Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Spring time climbing

It was a balmy 15 C in Ottawa today so I headed out to Gateneau with David Gibbs. We went out to the Wesrtern Cwm area to practice placing gear and checkout the Reaper Buttress along with the Cave Wall. To warm up we each lead and followed, the cleverly named climbs, Route A 5.5, B 5.4 and C 5.5 on the North Wall before moving to the Reaper Buttress. I onsighted Mr. Toady's Dihedral 5.8 which is a 1 bolt plus gear route. The bottom was a little damp but nice and dry where the business happens. After that, I made a ground up assault on Security 5.10d which is gear on the lower sections with bolts protecting the upper slab. The real climbing happens on gear. I climbed above my pro to the first bolt but was not in a good clipping position so I down climbed to my cam and weighted it to rest. This was a bit freaky as it was the first time I have hung on a piece of gear. On my second attempt above my gear I pushed a hold higher but again I could not get solid so down I climbed again. Being tired, I came down and David lead the crack beside us called Neruda 5.6. Once done, I TR'ed Security before having to get packed up. I'll get it ground up next time.

On another note the NCC (national capital commission or now perhaps the 'no climbing commission') is bringing the hammer down on climbing within Gatineau Park. The NCC is planning to heavily restrict climbing. Their main arguments against climbing are flawed. There is a coalition to fight this but I'm not convinced the NCC will listen ...

Here are some documents that give you some insight as to where rock
climbing sits in the NCC's park plan for Gatineau. Each document talks
of the coming "conservation plan" without mention of a specific date.
Note, the conservation plan is now available as of today (see near the
end of the list).

Consultation Report - Gatineau Park Master Plan Review (2005)

Strategic Environmental Assessment (2005)

Gatineau Park Master Plan (2005)

More documents:


I was a little shocked to see that climbing has the same cumulative
impact as hunting/poaching and Motor vehicle traffic with in the park.
There are several lines that strike me as concerning:

The infrastructure associated with this sport (parking area, a
1-kilometre access pathway and a departure zone) are all situated in
the integral conservation zone, which is a variance to the Master Plan
zoning. Modifying zoning in this sector to accommodate this sport is
not justified, since this is an exceptional high-value ecosystem. The
hang-gliding site in Gatineau Park was not used in 2008 and 2009. This
sport was replaced by paragliding, which is much more popular and
undertaken outside the Park. It is proposed that the parking lot and
access pathway to the hang-gliding departure site be eliminated."

----> This does not sound good for the Shrine area. In fact the
parkinglot elimation has started already.

"Currently, there is climbing throughout the Eardley Escarpment
(except for four sites) located in the integral conservation zone of
Gatineau Park. Recent studies have described this ecosystem as
exceptional, fragile and vulnerable. It is recommended that the number
of sites where climbing may take place be reduced to only two or three

----> The wording of the first sentence is misleading and false.

"Concerning habitat rehabilitation, projects such as the
rehabilitation of climbing rock faces and shoreline protection are
being considered under the multi-year investment program for the next
five years."

---> Rehabilitation of climbing rock faces?? The current face are
clean of vegitation ... are they going to chop bolts? Scrub the chalk
off the sport routes?

The Conservation Plan: Posted on March 17 2010:

----> It's pretty ugly. The word "wall" vs "area" is even more
concerning since losing more of the Western Cwm area would be a real
shame. Also, this document does not provide infomation on how and
based on what sciencific fact these decision were made.

A voice of reason:

If you have got this far and care to follow this issue, there is the
Ottawa Climbing Forum and as
mentioned above the climbing coalition's blog

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