Sunday, January 16, 2011

25 meters short

A big part of healing finger injuries is to find other stuff to do; so thinking about not climbing does not drive you crazy. Today I headed out to Gatineau Park to find a geocache near Castle Wall. Note that the cache is just outside the park boundary and thus out of NCC jurisdiction. Unfortunately, has been removing caches from the park at the request of the NCC.

Is any one really surprised? Didn't think so. Anyway the plan, after getting the cache, was to climb up above Castle Wall to The Cirque and top out the Escarpment.

The Objective:

The objective

The climbing was slow going and tricky in places even with the grippy teeth on the bottom of my snowshoes. My poles also helped moving up the terrain and over snow covered granite outcroppings.

Above Castle Wall:

After coming to the top of Castle Wall I looked up toward The Cirque. Now a quote from the "Climbing around Ottawa" guidebook:

"If you stay on the high ground immediately above Castle Wall, then you can look across the gully to The Cirque, and pick out the various features, before you commit yourself to a final, brutal bushwhack up to the base."

Between me and the base of the Cirque is a boulder field inter mixed with trees, logs, vines, shrubs ... well you get the picture. At first it seemed reasonable as I navigated through the snow covered boulders and rubble on my snowshoes. Then it seemed unreasonable. In all directions, even the way I had come, looked impassable on my snowshoes. The terrain had steepened and the boulders, more importantly the drops between them, had got bigger. I'm not going back now, I thought. After a few minutes of thinking, down and climbers right seemed like the path of least resistance. Although not easy going I made it to the base of the Cirque.

End of the road:

End of the road

Now about 25 m from the top I got stopped by the this icy wall. I could have worked around it but time was starting to become an issue. There was no way I wanted to be descending in the dark given what I had climbed over to this point. So, time for a quick photo and a cliff bar.

Getting down I followed the Cirque rock face to avoid the boulder field as much as possible. It was a mix of controlled sliding and tree grabbing until I met backup with my original path on the granite slabby bits right of Castle Wall. Also on the way down I believe I found the Throne area as well.

Back at the car

With the sun setting I packed up the car and got ready for the drive home. The route was not very friendly to my snowshoes and my one knee is a little sore from the descent but it was a good adventure none the less.

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