Saturday, December 4, 2010

Gatineau season is over

The totally BS dates chosen by the NCC for climbing. Now my choices are face an undefined fine or drive an extra 45 mins to Calabogie. Given the sensitive access issues I guess it is Calabogie.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Take your time, enjoy it.

Winter's weather has come to Ottawa in the last week or so. The freezing rain, snow and below zero temperatures have put a damper on climbing. So when today's temperature rose to a balmy +1 degree Celsius I packed my gear and headed for Gatineau. The approach into the Western CWM was an enjoyable walk; crisp air and snow crunching under foot.


The Spindriff Wall was covered in ice which continually showered down with the Sun's heat. The rock on Cave Wall was dry and reasonably warm making Neruda the obvious choice to climb. The CWM has been deserted since the NCC closures as climbers moved outside the park for climbing. I almost never run into another climber there. Well everyone missed out today. The sound of running water and cracking ice on the Spindriff Wall was something special. I took my time and enjoyed it.

Sewing up Neruda on lead solo:

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Saturday at Calabogie

With nice weather I headed out to Calabogie on Saturday. I figured if no one was out there then I would lead rope solo some easy routes. I ended up meeting Alice, Ken, Jeff, Jorge and several others. I did rope solo a 5.8 route but then mostly toprope the hard stuff. I managed to send the direct start of Vulcan Mind clean on toprope and I one hanged the other 12-ish route. A good day, hopefully there will be few more yet.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Shut down at Eastern Block

When out to Eastern Block in the late afternoon today to clip bolts. I warmed up on the unnamed 5.8 and then tried to lead Temptation. The first bolt is hard to clip but can be marginally protected by two C3 placements, #0 and #1 side by side. The moves felt awkward and I took a couple falls at the crux. Since day light was not at a premium I decide to try Death by Maboola instead.

After a sketchy first clip and a small fall above that it was time to let others climb. Matt led up Mr Clean and put TRs on Temptation and Death. I did Death on TR. Now I remember why I dislike that climb; painful sustained crimping. F to Death.

Time to refuel with dinner and hit the gym. Hopefully I have enough finger tip skin left.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Neruda lead solo

The weather is definitely getting colder and wetter but you can still get out and climb. Today was overcast with the temperature hovering between 3 to 5 degrees Celsius. I originally thought about going out to Calabogie to lead solo some of the easy mixed lines there. There are plenty of trees for ground anchors at Calabogie. However, without a belay partner to meet and uncertain weather I dragged my feet around the house for too long so I went to Gatineau instead.

I thought about going out to Ron & Jon but ultimately decided against it given the time. The approach is about 50 minutes if you don't get lost. So the Western CWM it was. As I topped out the approach slab I could hear the water running in the small stream that separates the Bird's Nest Buttress and Cave Wall. Given the last two days of rain I knew that it was going to wet. As I got closer, Spindrift Wall was a waterfall and the Reaper Buttress was very damp. Not that I really wanted to climb there but my choices where now reduced to Cave Wall or North Wall. I have done a bunch of lead solo on North Wall so I'm kinda bored with that. The only reasonable, in the lead solo sense, climb left is Neruda 5.6. Neruda is a bit of sandbag but I have never fallen off it so "sure why not" I thought. The only difficultly is getting a bomber ground anchor. I decided to use the large tree that sits about eight feet back from the wall. I put two cams in, a #1 C3 and #0.3 C4, as a directional down low to prevent the possibility of zippering. I could have used these cams as an anchor but trees give me more peace of mind.

The rock, surprisingly, was not that cold to the touch and it was more my toes that were unhappy in cold shoes. I put in #1 and #2 C4 in the usual spots as I climbed. Once you place the #3 it is showtime. I paid out some extra slack for the crux. The messy cluster that comes with a grigri on lead solo seemed extra annoying today. There is nothing like shorting yourself when trying to mantle onto a ledge after the crux. Once on the ledge I put in a two cams for the exit moves. The ending layback moves felt a little spooky for some reason and I was happy to clip the anchors.

After I cleaned my gear I decided to look at the placement options on Probation 5.8+ PG. This climb deserves an R or X and the guidebook rightfully describes the gear as "scarce, scary and scabrous". You should bring a boulder pad for this one.

So I did not get much climbing in but it still beat kicking around the house.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

A windy day at Calabogie

I hit up Calabogie today with Richard and ran into a crew from MEC as well. The weather was gray and windy which made for some chilly climbing at times. We warmed up by leading a few moderate mixed climbs and then went to work on the direct start of Vulcan Mind. Off the block it is very much a boulder problem. There is a dyno off crimps out to the arete on bad feet, V4 or V5. I was pretty happy, even though I was just toproping, to get this on my first try. The climbing is then sustained 11-ish to a rest where if on lead you would place a cam. After that, muscle up the crack and arete to mantle onto a big ledge, rest, and finish on good holds. We also work on a technical 12a-ish route that climbs over a series of roofs. A good day of climbing.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

FA for another day

Post removed due to access issues.

"It is with regret that I announce our negotiations to secure access for climbing at Oiseau Rock cliff have resulted in a clear refusal from the council of the elders of the Algonquian community. Although the MRC, to whom we owe the new trail to access the cliff, has supported our efforts, this has not convinced the council to let us climb on the sacred cliff, with or without fixed anchors. Their refusal puts an end to our negotiations to develop this cliff.

Cindy Doyle, Chair Outaouais section, ACC"

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Will the NCC chop bolts?

With the NCC pressing ahead on their climbing site closures the ugly thought of bolt chopping comes to mind. Why do I bring this up? Well, while climbing yesterday at Eastern Block a group made up of NCC and Access Coalition representative came by on a tour with a NCC hired biologist. It was cordial at first. Then a very heated debate started about chopping bolts in the Park. Of course, we stayed out of it.

The NCC point of view was that removing bolts would ensure no one would climb in the closed area. Clearly, this NCC representative has no idea that a large number of those bolts are top anchors on trad climbs so the climber does not have to top out and rap off trees. These anchors were in fact placed to comply with the first agreement to keep climbers off the cliff tops. Sure it will destroy the sport routes but how can they expect to stop a determined climber with gear?

The Access Coalition representative pointed out that the bolts pose no environmental impact on their own and should left for future access considerations. It was also pointed out that chopping bolts will not foster good will among the park climbers and just lead to "I'll do what I want" attitude.

This continued to get heated with the NCC refusing to admit that no good would come from chopping and in fact would most likely lead to more impact as climbers will walk away from the discussions. Unfortunately, I have already observed this. There was clear frustration on both sides. Anyway it put a bit of a damper on our climbing day.

Saturday report, Eastern Block

A group of us headed up to Eastern Block on Saturday to get in some local climbing. It had rained the day before and overnight so as expected it was rather wet. Temptation 5.11b was dry but I had never climbed more than the first couple moves on toprope so it was out. Mr. Clean 5.8+ was wet but looked do able. After clipping the first bolt I started to wonder if I had bitten off more than I could chew. Most of the good hold were dripping and trusting my feet became troublesome. After a tricky second bolt on a sketch wet foot I final got onto some dry rock for a easy 3rd bolt. Now it was time to weigh my options. Climb a sopping wet slabbly crux or traverse and climb the last slabbly half of Temptation. Despite not having climbed the upper half of the 11 it was dry and looked reasonable.

The top of Temptation was no gimme but I worked it out after down climbing twice to rest after figuring out the moves. So since the top of Temptation can go clean on lead I decided it was time to work the bottom sequence out. After 8 or so goes at the crux I final climbed the route clean on toprope. Redpoint in the future? Maybe, the first two clips will be hard and will definitely need to be worked into the sequence of the climb. Once past the second bolt you get a good rest and the climb eases to mid 5.10 climbing.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

McKenzie Pond Bouldering

I headed to McKenzie Pond in the Daks with a group of Ottawa boulders on Saturday. I was not sure what to expect. As you know I'm a roped climber and in particular I've been climbing mostly trad this year so a bouldering trip is not my usual thing. On the other hand I boulder twice a week at the gym for strength training so I'm not a total gumby. The nice thing was that the people on the trip are easy going and I was not really concerned about feeling pressure to sending anything.

After a 3 hour drive we parked on the side of the road and started the grueling 2 minute approach to the boulders. We warmed up one the V0 slab and a couple V1/V2 problems in area 1. The granite is super textured and can be hard on the finger tips if you are not used to it. However, the texture in combination with the cool temps made for some awesome friction which comes in handy on a number of problems.

V0 slab with crack
V0 slab with crack

Kyla in green
Kyla on a V2

Also in area 1 is a V5 called Slobadon which looked do able to me so I gave it a burn. I surprised myself on the first go by doing most of the problem so I knew it would go. I think it took about 5 try to top out. The top is a tad scary but with lots of Montagne d'Argent slabbiness under my belt I just took my time and worked it out.

Top Out
Photo: Andrew Pallek

Rebar V4 is an interesting problem that is very different from the hard crimps of Slobadon. Like most lip traverses this is about contact strength and body position under the sloppy lip. I used slightly different beta by going low at the start. Rebar is also a long problem that can get pumpy by the end as you round the corner to top it out.

Low Beta
Me on Rebar
Photo: Andrew Pallek

Matt chillin' after his burn. Once you hit the end of the traverse you top it out.

Slot machine V5 is a classic for sure with a difficult start off the corner up to the slot. In the photo below my right hand is in the slot and by slot I mean a half pad three finger crimp. The next move is the high foot, lock off on the slot, hit the crack at the top, muscle up and top out.

Lock Off
Photo: Andrew Pallek

Thrust Fault, although only V3 this is a must do problem. I got it on my second attempt and would have flashed it if I had not mucked up my feet on the first go. The top out is not gimme so stay focused after hitting the lip jug.

Photo: Andrew Pallek

Oiseau Rock

Post removed due to access issues.

"It is with regret that I announce our negotiations to secure access for climbing at Oiseau Rock cliff have resulted in a clear refusal from the council of the elders of the Algonquian community. Although the MRC, to whom we owe the new trail to access the cliff, has supported our efforts, this has not convinced the council to let us climb on the sacred cliff, with or without fixed anchors. Their refusal puts an end to our negotiations to develop this cliff.

Cindy Doyle, Chair Outaouais section, ACC"

Saturday, October 2, 2010

The view after topping out

The view after topping out on North Wall in Gatineau Park.


I also noticed a new sign on the way into the Western CWM.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Escaping the belay

Don't trust the info provided in this video. Attempting the following in a real climbing situation without adequate practice, experience and training may lead to serious injuries or death.

A video about practicing escaping the belay.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

September in Ottawa = Rain

Ugh ... and I thought last September was depressingly wet. I can only hope that October and November are as awesome as they were last year.

There is also word on the street that Weir is climbable on warm winter days. I have not been there and the guidebook is of course out of print. However, I did find the follow images which I believe are enough to get some idea of where the climbs start.

For more images checkout:

Then there is winter aid which could be fun but I suspect that I'll have to twist arms or go solo. Does anyone like belaying in the cold? I'm not much of an aid climber; I've only try a couple times solo and I used slings in place of aiders. I find the solo aspect narrows options as getting a good ground anchor can be problematic.

Of course, when it is raining there is always plywood and plastic. Speaking of which I climbed TR routes at Coyote last night for the first time in a year. It was a fun change from bouldering. While bouldering has definitely increased my strength I have noticed a drop off in endurance while climbing routes outside. For my ego and being the grade whore that I am here is a list in the order climbed.

5.9 onsight
5.9 onsight
5.11d worked but DNF
5.10d flashed
5.10b flashed
5.10c onsight
5.11d completed but not clean
5.12a completed but not clean

It is nice to list them. Then I remind myself that these grades translate poorly to real rock. Gyms are good for numbers and outside ... there are climbs that I have done and those that I need to work on.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Calabogie, take two

I headed back out to Calabogie today for some more climbing. I'm still getting use to the face climbing on gear aspect of Calabogie. For the most part gear goes in shallow horizontal cracks where I'm use to deep vertical finger/hand cracks. On the faces I ended up using my #00 through #2 C3s quite a few times because nothing else would fit. I found using all this small gear in conjunction with the unknowns of onsight climbing mentally taxing.

In the top photo a climber is on "Cool but Concerned" and on the bottom is a climb that I lead that is not in the guidebook. I'm not sure who did it in the past but there is a set of new anchors at the top.

For my last climb of the day I jumped on "Phasers on Kill" which is a 5.7 vertical crack into some face climbing on horizontals which leads to a roof. At the roof you enter a chimney on the right and climb to the anchors. The climb is around 25 meters in height. Everything was going fine until below the chimney where I did not have any useful sized pro left to put in the last horizontal crack. I made the mistake of using my two #1 C4s too early in the hand crack and nothing I had would protect the moves into the chimney. I felt stupid. I should have know better then to place two cams of the same size when I may have been able to use a large nut instead.

"Ok, a #.75 might do it", I thought. Unfortunately that cam, my last piece, was already a foot below me and two feet to the side. Besides being a little annoyed at this, I was beginning to feel pressed by the weather. The day's blue sky was gone and the winds had picked up. Also, despite being in a good position I had been standing there way too long fooling with gear; I needed to move.

Up? Down? Nope, I traversed left under the roof as it looked like I could get some gear in. The roof ended about 5 meters to the left and I knew there was another set of anchors just up from the end. I managed to place a #0.4 C4 in a shallow horizontal after digging the dirt out of it with a nut-tool and then a couple meters later a solid #2 and #00 C3. I was pretty happy to clip the anchors.

Monday, September 13, 2010

A summer in review

It is hard to believe that the summer climbing is over and fall is here. There are lots of climbers who welcome fall over the summer sweat fests. Yes, the cooler temperatures are more conducive to sending your hard projects and the bugs are gone but I miss summer. Once September comes, so does the rain and the climbing days are limited. I also find fall climbing has a certain anxiety that centers around unfinished goals and self evaluation. Did I improve this season? Did I meet any of my goals?

While recovering from a finger injury back in February I decided that this year I was going to focus on learning to place gear and send some trad lines in Gatineau. Here is the rather vague goal declaration I made on the Ottawa climbing form.

"2010 goals
by drtyner » Fri Feb 05, 2010 5:20 pm

I would like to learn to place gear and send some trad lines in the area."

Thanks to a long list of people I believe I have built some gear placement skills and I did manage to climb some of the Gatineau "Classics". That said, I need to work on placing gear faster. This means choosing the right cam or stopper on the first go and not taking five minutes to get a bomber placement.

One thing I left out of my goal was a 5.X grade. Just because I did not write it does not mean it was not in the back of my mind. Like it or not grades are part of measuring improvement. So I set the lofty goal (for me) of sending a 5.10 on gear by the end of the season. To date I have two mixed 5.10's under my belt.

Psychokrak 5.10a Trad + 1 bolt, 25m Montagne d'Argent, redpoint, Aug 1/10 (TRed it once back in 2009)
Pop Corn 5.10a Trad + 5 bolts, 25m Montagne d'Argent, onsight, Aug 1/10

I am definitely proud of these two routes. Does this mean I can climb 5.10 routes on gear? Defintely not. I have down climbed, cursed like a sailor and struggled on my share of 5.6 through 5.9 routes. It is all very humbling and sometimes discouraging given I have redpointed the odd 5.11 sport route. On my trip to Calabogie it bacame clear that I climb gear routes at a turtles pace. When I am above gear I spend a long time making every move perfect which means wasting too much energy. I could claim this is onsight verses redpoint but at the end of the day it is really bolt verses gear.

All in all, it was a summer of mileage and learning. Below is a time line of this year's climbing on new routes.

Al on the Run 5.11c (Notes: 2 goes on TR May 24/10, June 1st more work on TR, July 17th one hanged it on TR)
The Reaper 5.9 -redpoint April 24th (Notes: send it on TR first)
Martha Steward 5.8 -onsight May 10th (Notes: Short 2 bolt warm-up)
Catwoman 5.11b (Notes: One burn on May 17th. After the second bolt move out right not left)
La Cha-Cha des Felins 5.9- -onsight, July 10th, Montagne d'Argent
Unnamed sport line 5.6? Calabogie, onsight Sept 11/10
Second unnamed sport line 5.6?, Calabogie, onsight Sept 11/10 (Notes: take a 0.3 BD C4 to avoid the runout)

Trad or mixed with bolts:
---> lot's of moderates as this my first year climbing on gear.
Security 5.10d Gear + 2 bolts (Notes: couple tries on March 17/10, attempt on April 20th
Joy of Life 11a gear + bolts (Notes: two tries on March 20/10)
Original route 5.10c gear + bolts (Notes: two tries on March 20/10, just the roof that causes trouble)
Route A 5.5, gear -redpoint March 17th/10 (Notes: TR'ed in the past)
Route B 5.4, gear-onsight March 8th/10 (Notes: my first trad lead)
Route C 5.5, gear-redpoint March 17th/10 (Notes: TR'ed in the past)
Mr. Toady's Dihedral 5.8, Gear + 1 bolt - onsight March 17/10
One up 5.7, Gear - onsight April 2/10
Piton Highway 5.7 Gear + 3 bolts - redpoint April 2/10 (Notes: one previous go on TR)
Lavander 5.9 Gear + 5 bolts - redpoint April 2/10 (Notes: I had lead the bottom part before while traversing the cliff)
Peggy 5.7+ Gear + 1 bolt - onsight April 14th/10
Cotter crack 5.10b (Notes: One attempt on April 14th/10, the beginning is hard and the top is pumpy!)
Neruda 5.6, Gear- onsight April 20th/10 (Notes: sandbagged for sure)
Fruit tart 5.8, Gear + 1 bolt- April 24/10 (Notes: backed off 1st try, sent on second go)
Raikush 5.10c 5 bolts + Gear (Notes: One go on TR April 24th/10)
Pitch 2 of Sev's Route 5.5, Gear onsight April 29/10 (Notes: sandbagged, more like 5.7,slightly overhanging, tiny gear off the belay #4,#5 BD stoppers)
One Pine Variation C 5.6 onsight April 29/10 (Notes: linked the two pitches)
Corruption 5.9, 1 bolt + Gear, (Notes: hard (for 5.9) crux well protected by a bolt but I back off because of sketchy gear higher up. Toproped it May 10th; found better placements and holds, bring the RPs or Micro Nuts. Next time it will go)

Cracker Joe 5.9+ Gear, Montagne d'Argent, onsight June 27th (Notes: A fantastic climb)
Hiroshima 5.5, Gear Montagne d'Argent, onsight June 27th (Notes: Not worth the time to climb it)
Super Crackpot 5.8, Gear + 5 bolts, Montagne d'Argent, onsight July 10th (Notes: 5 bolts lead into a finger crack, 35 meters.)
Madame la Marquise 5.6-, Gear, Montagne d'Argent, onsight July 10th (Notes: dirty)
Invitation Mixte 5.10b, Montagne d'Argent, TR'ed (one hang) July 10th, on the to lead list
Titanicomanie 5.8, Gear + 3 bolts, Montagne d'Argent, onsight July 10th (Notes: 3 bolts into a never ending crack, 38 meters)
Chute Libre 5.8 Trad + 1 bolt, 20m Montagne d'Argent, onsight, July 31/10
M&M 5.8, Trad 23m, Montagne d'Argent, redpoint (TR'ed in the past), July 31/10
Krakabra 5.7+, Trad 25m, Montagne d'Argent, redpoint (TR'ed in the past), July 31/10
Psychokrak 5.10a Trad + 1 bolt, 25m Montagne d'Argent, onsight, Aug 1/10
Pop Corn 5.10a Trad + 5 bolts, 25m Montagne d'Argent, onsight, Aug 1/10

Cool but concerned 5.8, Trad + 1 bolt, 18m Calabogie, onsight(*) , Sept 11/10 (Notes: * clipped a near by bolt near the top as my nerves crumbled on small crimps)
Unnamed mixed line 5.8?, Trad + 2 bolt, Calabogie, onsight, Sept 11/10 (Notes: Variation of Calabogie Sunset 5.5, pull the roof for full value)
Unnamed mixed line 5.9?, Trad + 2 bolt, Calabogie, onsight, Sept 11/10 (Notes: left of First Flight)

Other: X/R rated routes on TR
Probation 5.8+ PG - TR onsight April 20th (Notes: I toproped this with the FA Bob Milko and the gear is R (if not X) not PG)
Little Yellow Fucker 5.9 X - TR April 12th (4 or so tries)

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Calabogie, a first look

For a change in scenery I ventured out to Main Cliff at Calabogie today. We park as per the map below and followed the top of the cliff line until a "Second easy way down". The 5.0 down climb is reasonable (short) and there is a knotted rope to assist if you need it.

View Larger Map

With the NCC closing a large portion of the climbing in Gatineau Park there has been a resurgence in development at Calabogie. This develop appears to be lead by Peter Slivka. Peter was actually out there today working routes and cleaning when I showed up. In fact, there was more people there then I would have ever expected. A couple locals, Peter and a VR group, a group from the ACC, some randoms and us for around 25 climbers or so. I'm not really one for an over crowded crag.

The over crowding aside there are some cool routes at Calabogie. Besides the hard stuff, like a direct start to Vulcan Mind, Peter et al. have bolted a number of moderate mixed routes and also a couple easy sport routes. The mixed routes appear to be variations of Calabogie Sunset 5.5 and First Flight 5.8 plus a newer route left of First Flight which might be 5.9+. I found the beginning pumpy as I looked desperately for holds. I think the Calabogie grades in the guidebook are on the stiff side even compared to some of the older Gatineau routes. In other words take a good look at the route first and don't expect a cake walk even if it is only 5.8. A good example of this is the top section of "Cool but Concerned". All in all, I think Peter is doing some good work out there and may just provide the momentum needed to create a viable alternate to Gatineau.

The rock at Calabogie is granite but unlike Gatineau its features are defined by horizontal cracks. So tri-cams and spring loaded cams seem to be the protection of choice. Note that stoppers are still useful, so don't leave them on the ground. For example, just below the crux of "Cool but Concerned" there is a bomber nut placement in one of the few vertical cracks that I saw.

My last note on Calabogie is to be aware of loose rock. This is a crag under development and there are death blocks out there. While we were there I saw a skull crusher get ripped off the wall by a climber. Wear your helmet.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Hornets on North Wall

I went out yesterday to get more mileage and to work some of the kinks out of my lead solo system. Although, when I got to the wall it was covered in hornets. Since I got my share of stings a little while ago I decided to walk away. Luckily I ran into some climbers at a near by wall in need of a rope gun. After putting up some TRs for them it turned out to be a nice day.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

My first lead solo and bootied cam

So I have been hemming and hawing about doing some solo aid climbing since it is hard to get a belay partner during the week. Heck, it is hard to get a partner for the weekend since I hangout with boulders. Anyway, last night I decided today was a good day to give it a shot.

Of course, I got started late and the morning's blue sky was turning gray as I parked in the parkinglot for the Western CWM in Gatineau. "All well, at least I'll get a hike out of it if it starts to rain" I thought as I started down the trail. I arrived by Cave Wall and did a walk of the cliff to see how wet it was from the last rain and to scout for spots that would make for a solid ground anchor. As I passed the Reaper Buttress I saw a rigid stemmed friend near the crux on Mr. Toady's Dihedral. I don't think it was a bail piece since the anchors can be accessed if you are careful. Anyway, I rapped down and wow was this puppy over cammed. Using a nut tool and just the right persuasion I got the cam out after about 30 minutes of work.

After rescuing the cam I decided to forgo aiding and do a lead solo on the North Wall instead. I picked Route B 5.4. Route B is a fingers to hands crack that eats gear. For a ground anchor I used two slings around a tree with locking biners and attached the rope with a figure-8 on a bight. To self belay I used a (unmodded) gri-gri backed up with overhand knots every 6 feet or so. I kept two knots clipped to my harness at a time. With everything good to go I climbed up, set a cam, clipped and tested the system with my feet a few feet off the ground. I know this did not represent a true lead fall but I was able to check that the anchor and gri-gri loaded up as expected. .

I climbed slow and deliberately while placing lots of gear. I found myself, surprisingly, very calm as I climbed. With the rain holding off, a couple drops fell while finishing the route, I took some time to admire the view before rapping.

I found feeding the gri-gri to be annoying a points but manageable on this climb. Certainly a device designed for soloing would have been better. Perhaps carrying the rope in a backpack might help too. All in all a good day of firsts. My first solo lead and my first bootied cam.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Buying climbing shoes

Finding climbing shoes that fits and suit your climbing style is no easy task. I'm currently in a shoe buying dilemma. The crux is that I tend to enjoy a mixed bag of climbing activities and I want a shoe that covers it all. I climb 5.7 to 5.10 trad routes, up to 5.11 sport and boulder in the gym on overhanging problems.

My current and past shoes are the 5.10 anasazi verde. I wear them tight with a hammer toe fit which works for me in the gym and on face/slab outside. Trad is another story. A hammer toe fit is just too painful for crack climbing. So, what I want is flat fit performance trad shoe if it exists.

I went to MEC on a shoe finding mission and tried on 5.10 Blanco, La Sportiva Muria Lace, Katana lace, Nago, Scarpa Techno Rock Shoes and the Instinct. Of course, most of these are down turned or require curled toes which are not going to be great for cracks. If I was looking for just a bouldering shoe I would have got the Katana lace. Note that, La Sportiva and 5.10 sizing vary by about two euro sizes. My old 5.10 verde shoes come in at 42.5 where I got a 41 Katana lace on and maybe even a 40.5. Anyway, I left MEC empty handed and returned home to glue both pairs of verdes back together for the fifth time.

Enter, the La Sportiva TC Pro. Now MEC carries this shoe but not at their Ottawa store which makes trying them on annoying. After looking at various form posts and reviews I decided to order the 42 and 41.5 sizes via the MEC website. The 42 was too big and I'm on the fence about the 41.5 pair. They are snug but with stretch I'm worried they will become too sloppy for thin edging. I took the 42's back and ordered the 40.5 and the 41's to compare to what I've got now. Hopefully in the end I'll find something that I'm happy with and not just become an importer of TC Pro's for the Ottawa store.

If money were no object then I would definitely buy both Katana lace and a pair of TC Pro's. Although, it is difficult to buy more cams after spending so much money on shoes.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Climbing access in Gatineau Park update

In March 2010, the National Capital Commission (NCC) released a land management plan for Gatineau Park which restricts climbing to the Western CWM west (North wall to Cave wall), Home Cliff west, Twin Ribs and Eastern Block. The NCC moved forward by installing no access signs, in late May, at the majority of the climbing sites recognized in the previous access agreement. In addition, access to the ``Shrine parkinglot`` on Chemin de la Montagne was removed.

To address the closures the Ottawa-Gatineau Climbers' Access Coalition (OGCAC) submitted a climbing management plan to the NCC. The scope of the plan was created to meet the ecological concerns raised by the NCC in an effort to maintain access to climbing on the Eardley escarpment. This plan was endorsed by the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society. Unfortunately, the NCC largely rejected the plan.

On August 17th, the OGCAC members gathered to vote on how to move forward. It was decided not to endorse the NCC response and that the OGCAC will maintain its position outlined in the management plan. Sadly, the limited success in securing climbing access in the park puts 60 years of Gatineau climbing at a crossroads.

All documentation regarding the management plan and the NCC response is available at

Sunday, August 1, 2010

A weekend climbing

I spent two days at Montagne d'Argent this past weekend climbing with lots of different people. Saturday was a bit of a slow day though; I think I was still sore from the gym. A list of Saturdays efforts:

La petite biere area:

Deuxieme biere 5.3 sport 7 bolts 35m
-This is a nice way to get the grand canyon area. An easy climb which can be done with packs in approach shoes.

Grand Canyon area:

Chute Libre 5.8 Trad + 1 bolt 20m
- This is a straight forward climb with one or two 5.8 moves on the slab at the top.

Les Petits Chiens <> 5.11c Trad + 4 bolts 20m
- The gear portion is easy 5.8 climbing and the real business is protected by bolts. I took a few falls between the first and second bolt which is most likely the crux. After the second bolt the climbing is strenuous into a very thin upper slab. It would take some more work to get this clean.

Le Sacre du Printemps 5.9 Trad 25m
-I got just above the halfway mark but I got spooked by the gear and downclimbed. I pulling my gear as I went.

M&M area:

M&M 5.8 Trad 23m
-This is a must do lead with lots of gear options.

Krakabra 5.7+ Trad 25m
-Similar to M&M but the feet and rests are much better. The gear is larger on this one, #2 and #3 BD camolots. There is a thread through about 3/4 of the way up it you are short on gear.

Sundays efforts:

M&M area:

-on TR as a warm-up after Dan lead it.

Psychokrak 5.10a Trad + 1 bolt 25m
-The tricky part is traversing from the main crack, as it thins out on to the slab, to the second hand crack to the right. This is my first 10 on gear.

Pop Corn 5.10a Trad + 5 bolts 25m
-The trad portion is a fantastic finger crack that protects well. The upper section which is protected by bolts is mentally demanding with big moves between the bolts. A much harder climb then Psychokrak.

Sonatine 5.12a sport 8a 23m
-Worked this on toprope for awhile, figured out some beta, but I did not get too far.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Mills

While passing through Kingston this past weekend I hooked up with Gen for some climbing at the Mills. I used to toprope at the Mills when I lived in Ktown since there are so few sport routes and I did not have trad gear at the time. So, I thought it would be fun to lead a number of the climbs on the main face. To warm up I lead the right corner which is 5.4. It was a little damp from the rain the night before so I took it slow. The gear was interesting too. This is not a climb for cams and it took some looking to get a quality nut placement. Next up, was a 5.5 face climb with a gear rating of "fair". Perhaps "fair" = "no fall" because I found the first 12 m difficult to protect. The climbing was not hard but it was a head game for sure.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

A couple photos

Photos, from Guillaume, of climbing back in April.

P2 of Sev's Route

Traversing on One Pine

Gearing up

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Al's sequence

I was in the CWM yesterday for the first time in about a month and a half. I lead Neruda and some easy stuff on the Spindrift wall before giving "Al on the run" another go on toprope. With the beta I worked out in June I was able to climb straight through to the roof which puts me in a good spot to get it on lead. Time to start the redpoint attempts.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Mileage: 188 meters ~ 617 feet

Saturday was another great day in the Grand Canyon at Montagne d'Argent with Iris, Pete and Jeff. It could have been the heat, or the wine from the night before but it was not a day for big numbers. Just a day to gain more mileage placing gear.

To warm-up I jumped on a 28 meter sport climb, La Cha-Cha des Felins 5.9-. In classic Grand Canyon style we were unsure of which route I was on at first. Was it mixed or pure sport? In fact the bolts are there, they are just hard to see over the bulges. Also, there is some liberal bolt spacing at the top so keep your focus on the upper slabs. A committing onsight for the grade.

Climb number two was Super Crackpot 5.8 mixed. This climb has 5 bolts that lead into a finger crack for a total of 35 meters. The crack protects well with nuts and camalots up to #1. At one point, I had a fight with an over cammed #1 which took both hands to get it out. A tricky maneuver for sure. The hassle to get it out while on lead was worth it though when I place it later on.

While sitting around munching I got roped into belaying another climber on Souris Chauve, a 34 meter 5.10b sport route. I have climbed this in the past so there were no surprises when I ran up it on TR. This is a soft ten with little commitment. Just climb it, have fun.

After some more munching I walked down to a 26 meter 5.6- called Madame la Marquise.
It would be a nice climb if someone cleaned it. There is lots of moss, lichen and dirt.

At the end of the Grand Canyon is a 22 meter mixed 5.10b called Invitation Mixte. The first two thirds is crack followed by bolts up a slab to the anchors. Pete worked his way up the climb but despite a solid effort came off at what we determined later to be the crux. A short clean fall onto a #.3 camalot. Once past the crux, Pete dispatched the upper slab with ease. Up next, I TR'ed and cleaned the gear but came off at the crux as well. This is definitely on the lead list.

For my last climb of the day I hmm'ed and hawed about Titanicomanie. A 5.8 mixed route with 3 bolts into a never ending crack. Ok, it does end but not for 38 meters. After whining about how tired I was I suited up with lots of extra gear. I remember placing four #2's, two #1's, one #3 and a #.75 camalot. I found the jamming at the crux difficult. With sweat running down my arms the wide hand crack put up a battle and was hard on the feet as I cammed them in. I was so happy once I broke through the hard climbing that I ran it out for a little while. This was not for my ego, it just happened. With the easier climbing I just relaxed and made up a bunch of ground without realizing it. At the top there is a blueberry bush and a sweet belay ledge to bring up a second and in our case a third.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Hey Joe, what d'ya know

On Sunday, Pete and I returned to Montagne d'Argent with Jeff and Iris. We walked to L'hippocampe but decided to move on to Le fou instead. I started on Cracker Joe. A clean 5.9+ trad route which follows a 12m left leaning hand crack. This would be my hardest trad route yet and it looked like a route I could do. The climb has a small ledge about six feet off the deck from which I placed my first pieces. I put in a #1 BD cam and just above it a mega bomber #13 BD stopper. I always like to have two solid pieces for peace of mind near the start of a route. Climbing up I then placed a #1 BD cam and then later a #2. Although the #2 did not sit right so quickly put jammed in another above it. I was pumped at this point and there was no way I wanted to come off while fooling with a piece of gear. Somewhere near the end of the crack I used a #3 BD cam. I was near losing it at this point because of exhaustion. Despite the solid hand jams I found the climbing strenuous as I cammed my right foot in the crack and smeared with the left. When the going gets tough I tend to talk to myself and there may have been some Sharma like grunts. Anyway, when the crack ends you get to rest on a couple jugs before climbing easy terrain to the anchors. Being tired, I was so focused on climbing that I actually climbed past the anchors on the blocky terrain. This was certainly my hardest trad onsight.

Been both physically and mentally fatigued from Joe Cracker I climbed a sport route called Boeing which is a 12m 5.9+ sport route. 5.9+ sport is a walk in the park compared to 5.9+ trad. A fun redpoint, I have done it in the past and I even clipped the second bolt this time. The lockoff on the flake did not seem that bad this time.

Next we moved to Controverse for some 5.8-ish slab climbing. I lead Controverse, a 25m 5.8-sport, since it is such a fun route. There are a couple delicate moves on this climb and it deserves some respect. After this I climbed Hiroshima. Hiroshima is a 30m 5.5 trad route that really is not worth leading. If you do lead it then take passive gear as cams are not very useful past the first 15 feet. Also, I could not find the anchors.

The last climb of the day was M&M. M&M is a 23m 5.8 eye catching splitter in the middle of the M&M wall. Pete wanted to lead it and being short on time I decided just to second it. Pete crushed it and even placed some hexs along the way.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Fly on the wall

Matthew and I had a late start to the CWM today; due to overnight and morning rain. The walk in was scenic as always but the 100% humidity was less than pleasant. Also, the flies were crazy thick. Some deer flies and lots of non-biting horse(?) flies. While leading Neruda there were at least 20 flies crawling on my arms and back. There must has been twice as many just circling around my head. Super annoying while leading. After Neruda I worked "Al on the run" on TR and figured out some more beta to link the upper and lower sections. I'm excited to get back to try a clean ascent on TR. I feel this definitely could go on lead with some more work.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

L'argent pour un jour

Jason, Pete, Andrew and I took a day trip to climb the solid granite lines at Montagne d'Argent. On arrivial we decided to hit up the Grand Canyon which can be accessed by either climbing the stairs or 35 meter 5.3 slab. The slab is actually pretty fun and it was interesting to see what climbing with a pack full of gear was like.

I started my day in the Grand Canyon on a 22 meter 5.7 trad climb called Triplets. The guide shows two bolts but they don't exist. Anyway, I got most of the way up when I ran out of large gear. I really needed another #1 or #2 camlot. After deciding against putting myself in a position to take a 30 footer I downclimbed and traversed to a sport route. So with a less than stellar performance under my belt I decided to lead Mauvaise Herbe. This is a 5.10d with 6 bolts which is one more than the guidebook states. I climbed it but not well or clean. Although, after resting I sent it clean on TR. Now at this point in the day I was looking for redemption so I picked, the familar, Pathfinder 5.10c. Finally, a redpoint. All in all a good day.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Cave Wall

Rachel, MC (a.k.a. stonecrusher) and I headed out to the north side of the Western CWM in yesterday's crazy heat. We spent most of our time on Cave Wall. I warmed up by leading Neruda and sent Security on TR. Security felt good so maybe it is time for another lead attempt. I spent the rest of my energy working on "Al on the Run 5.11c". This climb has a hard lower section followed by 5.7 climbing once you pull the roof on good holds. The crux (for me) is getting to the side pull pocket, marked with green, just below the roof and between the second and third bolt. Once I get that with my right I can pull the roof and finish. At the moment I get stuck on the two good holds, marked with red, just below the second bolt.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Eastern Block

Bob and I hit up the steep slabs of Eastern block yesterday. We climbed the usual stuff: Ethics Police 5.8, Mr. Clean 5.8+, Coda 5.10a and two that are not in the guidebook. I put a TR on The Slide 5.10c as well. Not much to report, just a day of climbing.

Monday, May 17, 2010

It is the nature of the beast

It was back to Downunder with Mike today for some sport climbing. I warmed up by leading Sausages 5.10c and Mike did a couple laps as well. Then I decided to give Catwoman 5.11b a go on lead. I climbed through to the second bolt before heading out left but got lost while looking for holds and I had to take. On Mike's advice I moved out right and found the climbing more straight foward. I had to take again near the top as I got pumped looking for a hold to clip the anchors on. Now that I know where the holds are it should go next time. Next up I TR'ed El Ninjo 5.12a after Mike ran a couple laps on it. I found it really hard today. Catwoman took more out of me than I had thought. Mike has been working the Beast 5.13b this spring and the last time he had linked the upper and lower sections. So, today was game day (in mine mind anyway). On the first burn Mike push through the lower section to the no hands rest before the second crux. Mike looked strong but got shut down by a wicked barn door after releasing his toe hook. It was clear this beta was not going to work so he worked out a new approach and returned to the ground. It was again my turn to get pumped out on El Ninjo again and I did as expected. Mike looked a bit tried on the lower section of his next burn on the Beast but pull through to the rest. After sticking the second crux; I knew he was going to do it. Nice send Mike! After resting I thrashed around on the Beast on TR to clean it. I was mostly aiding on draws. It is clear that I had no business on a 5.13. The holds are heinous.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Anti-Gravity, a first glance

This afternoon I went to Downunder for the first time this year. I have been climbing moderate routes on gear for about 1.5 months so I was worried about getting crushed by the Downunder routes. For us mere morals Downunder can be an intimidating place. So after Mike ran laps on Pita de Roma 5.11a to warm up I decide to give it shot on TR. Lame, I know. In my defense, Pita was at my lead limit last year. Anyway I was surprised that I sent it clean. Next up, El Ninjo 5.12a and again Mike runs a couple laps. I jump on TR, fail at the crux, rest and finish the climb. I gave it two more goes before the day was done but I just could not get it clean. In the mean time Mike works the Beast 5.13b and sends Exodus 5.12d. Just to see how hard it is, I gave the lower crux on the Beast a couple tries for fun. Mike was also kind enough to run up Anti-Gravity 5.12c so I could try it on TR. It is a fantastic route but super hard from both a technical and power stand point.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Corruption Buttress

Hit up the Corruption Buttress with Rachel, Bob and Haley today. It was a cold morning at 5 C with a 15 km/hr wind so we opted for cover in the Western Cwm. I warmed up on Martha Steward 5.8, a 2 bolt near-vertical climb. It is a fairly easy onsight with the crux at the top. Next, it was onto Corruption 5.9, 1 bolt and gear. The crux, which is hard for 5.9, is well protected by a bolt but gear is sketchy higher up. There are small and I mean small cracks for micro stoppers and RPs (I did not have any with me). The Black diamond #4 and #5 stoppers are too big because their cables are too fat and get in the way. However, working higher you can get them in. Away, this is a no fall zone because if the gear goes you are hitting a big ledge. So in the end I, pulled my 2 crappy nut placements, down climbed to the bolt and retreated to the ledge. After some "Gatineau Mountaineering" up a dirty 5.1 (?) I put a toprope on Corruption. With a clean send on TR I found some better placements and holds so next time I think it will go.

As a side note:

The galvanized steel mallions that connect the sport clips to anchors on the Corruption Buttress (specifically Enron and Corruption) are reacting with the hangers and are rusting. The anchors on Corruption are the most affected. The anchors are certianly sound at this point but perhaps the mallions should be removed and/or replaced.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Gear decisions on longer climbs

Guillaume, Bob and I hiked out to Farm Rock to take in some moderate trad climbing on some of Gatineau's longer pitches. I started up One Pine 5.4 as a warmup. The climb follow up a corner for a about 10m and then traverses left about 6m to another crack. I found placing gear in the broken rock a tad troublesome. I placed a #3 BD cam in the corner on a double sling before traversing to cut down on rope drag. The traverse itself is not protected so I wanted to get a piece in once I hit the new crack system. However the gear here is questionable. I put in two piece and continue to look for a solid placement. I found a good spot for a #0.3 BD cam about 2.5m higher. I then down climbed and removed the questionable placements because the rope drag was brutal. I continued to climb, putting in gear as I went and at some point I believe I started in on the 5.6 variation. I find the guide book some what confusing. Anyway, I definitely linked the two pitches and near the end I was short on gear. The last bit of climbing is a hand crack which was way to big for the cams and nuts I had left. After what seemed like a long time I found some "hidden" placements for smaller gear and I finished the climb. Note that a 60m rope will get you to the ground on rope stretch only. A 70m rope is much nicer for Farm Rock.

Next up was Wall Climb a two pitch 5.5 PG route. The PGness has been removed by bolts which protect the traverse. Bob lead the first pitch. For the second pitch I did the second pitch of Sev's Route which is listed at 5.5. Although, this is a 1960's 5.5 and is sandbagged by today's standards. This is a solid 5.7. It starts as a thin slightly overhung crack on tiny gear; I put in a #5 and #4 BD stopper off the belay and I did not get bomber placement for a few meters. While climbing it I would have suggested 5.8 but there a number of jugs after the half way mark so maybe it is a 5.7. Anyway, go climb it and decide for yourself. Also, it you are going to bring up two more it is best to top out and skip the hanging belay.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Climb in the CWM while you can

I was back in the CWM, with Matt and Bob, last Friday climbing more trad and some sport while the area is still open to climbing. I warmed up by leading bolt line #1 on the Spindrift wall and sending Jugness on TR after Bob lead it. Next up, was The Reaper a short 5.9 2 bolt climb on a slightly overhanging wall. I sent it once on TR and then lead it. I should have just lead it to begin with but I was worried about clipping the second bolt. As it turns out the bolts can be clipped from solid positions and protect the crux well.

After a snack, it was off the Shpinava Wall on the south side of the CWM. I decided to lead Fruit Tart. A 5.8 three star Gatineau route that moves up a large corner into a roof and finishes on a slab. I started into the climb placing a #0.3 BD cam, #6 BD stopper and a #0.4 BD cam as I went. As I approached the roof I had trouble placing gear that I could trust which lead to wasting a lot of time and second guessing. In the end I down climbed and lowered off my #0.4 cam. The sun had not come around the corner yet so I was also cold. After sitting in the sun it was time for round two. I also put my coat on to keep warm while climbing. This time I slotted a nut above the #0.4 cam and moved up into the roof. I put in a #0.5 BD cam to protect me while I spent, what seemed like forever, fiddling to get a #3 BD cam in. I put 60cm runners on both the #0.5 and #3 to prevent rope drag. Getting over the roof bit was a battle as I felt over the lip for good holds. Once on the outter face I put in a #2 BD cam before rocking over onto my right foot to stand up and finally clip a bolt. The rest of the climbing from here is easy to the anchors.

The last climb of the day was Raikush 5.10c 5 bolts + gear on TR. This climb is beside Fruit tart so it also has a roof to pull. The roof move is not the crux. The crux is on the very thin slab near the second bolt. After working out the slab I sent it clean on TR so I can see a lead attempt in the future. I should also say that between the last bolt and the anchors is tricky too.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Cams work!

Bob, Guillaume and I climbed in the Western CWM yesterday with warm temps and mostly clear skies. Bob has climbed in the area for quite some time and has a few first ascents to his name along the escarpment. We actually toproped one of them, Probation 5.8+ PG. The gear on this route is X not PG and hence the toprope. Next to Probation is Neruda 5.6 which I used as my warm up. Naruda is a sandbagged hand/arm crack that runs more like 5.8 so it made for a fun onsight warmup. Having two #3 BD cams is a good idea but not necessary.

My main reason for going to the Cave Wall was to get another try at Security 5.10d with 2 bolts on the upper slab and gear on the overhanging bottom half. About half way to the 1st bolt you get a #10 BD stopper nut placement and 6 inches above that a #0.4 BD cam. That's it. There are other small nut placements but they are tricky and their fall holding ability is questionable. So, after placing the .4 cam I continue to climb. If I blow the clip on the 1st bolt from too far below then I'll have enough rope out for a ground fall so I climb to a higher position. Using a side pull out to the left I clip the draw. At this point, I need to pull up about 1.5 feet of rope for a total of 3 extra feet added to the rope length. While trying to clip I start to "barn door" so I drop the rope. Unfortunately my belayer does not have enough time to pull that back in before I peel off. The fall is a blur. Before I know it my left heel hits the ground and I fall backward but get stopped before completely decking by my cam. The cam had already stopped the fall and it was rope stretch that let me touch the ground with my heel. The rope had slowed me down enough by that point that my heel is fine. After resting a minute or two I try again but I'm to pumped and physced out that I have to down climb and take on my cam. Of course, before climbing past the cam I check it to make sure it was still ok. Not willing to give up I aid up to the 1st bolt on a #5 BD stopper and clip it. From here I climb above this first bolt but mess up the sequence for another lead fall. I lowered and send the others off to climb while I walk up to setup a toprope and rap to clean. With a toprope on I found a better clipping position for the first bolt although I still managed to come off once. I decided to rest. After some food and water I sent it clean on toprope. With lessons learned I hope to get it on lead next time.

After packing up we hiked over to the Corruption Buttress and I lead the bottom half of Corruption 5.9 which is the easy part. The bottom part has a pretty cool roof traverse that is a must climb. I'll leave the upper half for when I'm rested.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Cotter Crack, first attempt

I went climbing with Guillaume today at the Home Cliff area. I did one-up as the usual warm up and then onsighted Peggy 5.7+. Peggy is a great climb with a real exposed feel to it and is definitely worth doing. Just bring lots of runners or suffer some ugly rope drag. After Peggy, we moved to Cotter Crack. Cotter Crack at 5.10b doesn't look too bad until you realize it definitely overhanging and you've fought with the bottom section. It is a tricky finger crack at this point with not the greatest feet. After fingers, it opens into hands where the climbing is burly but more strange forward. The last 5 feet or so is offwidth. I started this climb on gear but backed off and worked it on toprope. I know, lame.

Monday, April 12, 2010

An uneventful day

Home Cliff was fairly uneventful on Saturday as I spent time on know terrain plugging gear. I did walk over to Cotter Crack and it looks like an awesome line. However, I'm not sure I have enough gear to climb it.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Scorcher at Home Cliff

Sunshine and 25 C made the base of Home Cliff into an oven on Friday. I headed out with David, Kate and Bob. My 3 liters of water did not last long. Amusingly, David managed to forget his harness in Ottawa so with Bob's advice he constructed one out of webbing.

To warm up, I lead piton highway, a 5.7 classic, on gear and 3 bolts. It was a bit tricky in the dihedral and for some reason nothing seemed to place the way I wanted. Next up, I started in on Lavender 5.9 gear and 5 bolts. The bottom is gear (3 cams) and the upper half is bolts. I think the crux is between the 1st and 2nd bolt. However, the top bit, just before the anchors was tricky too but maybe because it was a little wet. Also, a some point I missed a bolt and had a 15 foot runout going. After getting down I felt exhausted from the sun beating down.

After some rest I worked on the roof on the Original route. I worked out some beta but it will need some more tries. To escape the heat we moved up toward the waterfall on the left of main corner. I onsighted One Up 5.7 on gear. This climb requires some thought and small gear; I made sure my sequence was good before doing the crux bit.

I never did get over to the Cotter Crack, maybe next time.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Rest and rain

This weekend's climbing was a wash due to my wimpiness. On Friday I woke up to, after being at the gym Thursday, a nasty shoulder ache, stiff fingers and a cold weather report for the weekend. It was not so much the 3 degrees C forecast but the wind that made me wimp out. Now, Sunday night, it is raining. So what is one to do ... other than looking a new gear on the MEC website? ... You look at guidebooks and watch climbing movies, of course. So I popped in the First Ascent video and pulled out the Montagne d'Argent guidebook.

For some reason I really like climbing at Montagne d'Argent; I've been there three times [1,2,3]. On my next trip I would like to get some trad in, as well as, some harder sport. After looking through the guidebook there are several climbs in the M&M, L'hippocampe, Amphitheatre and Le Fou areas that are high on the list to attempt.

A return to M&M: I've climbed here before on TR but now it is time to send some of this stuff on gear. In particular, route #5 M&M 5.8 and if I'm feeling really adventurous #12 Psychokrak 5.10a with 1 bolt. I flashed Psychokrak on TR feeling really tired after two days of climbing so I know I can do it. Yeah yeah, I know, everyone is a hero on toprope.

L'hippocampe: I have not climbing in this area before so this is a must on the next trip. It is all too easy to climb stuff you have done because it is familiar. Anyway, I think a #9 L'hypothenuse 5.7+ trad into #10 L'arete des urubus 5.10b sport looks like a pretty cool 36m linkup. Route #13, Tally-Ho 5.11b looks interesting too.

Amphitheatre and Le Fou: Again, lots of stuff here to attempt. I can see doing Dad's 5.10b sport and maybe try Cracker Joe 5.9+ trad.

So much to climb ... never enough time.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Long day at Home Cliff

What a day ... it start out cold and grey on the Ottawa side as we piled into the car at far to early in the morning. We decided on Home Cliff over the Western Cwm because the walk out would be shorter if the rain came in but it didn't. By the time we had finished the approach the sun was shining. Mr. Gibbs lead an easy trad route for a warmup which I walked up on TR. Then I started in on a ground up adventure of the Joy of life 5.11a mixed route. Pulling on to this proved harder than it looked so it was nice to find a couple jugs around the second bolt. I placed a #1 BD cam (red) and a backup metolius orange TCU in between the second and third bolt. This proved overkilled as the third bolt turned out to be easier to clip then I thought. I climbed to the 4th bolt but pumped I had to take here. It didn't matter as I had messed up and sat on the 1st bolt anyway. I found the moves to the 5th bolt tricky as the slightly overhanging face changed to slab. At this point there is one more vertical bit then more slab. The climbing becomes much easier but there is another 10 to 15m of climbing on little pro. I placed two pieces on big runouts. I felt very exposed. Anyway I did not see any anchors so I traversed to Peggy's anchors at the top. Some good work put in but it needs more before it will go clean.

After some more vertical mileage on the piton highway which is a fantastic route I decided to climb Lavender a mixed 5.9 with 5 bolts + gear. However, I read the topo wrong and ended up starting in on the Original Route, a mixed 5.10c bolts + gear. The first 10m is on gear into a roof. I had three cams in but the roof turned out to be too much of a head game with only gear to protect me. I know, a solid cam is like a bolt but hey this like only my 9th route climbing on gear. So I lowered off the cams to the ground to rest. Round two and the rock wins again. We now realize this is not Lavender after reading the topo again. Now the fun starts. How to get my gear back? I climb and traverse on Lavender, clip a pin, place a nut, crush over its smaller roof and clip its first bolt. By the way, the 1st bolt is 10 or so meters up so I'm horizontally in line with my pieces on the other climb, just 5m over. The rope drag is brutal. I lower and then climb the 5.10 to get my cams on a huge pendulum. With the cam rescued I traverse back to Lavender. At this point, I'm tired after all the attempts and traversing but it is a 5.9 and I should be able to pull it. The climb moves into a thin finger crack which requires careful finger locks. I used a ring lock too which I had never done before and manager rip a hole in my shoe with a toe cam. Anyway, I climbed the rest although its anchors were being used by other climbers so I continued on and left back on to the Original Route to finish. Rap and clean. I'm exhausted at this point after the gong show to recover my gear. We pack up. Dam, look at that ... I left a nut three meters up. Putting my shoes back on was the worst feeling ever ... back on the rock ... boulder to nut ... clean ... down climb. What a day ...

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Spring time climbing

It was a balmy 15 C in Ottawa today so I headed out to Gateneau with David Gibbs. We went out to the Wesrtern Cwm area to practice placing gear and checkout the Reaper Buttress along with the Cave Wall. To warm up we each lead and followed, the cleverly named climbs, Route A 5.5, B 5.4 and C 5.5 on the North Wall before moving to the Reaper Buttress. I onsighted Mr. Toady's Dihedral 5.8 which is a 1 bolt plus gear route. The bottom was a little damp but nice and dry where the business happens. After that, I made a ground up assault on Security 5.10d which is gear on the lower sections with bolts protecting the upper slab. The real climbing happens on gear. I climbed above my pro to the first bolt but was not in a good clipping position so I down climbed to my cam and weighted it to rest. This was a bit freaky as it was the first time I have hung on a piece of gear. On my second attempt above my gear I pushed a hold higher but again I could not get solid so down I climbed again. Being tired, I came down and David lead the crack beside us called Neruda 5.6. Once done, I TR'ed Security before having to get packed up. I'll get it ground up next time.

On another note the NCC (national capital commission or now perhaps the 'no climbing commission') is bringing the hammer down on climbing within Gatineau Park. The NCC is planning to heavily restrict climbing. Their main arguments against climbing are flawed. There is a coalition to fight this but I'm not convinced the NCC will listen ...

Here are some documents that give you some insight as to where rock
climbing sits in the NCC's park plan for Gatineau. Each document talks
of the coming "conservation plan" without mention of a specific date.
Note, the conservation plan is now available as of today (see near the
end of the list).

Consultation Report - Gatineau Park Master Plan Review (2005)

Strategic Environmental Assessment (2005)

Gatineau Park Master Plan (2005)

More documents:


I was a little shocked to see that climbing has the same cumulative
impact as hunting/poaching and Motor vehicle traffic with in the park.
There are several lines that strike me as concerning:

The infrastructure associated with this sport (parking area, a
1-kilometre access pathway and a departure zone) are all situated in
the integral conservation zone, which is a variance to the Master Plan
zoning. Modifying zoning in this sector to accommodate this sport is
not justified, since this is an exceptional high-value ecosystem. The
hang-gliding site in Gatineau Park was not used in 2008 and 2009. This
sport was replaced by paragliding, which is much more popular and
undertaken outside the Park. It is proposed that the parking lot and
access pathway to the hang-gliding departure site be eliminated."

----> This does not sound good for the Shrine area. In fact the
parkinglot elimation has started already.

"Currently, there is climbing throughout the Eardley Escarpment
(except for four sites) located in the integral conservation zone of
Gatineau Park. Recent studies have described this ecosystem as
exceptional, fragile and vulnerable. It is recommended that the number
of sites where climbing may take place be reduced to only two or three

----> The wording of the first sentence is misleading and false.

"Concerning habitat rehabilitation, projects such as the
rehabilitation of climbing rock faces and shoreline protection are
being considered under the multi-year investment program for the next
five years."

---> Rehabilitation of climbing rock faces?? The current face are
clean of vegitation ... are they going to chop bolts? Scrub the chalk
off the sport routes?

The Conservation Plan: Posted on March 17 2010:

----> It's pretty ugly. The word "wall" vs "area" is even more
concerning since losing more of the Western Cwm area would be a real
shame. Also, this document does not provide infomation on how and
based on what sciencific fact these decision were made.

A voice of reason:

If you have got this far and care to follow this issue, there is the
Ottawa Climbing Forum and as
mentioned above the climbing coalition's blog

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Am I all about numbers?

I went to Home Cliff yesterday to meet-up with Andrew who was bouldering. However, I didn't really know where I was going so I took all my gear just in case bouldering did not workout. This turned out to be a good decision. After some walking I ended up at Home Cliff's main wall to find several groups of climbers. Surprisingly I knew a couple of them so I got a toprope and a couple easy trad climbs in on a 5.3 choss pile.

So far I have mixed feelings about this year's outdoor climbing. On the plus side I have lead a couple easy routes on gear which is something I wanted to do last year. However, in the back of my mind there is a voice telling me I should be getting on 5.11 sport and that I'm not climbing hard enough. Just thinking about it makes me worry about losing ground on last years progress. I guess part of the problem is finding a belay partner who has the same goals.

Monday, March 8, 2010

The season has started!

I got out climbing in Gatineau yesterday with Remi, Jeff, Pete, Andrew and Iris. We enjoyed all day sun on the North Wall while climbing easy trad. I climbed my first route, a 5.4 crack, on gear.

Get on the rock

The North Wall is near Baby Pneu which was soaked except for a slightly damp two bolt wonder called Slip Stream (5.11a). After 5 minutes of work on top rope it feels totally do able and I plan to send it on lead once it dries.

Although not at a 100% my finger feels strong and ready for the season.

Friday, February 19, 2010

If you cannot climb then slackline

The Tour de Bloc is tomorrow at Coyote and my finger is nowhere near comp ready. I decided the best way to cheer up is to get out and do something. Winter slacklining is just what the doctor ordered.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Controlled crimping

I've started traversing on much smaller holds to reintroduce my pulleys to crimping. These are heavily controlled situations where my left hand is on a solid hold so I don't fully load up my right hand until I want to. Rehab is about controlled and predictable climbing. No desperation moves. I've had a lapse in my routine icing so I need to get on that today. I've also been mulling over the idea of getting back into route climbing as the next step in healing.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Temptation all around

Well, there are number of new problems at the gym that I would love to jump on but I know it is not going to help my finger. I think the hardest part of finger injuries is watching all your friends work on cool boulder problems while you must take it easy and traverse.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Back to reality

I realized that my finger will never get better if I continue to climb on projects. I know, I know, duh! So the new game plan is no tape with alternating sessions of five easy climbs five times each and traversing. Today I started traversing and spent 1 hour and 10 mins on the wall before coming off. I switched between hold sizes depending on how tired I was getting. I'm feeling pretty wiped-out to say the least.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Back to the gym

I return to the gym over the last two days with some success. By shortening my time there and heavily taping my finger I can get in a reasonable session. Today is a rest day; time to drop by MEC to buy more tape,