Saturday, September 11, 2010

Calabogie, a first look

For a change in scenery I ventured out to Main Cliff at Calabogie today. We park as per the map below and followed the top of the cliff line until a "Second easy way down". The 5.0 down climb is reasonable (short) and there is a knotted rope to assist if you need it.

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With the NCC closing a large portion of the climbing in Gatineau Park there has been a resurgence in development at Calabogie. This develop appears to be lead by Peter Slivka. Peter was actually out there today working routes and cleaning when I showed up. In fact, there was more people there then I would have ever expected. A couple locals, Peter and a VR group, a group from the ACC, some randoms and us for around 25 climbers or so. I'm not really one for an over crowded crag.

The over crowding aside there are some cool routes at Calabogie. Besides the hard stuff, like a direct start to Vulcan Mind, Peter et al. have bolted a number of moderate mixed routes and also a couple easy sport routes. The mixed routes appear to be variations of Calabogie Sunset 5.5 and First Flight 5.8 plus a newer route left of First Flight which might be 5.9+. I found the beginning pumpy as I looked desperately for holds. I think the Calabogie grades in the guidebook are on the stiff side even compared to some of the older Gatineau routes. In other words take a good look at the route first and don't expect a cake walk even if it is only 5.8. A good example of this is the top section of "Cool but Concerned". All in all, I think Peter is doing some good work out there and may just provide the momentum needed to create a viable alternate to Gatineau.

The rock at Calabogie is granite but unlike Gatineau its features are defined by horizontal cracks. So tri-cams and spring loaded cams seem to be the protection of choice. Note that stoppers are still useful, so don't leave them on the ground. For example, just below the crux of "Cool but Concerned" there is a bomber nut placement in one of the few vertical cracks that I saw.

My last note on Calabogie is to be aware of loose rock. This is a crag under development and there are death blocks out there. While we were there I saw a skull crusher get ripped off the wall by a climber. Wear your helmet.

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