This is a guest post by our friend Wayne Willoughby, an adventurer overcoming the struggles of Post Polio Syndrome:
On Sept 15th, I met up with my friends Will Stanhope and Brad Ward for one of the best lines anywhere, Freeway, on the Chief in Squamish. The trail up to the base isn’t far from the parking lot, making it an attractive choice for future adaptive ascents. Will and Brad started the route with me waiting at the base to avoid a time consuming sequence of events involving me being lowered out repeatedly at the start of the route. After I got up that first section of heavily textured Squamish granite, there was little of the traversing and trees so frequently encountered on other routes that I have done there – another great element for a route to have for an adaptive ascent. From the base of the route it looks incredibly imposing. As you get a bit higher up, it just looks even more so. We were blessed with a spectacularly beautiful Indian Summer day, with a cloudless sky, and temps in the low 80’s. We brought lots of water, and made a point of drinking frequently. Brad had just done a push of the Sheriff’s Badge the day before, and got little sleep that night. His cheerful countenance shone through all day long none the less, and he did a fantastic job of belaying Will, cleaning the route, helping to keep everything organized, and making my lower outs safe and smooth.
The overhanging dihedrals, massive roof, and big air that I was getting on some pitches was very reminiscent of many pitches that I’ve done on the SE face of El Capitan. Will floated every pitch, making it all look like it was 5.6. His flawless footwork, effortless looking vertical movement, knowledge of the route, and constant grin and good cheer inspired me to give my very best. What more could one ask for from a partner? The first time that I climbed the Chief, in ’98, I was recovering from injuries in ’91 that left me barely able to walk. Paralytic Polio, Post Polio Syndrome and lots of other serious physical trauma through the decades, even before the injuries in ’91, had made life incredibly challenging. Additional serious injuries in ’08, ’09 and ’13 made things far more difficult still. However, an unwavering focus and hard work allowed me to find healing that I never imagined possible. As I made my way up each pitch, climbing with a sense of ease that I hadn’t known in almost a quarter of a century, I felt more and more blessed. To anyone reading this who has a dream that they have yet to realize, my viewpoint would be to embrace it wholeheartedly. You will likely never regret it if you do, and always wonder what you might have been capable of if you do not.