Friday, December 20, 2013

New Year's Climbing Resolution: 1000 feet

With winter in full swing and the Christmas holiday break from the climbing gym looming it is time to look back on this year's climbing. There are a number of highlights including:
  1. Offwidth climbing
    • Montagne d'Argent, Mousqutaires, Artagnan 5.10c: A super fun offwidth climb that protects with larger gear as you get higher. A #4 is sufficient but #5 would be nice.
    • Val David, La Bleue, Limace 5.9: Un bel offwidth, a solid 5.9, this is a must climb! A #5 or #6 C4 would make the lead pretty chill to the horizontal traverse; I had neither. I was forced to run-it-out a little over a tipped out #4 which puts you in a potentially bad position.
  2. L'hippocampe 5.10b onsight: This has to be one of the best lines at Montagne d'Argent period. The best approach is to climb L'hypothenuse 5.7+ almost to its end, then traverse at the bolt crossing a sport route to pull the lip on good holds to the base of L'hippocampe.
  3. Bouldering for volume at Calabogie: Just a fun day climbing as many new problems as I could, Thanks to Jason Allemann and Kristal Dubois for working on a new guide, Checkout Jason's blog too:
  4. Cleaning and working on the Fly ground up: The Fly is far from a classic climb but I like it. I cleaned it because it is the closest thing to a roof crack a Calabogie and at 5.9 (the original grade) how hard could be right? Well, I still have not sent it clean. Some footage of my first attempt,   
  5. Crevasse climbing while hiking on Svínafellsjökull in Iceland:

 After reflecting on last year's climbing it is clear that the main obstruction to my climbing is endurance. On most climbing days I did an average of maybe 4 routes last year. Since I don't usually repeat climbs (useless I'm climbing locally and I don't have a choice) I end up using a lot of energy placing gear and adhering to my no fall style of climbing. Once my physical energy drops off  the unknown aspect of a new route definitely hurts my "psych" to push for one more climb. With this in mind I plan to start climbing routes again in the gym.

My goal starting in January is to build toward climbing 1000 feet at Coyote. Yes, Coyote is short and this will require about 50 routes to accomplish. These are my rules for completing the challenge:
  • Repeating routes is ok (this saves on time),
  • At least 10 routes should be 5.10 or harder,
  • 5.6 is the minimum grade; and
  • complete by June 1st.
Now that it is posted on the internet, there is no backing out. The trick will be to not get injured and to manage my shoulder properly.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Fall climbing

Hedy climbing up Deux Ètoiles 5.7+ at La Bleue in Val David. A nice easy 3-star finger crack with hard slab climbs on either side. After leading up Deux Ètoiles I spent some time on TR working the slab on climbers left, Cristal 5.11c. The crux is just below the second bolt at about the 3/4 mark on the climb.

Later in the day I also lead Bleue Directe 5.8 with the sun starting to dip in the sky. The beginning of the route is protect by 2 bolts; getting to the first one might be the crux of the climb. It is a slab start with a high first bolt, then past a second bolt and into a small chimney feature that leads to a corner. The climbing is not hard but this is a no fall climb as there is just too much hit after the chimney. The slightly overhung corner is well protected by #.75 to #2 C4 cams. The end is sort of run-out and low quality. Its ok, I'm not sure it deserves its 1-star given in the guidebook.     


I hiked into the CWM to lead solo some easy climbs and admire the colour of the Gatineau hills. The Luskville Falls parking lot was a nuthouse with hikers and leaf viewers; I was lucky to get a parking spot.


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Another shot at the Fly

I took another shot at the Fly at Calabogie this pass weekend with Matt. It felt much easier than on my previous attempt, although I still did not get it clean. I think with a little more effort it will go.

Also, a heads-up if you are heading out to Calabogie, the anchors for Flaky Flake/ The Fly and Homeward bound both had loose bolt hangers. I tightened them the best I could. If you do take a wrench out there then be sure not to over tighten them.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Fall is here and close to gone

Fall is here and it seems like it is passing by fast. September came and went with a trip to Montagne d'Argent and a second trip back to the Calabogie boulders. The highlights of September include finally attempting and climbing L'hippocampe 5.10b which has to be one of the best lines at Montagne d'Argent. The crack flares to the back in places so place your cams appropriately. The best approach is to climb L'hypothenuse, traversing at the bolt, and topping out to the base of L'hippocampe. As for Calabogie I worked out most of the moves to Ken's Super Slab V5 but came off the top a couple times. That's all for now, hopefully there is some sending weather left before the cold months of winter appear.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Calabogie bouldering

I was out bouldering a Calabogie on Sunday; enjoying the fine fall weather with Pete, Iris and Hedy. I believe this was my third trip the boulders and this time I decided to go for volume until I found something to work on. I ticked a good number of easy problems.

The Pinnacle Gnome V0- : Definitely stand on "the summit"
Not a Jedi Yet V0- : Easy slab warm up
Big Blue Ox V0- : Short, like 5.5 climbing
Unnamed V0- : Some new line on the chief boulder
White Buffalo V0: More like 5.8 climbing
Westward Ho V0 : Worth doing, easy top-out
Flight of Fancy V1: Easy slab
Bloody Kristal Direct V2: This seemed way over graded at V2, V1 at most.
Skull-Fucking Bunnies V3: The top of the boulder is a mess so downclimb this one.
Scratching Post Direct V3: Took a couple tries to find "the right" feet for me, nice problem.
Meanie V3: I did it twice because hand jams are fun (use tape)
Solid Ether V4: A much better line than Bunnies, downclimb Bunnies.
The Orbital Traverse V4: EasyV4? I don't know, I flashed this.
Orbital Insertion V4: Another easy V4? I messed up the flash, second try.
Trade Route to India V5: This took many tries (15+) to workout the beta and body position. This was my last problem of the day; I'm glad I stuck around to finish it. A must do problem and the top-out is easy if you can get there

Monday, September 2, 2013

What goes in, must come out?

It has been a awhile since I posted and for the most part, it is because I have not had anything too exciting to say. Not that, that has stopped me in the past though. I have not had a big sending day in awhile. You know one of those days where it all clicks and somehow you get that hard onsight or redpoint or simply just climb many routes. In any case, I have been climbing at the usual places Calabogie, Luskville and a trip or two to Montagne d'Argent.

I was out at Home Cliff yesterday. After climbing Peggy and Piton highway I gave Direttissisma two attempts. I got to the top both times but came off a few times between the second and third bolt. It is a fun route with clean falls.

Also, while at Home Cliff I manage to get a #3 Camalot so stuck I had to leave it behind; I must have tired for an hour to free it. Today I returned on a solo mission to recover it. As luck would have it, the cam came out rather quickly.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Fly, some footage

I put some footage by Iris together of my first attempts at the Fly.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

La Bleue, Val David

Which Crack?

Alp 5.6 - A very enjoyable, although thoughtful in places, warm up with the start shown in the above photo. Lots of gear opportunities and bolted top anchors make for a safe lead.

Androgene 5.9 - I'm not sure where the 5.9 part on this route is; it felt pretty straight forward with solid jams and plentiful gear placements. Perhaps the small offwith section to the top out accounts for the grade if that is not your thing. Note that there are no bolted anchors on this climb but the walk off is easy.

Limace 5.9 - Un bel offwidth, a solid 5.9, this is a must climb! A #5 or #6 C4 would make the lead pretty chill to the horizontal traverse; I had neither. I was forced to run-it-out a little over a tipped out #4 which puts you in a potentially bad position. There is a hidden .75 C4 placement at the top of the offwidth that can be placed, with care, from a rather strenous position. The traverse itself is awesome too and takes gear between #1 and #3 C4. 

Monday, June 10, 2013

Beaten by the Fly

Pete, Iris and I headed out to Calabogie on Sunday for a day of local climbing. We arrived to find damp routes and luckly very few black flies. First up, we headed to Stage left and Stage right so Iris could give them a go. Despite the water on both I found them easy leads; the 5.9 and 5.8 grades on these climbs are way out of whack with the rest of Calabogie.      

Later in the day I gave the fly a go on lead and man did it feel hard. Definitely harder than the old 5.9 grade it gets in the guide. After numerous falls trying to pull the roof I felt like I was going to puke. The gear is all there, take both big and small cams/ nuts. After finally pulling the roof the route eases to an enjoyable finish.

The gear:

The beginning moves, to get up on the slab, are indeed adequately protectable; I used a #6 BD mirco nut nested with a #2 c3. Make sure you are comfortable/confident with this gear, a fall off the slab would be rather ugly. Once on the slab I placed a #0 c3 to protect my transition right to gain the crack. With a .4 c4 place in the crack I pulled the #0 c3 to reduce future rope drag and then climbed higher placing a #2 c4. I fall on the roof will place an upward pull on these lower piece and will most likely pop the micro nut and #2 c3 give the nature of their placements. So to prevent a further zippering of your gear make sure the .4 is positions to take a upward pull. Now starting up into the roof there is a finger slot that takes a prefect #1 c3 and then a #0 c3 higher.  Before getting to the hand crack which takes a #1 C4 there is a bomber but strenuous to place #5 BD stopper placement. I fell on this one a couple times. Finally over the roof you will find a place for a #3 or #4 c4 followed by a solid tree before heading out toward Flaky flake's anchors. 

The route is top-ropeable by using Flaky Flake's anchors and placing a redirect off the obvious pine tree.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

A Fly on the Wall

The Fly at Calabogie is now climbable; it took about 5 hours with a wire brush. There was so much lichen and dirt. I also tossed quite a bit of loose rock too and there is still a few more chunks that most likely should be brought down.

I think it has potential to be a fun lead and the roof hand crack section (crux) look super well protected. The beginning like most pre-retro bolted Calabogie climbs may need a boulder mat .... ha ha.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Montagne d'Argent: Mousqutaires

Another short post ...

I hit up Montagne d'Argent last weekend with the usual crew and the place was packed. This meant it was a good day to checkout some of the more "out there" ticks on my Md'A list. We started at Mousqutaires. The cliff is split by three crack lines, 10c, 9+ and 9+, from left to right. The start of all three cracks were soaked but the 10c seemed in the best condition.

Artagnan 5.10c: A super fun off-width climb that protects with larger gear as you get higher. I used two #4s but a #5 would have been easier to place without the need to put the cams so deep in the crack. No onsight here, a fight to the top for sure.

Porthos 5.9+: This climb was a wet mess, I still got the onsight though.

There was still some ice in Vertigineux. I climbed Le beau-frere 5.8 to end the day.


Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The weather is warming, finally

A short post ... last weekend we left Ottawa Saturday morning for Calabogie; it was raining. We killed some time by have breakfast at a pub in Kanata before getting back on the highway. It was still raining. Somewhere between the Neat Cafe and Calabogie the sky lightened and the road started to dryout. In the end it turn out to be a fantastic day.

 On Sunday we headed to the CWM for some easy routes on North Wall, Cave Wall and Baby Pneu.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Calabogie, not quite spring

Matt, Andrew and I headed out to Calabogie this past Sunday. The day started off cold. I believe it was below zero when I left for Andrew's house. It has been a slow start to the season around Ottawa with chilly temperatures and late season snow.

As we hiked in the lower trail it was clear that winter had not left Calabogie either. There is at least two feet of water and ice over portions of the usual approach trail. On approaching the cliff I put on my helmet; we listened to falling ice for the rest of the day.  

 Our first stop was Calabogie sunset and after freezing our fingers on ice cold rock we move back out to the sunbathed Flaky Flake. It was pleasure to climb, so warm. Last up for me, an unname sport route, 5.6 ish (although the roof move might feel harder) on well spaced bolts. So another slow climbing day on easy ground, waiting for warmer temperatures.      

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Adventure high on the Escarpment

A long (perhaps not the most direct) approach, some bushwhacking, sopping wet rock, snow, ice, breaking a hold, a wet run out slab to top it off and no bolts to be found all made for an interesting Sunday adventure.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Home Cliff renos

I was out at Home Cliff over the weekend. Here are a couple photos of the work done, to prevent further erosion, by the NCC at the end of last season.



As for climbing, the weather was fantastic and the rock was warm. We lead up "one up", Peggy and Direttissisma. Unfortunately, in my opinion, Peggy has been left in a mess.

There are:
- three fixed slings;
- two fixed hexes/chocks of some sort; and
- worst of all there are two new pitons pounded in.

None of this gear is needed and it is ugly. Although not nearly as ugly as the crampon scars. I believe all of this mess should be removed to return Peggy to its usual state. I would have done it but I lacked the tools to do so.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Neruda, a winter ascent: footage

I edited together some footage that Iris took of me climbing Neruda a few weeks ago.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Next season, looking ahead

It is that time year, when goals for next season start to creep into conversation and blog posts. Last night I was flipping through a Montagne d'Argent guide thinking about last year's onsights, sends and failures. Some highlights of last season include:
  • Invitation Mixte 5.10b, Grand Canyon, Md'A ("retro" flash)

    "The gear can be finicky in places and of course the best placements corresponded to some of the best holds. Lots of small gear; I protected the crux with a #00 C3 that I did not want to fall on. "
  • L'envers de l'arete 5.10b, L'hippocampe Md'A (near onsight)

    "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." 
  • Pas de Face 5.10c, Mont Condor, Val David (onsight)

    "The mental crux for me was the switch over from bolts to small cams. Five feet or so above the last bolt I placed a #0.4 BD C4 although a #0.5 would go there too. At this point you must commit to a left traverse on a small horizontal for your hands and not the greatest feet, small edges and smears."
  •  Breakfast Cookie 5.10b, Calabogie (onsight)

     "I had heard some talk of it being harder than 5.10b; although it did not look too bad from the ground. As it turned out, I got the onsight."Pi
There are a number of climbs that I did not send that I will go back to like Al on the Run,  After the Gold Rush Wall and an the unnamed route beside Breakfast Cookie. All have potential to go and would if I decided to project them but I'm not really into that. If the route does not go clean first go I tend to move on to the next climb instead of focusing the day on one particular route.

For new trad routes there is still lots of opportunity at Md'A. I have lead about 60 different routes of all types and grades at Md'A but there is still lots to do. Looking through the book I compiled a list for 2013:
  • All routes at Supercrackspot - not a lot info out there on this place - a few notes on the Internet about the grades being sandbagged.
  • A return to Vertigineux for Llaria Apli 5.10- and Le Rocket 5.8+.
  • All three crack lines at Mousqutaires 5.9+ to 10c. (May 4th, one is too dirty)
  • La Saint-Georges 5.10b, Antre du Dragon.
  • Last Call 5.10d, Grand Canyon.
  • Hike up to Boite a surprise for Piccolo 5.10b and La gardienne 5.8.
  • A long overdue return to the M&M wall for Lezadomachos 5.9+, Psychoface 5.10d and No sympathy 5.10d.
  • Stop making excuses and try L'hippocampe 5.10b. (onsight in early Sept) While I'm there send L'envers de l'arete cleanly.
  • Return to Le Fou to send Coeur vaillant 5.10b; (returned but no send) I took my first fall on a green C3 the first time around. There is also L'entonnoir 5.9+ to the right as well.
  • Finally, finish off Colonel Kirtz 5.10a without grabbing the root at the top.
Yeah it is a long list . It most certainly would take a good number of trips and some luck to tick off these climbs. In particular, finding some of these climbs in a dry state is not always a given. Away, rock climbing at Md'A is still 2.5 months off, so I can dream.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Neruda, a winter ascent

I snowshoed into the CWM today with Pete and Iris to aid climb Neruda and perhaps ice climb on Spindrift wall. The hike in was a bit tricky in places with Friday's fresh snow hiding numerous icy patches near the end of the approach. 
Breaking a fresh path up to the CWM under a warm sun made for a fantastic start to the day. It was
-13 C when we left Ottawa but it felt plenty warm by the time we  arrived at Cave Wall. Without the leaves on the trees, Cave Wall sucks up the sunshine; warming the rock. It is a magical spot really. It was at that point I decided to just free climb Neruda.

Pulling on a pair of 5.10 Spires, that I can wear with socks, I started up Neruda placing the usual cams. The crux and mantle onto the ledge was complicated by ice and snow. I placed some extra gear here. It was at this point I noticed the top out and anchors were buried in snow.

After putting on my gloves I started up the final layback until I could get locked off on my left and clear snow with my right. Stepping up onto the snowy slab in rock shoes was interesting and a bit unnerving. Once I had committed to the slab I still had to dig for the anchors; it was good to clip them.

With Neruda checked off Pete turned his attention to Spindrift and although there seemed to be lots of ice at first glance, we decided it was not safe enough for us to climb. Most of the ice was thin, cauliflowered and not thick enough for Pete's longer ice screws. I think it was the right decision to walk away.      

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Looking for ice at Calabogie

What are these for and where is all the rock? Yep, I'm quite new to ice.

After a forecast of 9 degrees C with a chance of rain, Cynthia and I change our cross country skiing plans this pass Saturday to ice climbing at Calabogie. I was not sure there would be much climbable ice left but at least we could go snowshoeing. I also pack a small rack and my rock shoes in case there was any dry rock. There was not. Even the overhanging routes were soaked.

Meeting up with Pete, Iris, Mandy, Matt and Lindsay we had a great day. Notes from the day include:
  •  Cynthia climbed her first ice route and did quite well for someone, who, not that long ago climbed outside for the first time. Watching Cynthia give it her all on the route and not giving up despite a couple falls was awesome.     
  • I down climbed an ice route for the first time. 
  • My new black diamond arc gloves worked out great; I also use them for cross country skiing.
  • Calabogie is not the best spot to find dry rock in the winter; the Western CWM is a better bet.