Sunday, November 28, 2010

Take your time, enjoy it.

Winter's weather has come to Ottawa in the last week or so. The freezing rain, snow and below zero temperatures have put a damper on climbing. So when today's temperature rose to a balmy +1 degree Celsius I packed my gear and headed for Gatineau. The approach into the Western CWM was an enjoyable walk; crisp air and snow crunching under foot.


The Spindriff Wall was covered in ice which continually showered down with the Sun's heat. The rock on Cave Wall was dry and reasonably warm making Neruda the obvious choice to climb. The CWM has been deserted since the NCC closures as climbers moved outside the park for climbing. I almost never run into another climber there. Well everyone missed out today. The sound of running water and cracking ice on the Spindriff Wall was something special. I took my time and enjoyed it.

Sewing up Neruda on lead solo:

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Saturday at Calabogie

With nice weather I headed out to Calabogie on Saturday. I figured if no one was out there then I would lead rope solo some easy routes. I ended up meeting Alice, Ken, Jeff, Jorge and several others. I did rope solo a 5.8 route but then mostly toprope the hard stuff. I managed to send the direct start of Vulcan Mind clean on toprope and I one hanged the other 12-ish route. A good day, hopefully there will be few more yet.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Shut down at Eastern Block

When out to Eastern Block in the late afternoon today to clip bolts. I warmed up on the unnamed 5.8 and then tried to lead Temptation. The first bolt is hard to clip but can be marginally protected by two C3 placements, #0 and #1 side by side. The moves felt awkward and I took a couple falls at the crux. Since day light was not at a premium I decide to try Death by Maboola instead.

After a sketchy first clip and a small fall above that it was time to let others climb. Matt led up Mr Clean and put TRs on Temptation and Death. I did Death on TR. Now I remember why I dislike that climb; painful sustained crimping. F to Death.

Time to refuel with dinner and hit the gym. Hopefully I have enough finger tip skin left.

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.