Saturday, August 8, 2009

Ottawa Climbing: first impressions

It has been awhile since my last post and unfortunately it is not due to too much climbing. The Glen was my last big trip with the Kingston crew as I moved to Ottawa the end of June. Since arriving in Ottawa I have been working on making connections with the climbing community with the hope of finding a new set of regular climbing partners.

The Ottawa climbing forum seems to have a strong bouldering group with less emphasis on roped climbing than I had hoped. None the less I have made new friends and I look forward to meeting more. The forum is active daily and provides guidebooks in a pdf form for the climbing and bouldering around Ottawa. Although not complete they offer a wealth of info on the area.

This posts focuses on outdoor climbing in Gatineau Park and does not cover the two indoor gyms. That is another story and I have all this coming winter for that.

Downunder:

My first introduction to climbing in Gatineau was with my friend Matt who I knew from my undergrad days at Queens University in Kingston Ontario. We started in the "downunder area" on "Sausages" (5 bolt, 5.10c) which is in fact in "Ontario's Finest Rock Climbs by David Smart" as a classic in the area. Funny enough, "Fred's Folly" at the Kingston Mills is also in this book. If you have climbed it you need to read its description for a good chuckle but I digress. Why start on a 5.10c? Well it is the
easiest climb in this area and the top is not accessible by foot. The climb is over hanging and turns into a jugfest, you just need to fight through the pump. Anyway, 5.10c might be a little high since I only had to sit on the last bolt to rest. Next we top roped "Catwoman", a 3 bolt 5.11b. I climbed this, although not cleanly, twice with a fair amount effort. Again, most likely over rated.

Eastern block:

"Eastern block" is slabby and reminded me a lot of Montagne d'Argent. My first visit there was in a misty, on and off, rain. I lead, according to the guidebook, a 5.8 mixed route called "Ethics Police" that was pretty hard for a 5.8 at the time. This was most likely due to rain because have since climbed on a dry day with no problems. The mixed part is at the bottom which is the easy part so I just highballed a bit to the first bolt. On the same wet day I climbed the bolt line left of Ethics police which is not in the guide book and required pulling on a draw to get over the crux section after taking a fall that I did not want to repeat. On a subsequent trip to eastern block I noticed someone else had left a maillon at the crux where I assume they retreated.

On a second visit to Eastern Block I went climbing with two guys from Quebec, Guillaume and Brad, and it kicked ass. We met at 10:30 in morning and left the rock at 8:30 pm in evening after a hard session of lead and toprope. I would lead a route and put a toprope for the others. I lead three moderate 5.8 to 5.9 climbs and top roped a solid 5.10c called Death by Maboola. I worked the 10c enough that it might go on lead. It is hard, delicate, powerful at the same, and requires the pain and suffering of testicular torsion at the Kingston Mills, awesome. I came back to it as my last climb and only came off twice. I also got put in my place by a 5.11b; I could not even get by the first bolt.

Ron and John and The forgotten Slabs:

At the "Ron and John" cliff there are two crack climbs and a thin crack/face climb. The face is quite short for 45 minute walk in but the trad guys seem to like this spot. The 5.5 crack is a clean constant 3 in from top to bottom. I tried to jam it but my one hand was is still a bit tender from a crack climb at Dog Lake so I just lay-backed the whole thing. The other crack is a narrow 5.8 which needed jams. I got up it but it was not pretty. I enjoyed the thin crack, 5.9+, because it was more of a face climb, i.e. no jamming. These a trad climbs only but do have bolted anchors to top-rope off of once some one leads them.

The forgotten slabs which live up to their name are dirty, dirty, did I mention they were dirty? Also, being slabby there was a waterfall down the middle of them. Despite their condition I had the most fun here on Scarface 5.9 and Pockets 5.6. The toproping is ok but it reminded me I needed to get back to leading and climbing hard. (As of August 23rd I'm not sure I'm climbing hard but at least I'm leading.)

The Shrine:

The Shrine is not as tall as the Eastern block but does have a good number of bolted climbs. I decided to warm up on a climb called Messiah that ended up being a 5.10d; what else is new. It has got some tough committing moves right at the first bolt and some solid slopers up to the 3rd bolt. I climbed above the 3rd bolt a few times but I had to down climb each time as I could not work out the sequence. There is a real lack of feet here. In the end I did not have the guts to jam my fingers a crack and heel hook to move to holds that may or may not exist above me. So I left a maillon, behind on the third bolt. I've started to carry these since the anchors are not accessible from the top on many climbs in Gatineau. I also at the Shrine I had a hold break on me on a 5.10b, I was happy to be on top rope at that moment.

Castle Wall:

I went to Castle Wall to checkout the sport multi-pitch routes. The heat was insane. It had rain early in the morning so the climb was sopping wet below in the treeline and cooking above it in the intense mid-morning sun. In only two pitches I managed to drink a liter of water on the wall and get a sun burn at the first belay station. My 70m glider came in handy on the rappel down, just long enough, with the stretch in the rope, to get my feet on the ground. Before the next two pitch climb I hiked back to the car to get a light long sleeve shirt to prevent any further burning of my arms. For the most part the climbs are slabby with the odd vertical section and are fun moderate sport climbs. I'm not sure about their ratings because the guidebook does not have much info about these lines. Maybe 5.7ish on the first pitch and 9ish for the second.

Farm Rock:

At Farm Rock there are 4 bolt lines, 2 of which are 30m or so long. The face is near vertical with a large (2 feet wide ?) ledge half way up. The guidebook does not rate these climbs. One of the 30m routes varies between 5.7 and 5.9climbing. The other is the same grade until the large ledge. At this point the bolt line looks pretty blank and IMO is a hard 10. I tried this section on top-rope and came off more than once. One of the "short" (15m?) bolt lines protects the bottom of a trad line whose rating (I could be wrong) is bullsh*t at5.7. The climb starts below a small roof and leads into a dihedral.The moves between the third and four bolt to get out of the dihedral (I thought anyway) were very committing given the potential for a nasty fall. So I down climbed and traversed to a parallel bolt line. This made for lots of rope drag over the rest of the climb. Down-climbing seems to be my MO these days. I'm not sure if I'm trying stuff too hard or I'm thinking about stuff too much. All in all, I though farm rock is a cool spot even with the 40 minute walk in. Note that 25 minutes of that is going up; makings the grand canyon hike at Montagne d'Argent a cake walk.

No comments:

Post a Comment