Trip Report: Squamish 2019 with the Alpine Ambassadors

In September 2019, our Alpine Ambassadors hosted a trip to Squamish for six of our most dedicated climbing volunteers to spend the weekend pushing their grades as climbers.
Barbara Motteler Barbara Motteler
Foothills Branch Leader & Super Volunteer
December 06, 2019

Alpine Ambassadors are a group of climbers who lead 5.10+/WI3+ and are looking to push their limits together, learn from the mentorship of guides and highly accomplished climbers, and mentor others. This talented group is comprised of leaders from all branches with climbing programs, and committed to helping our leaders push their climbing limits. One way we do this is by hosting skill development trips.

Alpine Ambassadors offer skill development trips for our volunteers who are competent climbers but are not yet leading 5.10 or WI3. These trips are designed to provide climbing growth and mentorship for top Mountaineers volunteers, often beyond what typical courses with The Mountaineers can provide. Through Ambassadors-hosted trips, our dedicated volunteers have a chance to focus on their personal growth as climbers under the mentorship of the Alpine Ambassadors who are coordinating the trip. 

Squamish, September 2019

In September, 2019, Ambassadors Doug Cole and Nate Moore hosted a trip to Squamish, BC. While the original plan was to run the trip at Tieton in eastern WA, bad weather forced a change in plans. As a result, they took 6 dedicated climbing volunteers from 3 branches up to Squamish to work on their climbing technique and push their grades.

One of the participants was Barb Motteler. Barb is a Scramble, Backpack, Hike, and Snowshoe Leader for The Mountaineers. She's also an Intermediate Climbing Student, a Rock Climbing and Self-Rescue instructor, and an instructor for Basic Climbing. She shared her experience on this trip:

One participant's story

By Barb Motteler

Squamish! We’re going to Squamish! After the disappointment of the planned Tieton trip cancellation due to the deteriorating weather forecast, I am excited to get a note announcing an alternate. 

I am really stoked for the opportunity to improve my crack climbing. I hope to get a chance to top rope more challenging cracks, get feedback on my technique, and get some tips to help me lead harder routes.

On the first day, we climb at the Octopus Garden, Funarama and Nubile Woman areas. Our group has climbers working on routes of various difficulties. Nate and Doug encourage everyone to push themselves while following a “challenge by choice” model. After warming up on some top rope routes many of our group are ready to tackle leading. Lei, another participant, also top ropes an impressive 5.12 slab.  

I top rope several routes in the 5.8/5.9 range and then Doug encourages me to find a route to lead. I eye a 5.7 crack called Squatters Rights. Can I lead it? Maybe. I hesitate, then decide to mock lead. A mock lead is when the climber has a loose top rope for protection, but places gear as if they are on lead. It's a good way to practice in a safe environment. I climb it cleanly on top rope, putting in gear as I go. I lower from the top and pull the rope, leaving my gear in place. Up I go again, Doug belaying while I lead the route using the gear that I already placed. Yeah! A successful “pink point” (leading on gear already in place) and a great confidence builder for me. 

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At the end of the day, we all go to a short 5.10a finger crack called Nubile Woman. Most members of  our group have led 5.8 and 5.9 routes so far, so leading this was a step up. Gear was easy to place on the route, except for the crux near the top. I watch as almost everyone leads the route, with encouragement from the others at the crux. Inspired by this, I decide to attempt the route on top rope. Amazingly, I climb it with only one rest and a few whimpers. After that, we all head to the brewery for dinner and debrief before turning in for the night.

First thing the next morning Rena (another participant), Nate, and I head to Laughing Crack (5.7) while the rest of the group goes to the Neat and Cool area. Rena cleanly leads Laughing Crack, making it look easy. I consider mock leading, then decide that I am ready to lead. Up I go, with Nate belaying. First gear placement, good. Up again; time for another piece. And then another. Am I running out of gear? No, keep going. Now I need to get another piece in. Which piece? Where? I am getting tired. At last, it’s in. “Take”, I shout. After a short rest, I finish the route. Wow!

Over at Neat and Cool, the others are busy leading and climbing. I top rope a couple of routes and am then ready to call it a good day. On the long drive home, I reflect on the weekend. Doug and Nate provided an environment that was both supportive and challenging. Each climber was encouraged to push themselves a little bit, while still paying attention to safety. I look forward to paying it forward next season when I instruct.

Learn more about Alpine Ambassadors

Alpine Ambassadors are a group of climbers looking to push their limits together, learn from the mentorship of guides and highly accomplished climbers, and mentor others. Those climbing at a 5.9/WI2 level or above can apply to join a Gateway Trip and become a part of Alpine Ambassadors. All Mountaineers climbing volunteers are encouraged to apply for Ambassadors-hosted trips like this September trip to Squamish.

Learn more


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