Sunday, August 29, 2010

Hornets on North Wall

I went out yesterday to get more mileage and to work some of the kinks out of my lead solo system. Although, when I got to the wall it was covered in hornets. Since I got my share of stings a little while ago I decided to walk away. Luckily I ran into some climbers at a near by wall in need of a rope gun. After putting up some TRs for them it turned out to be a nice day.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

My first lead solo and bootied cam

So I have been hemming and hawing about doing some solo aid climbing since it is hard to get a belay partner during the week. Heck, it is hard to get a partner for the weekend since I hangout with boulders. Anyway, last night I decided today was a good day to give it a shot.

Of course, I got started late and the morning's blue sky was turning gray as I parked in the parkinglot for the Western CWM in Gatineau. "All well, at least I'll get a hike out of it if it starts to rain" I thought as I started down the trail. I arrived by Cave Wall and did a walk of the cliff to see how wet it was from the last rain and to scout for spots that would make for a solid ground anchor. As I passed the Reaper Buttress I saw a rigid stemmed friend near the crux on Mr. Toady's Dihedral. I don't think it was a bail piece since the anchors can be accessed if you are careful. Anyway, I rapped down and wow was this puppy over cammed. Using a nut tool and just the right persuasion I got the cam out after about 30 minutes of work.

After rescuing the cam I decided to forgo aiding and do a lead solo on the North Wall instead. I picked Route B 5.4. Route B is a fingers to hands crack that eats gear. For a ground anchor I used two slings around a tree with locking biners and attached the rope with a figure-8 on a bight. To self belay I used a (unmodded) gri-gri backed up with overhand knots every 6 feet or so. I kept two knots clipped to my harness at a time. With everything good to go I climbed up, set a cam, clipped and tested the system with my feet a few feet off the ground. I know this did not represent a true lead fall but I was able to check that the anchor and gri-gri loaded up as expected. .

I climbed slow and deliberately while placing lots of gear. I found myself, surprisingly, very calm as I climbed. With the rain holding off, a couple drops fell while finishing the route, I took some time to admire the view before rapping.

I found feeding the gri-gri to be annoying a points but manageable on this climb. Certainly a device designed for soloing would have been better. Perhaps carrying the rope in a backpack might help too. All in all a good day of firsts. My first solo lead and my first bootied cam.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Buying climbing shoes

Finding climbing shoes that fits and suit your climbing style is no easy task. I'm currently in a shoe buying dilemma. The crux is that I tend to enjoy a mixed bag of climbing activities and I want a shoe that covers it all. I climb 5.7 to 5.10 trad routes, up to 5.11 sport and boulder in the gym on overhanging problems.

My current and past shoes are the 5.10 anasazi verde. I wear them tight with a hammer toe fit which works for me in the gym and on face/slab outside. Trad is another story. A hammer toe fit is just too painful for crack climbing. So, what I want is flat fit performance trad shoe if it exists.

I went to MEC on a shoe finding mission and tried on 5.10 Blanco, La Sportiva Muria Lace, Katana lace, Nago, Scarpa Techno Rock Shoes and the Instinct. Of course, most of these are down turned or require curled toes which are not going to be great for cracks. If I was looking for just a bouldering shoe I would have got the Katana lace. Note that, La Sportiva and 5.10 sizing vary by about two euro sizes. My old 5.10 verde shoes come in at 42.5 where I got a 41 Katana lace on and maybe even a 40.5. Anyway, I left MEC empty handed and returned home to glue both pairs of verdes back together for the fifth time.

Enter, the La Sportiva TC Pro. Now MEC carries this shoe but not at their Ottawa store which makes trying them on annoying. After looking at various form posts and reviews I decided to order the 42 and 41.5 sizes via the MEC website. The 42 was too big and I'm on the fence about the 41.5 pair. They are snug but with stretch I'm worried they will become too sloppy for thin edging. I took the 42's back and ordered the 40.5 and the 41's to compare to what I've got now. Hopefully in the end I'll find something that I'm happy with and not just become an importer of TC Pro's for the Ottawa store.

If money were no object then I would definitely buy both Katana lace and a pair of TC Pro's. Although, it is difficult to buy more cams after spending so much money on shoes.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Climbing access in Gatineau Park update

In March 2010, the National Capital Commission (NCC) released a land management plan for Gatineau Park which restricts climbing to the Western CWM west (North wall to Cave wall), Home Cliff west, Twin Ribs and Eastern Block. The NCC moved forward by installing no access signs, in late May, at the majority of the climbing sites recognized in the previous access agreement. In addition, access to the ``Shrine parkinglot`` on Chemin de la Montagne was removed.

To address the closures the Ottawa-Gatineau Climbers' Access Coalition (OGCAC) submitted a climbing management plan to the NCC. The scope of the plan was created to meet the ecological concerns raised by the NCC in an effort to maintain access to climbing on the Eardley escarpment. This plan was endorsed by the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society. Unfortunately, the NCC largely rejected the plan.

On August 17th, the OGCAC members gathered to vote on how to move forward. It was decided not to endorse the NCC response and that the OGCAC will maintain its position outlined in the management plan. Sadly, the limited success in securing climbing access in the park puts 60 years of Gatineau climbing at a crossroads.

All documentation regarding the management plan and the NCC response is available at

Sunday, August 1, 2010

A weekend climbing

I spent two days at Montagne d'Argent this past weekend climbing with lots of different people. Saturday was a bit of a slow day though; I think I was still sore from the gym. A list of Saturdays efforts:

La petite biere area:

Deuxieme biere 5.3 sport 7 bolts 35m
-This is a nice way to get the grand canyon area. An easy climb which can be done with packs in approach shoes.

Grand Canyon area:

Chute Libre 5.8 Trad + 1 bolt 20m
- This is a straight forward climb with one or two 5.8 moves on the slab at the top.

Les Petits Chiens <> 5.11c Trad + 4 bolts 20m
- The gear portion is easy 5.8 climbing and the real business is protected by bolts. I took a few falls between the first and second bolt which is most likely the crux. After the second bolt the climbing is strenuous into a very thin upper slab. It would take some more work to get this clean.

Le Sacre du Printemps 5.9 Trad 25m
-I got just above the halfway mark but I got spooked by the gear and downclimbed. I pulling my gear as I went.

M&M area:

M&M 5.8 Trad 23m
-This is a must do lead with lots of gear options.

Krakabra 5.7+ Trad 25m
-Similar to M&M but the feet and rests are much better. The gear is larger on this one, #2 and #3 BD camolots. There is a thread through about 3/4 of the way up it you are short on gear.

Sundays efforts:

M&M area:

-on TR as a warm-up after Dan lead it.

Psychokrak 5.10a Trad + 1 bolt 25m
-The tricky part is traversing from the main crack, as it thins out on to the slab, to the second hand crack to the right. This is my first 10 on gear.

Pop Corn 5.10a Trad + 5 bolts 25m
-The trad portion is a fantastic finger crack that protects well. The upper section which is protected by bolts is mentally demanding with big moves between the bolts. A much harder climb then Psychokrak.

Sonatine 5.12a sport 8a 23m
-Worked this on toprope for awhile, figured out some beta, but I did not get too far.