Saturday, November 26, 2011

Guidebook bonanza

I stopped by the M.E.C. clearance table today to find some awesome guidebook deals. All $5 bucks each!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Warm and sunny at Calabogie

I met Hedy, Matt and Andrew at Calabogie this afternoon for a short but enjoyable climbing session. For November, Calabogie was remarkably warm with the late day sunshine. Perfect conditions really, awesome friction. Hopefully there will be a couple more days of climbing yet.   

Sunday, October 30, 2011

What will November bring?

The climbing days are definitely limited now and winter is just around the corner. With the rain, life and other commitments, October slipped by without much climbing on the rock. As much as I enjoy pulling on plastic twice a week, I enjoy trad climbing that much more.    

So, what will November bring? If the weather is good then a couple enjoyable days on the rock would be nice. Keep your fingers crossed.  

Monday, October 17, 2011

Fall Classic

When rain and life gets in the way of climbing there is aways the gym. I started in on the fall classic problems at Coyote tonight and managed to tick off all the easy stuff.

1-10 done
11-20 done
21-30 done (29 is a dyno and took three tries; not my cup of tea)
31-40 done
41-42 and 53 done

I suspect the rest of the 40's and 50's will take much longer to complete.

Update:

I only manage to tick off 44 and 47 on Thursday but 49, 51 and 57 seem do able with a little more work.

Update:

Only finished 59 tonight with 51 and 57 still needing work.

Update:

Ticking off the harder problems is definitely a slow process. After simplely using a lower foot chip, as suggested by Andrew, 51 went down last night. I repeated a number of climbs like 44, 59 and touched the last hold on 55. Problem 57 remains undone but 58 now seems reasonable if I can stick the start moves.

Update Oct 31st:

55 and 60 got ticked off tonight with 45 to be almost a sure send next time. I gave 64 and 62 a few tries as well.

Update Nov 3th:

Well 45 went down but not without a fight; I feel off the final hold three times before sticking it. After that, I work on some other problems like 48, 58 and 62 without much success. I believe 48 will go if I'm rested. It's strange, I felt like I had made real progress in bouldering this year only to be beat down by numerous so called "easy" problems (comp problems in the 40's) at the gym. 

Done to date:

1-10 done
11-20 done
21-30 done
31-40 done
41,42,43,44, 45, 46, 47 done
51, 53, 55, 59 done
60 done

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Fall weather climbing

My friend Carla came to visit this past Saturday and get in some climbing before she leaves for Switzerland. It was great to see Carla again. Also, along for the trip was Dan and Mel.

Getting out climbing this time of year is hit or miss and you never know which outing will be the last, so you have to make the most of them. With that in mind I climbed nine routes (not all distinct) in the Western CWM.

We warmed up on North Wall since Carla had not touched real rock in awhile. I lead "Route B", "Route C" and "Still another Climb". Afterward it was off to Cave Wall I lead "Neruda" and followed that with a TR lap, after Carla ran up it, to move the anchors over to Security. My TR lap on Security felt relativity easy compared to past outings. Next up, "Al on the run" which went clean on TR also.

Feeling motivated I then sent "Security" on lead with the first bolt pre-clipped. The bolting on "Security" is from an era in climbing when being "bold" was important. Not only is there a ground fall potential at the beginning but there is also potential for a very serious fall between the second (last) bolt and the anchors. Security is not a sport route. Don't get me wrong though, I really enjoyed my lead. Anyway, we rounded out the day seconding up Mr. Toady's Dihedral after Dan lead it.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Weir, a first look

OK, I'm way behind in posting this so I'll keep it short. Matt, Andrew, Hedy and I checked out Weir last Saturday. The main cliff is impressive and it is a must stop destination for anyone in the region. Looking at the 80m cliff definitely made any route that I have done at Montagne d'Argent, Calabogie and Gatineau feel insignificant.

 Notes:
1) Watch out for poison ivy. If you get off the trail you may find yourself up to your waist in the stuff before you know it.
2) Weir is hot, crazy hot even in September so bring lots of water. I can see climbing there into November if it is sunny.
3) Weir's super fine gain granite is very smooth, almost slick, which can make a seemingly easy looking route into a tricky endeavor. For example, the 1st pitch of Black and White looked straight forward enough from the ground but it turned into a slow grind; a mental battle from the get go. I did manage to get the onsight but it was hard enough to scare me away from the upper pitches. Next time.

Me moving through the crux, P1 Black and White. Photo: Hedy Lau

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

La Petit folie, part deux

Boxing or crack climbing during a flood?
Note I'm wearing a different colour shirt too!
I ended up making a spontaneous trip to Montagne d`Argent on Sunday after getting a call from Gen.
  • Colonel Kirtz, 5.10a, 10m, gear, Montagne d'Argent, La Petit folie
    • Sept 11th, 2nd lead attempt: I decided to tape my hands for this crack after the shredding I received last time. I climbed clean all the way to the top but I messed up the top out. It will go next time for sure.
  • Hannibal Lecter, 5.9+, 10m, gear, Montagne d'Argent, La Petit folie
    • Sept 11th, I cruised Hannibal on TR after Gen lead it. 
  • Diedre Maboul, 5.5-, 17m, gear, Montagne d'Argent, La Petit folie
    • Sept 11th, onsight: This dirty crack was the warm up and I would not recommend it to anyone unless you like slinging roots for pro. Also there are no anchors so once you have belayed up your second there is a walk off to climbers right.
  • La paume de Bouddha, 5.10d, 10m, 4 bolts, Montagne d'Argent, La Petit folie
    • Sept 11th, I worked the moves on lead. It does not feel like a particularly hard climb and I could most likely redpoint it with a few more tries. The hard part is finding reasonable feet between the good holds.
  • Encore! mon lapin, 5.4+, 20m, gear, Montagne d'Argent, La Petit folie
    • Sept 11th, I seconded  up after Gen lead it and tried the direct start (5.10?).  

    Monday, September 5, 2011

    The Calabogie I know.

    Me leading an unnamed 5.8, 3 bolts + gear
    I was at Calabogie today for the first time since Apirl 2nd with large group of Ottawa climbers. I did not lead much, I mostly worked the moves of the direct start to Vulcan Mind and another harder unnamed route. I sent Vulcan Mind clean on my second attempt but butchered the other route. The weather was chilly, windy at times and overcast; that's the Calabogie I know.

    Photo by Andrew Pallek.

    Friday, September 2, 2011

    Looking for rock

    Now that I'm working it seems I have less time to write about climbing. Since my last post I've made a trip to Home Cliff and tomorrow we are going to look for rock in the Lanaudiere area. One possible stop is Paroi du Lac Clair. Hopefully I'm come back with a full report early next week.


    edit: I did not end up going climbing but I did do an easy hike in Gatineau.
     

    Sunday, August 14, 2011

    Raven Lunatics

    I visited Copa Saturday in Gatineau Park to checkout the first pitch of Raven Lunatics. The first pitch is supposedly 5.9 but it beat me fair and square. Here is a photo of me pulling on gear to get back to the horizontal crack after swinging out into space. 
    I'm not sure the last time someone climbed this route but that horizontal crack is sandbox. All that dirt and no feet pumped my arms out fast. If you find yourself up there, a #3 and #4 BD cam protect the first half of the horizontal. After that, the rock is irregular and I'm not sure it would take a cam so be prepared to climb it out.

    Sunday, July 31, 2011

    There be Goblins, Paroi oblique

    Matt, Andrew and I loaded up Matt's car Saturday morning and headed to Montagne d'Argent. I really did not have plan on what I wanted to climb; I was just looking for a day on the rock. After some discussion we decide to checkout the L'hippocampe area which works with my Montagne d`Argent onsight policy.
    

    (left) Andrew Chill'in at the base of Wunderbar. (right) Matt moving up the beginning of Gobelin
    As per usual, the climb I was thinking of warming up on, L'hypothenuse 5.7+ trad,  was being climbed so we continued over some boulders toward the next crag called Paroi Oblique to have a look at Gobelin 5.7 trad. While traversing over the rubble I lost my footing. I think Andrew slowed me down a bit by grabbing my backpack and I manage to grab the top of the rock as I slid off into the abyss. Not the greatest start to the day. A scuffed side, bleeding knee, shin and elbow and I had not even started climb yet.  Anyway, The path up to Paroi Oblique was heavily vegetated and over grown with raspberry bushes. I'm not sure how many people visit this area but given the overgrowth it cannot be a lot.   


    Me leading up Gobelin

    Gobelin, a 18m 5.7 gear route, is comprised of an awkward mix of chimneying, offwidth squirming, chalkstones and loose rock. You will need some big cams on this route, I put in a couple BD #3s and a #4. It would have be nice to have a second 4 instead of having to sling a chalkstone for pro. It was solid in the downward direction but I would not have wanted to test it. This is perhaps not a good route for a new 5.7 climber or a new trad climber. One plus of Gobelin is that it sees almost no sun which makes it a great for hot summer days.     
    
    (left) Me looking for holds. (right) Matt in the offwith section of Gobelin and Sevrage's bolt line.
    

    Sevrage, 5.10b sport (5 bolts), runs up the slabby face beside Gobelin. The route is hard crimping with a tricky to read crux between the 3rd and 4th bolt. I downclimbed three or four times to a rest position at the third bolt while looking for holds and working out my sequence. After the 4th bolt the climbing eases on to the 5th bolt and then finishes on Gobelin's anchors. Note that it is a tad run out to the anchors after the 5th bolt.  

    Next up was Goglu, another 5.10b sport route. The guide shows 5 bolts but there are only 4 over this 15m climb which made it feel a bit spooky. Goglu is totally different than Sevrage. Sevrage is a cryptic slab with little moves on crimps and smears whereas Goglu has an obivous sequence of powerful moves on well spaced holds. Goglu is an easy onsight compared to Sevrage, a fun climb though.     

    After deciding Oreo, a 5.5 trad route, was too dirty to bother with we TRed Fudge 5.10c. I climbed it clean. I should have just lead it instead of letting doubt and tiredness convince me not too. All and all a good day.

    Paroi Oblique turned out to be a fun area which we had to ourselves all day. That is certainly not something you would expect on a long weekend. Also, as I mentioned above, the area does not see much sun and we climbed in the shade all day.

    Sunday, July 24, 2011

    Route finding at the Mills

    While Cynthia spent her Saturday racing keel-boats in a KYC regatta I had some time to kill in Kingston. I had my climbing gear with me so I headed out to the Mills to play on the rock. I had planned to lead solo up a gear route on the Lichen Wall which goes at about 5.7. However on scoping out the base of the climb I was not happy with the ground anchor options. Walking south along the base I found a spot that I believed to be a route and had a good sized tree to provide a solid ground anchor.

    The Lichen Wall is 20m or so of featured granite with lots of hollow flakes, shallow cracks and semi detached blocks that would make one question their protection. To add to the fun, as the name suggests, there is a fair amount of vegetation and dirt on the wall.
    I picked a line that seemed reasonably clean and started climbing up the wall looking for gear placements. I meandered left and right but did not find many options. What I did place where swallow cams, not a great start. The climbing was easy, 5.5 ish, so not a big deal but I find when I'm climbing alone I have lots of time to think about how bad a fall could be. At about 20 feet I placed a feel good  BD #2 cam in a deep horizontal. Sweet this might be a climbable line after all I thought. At 30 feet I climbed above another solid cam only to be stopped. With no obvious protectable line above I decided to down climb and re-think my line. The climbing looked easy enough but I reminded myself that gravity is indifferent to the grade.

    Back on ground, I took another look at the wall and decided to re-climb to where the #2 placement was and then traverse. The traverse followed a horizontal and then up to a grassy ledge. Looking up over a small bulge I scanned  the wall for a place to top out and notice a nut with a trad draw on it. So I must have be on some route after all. Easy climbing lead up to the nut which looked well placed so I clipped it and topped out.

    The nut came out with a small tap from my nut tool. I'm not sure why it was left there and with a draw on it too. I guess someone's second forgot to clean it.
     

    Tuesday, July 19, 2011

    A visit to Barkeater

    Matt and I travelled to the dacks last Saturday to checkout the Barkeater Cliff.  I'm not really motivated to write a trip report at the moment so here is a point form version.

    Self portrait while climbing Big Bertha
    Notes:
    • We parked in the Rock and River guide service parking lot as in the guidebook.
    • Approach took about 40 to 50 minutes, 35 minutes on the way out -- guidebook states 25 minutes. 
    • It was a super hot day, the base is mostly shaded but by afternoon we cooked on the wall.
    • The dacks version of G can vary.
    • Most hardware looked reasonable although there are a number of spinners   
    Route attempted:
    • Mr Clean, 5.9, 60 feet, gear : When we arrived there was a group on Big Bertha so I gave Mr. Clean a go as the warm up. It was pretty pumpy as a warm up and I ended up resting on a cam. For me the crack provided solid hand jams and good gear. I climbed straight in for the most part with a bit of liebacking to get over the crux. 
    • Mr Clean runs up the corner
    • Big Bertha, 5.6, 60 feet, gear: An easy onsight with lots of good stances to place gear.
    • 
      Matt on Big Bertha
      
    • Fun CiTy, 5.7, 100 feet, gear: Has some wide sections. You can jam straight in or milk the near by parallel crack for hands and feet near the bottom. I ended up doing a lieback near the top to finish.
    • 
      Fun CiTy on the left | Fun Country on the right
      
    •  Fun Country, 5.10, 100 feet, gear: We TRed this climb. A hard crux through a bulge with a flared out crack.
    • Yakapodu, 5.6, 90 feet, gear: I have a story that goes with climb but I'm too sleepy to write about it. It does involve down climbing to the ground from with 20 feet of the top.

    Wednesday, July 13, 2011

    Injured climber update

    I got word that the injured climber is still in the hospital but the hope is that he will be able to go home this weekend. His injuries from the fall include two damaged vertebrae, one or more broken ribs, one broken ankle, one sprained ankle and bruising to his lungs and liver.

    Here to a speedy and full recovery.

    Sunday, July 10, 2011

    Accident update

    Here is the newspaper article but I would dispute the 20 feet. His third piece, that may or may not have taken any force, was at least 25 feet or more up the wall and he pulled two pieces above that. Of course, this does not matter, what counts is that the article implies he is ok given the severity of his fall.

    http://www.pointdevuesainteagathe.com/Actualites/Faits-divers/2011-07-05/article-2631878/Un-jeune-homme-fait-une-chute-au-Mont-Cesaire/1

    A short day in Gatineau

    I met up with Hedy and some others for a short day in the CWM. I did the usual Neruda warm up, sent Security on TR and took 2 laps on Al on the Run on TR as well. Al on the run is by no means easy but it is starting to feel a lot less strenuous. Like any route or problem, once you have the beta wired, you can save energy by speeding through the hard parts. If I feel good then  next time I'm in the CWM then maybe I'll make a red point attempt.

    Hedy send me a couple of photos of me on L'ecaille du dragon, 5.8, 25m, 3 bolts + gear, Montagne d'Argent, Antre du Dragon. Thanks Hedy!



    Wednesday, July 6, 2011

    Emergency Plan, do you have one?

    I was climbing with the Ottawa ACC section at Mont Cesaire at Val David this past Sunday. While we were packing up to leave Chico et Valse, a climber fell, pulling two pieces and decked about 20 feet from us. He had fallen about 60 feet onto a blocky ledge at the base of the climb. They were not part of our group. The climber was seriously injured but thankfully remained breathing and conscious through out his ordeal.

    Accident notes:

    1) Climber was not wearing a helmet.
    2) Climb: La Premiere Valse 5.3. Although I believe the climber fell after getting off route; the climber traversed too high. I did not climb this particular route but I did climb La Valse 5.6 directly to the left while an ACC member climbed La Premiere Valse 5.3. I believe the gear on that route is not obvious and if you miss the right spot there may not be any good gear to be found.
    3) Two pieces pulled. At least one was a smaller nut (similar to a #6 or #7 sized BD stopper). I'm not sure how much force was on the third piece down, if any.
    4) The climber landed at the base of La Valse. Injuries from the impact were severe.
    5) The elapse time from the first 911 call to the climber's extraction from the crag was about 1 to 1.5 hour. 6) Chico et Valse does have an access road which the park authorities used to drive the fire rescue team in on. The approach is about a 20 minute walk from the park office.

    Do you have an emergency plan? Some stuff to think about:

    1) The fewer people you are with the more tasks you will have to handle. This particular climber was lucky to have 10 people, in addition to his partner, on scene. It can take multiple people to help stabilize a seriously injured climber. I was very impressed on how members of the ACC took over and got the situation under control.

    At the same time someone needs to call 911, someone else should be calling the park office if there is one and a runner should be sent to meet the rescue crew. If cell service is nil you definitely need a runner.

    2) 911 will ask for an address to send paramedics and fire rescue to. The name of the crag/wall/area is not enough. Luckily an ACC member knew the address of the park office so I handed the phone to them.

    3) As above, have the number of the parking/park office if there is one; they will be better at coordinating the rescue. This is something we did not have so I ran to the park office to report the accident. After showing them exactly in the guidebook where the accident happened they directed and met fire rescue at the closest access spot.

    4) It takes a long time for the rescue to come even in areas with access roads.

    Be safe out there.

    Saturday, June 11, 2011

    Slow day in Gatineau

    It was an uneventful day of climbing in the Western CWM today. I grabbed a belay on Neruda from a group of climbers in exchange for Al on the run beta. Then I moved to North Wall and sent routes B and C on lead solo. Route C takes a lot of small gear, all of which felt finicky today.

    Wednesday, June 8, 2011

    Lists are good, spring season review

    It is now mid June, hard to believe really, and it feels like very little outdoor climbing has been done. Of course April was a wash with Ottawa setting a new rainfall record and there is a myriad of other reasons (excuses). Bugs and heat being the top two. So it is time to make a list to see where I stand in terms of this year's goals.


    From my January 1st post, A new year for climbing:

    • Get more multi-pitch experience. Go to Weir (Yellow Line, Black and White), the Dacks (Endless list of climbs here) and the Whites Mountains (Moby Grape and may others).
    • Look for/climb new/old routes at Calabogie.
    • Climb more 5.10 gear routes at Montagne d'Argent.
    • Just get out and climb!


    Note that I will continue to update the lists as I climb more stuff.
    Last Update: Nov 6th

    New routes: attempted or completed
    • Flakely flake, 5.4, gear, Calabogie
      • April 2nd, onsight
    • Poussinet / Le lapin au tambour linkup, 5.4, gear, Montagne d'Argent, La Petit folie
      • May 4th, onsight
    • Colonel Kirtz, 5.10a, 10m, gear, Montagne d'Argent, La Petit folie
      • May 4th, lead attempt, fell a couple times
      • Sept 11th, lead attempt, clean on all but top out
    • Hannibal Lecter, 5.9+, 10m, gear, Montagne d'Argent, La Petit folie
      • May 4th, flashed
      • Sept 11th, cruised on TR 
    • Diedre Maboul, 5.5-, 17m, gear, Montagne d'Argent, La Petit folie
      • Sept 11th, onsight
    • La paume de Bouddha, 5.10d, 10m, 4 bolts, Montagne d'Argent, La Petit folie
      • Sept 11th, worked the moves on lead
    • Encore! mon lapin, 5.4+, 20m, gear, Montagne d'Argent, La Petit folie
      • Sept 11th, seconded and tried direct start (5.10?)
    • Coeur vaillant, 5.10b, 20m, gear, Montagne d'Argent, Le fou 
      • May 13th, lead attempt, fell at crux a couple time, sent clean on TR after lead attempt
    • La Saint-Ambroise, 5.9, 20m, 6 bolts, 20m, Montagne d'Argent, Antre du Dragon
      • May 24th, onsigh
    • L'ecaille du dragon, 5.8, 25m, 3 bolts + gear, Montagne d'Argent, Antre du Dragon
      • May 24th, onsigh
    • La Gaillarde 5.8, 25m, gear, Montagne d'Argent, Antre du Dragon
      • May 24th, onsigh
    • Conjonction de cellulaires, 5.9, 14m, 5 bolts, Montagne d'Argent, Vertigineux
      • May 24th, onsight
    • La Valse, 5.6, 20m, gear, Val David, Chico et Valse - Mont Cesaire
      • July 3rd, onsight
    • La Brute, 5.8, 15m ?, gear, Val David, Chico et Valse - Mont Cesaire
      • July 3rd, onsight
    • Mr Clean, 5.9, 60 feet, gear, Adirondacks,Barkeater Cliff
      • July 19th, pumpy warm up; rested on a cam
    • Big Bertha, 5.6, 60 feet, gear, Adirondacks,Barkeater Cliff
      • July 19th, onsight
    • Fun CiTy, 5.7, 100 feet, gear, Adirondacks,Barkeater Cliff
      • July 19th, onsight
    • Fun Country, 5.10, 100 feet, gear, Adirondacks,Barkeater Cliff
      • July 19th, many attempts at the flared crack crux over the bulge
    • Yakapodu, 5.6, 90 feet, gear, Adirondacks,Barkeater Cliff
      • July 19th, down climbed to the ground from within 20 feet of the top; it got in my head too much
    • Gobelin, 5.7, 18m , gear, Montagne d'Argent,Paroi Oblique
      • July 31th, onsight
    • Sevrage, 5.10b, sport 5 bolts, Montagne d'Argent,Paroi Oblique
      • July 31th, onsight
    • Goglu, 5.10b, 15m sport 4 bolts, Montagne d'Argent,Paroi Oblique
      • July 31th, onsight
    • Fudge, 5.10c, 15m sport 4 bolts, Montagne d'Argent,Paroi Oblique
      • July 31th, clean on TR 
    • P1 Balck and White, 5.9, gear, Weir, Black and White Wall
      • Sept 17th, onsight
    • Apportez votre vin, 5.10,  sport 4 bolts,Weir, Club Sandwich Wall
      • Sept 17th, lead attempt, grabbed a draw to clip it - tricky for the grade  
    • unknown, 5.6 ish, gear, Weir, ??? Wall
      • Sept 17th, onsight 
    Previously climbed routes: repeats and  TRs
    • Route B, 5.4, gear, Gatineau North Wall
      • February 5th, lead solo
      • June 11th, lead solo
      • Oct 1st, lead
    • Retro bolted Calabogie Sunset direct, no grade (5.7), 3 bolts + gear, Calabogie
      • March 20, lead
      • April 2nd, lead
      • Nov 6th, lead
    • New line left of First Flight, no grade (5.8), 3 bolts + gear, Calabogie,
      • March 20, lead plus a repeat on TR
      • April 2nd, lead
      • Sept 5th, lead and TR
      • Nov 6th, lead 
    • Vulcan mind direct, no grade (5.11+), 3 bolts +gear, Calabogie
      • March 20, TR
      • Sept 5th, TR clean
      • Nov 6th, TR clean, felt like I could lead it although the pro is thin at the top.
    • Noname between Phaser's on Kill and Beam me up Scotty (11d?), bolts and gear, Calabogie
      • Sept 5th, TR with many hangs
    • Left noname slab, no grade (5.6), bolts, Calabogie 
      • April 2nd, lead
    • First Flight, 5.8, bolts, Calabogie
      • April 2nd, TR
      • Nov 6th, lead
    • Piton Highway, 5.7, 3 bolts + gear, Gatineau, Home Cliff
      • April 3rd, lead
      • Aug 20th, lead
    • Peggy, 5.7, 1 bolt + 1 pin + gear, Gatineau, Home Cliff
      • April 3rd, TR
    • Neruda, 5.6, gear, Gatineau Cave Wall
      • April 17th, lead solo
      • May 8th, lead
      • June 11th, lead
      • July 2nd, lead solo
      • July 9th, lead
      • Oct 1st, lead and TR lap
    • Al on the run, 5.11c, 4 bolts, Gatineau, Cave Wall
      • May 8th, 2 TR attempts, 2nd go was clean no hangs
      • July 9th, 2 laps on TR
      • Oct 1st, TR lap
    • Security, 5.10d, 2 bolts + gear, Gatineau, Cave Wall
      • May 8th, 2 lead attempts plus once clean on TR
      • July 9th, TR
      • Oct 1st, TR lap and clean lead (1st bolt pre-clipped)
    • P1 Lollypops, 5.9+, bolts, Montagne d'Argent, Le fou
      • May 13th, lead
    • P2 Maudit fou, 5.10b, bolts, Montagne d'Argent, Le fou
      • May 13th, lead
    • Krakatoa, 5.9+, bolts, Montagne d'Argent, Le fou
      • May 13th, TR
    • Sausages, 5.10c, 5 bolts, Gatineau, Downunder
      • June 1st, lead
    • El Ninjo, 5.12a, 4 bolts, Gatineau, Downunder
      • June 1st, 2 TR attempts, best attempt with one hang
    • Catwomen, 5.11b, 3 bolts, Gatineau, Downunder
      • June 1st, lead attempt, hang at 2nd bolt
    • Route C, 5.5, gear, Gatineau North Wall
      • June 11th, lead solo
      • Oct 1st, lead
    • Main corner, 5.3, gear, Home Cliff
      • Aug 20th, lead
    • One up, 5.7, gear, Home Cliff
      • Aug 20th, lead
    • "nameless" crack, 5.10b, gear, Home Cliff
      • Aug 20th, first lead attempt - lots of hanging
    • Mr Toady's Dihedral, 5.8, gear + 1 bolt, CWM, Reaper
      • Oct 1st, TR lap
    • Still another climb, 5.4, gear, CWM, North Wall
      • Oct 1st, lead

            Tuesday, June 7, 2011

            Canoe map

            A route in the Kawartha Highlands.


            Thursday, June 2, 2011

            Being sporty at Downunder

            While trying to decided where there would be the least bugs in Gatineau the suggestion of Downunder was put forward. I'm never super keen on Downunder. I'm not even sure why this is the case. It might be that I really enjoy the challenge of gear climbs or that I like weird far off places but in all honesty it is most likely because the routes there are hard. I'll say it, the routes at Downunder are/can be intimidating. I just cannot get into a sport climbing go for it or pitch off at anytime mind set that is needed to work some of those routes. Anyway, mid conversation Pete mentions that he has never actual climbed at Downunder. Ok, that changes everything.

            After a coffee run to Bridgehead, Pete and I head to Luskville. The sun is hot even for 10:30 am and the mosquitoes make themselves known on the approach as we follow the trail from the parking on Hotel de Ville. However, not long after we reach the cliff,  the wind picked up and we were more or less bug free all day. Another plus is that the cliff is in the shade until 3 ish making it a great summer destination. It really was prefect conditions.

            Being Pete's first time climbing at Downunder there was no question that he would get the first lead on the warm up, Sausages 5.10c. Everyone likes to talk about how easy Sausages is, and is, if you have it ruthlessly wired. It can be another story if you are not a Downunder regular. We are not. The longer you take the more the pump builds; Sausages is overhanging by a good ten feet top to bottom.

            Pete cruises through the crux between the first and second bolt, and is clipping the third in good time. Moving onto the fourth the pump and not knowing where to go force him back down. Unable to find a rest spot the clock is ticking and he has to take. After resting and getting some beta from me, Pete clips the fourth bolt and moves to the no hand rest. The rest is a large flake/horn feature that you can mount like a saddle and with the appropriate position (toe hook). Unfortunately the pump is too much and Pete lowers off.

            With the rope pulled, it is my turn. I have the advantage of having climbed Sausages a hand full of times so I moved at a good pace to the saddle feature. Relaxed, I can shake out and de-pump. I sort of forgot/messed up the end sequence but pulled it off none the less. With a toprope in place Pete gives it another shot.

            After Sausages, I gave El Ninjo 5.12a two burns on TR. All the winter bouldering in gym has definitely payed off as the moves and the crux of El Ninjo seemed much easier than I remember. I one hanged it first go. The key for me, to get this clean, is getting the sequence right just after the third bolt. I like the idea of ground up efforts and this is how I operate when it comes to trad climbs. I lead them when I feel I'm ready. However, for sport climbs at my limit I tend to TR the line first if there is a potential fall hazard. In El Ninjo's case there is a ground fall potential it you try to high clip the fourth bolt during the crux. It is a real no-no. IN fact there are a number of climbs at Downunder where the guidebook states "Fro your safety, clip the ____ (third/fourth) bolt after having done the crux". I have seen people come quite close to the ground, scary. So you got to be able to climb through. If you blow the crux while climbing through there is a big fall that I'm just not willing to take. 

            I ended my day at Downunder by leading Catwoman 5.11b, although not clean. I put an orange metolius powercam in to protect the moves to the first bolt. On Catwoman, like a number of  Downunder climbs, a fall before the first bolt has potential to be very, very, bad due to the landing. Everything went as planned until I got my hands reversed after the second bolt. All well, next time I'll get it right (hopefully). After working out my hands I finish the climb.       

            So will I return to Downunder this summer? Most likely, Pete needs to redpoint Sausages anyway. The end goal of course would be to climb the Downunder testpiece, Anti-Gravity 5.12c. It would take a lot of projecting work and that really is not my style.

            Tuesday, May 24, 2011

            Antre du Dragon

            I have been trying to write this trip report for a couple days but have stalled several times. I'm always debating how much info to included. Does anyone actually want to hear my exacted thoughts as I remember them for each climb? For the most part I write these trip reports so I can look back in a year's time and know what happened on each trip. So I guess it is a personal yet public account of the trip.

            Matt, Hedy and I headed to Montagne d'Argent last Saturday with fantastic weather. It was a nice change from the previous week of rain and iffy weather predictions. Of course, nice weather brings more climbers and the parking area was overflowing with vechiles.

            After a pit stop at the main hut I sent a text to some other Ottawa climbers who had come up for the day. Word from le Fou was that most of the dry lines where busy. It had rained the night before and many of the routes a Montagne d'Argent take a day or two to dry out this time of year. Cool, it was a good excuse to move on to one of the "out there" crags. I'm an obscurist at heart. It is really easy to climb the same routes over and over at Montagne d'Argent so I have a policy this year of onsight climbing when going there. Walk up to a new route, onsight it, down climb in retreat while removing my gear or climbing it with falls if I want to push it (I have a pretty strong no fall policy) but once it is done, it is done. Of course, locally, in Gatineau, this onsight policy breaks down quickly due to the availability of routes in my grade range. Anyway, this is getting way off topic.

            Antre du Dragon is an "out there" crag for most people. The approach time from the main hut is around 30 minutes up the stairs to the Grand Canyon, through the Canyon and past Dame Nature. Antre du Dragon, situated on the left, is viewable from the main approach trail and is easily identified by this massive flake.


            On arrival I was surprised to see eight other climbers at Antre du Dragon. Perhaps this was not really that "out there". They seemed to be regulars to the area and were most likely there avoid the crowds too. The wall has seven routes as listed below. Note, the numbering matches the guidebook.

            1) La Saint-Georges 5.10b, gear, 20m

            This is one of the climbs I came for but unfortunately it was soaked from the rain the night before. Based on how it looked when we left I suspect it would need a few days or more to dry out. The climb is a beauty of a hand crack, #2 and #3 camalots by the look of it.

            2) La Saint Arnould 5.13a, 3 bolts and gear, 20m

            Did not bother to look at this one so not much to say here.

            3) La Saint-Ambroise 5.9 , 6 bolts, 20m

            This was the warm up climb. The first bolt is high and the bottom is covered in a green moss rug up over a slabby ramp. To reach the first bolt requires a hand foot match mantle to a sloped ledge. Given the wetness of the moss I place a #1 C4 in a shallow horizontal crack, after digging the mud out with a nut tool, before moving to the first bolt. With the uglyness out of the way the climb becomes a fun climb on flakes. Basically the wall is devoid of holds between flakes which means lots of mantling and hand foot matching up the wall. Just commit to standing up each time and you will be fine. That said, be sure of clipping the 3rd bolt; there is a big ledge below you.

            4) La Griffon 5.9-, 3 bolts, 25m

            Despite what the guidebook shows this route shares its first bolt with La Gaillarde. You will understand if you take a look at the actual wall. Since there was a group on La Gaillarde I decided to avoid there intersection at the first bolt and try to traverse by following a diagonal crack onto a slab and then to the second bolt. It seemed reasonable at first.

            I replaced the #1 cam as for La Saint-Ambroise and start the traverse. The crack quickly becomes a shallow and flared tips crack out onto the slab. I tried C3s, small metolius pieces, small C4s and small nuts but nothing would take. I climbed further on smears to find no protection again. Although my #1 is bomber, it is the only piece in and I'm looking at nasty pendulum with a potential grounder at this point. The bolt is only 3 moves away. I down/back climb to the #1 and rest. I climb out again and find a #00 C3 placement which is marginal and I'm not going to bet the farm on it. I was now starting to understand why this crack was not part of an route in the guide. I down climbed again, pulled the number one and climbed to the ground. I must have wasted 45 minutes with my shenanigans. After coming down L'ecaille du dragon, the awesome flake pictured above, became open. In fact all but two of the other climbers had left the area. I offered the lead to the others since I had wasted so much time. No takers, I was elected to lead it.

            7) L'ecaille du dragon, 3 bolts and gear 25m

            After the Griffon fiasco L'ecaille du dragon climbed like a dream. The hand/arm crack formed by the flake provides solid jams for feet and hands with bomber gear wherever you want or need it. You can sew up the bottom with a #2 and three #3 camalots before traversing out to a bolt. Pulling around the corner to mantle on to the flake is the crux and super fun. Once on top you can place a #4 or run it out to a bolt on the slab above the flake. It is a little freaky walking up the six inch wide flake so I was happy to have a #4, just sling it long to prevent rope drag. The upper slab is protected by two bolts about 20 feet apart on easy climbing. The final moves to the anchor are on a short vertical wall with a shallow hand crack, it takes a bomber #.75 C4. One last mantle to top out and you are at the anchors. A fantastic climb.

            5) La Gaillarde 5.8, gear, 25m

            Next up, La Gaillarde. I was feeling a little tired by this point and perhaps that lead to this climb being troublesome. The first bolt is guarded by some delicate slab moves and is dangerously high. The route traverses from the left on a ramp onto the slab whereas the fall is down the slab and over a 12 foot vertical drop. From the ground the climbing looks straight forward but I quickly down climbed. I seem to do a lot of that.

            I fashioned a 20 foot stick clip from some recently cut brush, climbed up on the ramp and clipped the bolt. The crack that defines the line is again shallow and irregular. The bottom half protects with small gear; I remember placing a #00 C3, #2 C3, #.3 C4, a small nut. The top half is #2 and #3 camalots. For a 5.8, I found this climb tricky and the small gear down low finicky. Of course your mileage may vary but this was much harder than the 5.9 sport route I warmed up. While climbing I do not remember hearing the birds, Matt or Hedy talking; it was just me and the rock, nothing else.

            6) La Joyeuse 5.12d, 3 bolts and gear, 25m

            Did not bother to look at this one so not much to say here.

            Antre du Dragon is a small crag where each route has a distinct character from the next. If you have not been there it is well worth the walk. I'm not sure these are good routes if the grades are at your limit. However, the top of the cliff can be accessed by the trail to climber's left as we found out while retrieving an anchor.

            After Antre du Dragon we proceeded toward Paroi du lac. Paroi du Lac is the second farthest crag from the hut. We past Mousquetaries which has three cracks named after the Three Musketeers and got to the area in the following picture.


            We thought this was Paroi du lac based on the signs; we were wrong. It is in fact Vertigineux that we had thought we had missed somehow during the hike. With the black flies biting a decision was made to climb the nearest sport route and once again I was handed the sharp end. After consulting the guidebook later at home this climb turned out to be Conjonction de cellulaires 5.9, a short 14m sport route.


            The crux is a crimpy match on a half pad edge with varied climbing above and below. An average route, nothing note worthy.

            Humbled at the gym

            So I was at the gym last night and wow did I suck. I could not commit to any move, zero strength, zero motivation and the list goes on. To top it off one of my wrists is beginning to bother me enough to be annoying. Ugh.

            In other news I was at Montagne d'Argent over the weekend so check back for a trip report in the near future. Also, coming soon is a post on reslinging cams with Maxim Techcord.

            Monday, May 16, 2011

            Camalot trigger wire replacement

            I picked up a used #4 Black Diamond pre-thumb loop camalot off the Mountain Project used gear forum. The price was right but the trigger wires had seen better days. I did not actually notice this in the seller's photo nor did the seller mention it when I bought. Although not a big deal I was a little annoyed when it arrived.

            ---

            On MEC's website the replacement wires for Black Diamond C4 cams are $7.50 for two. Since I had an older model I measured the current wires to make sure I got a set that would work;  about 21 cm for the #4. In the end this did not matter as the Ottawa store had all sorts of trigger wires dating back the original duel stem model. We managed to find a trigger wire for my original #4 marked at $6. The pre-C4 wires were actually on clearance so the final cost was $4.50. Not bad at all.

            ---

            The kit comes with installation instructions for the various types of cams and trigger bars. Step 1 is to cut the tigger wire above the swage and step 2 is to remove the wire from the bar's cleat. The cutters shown had a hard time cutting the solid wire. It was in fact easier to uncleat and then cut.

            ---

            Step 3 calls for the trigger wire to be straightened and removed from the cam lobes. As you can see in the following pic that the wire itself was rather brittle and came out in pieces.

            ---

            Installation is straight forward. The only thing to account for, is that both trigger wires terminate on the outside of the cam for an older style #4 (also #3.5); other sizes face in and out. Note that the trigger wires should not be crimped tight to allow smooth motion of the lobes. After an initial bend with needle nose pliers, a pair of vice-grips, set to the desired width, makes the final bend easy.

            ---

            Saturday, May 14, 2011

            Al on the run, sequence

            A number of images taken by Iris Bujold; best watched full screen.


            Friday, May 13, 2011

            Mid week at Montagne d'Argent

            Pete and I took advantage of the nice weather and made a mid week trip to Montagne d'Argent. As expected the place was more or less deserted. We started in Le Fou to warm up on a couple sport routes before finding a gear climb to work on. Since Pete had not been up the multi-pitch routes yet it seemed like a good choice. We climbed  the usual linkup: P1 5.9+ of Lollypops, P2 5.10b Maudit fou and P3 5.9+ Krakatoa. I lead the first two pitches and Pete took the third. P2 was damp which made the moves a little more thought provoking as I moved up the thin slab. The second half of P3 was quite wet. After topping out we walked off as it is much faster than rapping.

            Back on the ground we ate lunch and enjoyed the weather. I did notice the Black flies are starting to make an appearance but not biting yet. Once fed and watered, Pete and I eyed up Coeur vaillant 5.10b.

            Coeur vaillant is a very aesthetic finger crack with a pumpy crux about 15 feet of the ground. The tricky part about the climb is placing the gear, small cams and weird nuts. Off the ground you are faced with surmounting a bulge using an arcing thin crack to a short horizontal traverse into the main splitter.The hands are ok but the feet are pure friction in sloped dishes at the crux. I took a good fall onto a green 00 C3 here. Once though the crux there is fantastic ledge to rest on and gather yourself for the remainder of the climb. At this point the climbing is easier but sustained and the gear continues to be tricky in the irregular crack. This is a must do climb.   

            Sunday, May 8, 2011

            Yeah I toprope, so what?

            Matt, Andrew, Jeff, Pete, Iris and I headed to the Western CWM on Saturday for a bit of local climbing. The CWM was busy with what might have been an ACC group on North Wall. We started at Cave Wall and ended up staying there for the day.

            I warmed up by doing my usual lap on Neruda. Then I gave Security my first lead attempt since last year and after falling at the crux I couple times I decided to put a toprope on Al on the run. Once I worked out the moves again I sent Al on the run clean on toprope. This is the first time I have got it clean. On anthoer note the black flies are starting to appear in Gatineau.   

            Wednesday, May 4, 2011

            Thrashed by Colonel Kirtz

            I started this post on Monday. However, my motivation to write just was not there. It was, of course, raining again in Ottawa and to top it off I knocked my coffee, off my desk, onto the floor. I'm still trying to scrub the coffee out of the carpet. It is still raining but today I managed to drink my coffee so I'm take another shot at this trip report.

            Piling into Pete and Iris' white Buick Century we hit the road for Montagne d'Argent after picking up Jeff in Alymer. The weather was fantastic; blue sky, a gentle breeze and 17 degrees Celsius. It was perhaps the best day, weather wise, this spring. A perfect climbing day. It was smooth sailing in our white boat until, well, we thought that we may actually needed a boat.


            The Riviere Rouge had crested its banks and covered a section of Rang des Vents. After some inspection we decided it was only about a foot deep in the middle and definitely passable. The boat jokes aside, the roomy Buick makes for a comfy road trip car.

            Walking along the Cliff we passed lots of wet climbs and ended up at La Petite Folie. We figured we would start here and then move later in the afternoon once the sun dried up the other areas.

            Jeff was the quickest to get ready so he started off up a 5.4 crack on the slab called "Encore! mon lapin" with Pete providing a belay. This meant I was left with the wet and moss covered "Poussinet" 5.4 crack. It was an easy but muddy climb to the first set of anchors. From there I linked into "Le lapin au tambour", another 5.4 crack/slab route. With some climbing through the rather wet and mossy bit at the beginning I was now on dry rock. In the next photo you can see my rope trailing back through the slop.


            Since Pete and Jeff where still messing about on their linkup into "Arretez-le quelgu'un!" I lowered to the top of the first pitch so Iris could climb "Poussinet".



            I had come to La Petite Folie, a little madness, to try two crack lines called "Colonel Kirtz" 5.10a and "Hannibal Lecter" 5.9+. Both lines are short 10m hand cracks and I'm sure a walk for anyone with crack skills.

            Colonel Kirtz starts under a small roof spilt by a finger crack which protects well with a BD .5 C4. Once around the roof and standing up I found secure jams as the crack widened. I placed a high BD .75 C4 and cautiously moved up. Grabbing an edge where the crack juts right I worked my feet up to find a soaking wet crack. As I thrashed around in the wet crack my hands started to bleed as my arms pumped out. I tried to put in a BD #1 C4 higher but the flaring crack and irregular crystals made for a less than inspiring placement. My pumped arms and wet hands were definitely wearing on my mind. I reached for another cam, a black Metolius, and thankfully it placed well around waist level. Not wanting to pull out rope to high clip a bad placement I opted to leave it and down climbed to find a rest position. This just pumped me out more and I came off.

            Round two, was a waste as I was still too pumped. Round three, I climbed back up, fixed my #1 cam and tried to top out. Unfortunately I still had tunnel vision due to the pump and missed the obvious jug, grabbed a sloper and came off again. Round four, I grabbed the jug and ended it. Humbled by a 10m hand crack.




            After being thrashed by the Colonel I managed to regain my confidence by flashing Hannibal Lecter. Hannibal is a fun route with a cool move to pull the small roof at the top. Having a bit of beta from watching Jeff and Pete's attempts certainly helped.

            Later we toured the Petite Canyon which was total wet and dirty. I'm not sure I'll bother going back there; a long walk for nothing special.

            Friday, April 29, 2011

            Au revoir Oiseau , je me souviendrai ...

            "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"

            New Harness

            The leg loop on my Petzl Harness is pretty much done and has been for awhile so it was time to get a new harness. I thought about getting another Petzl Adjama. My current Adjama is a medium which is really too big unless I crank the waist down to the smallest it can go. However, when I tried on the small today the waist was too small for my liking; the waist buckle did not overlap on to the padding. So I looked to other brands. After trying on several others and hanging in them on MEC's climbing wall I went with the Camp Air CR.

            The Camp Air CR is about 2/3 the weight of the Adjama. That is, there is less padding and the webbing is narrower. Time will tell if this will be a comfort issue with the first test run being tomorrow at Montagne d'Argent.

            Sunday, April 17, 2011

            Wild weather in Gatineau

            I woke up late, after taking in the Habs game at a local pub, to pockets of blue sky and a strong wind. To avoid vacuuming the house I grab my gear and was off to Gatineau. I was interested in checking out a climb called Bitter Fingers 5.6. It is a first generation CWM climb put up by the usual suspects: Halka, Cotter, Adcock and Prokaopiak. Being 5.6 I figured it would be OK for lead soloing, if it was dry.

            After getting to Bitter Fingers I decided it was too wet and the beginning looked kinda friction dependent. A fall would have been ugly given the landing. A no go this time. So to salvage the trip I walked up to Cave Wall to run a quick lap on Neruda.

            A small snow storm delayed my ascent by 50 minutes or so until I got a window of sunshine. All and all a good day. Some video from the day:

            Thursday, April 14, 2011

            Rain ahead

            The weekend looks extra wet so I doubt any outdoor climbing will get done. On the gym front I'm still working at ticking off the TdB routes. Tonight's new problem are 25, 65 and 51 at the very end of the night. I spent most of the session working on 65.

            So the list is now:
            1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10
            11,12,13,14,15,16,17,18,19,20
            21,22,23,24,25,26,27,29,30
            31,32,33,34,35,37,38,39,40,
            42,44,49
            51,53,54,59
            61,65

            Sunday, April 10, 2011

            Lac Richard, in a yurt.

            So this past weekend Cynthia, Amanda, Mike and I suited up for a 13km hike into Gatineau Park. The objective was the yurt at Lac Richard.

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            To get there I knew that I would need a pair of good boots. My old pair of hikers had long since given up and I have been getting by with my approach shoes. They are great shoes but not appropriate for this trip. Typically people ski into Lac Richard but being mid April the trails varied from pavement, to hard ice, to slushy, to mud and gravel.

            ---

            So keeping dry feet was on my mind. Off to MEC. After taking back a pair of Soloman Quests that were too small and trying on half dozen others I settled on the Zamberlan Vioz GT GORE-TEX Backpacking Boots. The only trouble was it was Thursday and at this point I would have to break them on the trip.

            ---

            Packing for the trip was tricky as Cynthia and I usually do canoe trips. Unlike hiking over a long distance you can drag an enormous load over a 1 km portage with out too much trouble. So on canoe trips I bring easily 10 kilos in camera gear alone. Cutting weight for this trip was a necessity. First to go was the excess camera gear. I held myself to one camera, one lens, two batteries and a small Joby tripod. With only one lens I took my 15mm fisheye f/2.8 so I could shoot in the yurt but this meant no wildlife photos and no framing of specific parts of the landscape. I really wanted to take my 70-200 f2.8 L but it is 1.3 kilos of glass. Anyway, the following is a list of animals we saw but I did not photograph: a beaver, a quail or some other large ground bird, a white rabbit and a few chipmunks.

            ---

            Since the yurt had bunk beds with foam pads we could eliminate our sleeping pads. That was an easy decision. The yurt is advertised with wood stove for heating and cooking but I figured it would be nice to have my small Colman single burner stove anyway. After all you can boil water faster on the camp stove then by making a fire. This turned out to be a good decision as we could not get the wood stove hot enough to get a rolling boil. I was surprised by this fact. Even if we had got it that hot it would have made the yurt unbearably hot. So in my mind a stove was a must for our menu.

            ---

            I like to eat well while I'm camping and I'll suffer more weight to do so.

            Friday:

            • Dinner: Stir fry chicken with carrots, broccoli, rice, onions and cashews. I pre-bbq the chicken and precooked the rice.

            Saturday

            • Breakfast: Eggs, bacon (precooked) and cheese on a English muffin with a side of oranges.

            • Lunch: Apples. We ate such a big breakfast we mostly skipped lunch which we ate on Sunday instead.

            • Dinner: Spaghetti with meat sauce. The meat sauce was packed frozen.

            Sunday

            • Breakfast: Cucumber with cheese and bacon on an English muffin with a side of oatmeal.

            • Lunch: Peanut butter on rye with a side of oranges.

            Total weight ... hmm ... 6 kilos maybe, it doesn't matter because it was worth it. We did all our cooking on the camp stove with a single tank of fuel and warmed things on the wood stove. We also took tea and coffee. Our packs weighted in at (with our camel packs) 44 lbs for me and 29lbs for Cynthia. This includes our pots, dishes, sleeping bags, one change of clothes, coats, candles, headlamps, other stuff and a card game called Dominion-Intrigue. At 44 lbs, my pack seemed on the heavy side. Although we were going to eat well.

            ---

            The plan was to meet at Mike and Amanda's and depart for Gatineau Park for 2:30 pm. With a one hour drive to P19 that gave us just under 5 hours of daylight to make the 13 km to Lac Richard. This seemed reasonable. Unfortunately Mike was delayed by work so we make the decision to continued as planned and Mike will hike out on Saturday. As it turned out Mike manages to get out off work and by making good time on the highway leaves P19 only one hour after us.

            ---

            Leaving P19, Amanda, Cynthia and I marched down trail 50, a snow covered road with some bare spots, along Lac Philippe. The snow is hard packed and the hills are gentle. By the time we hit trail 55 onto Lac Taylor we have hit our stride and we shave off the kilometers a good clip. Trail 55 was snow covered gravel road that was mostly bare and rather soft as it rounds Lac Renaud. There is a nice bench on Lac Renaud but there is no time to stop here.

            ---

            Once we hit Lac Taylor, 6 kms in, our packs are definitely noticeable. On the upside, my feet are fine and still happy in my new boots. We opt for a 10 min break at a picnic table before moving onto trail 56, an intermediate trail. Trail 56 out of Lac Taylor was softer snow so Cynthia and I dawned our poles to make the hills easier. As you leave Lac Taylor and its campsites behind the trail starts a long climb for almost 1.5 km up past Lac de la Vase. Most of the trail is snow and ice with a mud section here and there.

            ---

            At the top of the climb we are rewarded with a sign post that marks Lac Richard's Yurt at 5 km. Here trail 56 turns from intermediate (blue square) to advance (black diamond). This means bigger hills ahead. At the top of the first hill I look back to catch my breath and wait for Amanda and Cynthia and what do I see? Wow it's Mike, head down and pushing it up the hill, he had made up the 1 hour difference! With the four of us together there was a new sense of energy and relief that if we got stuck in the dark at least we were together. The rest of the black diamond section descends down to Lac Kidder.

            ---

            The end of Lac Kidder is marked by a sign post which states the Lac Richard yurt is 2 kms ahead. It did not look like 2 km on the map and we told ourselves it must be more like 1.6 km. I'm sure the distance on the sign is rounded up, maybe not. I think this is the longest 2 kms I have ever walked. With the sunsetting and constant climbing it seemed like the yurt should be just over the next hill but it wasn't. Then there was a bridge and another hill that went on forever until you hit Lac Richard. The finally obstacle is a beaver dam at the end of Lac Richard.

            ---

            With our light gone we entered the yurt and got down to business. The first priority was to remove damp clothes and get the wood stove going. As the sun drop below the trees, the temperature quickly drop as well. Next up was a late dinner, it was now around 8 pm. Cynthia and I started our meal on the wood stove but quickly revered to the camp stove to speed up the process. To keep warm I restocked the wood stove twice after going to sleep. The first time was around 3:40 am and the second about three hours later. For the most part we were toasty warm.

            ---

            Saturday was a late morning and I don't thing we ate breakfast before 10 am. We lounged about for awhile and actually had some surprise visitors who did not realize this yurt was by permit only. I guess the big sign that says "No Entry" without a valid permit needs to be bigger. Anyway, it was all forgotten with a few rounds of Dominion and a hike to explore the surrounding hillsides.

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            Our spaghetti dinner that night hit the spot. Again, well worth the weight of the meal sauce. With the dishes done it was an epic evening of Dominion with Cynthia dominating almost every game.

            ---

            Morning came early on Sunday. By 9:30 am, breakfast was eaten, dishes were washed, gear was packed, coffee drank and we had hit the trails. With a lighter load (39 lbs and Cynthia's pack at 21 lbs , weight them later at home) I felt good going into the hike. A little Advil helped too. That hard 2 km uphill was now a nice 2km downhill; a good way to start off the day.

            ---

            I felt strong on the climb from Lac Kidder to Lac de la Vase and after that is it all down hill to Lac Taylor. When you know where you are going and see the landmarks go by, it really helps you stay motivated. We ate lunch at Lac Taylor and departed at 12:30 pm. With easy hiking ahead I packed my poles for the final walk to P19. The final 6 km took about an hour.

            Monday, April 4, 2011

            Sunday, April 3, 2011

            Tropical at Home Cliff

            I headed out to Home Cliff today in the early afternoon. I figured that someone had to be there given the beautiful weather and sure enough I ran into MC, Bojan and Phil. They had been there awhile but were kind enough to lend a belay so I could lead Piton Highway and also run a lap of Peggy on TR. With the sun shining down it felt tropical compared to yesterday at Calabogie.

            Piton Highway, as always, felt a bit tricky. Still, it was enjoyable as I took my time to figure out the moves again. Despite its moderate grade of 5.7 it is not a climb to be rushed.

            Saturday, April 2, 2011

            Calabogie, low key

            I had a low key day out at Calabogie with Jeff, Victoria, Kyla and Matt. We approach from the top since I figured the bottom would be too wet. Although this turned out to be false. So after wondering around longer then I would have liked (i.e. I lead us too far) we rapped down and found the climbs. I mostly climbed the same old stuff but I lead flakely flake 5.4 before we left. A fun onsight. Just be aware of the microwave sized death block about three quarters of the way up.

            Monday, March 28, 2011

            All is not lost

            I went to the gym tonight with low expectations and walked out feeling great. The lumbrical injury behaved as the literature suggested it would. This means as long as I avoid pockets and curling my baby finger with my ring finger stretched out I can almost climb whatever I want. Crimps and pinches seemed good to go as long as I don't spilt my fingers. I also choose to avoid any dyno situations for fear of latching a hold in the wrong way.

            Tonight was also great since Coyote just hosted the TdB and had 78 new problems to try. I managed to flash 3,4,5,7,8,11,14,16,17,20,23,30,31,32,33,40,42,44,53 and 59. I worked on 61 and gave 57 a few goes too. There are number of problems in the upper 40s and 50s that look like good projects for me.

            Sunday, March 27, 2011

            Suck it up princess

            After some reading I believe I have a lumbrical injury but to what extent is unclear. What is clear, is that I need to get on with climbing. Time to get over the self pity, not worry about my projects and just figure out what is possible in the short term.

            Friday, March 25, 2011

            Over before it started

            My high hopes for a season of ticking off projects is most likely over. Last night at the gym I was pulling on a swallow two finger pocket with my index and ring finger when a nasty pain shot through my palm. My grimp was open handed and my feet did not cut. I'm not sure what to do ... I'm still in the self pity stage.

            Sunday, March 20, 2011

            Calabogie is climbable

            I hit up Calabogie today with Bojan, Matt and Rachel. As we piled into the car, with the morning chill still in the air, I wasn't sure what to expect. The main climbing area does not see much ice so I figured there must be something climbable.


            Rachel, Matt and Bojan

            There is still plenty of snow and ice on the ground at Calabogie and crampons would have made the approach easier. It was still quite manageable thought. If the weather stays warm the lower approach will be under water shortly. There is already a significant amount of water to walk around. Add to this the loads of ice still on the cliff and you have a flood of biblical proportions to come.

            The main area was for the most part dry with very little ice on the climbs. We started on the revamped (bolts now protect the bottom half of the climb) Calabogie Sunset. My fingers numbed out by the time I clipped the first bolt which made the little roof feel harder then usual. As I passed the third bolt, above the tree line, the rock felt warmer and my fingers recovered by the time I hit the anchors. The cliff faces west so it takes time for the sun to get onto it.


            Rachel on TR

            After a bit of coffee I sent the new line left of Free Flight. The ice on my usual foot holds near the top added a little spice to the otherwise familiar climb. It was no big deal really as there are other feet but just not as big. Once back on the ground I took a walk along the cliff to look for older guidebook climbs but I'm not sure I found any. I could not say for certain I found the landmarks the guide was talking about. It was a nice walk in the sun though.

            At this point I decided to toprope the direct start of Vulcan Mind to see if I could remember the beta. To set up the toprope I re-climbed the previous climb (we left a rope up for this propose) and topped it out. After slinging a tree I lowered to the direct start's anchors on the left. I climbed the direct start twice but it was not pretty. I have completely forgot the beta between the second and third bolt. I worked out two options but neither feel quite right. I really like this climb; it is just so good.

            Sunday, March 13, 2011

            Skiing in Gatineau

            Still too wet to climb so I got some skiing in today. Cynthia has been/still is pretty sick and busy working too. So I went on a solo mission to Gatineau Park today and skied from P3 up the parkway to trail 5, along 5 to 15, 15 to 35, around Pink Lake and back to the car via the parkway. Not bad I thought for a beginner's 4th time out. (I ski a few times as a kid but it is like I'm skiing again for the first time.)

            The round trip took just over three hours, about 15km. Man was I tired when I got back to the car. I was totally over dressed and I should have taken some water; I ate some snow at one point. Trail 5(green) is a nice trail and was easy going. Trail 15 (blue) was a winding 3.5 km climb up to Pink Lake although I was glad to be going up since I would have most likely kill myself going down this one. Trail 35 is short, like 600m, but steep going into Pink and I had to take my skis off to walk a hill (going down). The reward of all this hard work is coming down the parkway from Pink to P3. The hills are long but gentle; at least they seem this way after 15 and 35. All in all I learned lots and had a great day.

            Thursday, March 10, 2011

            Rain and more rain

            March is shaping up to be a total wash. The snow, rain and freeze cycle not only puts a damper on outdoor climbing but makes cross country skiing difficult as well. I'm a total beginner on skis so the ice is not helping. The best day yet was making my own trail along the river last weekend. Hopefully the weekend weather allows some outdoor fun.

            Postscript: It has now been three months since I first hurt my finger and finally I'm starting to see progress in healing. I'm still icing, taping and not climbing as hard ... I just need to remain patient so not to have a setback.

            Monday, February 28, 2011

            New dogbones



            I decided to replace the dogbones on my oldest draws since the webbing has started to get stiff and show its age. I think these draws are around 10 years old. I found last year I was favouring my new draws even though I know these ones will hold falls. Even at half strength they would hold 11 KN which is more that most stoppers are rated too. However, at $2.50 each from MEC the new ones offer peace of mind for less than $15. It is a no-brainer; not worrying about gear is priceless.

            In other news I plan to return to the gym tonight after about two weeks off. Cynthia and I got married in Quebec City February 19th. We had a wonderful time. The time off has hopefully helped my finger heal a bit too.

            Wednesday, February 9, 2011

            Monday, February 7, 2011

            Saturday, February 5, 2011

            Thursday, February 3, 2011

            Fingers, cams and books

            So it has been almost a month since I injured my finger and I think there are finally some signs of improvement. For the most part it is just not as sore in the morning when I wake up and the recovery time after climbing is going down. In an effort to continue in this direction, I decided not to go to the gym Thursday. The key now is not to do something stupid in the next two months and have a setback. That is, I need to keep focused on the long term and not the short term enjoyment of working a hard problem. Given that we were on the rock in March last year, outdoor climbing is not that far away.

            To pass the time I've read two books,
            • 9 out of 10 climbers make the same mistakes, by Dave MacLeod; and
            • Climbing Anchors 2nd ed. , by John Long and Bob Gaines.
            Both are great books and are worth picking up if you don't already own them.

            In other news I picked up some used Metolius cams off Mountain Project to complement my BD C4s and C3s. My rack now has 19 cams and a set of nuts weighting in at about 6 pounds. Crazy, I know.

            Saturday, January 29, 2011

            Calabogie, ice climbing

            I head out to Calabogie on Friday to try my hand at ice climbing. It was a mild -3 degrees C which meant soft ice and no freezing while belaying. Perfect conditions for a first timer like me.

            ---
            Me pumped out

            We started on a easy ground with a 15m (guessing here) WI2 that Pete led. Ok, now my turn but on TR, of course. Stepping up to the base I set my axes and started up. I found the biggest issue was getting reasonable feet so I did not over work my arms. Part of the problem was, at first, my secondary points were not making contact because of my gummie ice climbing style. The other issue was that my boots are not made for climbing or crampons for that matter. Anyway, I thrashed my way to the top without coming off. I was happy with my first ice climb. We each TR this route a couple more time.

            ---

            Next up was a 20m WI3 which made things more interesting. On my first attempt I try to just power my way up but I got so pumped at the top I had to take for fear of dropping my tools. After the first climb of the day we dropped the leashes, so much better. Without leashes you can shakeout the pump, match on tools, switch hands and in general just have more options when climbing. Anyway, I learned my lesson. I took my time during my other climbs and managed my pump by resting at good stances. I think we climbed this WI3 three more times.

            Other lessons learned include: bulky gloves lead to over gripping and pump, hooking on featured ice can be beneficial and look for natural foot holds before just kicking away at the ice.