A little about the route. This is no normal route; you start by climbing metal railway spikes that have been pounded into a tree which leads to a sloping ledge. From the ledge you gingerly traverse towards the overhanging waves like feature, which the route is famous for.
Once you are on the overhang, one must use a multitude of techniques and tactics to get through the initial 5.12b/c such as: heel hooking, edging, crimping, dyno's, smears, and lay-backing. This section essentially equates to 90% of the route.
I really enjoy the challenge of having the crux of the climb right at the bitter end, which is the case for Permanent Waves. It forces you to learn everything about the route--all of the little subtleties in the way you grab each hold or how you move through a section with complete fluidity. This familiarity brings on a sense of calm or zen like feeling for me, where everything else slips away and you are completely in the moment. When climbing a route for the first time (onsighting) I get a different feeling, a different kind of focus is required, and the movements are a lot more calculated. Although, some consider onsight climbing, walking up to a route with no previous experience or knowledge of the route and completing it first try, to be ultimate form of climbing, I really enjoy the learning process when working a route.
Back to old Permanent Waves. Old? Squamish local Jim Sandford did the first free ascent back in 1993! What an amazing accomplishment and contribution to the Squamish climbing community. I have been trying to complete all of Jim's hardest routes over the past few years. There a sure are a lot of them! I am getting close to that goal but there is still some work to be done.
The last 10% of the climb is where the business takes place. If you get to the second last bolt feeling pumped you have no chance on getting through the 5.13d portion of the climb. There are essentially 4 moves from here to the top (a couple required to mantle over the lip to the chains but they are no problem). How hard can it be? Well for many others and me it proves to be a showstopper. Maybe you will get one or 2 of the moves but the 2 metre jump (dyno for you climbers) will surely shut you down. Last spring I fell off the final jug hold almost sticking the dyno but failed to compete the route. Early this Spring I actually broke part of a hold that made it possible to not dyno, aka the short person beta. It is still possible to use the remaining nub but is definitely harder now. Sorry everyone! :)
Towards the end of the winter my training focus switched from power to pure endurance. I was trying to lap the Grandwall Boulder Coop for as long as possible, well until my skin hurt so bad I had to stop. 44 mins was my record. This training was just what I needed because when I got back on Permanent Waves I got to the crux feeling fresh! I knew I had a chance! Finally I was in the position to send! Well it did take me a number of tries, mainly battling freezing cold hands, it is really hard to hold on to bad holds when you cannot feel your fingers but I did the route! Sticking the final dyno was an amazing feeling!
Now what? Hum, on to the next challenge. Off to learn the ins and outs of a different route!
Thank to Chris Christie for the great Photos! http://www.christie-images.com/