Archive for Squamish

off to Vancouver

Posted in Mountains, pictures, Running, Statistics, Travel, University life with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 7, 2019 by xi'an

Today I am flying to Vancouver for an ABC workshop, the second Symposium on Advances in Approximate Bayesian Inference, which is a pre-NeurIPS workshop following five earlier editions, to some of which I took part. With an intense and exciting programme. Not attending the following NeurIPS as I had not submitted any paper (and was not considering relying on a lottery!). Instead, I will give a talk at ABC UBC on Monday 4pm, as, coincidence, coincidence!, I was independently invited by UBC to the IAM-PIMS Distinguished Colloquium series. Speaking on ABC on a broader scale than in the workshop. Where I will focus on ABC-Gibbs. (With alas no time for climbing, missing an opportunity for a winter attempt at The Stawamus Chief!)

Squamish snapshot [jatp]

Posted in Mountains, pictures, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , on August 14, 2018 by xi'an

Stawamus Chief

Posted in Mountains, pictures, Travel with tags , , , , , , , on August 6, 2018 by xi'an

Being back in Vancouver gave me the great opportunity to bag a climb I had wanted to make for quite a while, the classical route on the Stawamus (or Squamish) Chief, which is a big granite dome standing on top of the Howe Sound, north of Vancouver and south of Whistler (for NIPS longterm attendees!). In 2011, Julien, David and I went climbing for a whole day a cliff nearby called Burger and Fries. While the Chief is a 600m big vertical wall that makes for a fairly involved climb, the standard route is mostly bypassing the vertical exposure and goes up on gritty granite slabs that do not require hand pulls (The Apron) and then cracks that make for an easy climb, until the crux of the climb (Buff), again involving cracks if vertical ones and a half chimney, somewhat more exposed, with a solo free climber passing my guide Brett Nixon from Vancouver Mountain Guides and myself on the way. Something around 12 pitches total. Just a great climb, well-suited for my lack of sufficient training in the past months!, and with terrific views all the way, plus constant shade a big plus on a very hot day! Meeting with friends at the top, who had gone up the hiking path, was an added bonus as we could hike down together. Hopefully, I will be back in a near future to try another route, like Angel’s Crest…

a ghastly ghost

Posted in Books, Kids, Mountains with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 13, 2016 by xi'an

My daughter sort of dragged me to watch The Revenant as it just came out in French cinemas and I reluctantly agreed as I had read about magnificent winter and mountain sceneries, shot in an unusually wide format with real light. And indeed the landscape and background of the entire movie are magnificent, mostly shot in the Canadian Rockies, around Kananaskis and Canmore, which is on the way to Banff. (Plus a bit in Squamish rain forest.) The story is however quite a disappointment as it piles up one suspension of disbelief after another. This is a tale of survival (as I presume everyone knows!) but so implausible as to cancel any appreciation of the film. It may be the director Iñárritu is more interested in a sort of new age symbolism than realism, since there are many oniric passages with floating characters and falling meteors, desecrated churches and pyramids of bones, while the soundtrack often brings in surreal sounds, but the impossible survival of Hugh Glass made me focus more and more on the scenery… While the true Hugh Glass did manage to survive on his own, fixing his broken leg, scrawling to a river, and making a raft that brought him to a fort downstream, [warning, potential spoilers ahead!] the central character in the movie takes it to a fantasy level as he escapes hypothermia while swimming in freezing rapids, drowning while wearing a brand new bearskin, toxocariasis while eating raw liver,  bullets when fleeing from both Araka Indians and French (from France, Louisiana, or Québec???) trappers, a 30 meter fall from a cliff with not enough snow at the bottom to make a dent on, subzero temperatures while sleeping inside a horse carcass [and getting out of it next morning when it should be frozen solid], massive festering bone-deep wounds, and the deadly Midwestern winter… Not to mention the ability of make fire out of nothing in the worst possible weather conditions or to fire arrows killing men on the spot or to keep a never ending reserve of bullets. And while I am at it, the ability to understand others: I had trouble even with the French speaking characters, despite their rather modern French accent!

Burger and fries [inside out]

Posted in Mountains, Travel with tags , , , , on October 7, 2010 by xi'an

Last wekend, I received a gift from Devin Goodman, namely a nice Burger and fries tee-shirt, following a climbing day on this cliff in early August! It however took me two days to discover on the inside the complete map of the routes! Including the tough 5.10c/6b Predator that made Julien so innovative…in his French curses! Really cool gift!

Vancouver skyline [2]

Posted in Mountains, pictures, Travel with tags , , on August 3, 2010 by xi'an

Burgers and fries, Squamish

Posted in Mountains, Travel with tags , , , on August 1, 2010 by xi'an

Today I went climbing with Julien and David in Squamish, more precisely on the Burger and fries cliff in the Smoke Bluffs. The routes were exactly our level, going from 5.7 to 5.10c in the US (Yosemite) grading system, meaning from 4c to 6b in the French grading system. The routes were not that busy so we could experiment and repeat climbs several times before moving to the next route. The granite rock offers a great grip for foot but little edges for fingers (which means my fingers will remember the grit of Burger and fries for a while....It somehow reminded me of the climb of the Sugar Loaf in Rio de Janeiro, as there was hardly any hold for hands and it was mostly footwork. The rock was rather abrasive and we think we lost some gum on our shoes, especially on the 5.10c/6b Predator that took us a while to master (even on a second time!, hence Julien’s frustration on the picture below, trying to run his way up). Although this was one of the hardest routes I ever did, it surprisingly did not feel hard on the arms, maybe because with the tiny fingers holds, there was a clear limit on the strength we could pull from our arms! Footwork, mostly.

The place was not too crowded for a long weekend+sunny day and we managed to switch the rope from one route to the next without having to wait for another team to move away. The fact that the routes could be top-ropped very easily was also a great point, maybe not appreciated by the owners of the houses sitting on the top of the cliff, whose great views were kind of spoiled by the recurrent apparition of sweaty and cursing climbers.

After finishing the day on Burger and Fries itself (an easy 5.7/4c with a nice crack), we packed before a thunderstorm broke and drove back to Vancouver, passing by the tantalising Chief cliff, which is a big wall dominating the Squamish shores and which would have required a guide (but feasible since the grading seems to start at 5.10a/5c…)