Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Day 15, eager to start climbing

Even with all the holiday season's travelling and commitments I still think about getting back to climbing daily. Watching the Sharp End, First Ascent, and King Lines the other day was both motivating and discouraging at the same time given my finger injury. All my projects will have to wait. To help rehabilitate my finger I've been using a rubber forearm training ring from MEC. I have my fingers cross for an early January return to the gym.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Day 7, a good morning

I saw some healing progress today. This is the first morning that I woke up and I could bend my finger without assistance. Hopefully after another week or so of rest I can be back to easy climbing.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Day 2 on the DL

If you want to read about finger injury and recovery checkout this article on Dave Mecleod's blog.

When I woke up this morning I could not bend my finger until I manually stretched it using my other hand. Then after some icing I seem to have (almost) my full mobility back. This is going to be a long road to recovery.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

I over did it

Well I stayed too long at the gym yesterday and injured my middle finger. I still have most of my mobility but it is a tad painful. It hurts to type. I hate losing progress and strength due to breaks but I guess it is needed this time. I plan to take the rest of December off and see how my finger feels in the new year. Hopefully I'll be able to do pull-ups or something in between. Day 1 of rest and it sucks already.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Ouch, what happened?

I hit the gym after 6 days off and man did it suck. Nothing felt good, sore fingers, weak arms and a sloppy core. It is like I took a month off. I'm going back tomorrow and hopefully I'll get back in the swing of things.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Taking a rest week

I've alway found it hard to take a rest from climbing even when I know it is needed. The thought of lossing progress and strength drives me back to the gym. However, today I'm starting a one week break. My fingers need to heal.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Boulder development

With the warm weather we hit up some boulders north-east of Wakefield on Wednesday. It was humbling to say the least. The area is still under development with lots of work to be done. A number of the problems we did required us to cut shrubs and create landings by moving stones.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A measure of progress

Back in September, when the weather turned crappy for three straight weeks, I took advantage of Coyotes' discounted year memberships. Since September 30th I have been 15 times (see Coyote count). At first, I thought bouldering was not for me but after making noticeable gains, it is now clear that bouldering overhanging routes is the way to get strong. Also, if you are not falling off a route then it should be moved to your warm-up routine. That is, work on routes that are hard for you. No pain, no gain.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Fried Weiners

It was cold, overcast and damp in Gatineau on Wednesday which made for some hard climbing on cold fingers. As the day passed you could feel the temperature dropping off. As I lead up Sausages I felt like garbage and had a serious lack of focus. It was like I had never clipped a draw before. A strange opening to the day where I would pull the hardest moves I have ever done while leading on real rock.

I started to work the crux of Sausages direct 5.12a/b on toprope. Out left to a small crimp at the bottom of the direct section, move feet over, right hand to small (2-3 finger) side pull crimp, left hand up to crimp on a pink granite rail, high right foot, pull, lock and crimp really hard with my right hand on the worst crimp ever by the 4th bolt. With a lot of tension I stepped out high to the ledge (below the lip) with my left foot, cut my right foot and moved it under the left to smear on small ridge, then I came off while moving my left up another 6 inches above the lip into the bomber foot hold. I tried a couple more time and finally stuck my left foot but came off after rocking over to hit a three finger sloping crimp (on pink granite) with my left hand. I decided to jug up and practice the movement between the sloping crimp and the cave. Finally, I lowered below the crux, rested, and to my surprise climbed through to stick the sloping crimp, then my right up to triangle crimp above the bolt, a pop to cave with my left, to grabbing a jug for a rest.

On my first lead attempt I screwed up the high foot because I just forgot the sequence. What a waste of energy. So down to the ground to rest. On the second attempt I missed the last triangle crimp. On the third attempt I moved through the crux clean and felt totally gassed as I grabbed the rest jug. After shaking out I moved my feet high and crossed over to a good triangle. At this point you should stand up, move to a pinch, then on to the final jug and clip. However, being pumped and not thinking straight I founded an undercling in the cave from which I made a tenuous clip. The upside of this clip is it gave me the confidence to stand up to the pinch and finish the climb. A late session epic for me.

Monday, October 19, 2009

At the Copa, Copacabana

I sent Surfing OOSA 5.11a at Copacabana yesterday while James gave Big Joe another couple redpoint attempts. Now if I can just get Wish you were here (Baby Pneu) and Sausages direct before the season ends I would be stoked.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Roma has fallen

I sent Pita de Roma yesterday.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

It is getting colder

I made an unscheduled climbing outing with James today. James is a climbing addict and he wanted to go work the moves on "Big Joe" 5.13c or something crazy like that. So off we went into the Gatineau with 5 degrees C air temp, an overcast sky and flurries coming down.
After hiking in James started on a climb that turned out not to be Big Joe but some (unclimbed?) project that was much much harder in James' mind. Then after a peek at the guide book we found Big Joe. James worked the route and managed to get all the moves and link most of them together. By this point, 1.5 hours has gone by and it was my turn
to climb. I won't lie, I was cold (and sore from yesterdays bouldering) and would have walked out of there given the chance. However, James can be persuasive and besides I did not want to look soft in my old age. :) We hiked over to Downunder and setup under
"Pita de Roma" 5.11a. Pulling on my cold climbing shoes sucked. The climbing to the second bolt went well but I could not hold it together on icy fingers and sore arms. After warming my hands under my arms I moved on pass the third bolt and into the crux and on to finish the
climb in one go. Yep, only three bolts and then anchors but they are well spaced so the climb is not short. The crux felt hard. It goes like this: right hand to side-pull crimp, left hand up to garbage crimp, smear right foot on sloping ledge, pop right hand to sloper,
get stable, screaming loud now ... pop right hand high to crimp, pull and stand up, bring left foot up, left hand up to next crimp and pull in, this is where you should clip but I was so pumped that it was not going to work ... after a moment of indecision I screamed really loud and threw for the top above the anchor ... thank goodness it is jug.
With my hand on the jug I clipped the anchor. It was scary and awesome at the same time. James asked if I wanted to do it again to which I reply "no, lower me off this f@#king rock". Maybe if the sun comes out on the weekend I will be able to send this in one go.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Wish you were here

With the fall colours starting to peak in Gatineau Park the hike into Baby Pneu was full of reds, oranges and yellows. It has been raining in Ottawa for over 2 solid weeks now so getting on to real rock was pretty sweet. Baby Pneu was wet except for "Wish you were here" 5.12c which I had played on back in August. After some hmmming and hawwwing about what to do I committed to working it again. With James' beta I managed to work out the crux and link the top and bottom parts of the climb. Dam it felt good.

Afterward we headed over to Downunder where James sent Mahlzeit 5.13a and I top-roped the Price of Business 5.10d.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Fall climbing

The weather has been too wet in Ottawa to get on any routes these days. I did manage to get out with Carla about a week ago which was great fun. If I don't see you before the 23rd, travel safe and have fun!

With the wet weather and highs in the single digits I've been hitting up Coyote, one of Ottawa's indoor climbing gyms. My hope is to get strong this winter and move up a grade or two by next May. To build strength, I've started to boulder on overhanging problems and finish on the campus board. The campus board is addictive and I can see gains after only two sessions. The key will be to stay injury free.

The p.o.p. for tomorrow is 30%. With some luck maybe I'll get to Downunder.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

What happened to summer?!?

We climbed through our first day of chilly weather at Downunder yesterday. Despite the rock being cold on the fingers I worked on my projects. After warming up by leading Sausages 5.10c I toproped El Ninjo 5.12a and Pita de Roma 5.11a. With summer coming to a close I need to start making red point attempts on Pita de Roma so I can finish it clean on lead before the snow flies. There is also Death by Maboola at Eastern Block too; I came off just after the last bolt the other day. I'm heading off camping for the weekend so any attempt will have to wait until next week.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Toxic frogs and jamming M&M

With a crew of Ottawa climbers I ventured to Montagne d'Argent over the long weekend looking to bag some harder sport leads (for me anyway) and meet some new area climbers . I hit the road with David early Sunday morning with Scott, Richard, Hedy and JP meeting us there later in the day. Thanks to David for initiating this trip through the Ottawa climbing forum . Below is my account of the trip.


I decided to warm up on Controverse (5.8-, 25m, 8 bolts), a sport climb that names this area of Montagne d'Argent. I wanted to climb this on my last trip but it was too wet. Controverse is a slabby and interesting climb over rolling granite bulges. An easy on sight. I ended up climbing this a second time to put up a toprope for Richard and crew. Feeling strong after climbing Controverse I moved over to Escouade tactile (5.10b, 25m, 6 bolts). Starting in a dihedral you work up to a high first bolt and make a tricky transition left over the arete after clipping. The climb a this point, is a rather blank slab that transitions up over a large bulge and unfortunately there are no positive holds on top for your hands, only friction. I peeled on my first attempt. It felt like I was being dragged over sandpaper as I came back over the round edge, down the slab and past the first bolt. The fall was motivating enough that I managed to push through on the second attempt in a ungraceful gecko style scramble. This is the crux in my mind as the rest is just a slow game of one inch at a time on textured slab.

Grand Canyon

After the long ascent up the stairs to the Grand Canyon I setup shop in front of Pathfinder (5.10c, 25m, 8bolts). I've climbed Pathfinder before but for some reason it seemed harder then I remembered. The hot sun just seemed to be pulling me down. Anyway, I worked it out and finished the climb without coming off. A few climbs to the left of Pathfinder is Mauvaise Herbe (5.10d, 25m, 5 bolt). After 3 bolts there is a small roof where I thought the crux would be. I could see holds but I was not convinced that I could pull it off so I retreat to the ground. After a long hike to the top I setup a toprope and rappelled down to take a look at the holds. As it turns out this roof is not the crux; the crux is crimpy technical section at the 5 fifth bolt. Starting on toprope I moved quickly past the first 3 bolts back up to the roof. There is a jug side pull out to the right and a good left hand just over the edge to work your feet up high. Then heel hook out to the left, right hand up to a thin rail, match hands, rock over, and stand up. This is a good rest spot. At this point I realized that I was dehydrated as I shook out a leg cramp from my heel hook. The key now, is to carefully move up your feet so you can grab the rail located just above the fifth bolt. It is small but positive. This where it gets hard but the crimps are there you just need to work it out. I was pretty stoked to send this clean on the first go on toprope. I should be able to get the redpoint on lead next time.

My last climb in the Grand Canyon was Souris Chauve (5.10b, 34m, 9 bolts). Although tired from Mauvaise Herbe, I onsighted Souris Chauve without too much trouble. A couple big moves in the beginning to a standard Montagne d'Argent slabby finish to the anchors.


JP joined us Sunday morning at M&M. This is perhaps the most attractive rock face at Montagne d'Argent with a classic splitter crack called M&M (5.8, 23m, trad) which names this area. JP lead M&M on gear to setup a toprope for David and I. It was a great warm up with lots of hand jams and foot camming up the crack. I really enjoyed it; it will make you want to buy a trad rack. Next up, was my lead on Grenouille toxique (5.10c, 25m, 8 bolts). This turned into a bit of an epic for me. Don't let the start fool you, it is harder than it looks. At one point on the upper slab I was balanced on a single foot with only crystals and friction for my other foot and hands. At full extension I was just inches from sinking may hand into a horizontal crack. As I inched up on my left foot my right came off to leave only body tension to keep me on the wall. Unfortunately the crack was still just beyond my finger tips and my leg was starting to get the shakes. Well above my last bolt, "Chill, just chill" I repeat to myself as a eased back down to bring my other foot back into a smear. It was a bizarre calming moment. My breathing slowed as I reposition my feet, both to the good edge, stretched up and nailed the crack with my left hand. Now with good hands I clipped the next bolt and finish the climb. I'm glad I finished it but I'm not sure I will climb it again.

M&M has a number of attractive cracks. David pushed himself here too by leading Krakabra (5.7+, 25m, trad) on gear. I toproped it afterward, another fun crack with good hand jams. JP lead Psychokrak (5.10a, 25m, trad - 1 bolt) where the 1 bolt protects a traverse from one crack system to another. I sent this without a problem on toprope. However, anyone can be a hero on toprope. It was a solid lead by JP. Also, while at M&M I toproped Sonatine (5.12a, 23m, 8 bolts). Sonatine is a game of inches with next to nothing to put your feet on. A very technical slab climb that sandpapers off your finger tips with each move. With raw finger tips I threw in the towel at the sixth bolt.

Le Fou

Walking into Le Fou there is eye catching crack call Coeur vaillant (5.10b, 20m, trad). Props to JP for fighting this one out to the top. I did not climb much in Le Fou. I followed on a multi pitch to belay David but did not have the energy for much else.

As always, I found the other climbers at Montagne d'Argent friendly and easy to talk too. A shout out the Ed and the two Bob's that we met. Also, camping at Montagne d'Argent does not seem to be restricted to the wooden tent pads as I once thought. Heck, there were tents in the woods all the way out to M&M.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Stepping it up

I was back to Downunder with James yesterday but this time we skipped the Eastern Block warm up. Sausages 5.10c is now the warm up. I managed to send it clean on lead by using the no hands rest just before the last bolt. Resting and working the "pump" out during these overhanging climbs is something I need to work on. After Sausages, James worked Pizza Slut 5.12d and I toproped Pita de Roma 5.11a. After resting I tried a lead attempt of Pita de Roma but came off in the crimpy crux two moves from the end. It was more a mental failing then anything else. We finished the day on El Ninjo.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

El Ninjo 5.12a

I was at Downunder with Amy and James yesterday after warming up at Eastern Block. I originally went there to climb "The price of business" and "Sausages" but toproped El Ninjo instead. The bottom is a overhanging jugfest up to the 3rd bolt where the climb goes into a crimpy crux. It took quite a few tries before I could dial in the crux to slow and static moves. Popping on crimps just was not going to happen for me. I will be so pumped if I can link the lower and upper sections of this climb by the end of the season. The trick, will be to save energy and rest out somewhere before the crux.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Project at Pneu

I returned Baby Pneu with Guillaume in an effort to climb harder face climbs. I started on vertical face, a 5.10a called "Sexy white pimp cars". The distance between the second and third bolt was a real mindf*ck given that the most obivous line set you up for a big pendulum. So not will to quit I anchored in to the second bolt, pulled out a load of rope, made a new knot which I clipped to my harness (so it was not a ground fall if the bolt blew), worked up on the draw and barely stick clipped the third bolt. Now toproped to the third bolt I finished the climb as it is easy crack climbing past the third bolt to the anchors . Then I sent it again cleanly from the ground up on toprope. I know I could lead it but somehow I don't feel it is worth it. After that gong-show I cleanly lead a 5.10d (name unknown) with a slight overhang. The moves are long and pully on no feet at some points but the bolting is such that I was not worried about taking a fall. So in that sense the 5.10d is easier because there are no bad fall potentials to think about. Beside the 5.10d is a 5.12c which has become my project. I worked it on toprope and I managed to complete the climb but linking the moves with be difficult. No, my climbing has not improved that much; this 5.12c is suited to my style of climbing as there are still many 11's that I have no business being on. I'm starting to realize more and more that the ratings in the guidebook are bullsh*t to a certain extent. As aways there are climbs which I have done and those that need work.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Eastern Block progress

I climbed at Eastern block yesterday with James. After warming up on one of the moderate lines I surprised myself by on sighting Coda 5.10a on lead. It is a tricky slab route with some balancey moves. I also sent Death by Maboola 5.10c on top rope which means a lead attempt is coming.

After Eastern block we moved to James' project, Dragon's Breath, a 5.13c on the Baby Pneu Wall in the Western Cwm North area.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Ottawa Climbing: first impressions

It has been awhile since my last post and unfortunately it is not due to too much climbing. The Glen was my last big trip with the Kingston crew as I moved to Ottawa the end of June. Since arriving in Ottawa I have been working on making connections with the climbing community with the hope of finding a new set of regular climbing partners.

The Ottawa climbing forum seems to have a strong bouldering group with less emphasis on roped climbing than I had hoped. None the less I have made new friends and I look forward to meeting more. The forum is active daily and provides guidebooks in a pdf form for the climbing and bouldering around Ottawa. Although not complete they offer a wealth of info on the area.

This posts focuses on outdoor climbing in Gatineau Park and does not cover the two indoor gyms. That is another story and I have all this coming winter for that.


My first introduction to climbing in Gatineau was with my friend Matt who I knew from my undergrad days at Queens University in Kingston Ontario. We started in the "downunder area" on "Sausages" (5 bolt, 5.10c) which is in fact in "Ontario's Finest Rock Climbs by David Smart" as a classic in the area. Funny enough, "Fred's Folly" at the Kingston Mills is also in this book. If you have climbed it you need to read its description for a good chuckle but I digress. Why start on a 5.10c? Well it is the
easiest climb in this area and the top is not accessible by foot. The climb is over hanging and turns into a jugfest, you just need to fight through the pump. Anyway, 5.10c might be a little high since I only had to sit on the last bolt to rest. Next we top roped "Catwoman", a 3 bolt 5.11b. I climbed this, although not cleanly, twice with a fair amount effort. Again, most likely over rated.

Eastern block:

"Eastern block" is slabby and reminded me a lot of Montagne d'Argent. My first visit there was in a misty, on and off, rain. I lead, according to the guidebook, a 5.8 mixed route called "Ethics Police" that was pretty hard for a 5.8 at the time. This was most likely due to rain because have since climbed on a dry day with no problems. The mixed part is at the bottom which is the easy part so I just highballed a bit to the first bolt. On the same wet day I climbed the bolt line left of Ethics police which is not in the guide book and required pulling on a draw to get over the crux section after taking a fall that I did not want to repeat. On a subsequent trip to eastern block I noticed someone else had left a maillon at the crux where I assume they retreated.

On a second visit to Eastern Block I went climbing with two guys from Quebec, Guillaume and Brad, and it kicked ass. We met at 10:30 in morning and left the rock at 8:30 pm in evening after a hard session of lead and toprope. I would lead a route and put a toprope for the others. I lead three moderate 5.8 to 5.9 climbs and top roped a solid 5.10c called Death by Maboola. I worked the 10c enough that it might go on lead. It is hard, delicate, powerful at the same, and requires the pain and suffering of testicular torsion at the Kingston Mills, awesome. I came back to it as my last climb and only came off twice. I also got put in my place by a 5.11b; I could not even get by the first bolt.

Ron and John and The forgotten Slabs:

At the "Ron and John" cliff there are two crack climbs and a thin crack/face climb. The face is quite short for 45 minute walk in but the trad guys seem to like this spot. The 5.5 crack is a clean constant 3 in from top to bottom. I tried to jam it but my one hand was is still a bit tender from a crack climb at Dog Lake so I just lay-backed the whole thing. The other crack is a narrow 5.8 which needed jams. I got up it but it was not pretty. I enjoyed the thin crack, 5.9+, because it was more of a face climb, i.e. no jamming. These a trad climbs only but do have bolted anchors to top-rope off of once some one leads them.

The forgotten slabs which live up to their name are dirty, dirty, did I mention they were dirty? Also, being slabby there was a waterfall down the middle of them. Despite their condition I had the most fun here on Scarface 5.9 and Pockets 5.6. The toproping is ok but it reminded me I needed to get back to leading and climbing hard. (As of August 23rd I'm not sure I'm climbing hard but at least I'm leading.)

The Shrine:

The Shrine is not as tall as the Eastern block but does have a good number of bolted climbs. I decided to warm up on a climb called Messiah that ended up being a 5.10d; what else is new. It has got some tough committing moves right at the first bolt and some solid slopers up to the 3rd bolt. I climbed above the 3rd bolt a few times but I had to down climb each time as I could not work out the sequence. There is a real lack of feet here. In the end I did not have the guts to jam my fingers a crack and heel hook to move to holds that may or may not exist above me. So I left a maillon, behind on the third bolt. I've started to carry these since the anchors are not accessible from the top on many climbs in Gatineau. I also at the Shrine I had a hold break on me on a 5.10b, I was happy to be on top rope at that moment.

Castle Wall:

I went to Castle Wall to checkout the sport multi-pitch routes. The heat was insane. It had rain early in the morning so the climb was sopping wet below in the treeline and cooking above it in the intense mid-morning sun. In only two pitches I managed to drink a liter of water on the wall and get a sun burn at the first belay station. My 70m glider came in handy on the rappel down, just long enough, with the stretch in the rope, to get my feet on the ground. Before the next two pitch climb I hiked back to the car to get a light long sleeve shirt to prevent any further burning of my arms. For the most part the climbs are slabby with the odd vertical section and are fun moderate sport climbs. I'm not sure about their ratings because the guidebook does not have much info about these lines. Maybe 5.7ish on the first pitch and 9ish for the second.

Farm Rock:

At Farm Rock there are 4 bolt lines, 2 of which are 30m or so long. The face is near vertical with a large (2 feet wide ?) ledge half way up. The guidebook does not rate these climbs. One of the 30m routes varies between 5.7 and 5.9climbing. The other is the same grade until the large ledge. At this point the bolt line looks pretty blank and IMO is a hard 10. I tried this section on top-rope and came off more than once. One of the "short" (15m?) bolt lines protects the bottom of a trad line whose rating (I could be wrong) is bullsh*t at5.7. The climb starts below a small roof and leads into a dihedral.The moves between the third and four bolt to get out of the dihedral (I thought anyway) were very committing given the potential for a nasty fall. So I down climbed and traversed to a parallel bolt line. This made for lots of rope drag over the rest of the climb. Down-climbing seems to be my MO these days. I'm not sure if I'm trying stuff too hard or I'm thinking about stuff too much. All in all, I though farm rock is a cool spot even with the 40 minute walk in. Note that 25 minutes of that is going up; makings the grand canyon hike at Montagne d'Argent a cake walk.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Niagare Glen bouldering

Carla, Alan, and I checked out the Niagara bouldering scene last weekend. For the most part I'm an "up" climber and enjoy doing long sport routes over bouldering so the Glen took some getting use to. With every fall being a ground I found it difficult to push myself at first; I wanted to come off on my own accord.

In the GlenPower and grace

It really was not until the second day of bouldering until I could forget about coming off and just climb.

The Glen's boulders are spread over a fairly large area and even with a guidebook we were regularly second guessing our location. Although, there are coloured trail markers which helped with getting from place to place. If you are going there for the first time I suggest starting of in the "Old Country" (follow the red trail) as there are many obvious problems close together. If you are an "up" climber like me you will enjoy the high ball V0 Super Fly Wall. Here is a photo of me on another Old Country high ball problem.

High ball

Checkout some more photos here.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Metcalfe: post trip report

Judgement Day, 5.12b

It's Monday again and time to report on the weekend trip to Metcalfe. As planned we arrive at Craigleith Provincial Park on Friday evening to beautiful weather. Friday was unusually warm, so warm that we braved the numbingly cool water of Georgian Bay for some wading.

Sunset on Georgian Bay

The park is a small strip of land squeezed between Hwy 26 and Georgian bay and provided us with an enjoyable stay. Our camp site, #13, looked out over Georgian bay. Also, with the wind off the water, there were no bugs to be seen.

Saturday, lead time:

We awoke early to blue skies Saturday and after some breakfast headed toward Metcalfe rock. Of course I left my camera at the camp site so I only have photos from Sunday. Also, note that the directions found on the web in various places,

"From Singhampton, go south on highway 24. Turn west on Grey Country Road 4.
Turn north on Grey Co. #2 following it to highway 19, then going west until it ends.
Turn left and find crag on left. Park at pullout across from Outer's Hut club.
Don't block the gate. Hike the Bruce Trail across field to wall.",

are (obviously) incorrect if you look at Google maps. The route we followed from Craigleith is below.

View Larger Map

Once we parked in the "pullout across from Outer's Hut club" it was a short walk in along the Bruce Trail to the climbing area. We started at the north end in the "Anvil Wall" area. Our guidebook, "A Sport Climbers Guide to Ontario Limestone" is way out of date and does not include a number of the bolted lead climbs available. However, it did give a point of reference and some feel for the area. For the most part we looked at the bolt lines, decided if we could lead them and looked for top anchors as well. Not all climbs have anchors. Some climbs are missing bolt hangers. That said, I believe the climbing area as a whole is quite safe; just use common sense.

The cliff is somewhat west facing so the climbs are shielded from the sun until the afternoon. Saturday's warm sunny weather brought lots of other friendly climbers to the Anvil area. We watched a climber work out a trad lead on "the crack" that we would later top-rope on Sunday.

Climb #1: ( Name: Slabbus)

We got our first introduction to limestone on a five bolt line right of Judgement Day. It was 5.7/5.8 ish with top anchors that transitioned into a 5.11 (?) to the top of the Anvil. I noticed the second bolt hanger was missing so I decide not to continue and rappelled off the 5.7's anchors.

Climb #2: (Name: Deception Day)

This climb is about 30 m of 5.9ish climbing with 10 bolts and some convenient quickclip anchors. It seems to be the late bolt line north of "Arete Dreams". After the ledge I did not see the next bolt so I decided to place a nut to prevent a run out. So after finding a bomber crack for my placement I clipped in to see bolt only 12 inches away. On some of the climbs the bolts are camouflaged with paint to preserve the nature aesthetic of the cliff. Anyway not big deal here; I clipped the bolt and moved on. In general, this climb is fun and well protected.

Climb #3: (Name: Waco Lies)

Found just left of "Arete Dreams" this 15 m (?) 5.8/5.9 is a great little four bolt climb consisting of pockets leading up to a set of anchors. The "run out" to the top isn't really notable.

Climb #4: (Arete Dreams)
After lunch it was onto Arete Dreams, 5.10a; the first bolted line left of "Quantum Leap". The climb is 4 bolts to a set of quickclip anchors. This was a good wake up call after lunch.

Climb #5 (Name: Strike three ?)
Actually this turn out to be the last climb of the day. Strike Three is a 5.8 in the guide book and contrary to the beta there are two bolts and a chain for anchors. This is a sketchy climb. The first hanger is missing and the second is about halfway up. I started in on this climb with the intention to put in a nut before the second bolt but I could not find a good placement. After, a second yank the nut pulled out so I backed off and down climbed. We top-roped this after "Revenge for the fires".

Climb #6: (Revenge for the fires)

This climb is in the quidebook and runs up between the free-standing pillar (The Anvil) and the cliff face. I think there is around 10 draws with ring type anchors at the top. The run out between the second third bolt sets you up for a ground fall. However, the climbing here is relatively easy. After the third bolt, stick to the left line. I got pumped out near the top but managed to climb through it on juggy pockets and the encouragement from my belay partner, thanks Carla.

Saturday, was a good day... no falls ... no bugs ... and back at Craigleith we filled up on spaghetti and hobo packs.

Sunday, TRs all round:

The rain moved in Saturday night and continued until 8 ish Sunday morning. Not deterred by the rain we had breakfast, packed up our site and headed back to Metcalfe rock.

Top of the morning to ya

To our surprise, the crack we had planned to top-roping was dry. However, setting up top-ropes at Metcalfe is time consuming because of the lack of anchors and the walk to the top. There is a scramble to the top around "Monday's Child" (climb 11 in the guide).

Climb #1 (Name: ????)

This crack is 30m of 5.7/5.8 goodness. We top-roped off trees using nylon bags to protect the trunks. I did remember to bring my camera so I got some photos of the crack climbing.


Climb #2 (Name: ???)

We tried a bolt line of unknown grade and name somewhere around climb #11 in the guide book. After taking a fall before the second bolt I backed off and decided it was not going to go. I feel the crux was between the first and second bolt and with some work it would be doable.

Climb #3 (Name: ???)

We also setup a top-rope off a set off anchors, on the "Overhanging Wall", left of "White Hand" (number 6 in the guide book). This was a fun 30 m, 5.9 ish (?) climb, with a cool dihedral near the bottom.

Well I'm running out of steam so time to sum it up. All in all Metcalfe was a lot of fun.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Metcalfe: pre-trip post

It's Monday, I'm sore from Sunday's climbing and bouldering ... mostly from the bouldering ... , but looking forward to this coming weekend's trip to Metcalfe. Hopefully the weather cooperates. Metcalfe rock is close to Collingwood Ontario which sits on the south end of Georgian bay and is part of the northern Niagara Escarpment. The plan is to arrive at Craigleith Provincial Park on Friday evening.

Some sport climbs, complied mostly from, that I hope to check out.

The Gully area:

1) Revenge for the Fires -5.9,

i) bolted (>12 draws including anchors)
ii) Easy sport route with some nice pockety moves. Start on first bolted line on the left behind the giant free-standing pillar. Climb up first two bolts to a ledgey section. Walk up the ledges, but don't trip because it's a 35 foot ground fall with the runout. Follow the line of bolts on the
left. Finish with massive jugs at the top.

2) Pump it Hottie, Pump it -5.10a

i) bolted (>12 draws including anchors)
ii) Easy sport route (mildly sustained) Start the same as 'Revenge for the Fires' to the ledges. Take the line of bolts that moves right. It is easily possible to start the route directly from the bottom, but there are no bolts (I'm not sure, but tri-cams might place here)

The Boiler Plate Wall:

1) Vig -5.8 (or Called Out)
i) Sport - bolts
ii) Around the corner from Burrglass - new sport route not in the guide book. Less than 10 bolts. Felt 5.8ish --- others thought it to be 5.7. It is named after Vig who did the bolting.
iii) Located about 5 metres to the right of "Chimney". Starts from on top of
a block. Face climbing with thin cracks and side pulls up to easier ledges and pockets.

Overhanging Wall:

1) Superman-5.9

1) Top rope / no top anchors
2) Start just right of 'Harry's Route.' The start is polished and missing holds but still easily doable. Work your way up to a moderate sized ledge, then layback a sweet crack to the top. It is possible to skip the start by chimneying up on the right and traversing to the ledge. 5.9 in the
guide book, but with the proper start it needs retro-grading

The Rubble Heap:

1) Waco Lies (Not sure) -5.8

i)First bolted line left of Arete Dreams. Great to fourth bolt then run out to anchors on blocky rock
ii) 55ft, bolts

2) Slabbus (not sure) -5.8

i) 5 Bolts, 50ft
ii) Bolted line on slab North end of the Anvil. 2 pitches. First pitch to anchors is 5.8. Second pitch to bolted anchors is 5.11b

3) Deception Day (Not sure) -5.9

i) 60ft, Bolted, protection marked as X
ii) bolted line next left of Waco Lies. 9 bolts. Fun line but deceptively steep. Watch some loose rock on lower middle section. Second last to last bolt is run out. Good Climb for the grade.
iii) Lower off or rap off

4) Arete Dreams (not sure) -5.10a

i) First bolted line left of "Quantum Leap". 4 bolts to quick clips
ii)Climb up the arete, stay on or to the right of the arete. Going left makes the climb a 5.9 at best.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Montagne d'Argent: Part deux

Carla, Gen, Alan and I left Kingston early Friday (May 15th) morning for Montagne d'Argent. Montagne d'Argent is located near St Jovite, 117 Km north of Montreal. The plan was to climb Friday, Saturday morning before the rain, and Sunday morning before going to Montreal to watch the Tour de Bloc bouldering nationals at Allez Up.

Montagne d`Agrent is privately owned so there is a $5 per day climbing pass and waiver to sign when you get there. The on-site camping is $7.50 per night so if you are going to spend two or more nights there it is worth buying a seasons pass for $25 which covers climbing and camping. The limited camping is quite reasonable with two group shelters, picnic tables, BBQS, and firewood. Although as I mentioned in my first post, there is no running water so it is important to
bring lots or stock up in St. Jovite. It is best to keep your food in your car as there are raccoons that come in the middle of the night.

"Grand Canyon"


After a quick stop at MEC (in Montreal) to buy more quickdraws, an ATC guide, and more biners we arrived at Montagne d'Agrent around 12:30. We stayed together and hit up "Le Fou" for two side be side 3 pitch routes that come together for the last pitch. Yep, like my first time there that is going to be lots of people on the last pitch. I started on lead for our (Gen and I) route which was a slabby 5.8 with tricky feet. The second pitch, I lead this too, was a 5.10b with a lot of little edges and tricky top out. Both the first and second pitch rely on trusting your feet. After Carla joined me at the second belay station, Gen followed on our rope so I could lead the last pitch as Alan came up on Carla's rope. The last pitch is a 5.9 crack (anywhere from 6 inches to more than a body width near the top). Last time I climbed this section I took a fall after the second bolt because I was trying to jam in the crack too much instead of just laying back. So this time I committed the lay back and finished the bottom half was out incident. About halfway, once the crack opens up the bolts spacing increased to around 10 feet which seemed odd because the bottom was so well protected. To make the run outs more interesting this part of
the crack was quite wet; I took my time here and made sure each move was going to go. The "fun part" of the last pitch is the more or less hanging belay at the top. It took awhile to get things adjust so that my position was tolerable. Once Gen was up Alan lead the crack and got to experience the "fun" hanging belay as well as Carla followed.

After the multi-pitch we found a 5.9 and 5.10c (?), also in "Le Fou", that looked do able. I started to lead the 5.9 clipping the first bolt without any problems. The second bolt was up and far right of a large flake. I worked up and locked off on the top of the flake but I could not safely reach out for the second bolt because of a lack of foot holds. I decided to reposition and try again, still no good. At this point my arms are starting to get pumped out so I decide to mantle on the top of the flake and then clip but this did not feel good either so I backed off and down climbed to the bottom. After discussing what should be done we decided that I just need to "try harder" and "climb better":) . On the second attempt, I again decided that the second clip was not going to go so I committed to the mantle and skipped it. Risking a ground fall and taking the run out to the third bolt, for me, was the best option. I clipped the third bolt without problem and moved past the others to finish the climb. Once at the top I set a top rope anchor for the others.

The next climb, a 5.10C, looked do able but had a very committing second move to clip. I started in on the climb but after resting after the first clip I backed off and down climbed. I was tired and it did not feel "right".


Saturday's weather forecast was an 80% chance of rain; we awoke to a cold over cast morning. After a quick bite Carla and I started leading two slabby 5.8 lines that required a lot of smearing with both hands and feet. At one point I literally had to take a couple steps to get some speed to "run" up a few feet to get to a hold. While on the wall the rain moved in making the slabby routes too slippery to bother setting top rope anchors so once we finished Carla and I rappelled down. Of course, once we pack all our stuff up the rain stopped. With the rain holding off we moved over to dryer vertical routes. I lead up a 5.9 in "Little Norway" with lots of high steps and a tricky rock over transition to clip the 3rd bolt. The last climb of the day was a 5.10a. I started on top rope. About halfway up the rain came in hard soaking me, the rock, and Alan who was my belay. The good thing about this climb was it had lots of crimps that allow me to 3/4 of the way up even in the rain. At the 3/4 mark the rock felt more like ice, both cold and slippery, and I took my first fall of the trip. At this point in was clear that I would need help to get to the top to clean our anchors. On the last two bolts I clipped and pulled up on a draw. Cleaning the anchor was difficult due to its position and taxing on patience in the rain.

Once off the wall and into dry clothes we headed into St Jovite for lunch, cards games and some drinks.

Road to Montagne d'Argent"


On Sunday it was up the long stairs to the "Grand Canyon" area where we started on
"pathfinder" 5.10c at 30m and "lucky Luke" a 5.10b, also 30m . The story is the same for both these climbs, easy 5.9 like climbing with a crux near the last bolt. I actual started up a mixed sport/trad 5.9 and transitioned into pathfinder near the top because got off route when I skipped a bolt. Later I top roped Lucky Luke. Luke and I don't get along.

The last climb of the day before we headed of to Allez Up, in Montreal, for the Canadian National bouldering championship was a 38m 5.9 which shares its beginning with a 5.7 trad route. I'm not sure where 38m is measured from but a 70m rope worked for the rappel. I put one nut as pro before the first bolt since it was fairly high. This climb was slabby near the top and require smearing with both feet and hands, sometimes at the same time.

Here is some video from Allez Up.

Montagne d'Argent: Part I

I went climbing April 25th and 26th with Carla, Dan R plus dog, Dan FM, Alan, and Laura at Montagne d'Argent which north of Montreal near Mont Tremblant. I really don't have much to compare the climbing to but I really enjoyed the trip. We arrived mid-afternoon on Saturday after making all the necessary stops, like MEC in Montreal and getting extra food/water since it was so hot that day. The land is privately owned so there is a $5 per day climbing pass and waiver to sign when you get there. There appeared to be limited camping on site with no running water so it is important to bring lots. I also notice that there was no toilet paper in the outhouse.

On Saturday we stayed together and hit up two side be side 3 pitch routes that come together for the last pitch. Yep, that is going to be six people on the last pitch. Dan R started on lead for our (Carla, Dan R, and I) route which was a s slabby 5.8 with garbage feet. Then Carla and I followed on two ropes. The second pitch, Dan lead this too, was a 5.10b with a lot of little edges and tricky top out. The last pitch was a 5.9 crack (anywhere from 6 inches to more than a
body width near the top) which I was elected by Dan FM to lead. I took a fall after the second bolt because I was trying to jam in the crack too much instead of just laying back. After deciding to lay back, the bottom half was easy. About halfway, once the crack opens up the bolts
spacing increased to around 10 feet which seemed odd because the bottom was so well protected. The top out was not that hard though. Anyway, with six on the last pitch it took awhile to complete the climb and get down. By this point the clouds had rolled in and the lack of sleep from the night before dictated the end of the day.

On Sunday morning we split into groups so Alan and Laura could practice lead climbing on an easy 5.5, before rejoining us, and Carla and I could climb the routes we came for, long bolted 5.9s. After looking at the guide book which is fairly good, we walked over the the "Grand Canyon" area. We decided to warm up on what we thought was a 15m 5.7. After the first bolt (which for most climbs are 10 to 15 feet off the ground) the route became a lot harder but I still thought it's a 5.7 there will be a jug somewhere. There where no jugs. After clipping the 3rd bolt I manage to find some good feet to rest on before sending the rest. After Carla's climb we looked at the guide book again, it turned out to be a 5.10d warm up. I think this rating
was a little high but it was definitely not a 5.7, a 5.10 maybe. With that climb under our belts we skip the 5.9s (most where to wet anyway) and moved on to a 5.10c "pathfinder" and a 5.10b "lucky Luke", both 30m with 8 bolts. The story was the same for both these climbs, easy
5.9 like climbing with a crux near the last bolt. I onsighted pathfinder with out much trouble but took three good falls on the crux for lucky Luke. It was nasty narrow crack with blank rock to either side that had both Carla and I swearing.

In general, all the climbs are well protected with rappel anchors at the top. The granite walls we hit up where clean, solid, and slabby in places. However, we saw only a small number of the total climbs. For the most part the sport climbs where the busiest with lots of other
groups top roping too. I think I saw two trad climbers in the "Grand Canyon" area.

A sweet trip all round.