Hamish Fraser talks about the good ‘ol days of ground-up climbing on the slabby granite of the Chief, and taking almost 3 weeks to establish a beauty by the name of ‘Genius Loci’ (which, in classical Roman religion means the protective spirit of a place) — the stunning 5-pitch route leading up the Squamish Chief Grand Wall.
“It was a slightly different way of thinking back then,” says Frser of the classic ground-up style. “You go up from the bottom and if you fell you’d come back to the belay, pull the rope and go back for your next try. There was none of this hanging around on the rope trying to figure out the moves.”
In Episode One of “This Way” presented by Alias Cinema in association with Arc’teryx and Goretex, Vancouver climber Jason Kruk frees Freser’s route (originally established in 1991 by Fraser with Peder Ourom (maker of the amazing Onsight Equipment bags) and Mark Gandy.
“What we wanted to get out of that climb was a great route that was gonna be mentally challenging,” says Fraser. “I really like that end of the rock climbing. We wanted to challenge people’s brains as much as thier strength.”
Despite it’s classic and legendary status, close proximity to the ground, and modest grade (by modern standards), the route has believed to have not been freed in a single ascent until 2012.
“For me, climbing that pitch and dealing with the run-outs and clipping those bolts,”says Kruk of the route. “is hard enough for me and when I’m up there I just have to chuckle when you think about just how hard it would be to stop and put in those bolts that I could barely clip. It’s just ridiculous to think about the kind of effort that went into that.”