Sunday, June 24, 2012


I was out at Calabogie yesterday with Matt, Andrew, Iris and Pete. Nothing epic was climbed but it was nice to get outside. For the most part I lead some easy routes like the retro bolted First Flight and the unnamed line left of it. I also did Phasers on Kill with the traverse variation at the end to the anchors of Phasers on stun. Phaser on Kill, although straight forward, does involve a certain amount of risk. If you are thinking of leading Phasers on Kill and you are new to placing gear here is my 2 cents.
  • Be wary of the ground fall potential at the start. After the placing a 0.3 C4 you must commit to making the moves over the small bulge to gain the vertical crack. A fall from above the bulge would almost surely be a grounder.
  • Take the time to ensure a bomber second piece in the vertical crack above the bulge. There are plenty of good cam placements here and also plenty of bad ones given the nature of the crack. I usually place a #.75 waist level and then high clip, at an arms length above my head, a #1 C4.
  • Like any climb don't trust the rusty pin.     
  • The rock quality shifts toward poor after you pass the old rusted pin above the vertical crack. Find the good placements among the various horizontal cracks.
  • At this point in the climb there is way too much protruding rock, don't fall.     
We did give Tipytoe 5.11d a shot on TR. The start is the crux and I'm not sure if it is just hard for short people or if we did an incorrect start. Once you get the large jug 2 feet or so left of the first bolt it can't be more than 10d or 5.11a. Then after the second bolt (note a small cam is needed between the first and second bolt) it is trivial climbing. Note that the hardest moves are before the first bolt and the uneven rocky landing would not be good.  I'm sure I could lead this route but I don't feel motivated to do so.

On a side note watch out for the poison ivy. It is extra thick this year in the ice climbing areas so stay low on the approach trail to avoid the worst of it. Leaves of three, let them be.


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.