorly exposed, some of the action shots could best be described as average, and the Grand Wall overview map could really have used page number references for each of the sub-maps, but these are minor quibbles.

Just got back from Squamish - well a week or so ago - and agree entirely with the review.  I'd make more of the point above though - just like the 7+8 guide, trying to find the specific pages of the guide when starting from an overview map is harder than it needs to be.  Or maybe this is just me!

The photos are good, and although there aren't photos of every boulder, there's enough that you can navigate your way around by looking for a nearby boulder that has the right shape.  Sometimes this is tricky though: the scale of the maps could be clearer, and sometimes the direction is a bit hard to work out as the maps aren't bang on in that sense.  This is probably true of most bouldering areas in a forest to be honest - those of us that regularly go to Font are spoilt by the numbers painted on that make life much easier.

One final point that's not directly related to the guide: finding your way around the non-grand wall areas is much harder.  Take the northern forest area for example: this obviously doesn't get much traffic, it's completely overgrown and climbers are losing the battle against the jungle.  If you do visit, it's hard to find stuff as a lot of the trails marked on the map are pretty much gone.  Hopefully, with the publication of an improved guide these areas will get more traffic and the forest will get beaten into submission.

Grubes

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#3 Re: review: Squamish Bouldering (2010)
July 01, 2014, 11:11:49 am
Hows the bunk house/b&B coming along?
I was hoping to make it out there again this summer but failed hopefully I can convince my house mate to go to squamish rather than font for the fourth time this year (so far)

Hopefully next year

SA Chris

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#4 Re: review: Squamish Bouldering (2010)
July 01, 2014, 01:50:13 pm
it confirms that Tim Clifford's Singularity is still unrepeated.   

..... and is the uberwad.

Is 4 years a long time between editions of a guidebook to the most extensive, most popular and fastest developing bouldering area in Canada?

a dense loner

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#5 Re: review: Squamish Bouldering (2010)
July 01, 2014, 04:34:50 pm
Theres definately a market for an upgrade. i think 4 years is a long time for whats been added, yet 3 years would seem to soon

 

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