Sunday, March 28, 2010

Rest and rain

This weekend's climbing was a wash due to my wimpiness. On Friday I woke up to, after being at the gym Thursday, a nasty shoulder ache, stiff fingers and a cold weather report for the weekend. It was not so much the 3 degrees C forecast but the wind that made me wimp out. Now, Sunday night, it is raining. So what is one to do ... other than looking a new gear on the MEC website? ... You look at guidebooks and watch climbing movies, of course. So I popped in the First Ascent video and pulled out the Montagne d'Argent guidebook.

For some reason I really like climbing at Montagne d'Argent; I've been there three times [1,2,3]. On my next trip I would like to get some trad in, as well as, some harder sport. After looking through the guidebook there are several climbs in the M&M, L'hippocampe, Amphitheatre and Le Fou areas that are high on the list to attempt.

A return to M&M: I've climbed here before on TR but now it is time to send some of this stuff on gear. In particular, route #5 M&M 5.8 and if I'm feeling really adventurous #12 Psychokrak 5.10a with 1 bolt. I flashed Psychokrak on TR feeling really tired after two days of climbing so I know I can do it. Yeah yeah, I know, everyone is a hero on toprope.

L'hippocampe: I have not climbing in this area before so this is a must on the next trip. It is all too easy to climb stuff you have done because it is familiar. Anyway, I think a #9 L'hypothenuse 5.7+ trad into #10 L'arete des urubus 5.10b sport looks like a pretty cool 36m linkup. Route #13, Tally-Ho 5.11b looks interesting too.

Amphitheatre and Le Fou: Again, lots of stuff here to attempt. I can see doing Dad's 5.10b sport and maybe try Cracker Joe 5.9+ trad.

So much to climb ... never enough time.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Long day at Home Cliff

What a day ... it start out cold and grey on the Ottawa side as we piled into the car at far to early in the morning. We decided on Home Cliff over the Western Cwm because the walk out would be shorter if the rain came in but it didn't. By the time we had finished the approach the sun was shining. Mr. Gibbs lead an easy trad route for a warmup which I walked up on TR. Then I started in on a ground up adventure of the Joy of life 5.11a mixed route. Pulling on to this proved harder than it looked so it was nice to find a couple jugs around the second bolt. I placed a #1 BD cam (red) and a backup metolius orange TCU in between the second and third bolt. This proved overkilled as the third bolt turned out to be easier to clip then I thought. I climbed to the 4th bolt but pumped I had to take here. It didn't matter as I had messed up and sat on the 1st bolt anyway. I found the moves to the 5th bolt tricky as the slightly overhanging face changed to slab. At this point there is one more vertical bit then more slab. The climbing becomes much easier but there is another 10 to 15m of climbing on little pro. I placed two pieces on big runouts. I felt very exposed. Anyway I did not see any anchors so I traversed to Peggy's anchors at the top. Some good work put in but it needs more before it will go clean.

After some more vertical mileage on the piton highway which is a fantastic route I decided to climb Lavender a mixed 5.9 with 5 bolts + gear. However, I read the topo wrong and ended up starting in on the Original Route, a mixed 5.10c bolts + gear. The first 10m is on gear into a roof. I had three cams in but the roof turned out to be too much of a head game with only gear to protect me. I know, a solid cam is like a bolt but hey this like only my 9th route climbing on gear. So I lowered off the cams to the ground to rest. Round two and the rock wins again. We now realize this is not Lavender after reading the topo again. Now the fun starts. How to get my gear back? I climb and traverse on Lavender, clip a pin, place a nut, crush over its smaller roof and clip its first bolt. By the way, the 1st bolt is 10 or so meters up so I'm horizontally in line with my pieces on the other climb, just 5m over. The rope drag is brutal. I lower and then climb the 5.10 to get my cams on a huge pendulum. With the cam rescued I traverse back to Lavender. At this point, I'm tired after all the attempts and traversing but it is a 5.9 and I should be able to pull it. The climb moves into a thin finger crack which requires careful finger locks. I used a ring lock too which I had never done before and manager rip a hole in my shoe with a toe cam. Anyway, I climbed the rest although its anchors were being used by other climbers so I continued on and left back on to the Original Route to finish. Rap and clean. I'm exhausted at this point after the gong show to recover my gear. We pack up. Dam, look at that ... I left a nut three meters up. Putting my shoes back on was the worst feeling ever ... back on the rock ... boulder to nut ... clean ... down climb. What a day ...

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

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Am I all about numbers?

I went to Home Cliff yesterday to meet-up with Andrew who was bouldering. However, I didn't really know where I was going so I took all my gear just in case bouldering did not workout. This turned out to be a good decision. After some walking I ended up at Home Cliff's main wall to find several groups of climbers. Surprisingly I knew a couple of them so I got a toprope and a couple easy trad climbs in on a 5.3 choss pile.

So far I have mixed feelings about this year's outdoor climbing. On the plus side I have lead a couple easy routes on gear which is something I wanted to do last year. However, in the back of my mind there is a voice telling me I should be getting on 5.11 sport and that I'm not climbing hard enough. Just thinking about it makes me worry about losing ground on last years progress. I guess part of the problem is finding a belay partner who has the same goals.

Monday, March 8, 2010

The season has started!

I got out climbing in Gatineau yesterday with Remi, Jeff, Pete, Andrew and Iris. We enjoyed all day sun on the North Wall while climbing easy trad. I climbed my first route, a 5.4 crack, on gear.

Get on the rock

The North Wall is near Baby Pneu which was soaked except for a slightly damp two bolt wonder called Slip Stream (5.11a). After 5 minutes of work on top rope it feels totally do able and I plan to send it on lead once it dries.

Although not at a 100% my finger feels strong and ready for the season.