Words by: Drew Copeland
“The line. The line is so important. That was what really got me, back in the day. I wanted to find the raddest line, especially stuff that looked improbable or crazy, or had crazy moves in it–things that don’t seem like they should go.”
Andrew Boyd first found himself climbing in Squamish during a survival course he took with the cadets as a youngster. One of the activities was climbing at Burgers and Fries in combat boots, on top-ropes. Boyd has become one of Squamish’s best and has developed a particular knack for free climbing old aid lines.
He grew up on Vancouver Island and after exploring the island rock a for a few years he started coming to Squamish each summer. Compelled by the line, Boyd’s first free ascents include: Primary Perception in the Smoke Bluffs, Sixty-Nine at Murrin Park, and the Opal on the Chief. “The boys put up sick routes,” he says, noting the vision of Hamish Fraser, Peter Croft, Greg Foweraker and Perry Beckham.
“The routes, to me–that’s what you’re learning on. Whatever you are doing after that is building on those climbs. The big lines like the Shadow, U-Wall, Genus Loci and, Northern Lights; that’s what it’s all about,” says Boyd who spends more of his time these days on the Howe Sound, away from the increasingly popular crags closer to town. He continues to establish new routes from the deck of his boat, the Sea Flea.
“Marc Andre and Will Stanhope are putting up some amazingly rad stuff, today. They’re going to send some new cool routes and some stuff that I left that I couldn’t do: that I either looked at and was like that’s too hard, or actually put effort into and left and was I’ll have to come back to this.”
Perry Beckham found his was to Squamish after watching a 1973 National Film Board documentary of Jim Sinclair and Jeannine Caldbeck climbing the Grand Wall. He says that he found it inspirational so he hitchhiked here at the age of 15, after finishing up a work contract in Fort St. John.
Perry hiked up to the base of the Grand Wall and came across Kevin McLane and Chris Murrel, who let him top-rope the first pitch of Exasperator. That day, Perry made it as far as the last finger pocket before the finger crack—not bad for an uninitiated youth in hiking boots. He has climbed the route many times since and has gone on to have a long and successful climbing career in Squamish and abroad.
“The evolution of all human endeavors (including climbing) involves stepping off the shoulders of those who push standards of difficulty or excellence and every dog has his day,” says Perry. “I’m sure Sonnie, Will, Alex and Marc would agree they wouldn’t be doing what they’re doing if Ron Kauk, John Bachar, Eric Weinstein, Peter Croft and Hamish Fraser hadn’t shown the way in their time.”
Drew Copeland is a Vancouver-based writer who also enjoys climbing and skiing.
More of his work can be found at storiesandsuch.ca
The Arc’teryx Climbing Academy takes place July 14-17, 2016 in Squamish, BC.
Visit squamish.arcteryxacademy.com for full event details.