Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Montagne d'Argent: Part deux

Carla, Gen, Alan and I left Kingston early Friday (May 15th) morning for Montagne d'Argent. Montagne d'Argent is located near St Jovite, 117 Km north of Montreal. The plan was to climb Friday, Saturday morning before the rain, and Sunday morning before going to Montreal to watch the Tour de Bloc bouldering nationals at Allez Up.

Montagne d`Agrent is privately owned so there is a $5 per day climbing pass and waiver to sign when you get there. The on-site camping is $7.50 per night so if you are going to spend two or more nights there it is worth buying a seasons pass for $25 which covers climbing and camping. The limited camping is quite reasonable with two group shelters, picnic tables, BBQS, and firewood. Although as I mentioned in my first post, there is no running water so it is important to
bring lots or stock up in St. Jovite. It is best to keep your food in your car as there are raccoons that come in the middle of the night.

"Grand Canyon"


After a quick stop at MEC (in Montreal) to buy more quickdraws, an ATC guide, and more biners we arrived at Montagne d'Agrent around 12:30. We stayed together and hit up "Le Fou" for two side be side 3 pitch routes that come together for the last pitch. Yep, like my first time there that is going to be lots of people on the last pitch. I started on lead for our (Gen and I) route which was a slabby 5.8 with tricky feet. The second pitch, I lead this too, was a 5.10b with a lot of little edges and tricky top out. Both the first and second pitch rely on trusting your feet. After Carla joined me at the second belay station, Gen followed on our rope so I could lead the last pitch as Alan came up on Carla's rope. The last pitch is a 5.9 crack (anywhere from 6 inches to more than a body width near the top). Last time I climbed this section I took a fall after the second bolt because I was trying to jam in the crack too much instead of just laying back. So this time I committed the lay back and finished the bottom half was out incident. About halfway, once the crack opens up the bolts spacing increased to around 10 feet which seemed odd because the bottom was so well protected. To make the run outs more interesting this part of
the crack was quite wet; I took my time here and made sure each move was going to go. The "fun part" of the last pitch is the more or less hanging belay at the top. It took awhile to get things adjust so that my position was tolerable. Once Gen was up Alan lead the crack and got to experience the "fun" hanging belay as well as Carla followed.

After the multi-pitch we found a 5.9 and 5.10c (?), also in "Le Fou", that looked do able. I started to lead the 5.9 clipping the first bolt without any problems. The second bolt was up and far right of a large flake. I worked up and locked off on the top of the flake but I could not safely reach out for the second bolt because of a lack of foot holds. I decided to reposition and try again, still no good. At this point my arms are starting to get pumped out so I decide to mantle on the top of the flake and then clip but this did not feel good either so I backed off and down climbed to the bottom. After discussing what should be done we decided that I just need to "try harder" and "climb better":) . On the second attempt, I again decided that the second clip was not going to go so I committed to the mantle and skipped it. Risking a ground fall and taking the run out to the third bolt, for me, was the best option. I clipped the third bolt without problem and moved past the others to finish the climb. Once at the top I set a top rope anchor for the others.

The next climb, a 5.10C, looked do able but had a very committing second move to clip. I started in on the climb but after resting after the first clip I backed off and down climbed. I was tired and it did not feel "right".


Saturday's weather forecast was an 80% chance of rain; we awoke to a cold over cast morning. After a quick bite Carla and I started leading two slabby 5.8 lines that required a lot of smearing with both hands and feet. At one point I literally had to take a couple steps to get some speed to "run" up a few feet to get to a hold. While on the wall the rain moved in making the slabby routes too slippery to bother setting top rope anchors so once we finished Carla and I rappelled down. Of course, once we pack all our stuff up the rain stopped. With the rain holding off we moved over to dryer vertical routes. I lead up a 5.9 in "Little Norway" with lots of high steps and a tricky rock over transition to clip the 3rd bolt. The last climb of the day was a 5.10a. I started on top rope. About halfway up the rain came in hard soaking me, the rock, and Alan who was my belay. The good thing about this climb was it had lots of crimps that allow me to 3/4 of the way up even in the rain. At the 3/4 mark the rock felt more like ice, both cold and slippery, and I took my first fall of the trip. At this point in was clear that I would need help to get to the top to clean our anchors. On the last two bolts I clipped and pulled up on a draw. Cleaning the anchor was difficult due to its position and taxing on patience in the rain.

Once off the wall and into dry clothes we headed into St Jovite for lunch, cards games and some drinks.

Road to Montagne d'Argent"


On Sunday it was up the long stairs to the "Grand Canyon" area where we started on
"pathfinder" 5.10c at 30m and "lucky Luke" a 5.10b, also 30m . The story is the same for both these climbs, easy 5.9 like climbing with a crux near the last bolt. I actual started up a mixed sport/trad 5.9 and transitioned into pathfinder near the top because got off route when I skipped a bolt. Later I top roped Lucky Luke. Luke and I don't get along.

The last climb of the day before we headed of to Allez Up, in Montreal, for the Canadian National bouldering championship was a 38m 5.9 which shares its beginning with a 5.7 trad route. I'm not sure where 38m is measured from but a 70m rope worked for the rappel. I put one nut as pro before the first bolt since it was fairly high. This climb was slabby near the top and require smearing with both feet and hands, sometimes at the same time.

Here is some video from Allez Up.

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