Sunday, July 24, 2011

Route finding at the Mills

While Cynthia spent her Saturday racing keel-boats in a KYC regatta I had some time to kill in Kingston. I had my climbing gear with me so I headed out to the Mills to play on the rock. I had planned to lead solo up a gear route on the Lichen Wall which goes at about 5.7. However on scoping out the base of the climb I was not happy with the ground anchor options. Walking south along the base I found a spot that I believed to be a route and had a good sized tree to provide a solid ground anchor.

The Lichen Wall is 20m or so of featured granite with lots of hollow flakes, shallow cracks and semi detached blocks that would make one question their protection. To add to the fun, as the name suggests, there is a fair amount of vegetation and dirt on the wall.
I picked a line that seemed reasonably clean and started climbing up the wall looking for gear placements. I meandered left and right but did not find many options. What I did place where swallow cams, not a great start. The climbing was easy, 5.5 ish, so not a big deal but I find when I'm climbing alone I have lots of time to think about how bad a fall could be. At about 20 feet I placed a feel good  BD #2 cam in a deep horizontal. Sweet this might be a climbable line after all I thought. At 30 feet I climbed above another solid cam only to be stopped. With no obvious protectable line above I decided to down climb and re-think my line. The climbing looked easy enough but I reminded myself that gravity is indifferent to the grade.

Back on ground, I took another look at the wall and decided to re-climb to where the #2 placement was and then traverse. The traverse followed a horizontal and then up to a grassy ledge. Looking up over a small bulge I scanned  the wall for a place to top out and notice a nut with a trad draw on it. So I must have be on some route after all. Easy climbing lead up to the nut which looked well placed so I clipped it and topped out.

The nut came out with a small tap from my nut tool. I'm not sure why it was left there and with a draw on it too. I guess someone's second forgot to clean it.


  1. Hey, been checking your blog for a while now. Awesome. We climb pretty much every other weekend in Calabogie. Rookies by all standards but we've graduated by now to sport and lead climbs. Still it's nice to top rope some of the routes in Calabogie if you wanna push it.
    Keep at it. Great blog, Thx, Jack

  2. Thanks for stopping by. Be sure to introduce yourself if you see me at Calabogie or in Gatineau.