Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Escaping the belay

Don't trust the info provided in this video. Attempting the following in a real climbing situation without adequate practice, experience and training may lead to serious injuries or death.

A video about practicing escaping the belay.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

September in Ottawa = Rain

Ugh ... and I thought last September was depressingly wet. I can only hope that October and November are as awesome as they were last year.

There is also word on the street that Weir is climbable on warm winter days. I have not been there and the guidebook is of course out of print. However, I did find the follow images which I believe are enough to get some idea of where the climbs start.

For more images checkout:

Then there is winter aid which could be fun but I suspect that I'll have to twist arms or go solo. Does anyone like belaying in the cold? I'm not much of an aid climber; I've only try a couple times solo and I used slings in place of aiders. I find the solo aspect narrows options as getting a good ground anchor can be problematic.

Of course, when it is raining there is always plywood and plastic. Speaking of which I climbed TR routes at Coyote last night for the first time in a year. It was a fun change from bouldering. While bouldering has definitely increased my strength I have noticed a drop off in endurance while climbing routes outside. For my ego and being the grade whore that I am here is a list in the order climbed.

5.9 onsight
5.9 onsight
5.11d worked but DNF
5.10d flashed
5.10b flashed
5.10c onsight
5.11d completed but not clean
5.12a completed but not clean

It is nice to list them. Then I remind myself that these grades translate poorly to real rock. Gyms are good for numbers and outside ... there are climbs that I have done and those that I need to work on.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Calabogie, take two

I headed back out to Calabogie today for some more climbing. I'm still getting use to the face climbing on gear aspect of Calabogie. For the most part gear goes in shallow horizontal cracks where I'm use to deep vertical finger/hand cracks. On the faces I ended up using my #00 through #2 C3s quite a few times because nothing else would fit. I found using all this small gear in conjunction with the unknowns of onsight climbing mentally taxing.

In the top photo a climber is on "Cool but Concerned" and on the bottom is a climb that I lead that is not in the guidebook. I'm not sure who did it in the past but there is a set of new anchors at the top.

For my last climb of the day I jumped on "Phasers on Kill" which is a 5.7 vertical crack into some face climbing on horizontals which leads to a roof. At the roof you enter a chimney on the right and climb to the anchors. The climb is around 25 meters in height. Everything was going fine until below the chimney where I did not have any useful sized pro left to put in the last horizontal crack. I made the mistake of using my two #1 C4s too early in the hand crack and nothing I had would protect the moves into the chimney. I felt stupid. I should have know better then to place two cams of the same size when I may have been able to use a large nut instead.

"Ok, a #.75 might do it", I thought. Unfortunately that cam, my last piece, was already a foot below me and two feet to the side. Besides being a little annoyed at this, I was beginning to feel pressed by the weather. The day's blue sky was gone and the winds had picked up. Also, despite being in a good position I had been standing there way too long fooling with gear; I needed to move.

Up? Down? Nope, I traversed left under the roof as it looked like I could get some gear in. The roof ended about 5 meters to the left and I knew there was another set of anchors just up from the end. I managed to place a #0.4 C4 in a shallow horizontal after digging the dirt out of it with a nut-tool and then a couple meters later a solid #2 and #00 C3. I was pretty happy to clip the anchors.

Monday, September 13, 2010

A summer in review

It is hard to believe that the summer climbing is over and fall is here. There are lots of climbers who welcome fall over the summer sweat fests. Yes, the cooler temperatures are more conducive to sending your hard projects and the bugs are gone but I miss summer. Once September comes, so does the rain and the climbing days are limited. I also find fall climbing has a certain anxiety that centers around unfinished goals and self evaluation. Did I improve this season? Did I meet any of my goals?

While recovering from a finger injury back in February I decided that this year I was going to focus on learning to place gear and send some trad lines in Gatineau. Here is the rather vague goal declaration I made on the Ottawa climbing form.

"2010 goals
by drtyner » Fri Feb 05, 2010 5:20 pm

I would like to learn to place gear and send some trad lines in the area."

Thanks to a long list of people I believe I have built some gear placement skills and I did manage to climb some of the Gatineau "Classics". That said, I need to work on placing gear faster. This means choosing the right cam or stopper on the first go and not taking five minutes to get a bomber placement.

One thing I left out of my goal was a 5.X grade. Just because I did not write it does not mean it was not in the back of my mind. Like it or not grades are part of measuring improvement. So I set the lofty goal (for me) of sending a 5.10 on gear by the end of the season. To date I have two mixed 5.10's under my belt.

Psychokrak 5.10a Trad + 1 bolt, 25m Montagne d'Argent, redpoint, Aug 1/10 (TRed it once back in 2009)
Pop Corn 5.10a Trad + 5 bolts, 25m Montagne d'Argent, onsight, Aug 1/10

I am definitely proud of these two routes. Does this mean I can climb 5.10 routes on gear? Defintely not. I have down climbed, cursed like a sailor and struggled on my share of 5.6 through 5.9 routes. It is all very humbling and sometimes discouraging given I have redpointed the odd 5.11 sport route. On my trip to Calabogie it bacame clear that I climb gear routes at a turtles pace. When I am above gear I spend a long time making every move perfect which means wasting too much energy. I could claim this is onsight verses redpoint but at the end of the day it is really bolt verses gear.

All in all, it was a summer of mileage and learning. Below is a time line of this year's climbing on new routes.

Al on the Run 5.11c (Notes: 2 goes on TR May 24/10, June 1st more work on TR, July 17th one hanged it on TR)
The Reaper 5.9 -redpoint April 24th (Notes: send it on TR first)
Martha Steward 5.8 -onsight May 10th (Notes: Short 2 bolt warm-up)
Catwoman 5.11b (Notes: One burn on May 17th. After the second bolt move out right not left)
La Cha-Cha des Felins 5.9- -onsight, July 10th, Montagne d'Argent
Unnamed sport line 5.6? Calabogie, onsight Sept 11/10
Second unnamed sport line 5.6?, Calabogie, onsight Sept 11/10 (Notes: take a 0.3 BD C4 to avoid the runout)

Trad or mixed with bolts:
---> lot's of moderates as this my first year climbing on gear.
Security 5.10d Gear + 2 bolts (Notes: couple tries on March 17/10, attempt on April 20th
Joy of Life 11a gear + bolts (Notes: two tries on March 20/10)
Original route 5.10c gear + bolts (Notes: two tries on March 20/10, just the roof that causes trouble)
Route A 5.5, gear -redpoint March 17th/10 (Notes: TR'ed in the past)
Route B 5.4, gear-onsight March 8th/10 (Notes: my first trad lead)
Route C 5.5, gear-redpoint March 17th/10 (Notes: TR'ed in the past)
Mr. Toady's Dihedral 5.8, Gear + 1 bolt - onsight March 17/10
One up 5.7, Gear - onsight April 2/10
Piton Highway 5.7 Gear + 3 bolts - redpoint April 2/10 (Notes: one previous go on TR)
Lavander 5.9 Gear + 5 bolts - redpoint April 2/10 (Notes: I had lead the bottom part before while traversing the cliff)
Peggy 5.7+ Gear + 1 bolt - onsight April 14th/10
Cotter crack 5.10b (Notes: One attempt on April 14th/10, the beginning is hard and the top is pumpy!)
Neruda 5.6, Gear- onsight April 20th/10 (Notes: sandbagged for sure)
Fruit tart 5.8, Gear + 1 bolt- April 24/10 (Notes: backed off 1st try, sent on second go)
Raikush 5.10c 5 bolts + Gear (Notes: One go on TR April 24th/10)
Pitch 2 of Sev's Route 5.5, Gear onsight April 29/10 (Notes: sandbagged, more like 5.7,slightly overhanging, tiny gear off the belay #4,#5 BD stoppers)
One Pine Variation C 5.6 onsight April 29/10 (Notes: linked the two pitches)
Corruption 5.9, 1 bolt + Gear, (Notes: hard (for 5.9) crux well protected by a bolt but I back off because of sketchy gear higher up. Toproped it May 10th; found better placements and holds, bring the RPs or Micro Nuts. Next time it will go)

Cracker Joe 5.9+ Gear, Montagne d'Argent, onsight June 27th (Notes: A fantastic climb)
Hiroshima 5.5, Gear Montagne d'Argent, onsight June 27th (Notes: Not worth the time to climb it)
Super Crackpot 5.8, Gear + 5 bolts, Montagne d'Argent, onsight July 10th (Notes: 5 bolts lead into a finger crack, 35 meters.)
Madame la Marquise 5.6-, Gear, Montagne d'Argent, onsight July 10th (Notes: dirty)
Invitation Mixte 5.10b, Montagne d'Argent, TR'ed (one hang) July 10th, on the to lead list
Titanicomanie 5.8, Gear + 3 bolts, Montagne d'Argent, onsight July 10th (Notes: 3 bolts into a never ending crack, 38 meters)
Chute Libre 5.8 Trad + 1 bolt, 20m Montagne d'Argent, onsight, July 31/10
M&M 5.8, Trad 23m, Montagne d'Argent, redpoint (TR'ed in the past), July 31/10
Krakabra 5.7+, Trad 25m, Montagne d'Argent, redpoint (TR'ed in the past), July 31/10
Psychokrak 5.10a Trad + 1 bolt, 25m Montagne d'Argent, onsight, Aug 1/10
Pop Corn 5.10a Trad + 5 bolts, 25m Montagne d'Argent, onsight, Aug 1/10

Cool but concerned 5.8, Trad + 1 bolt, 18m Calabogie, onsight(*) , Sept 11/10 (Notes: * clipped a near by bolt near the top as my nerves crumbled on small crimps)
Unnamed mixed line 5.8?, Trad + 2 bolt, Calabogie, onsight, Sept 11/10 (Notes: Variation of Calabogie Sunset 5.5, pull the roof for full value)
Unnamed mixed line 5.9?, Trad + 2 bolt, Calabogie, onsight, Sept 11/10 (Notes: left of First Flight)

Other: X/R rated routes on TR
Probation 5.8+ PG - TR onsight April 20th (Notes: I toproped this with the FA Bob Milko and the gear is R (if not X) not PG)
Little Yellow Fucker 5.9 X - TR April 12th (4 or so tries)

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.

View Larger Map

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.