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.

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