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"


Friday:

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:

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"

Sunday:

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.