Saturday, November 6, 2010

Neruda lead solo

The weather is definitely getting colder and wetter but you can still get out and climb. Today was overcast with the temperature hovering between 3 to 5 degrees Celsius. I originally thought about going out to Calabogie to lead solo some of the easy mixed lines there. There are plenty of trees for ground anchors at Calabogie. However, without a belay partner to meet and uncertain weather I dragged my feet around the house for too long so I went to Gatineau instead.

I thought about going out to Ron & Jon but ultimately decided against it given the time. The approach is about 50 minutes if you don't get lost. So the Western CWM it was. As I topped out the approach slab I could hear the water running in the small stream that separates the Bird's Nest Buttress and Cave Wall. Given the last two days of rain I knew that it was going to wet. As I got closer, Spindrift Wall was a waterfall and the Reaper Buttress was very damp. Not that I really wanted to climb there but my choices where now reduced to Cave Wall or North Wall. I have done a bunch of lead solo on North Wall so I'm kinda bored with that. The only reasonable, in the lead solo sense, climb left is Neruda 5.6. Neruda is a bit of sandbag but I have never fallen off it so "sure why not" I thought. The only difficultly is getting a bomber ground anchor. I decided to use the large tree that sits about eight feet back from the wall. I put two cams in, a #1 C3 and #0.3 C4, as a directional down low to prevent the possibility of zippering. I could have used these cams as an anchor but trees give me more peace of mind.

The rock, surprisingly, was not that cold to the touch and it was more my toes that were unhappy in cold shoes. I put in #1 and #2 C4 in the usual spots as I climbed. Once you place the #3 it is showtime. I paid out some extra slack for the crux. The messy cluster that comes with a grigri on lead solo seemed extra annoying today. There is nothing like shorting yourself when trying to mantle onto a ledge after the crux. Once on the ledge I put in a two cams for the exit moves. The ending layback moves felt a little spooky for some reason and I was happy to clip the anchors.

After I cleaned my gear I decided to look at the placement options on Probation 5.8+ PG. This climb deserves an R or X and the guidebook rightfully describes the gear as "scarce, scary and scabrous". You should bring a boulder pad for this one.

So I did not get much climbing in but it still beat kicking around the house.

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