Monday, June 11, 2012

Climbing a seahorse

Matt, Andrew and I had a good trip to Montagne d'Argent this past Saturday. On arriving at L'hippocampe we found the place to ourselves so I warmed up on L'hypothenuse 5.7+.  This route protects well with a range of cams and a couple medium sized stoppers for the top out. It was a good climb to clear the haze from the beer the night before. As for the grade I'm not sure it needs the plus compared to other Montagne d'Argent 5.7s, an easy onsight.

With the warm up done and out of the way it was time to try out my objective for the day, L'envers de l'arete 5.10b. I had seen this climb a year or so ago but at the time I knew I was not ready.  The climb starts as a gently overhanging, wide hands to fists, crack in a left facing corner and finishes up a small slab to a mossy top out. The jams felt solid; my arms were sunk forearm deep. I placed a #4 C4 as my first piece then came a less than ideal #3 as the second. At this point I was feeling some pump which I made worse by making several mistakes. First I try to place a #4 but got it over cammed on two lobes in a bad spot. It felt like forever hanging on one arm messing with that thing. I should have just left it. With the #4 stuck I pushed a #3 in above, it was good but the rock maybe was not so to complete the clusterf*#k of cams I add a #2 between the #4 and the #3. Now I'm just getting pump out of my mind. Of course because I'm stubborn I started to work on getting my #4 back. If I had just climbed on ... anyway I got the #4, made a couple moves and had to take. If I had climbed it out I a move or two more I would have been in a good rest position. That's how onsight climbing goes sometimes; just too pumped to see the coming rest. The climbing eases a grade on the upper crack up a short slab and is capped with a tricky mantle top out. This is definitely one of my favourite Montagne d'Argent climbs.

Next up was Tally-ho 5.11b. Tally-ho is a bolted wide crack just around the corner from L'envers de l'arete. I always wonder why someone would bolt this climb but that quickly became clear. The rock is rotten and crumbly. The rock would break off  in flakes while I tried to jam in the crack. At the same time my feet would kick more rock off. After clipping the third bolt I came off swinging into space. I tired this section a few more times before finally deciding to bail. To be honest this climb sucks. 

The last climb of the day was Dad's, a 5.10b 7 bolt sport route, in the Amphitheatre. The beginning traverse is well protected but tricky. After the 3rd bolt the moss and lichen thicken and the bolt spacing increases to 10 to 15 feet. This not a climb to fall on; the cheese grading potential on the slab is high. I found the climbing mentally tiring as my feet complained horribly on the hot slab. This is usually my type of climb however it just ground me down. Just before the last bolt I exited right onto a ledge and then off the climb into the woods. From here I pulled up the rope and hiked the climber's trail to the top. Another onsight gone. Dad's is not representative of other Montagne d'Argent climbs and perhaps is why it was so dirty.           

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