Saturday, January 29, 2011

Calabogie, ice climbing

I head out to Calabogie on Friday to try my hand at ice climbing. It was a mild -3 degrees C which meant soft ice and no freezing while belaying. Perfect conditions for a first timer like me.

Me pumped out

We started on a easy ground with a 15m (guessing here) WI2 that Pete led. Ok, now my turn but on TR, of course. Stepping up to the base I set my axes and started up. I found the biggest issue was getting reasonable feet so I did not over work my arms. Part of the problem was, at first, my secondary points were not making contact because of my gummie ice climbing style. The other issue was that my boots are not made for climbing or crampons for that matter. Anyway, I thrashed my way to the top without coming off. I was happy with my first ice climb. We each TR this route a couple more time.


Next up was a 20m WI3 which made things more interesting. On my first attempt I try to just power my way up but I got so pumped at the top I had to take for fear of dropping my tools. After the first climb of the day we dropped the leashes, so much better. Without leashes you can shakeout the pump, match on tools, switch hands and in general just have more options when climbing. Anyway, I learned my lesson. I took my time during my other climbs and managed my pump by resting at good stances. I think we climbed this WI3 three more times.

Other lessons learned include: bulky gloves lead to over gripping and pump, hooking on featured ice can be beneficial and look for natural foot holds before just kicking away at the ice.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

So I returned to the gym yesterday since I could not stay away any longer. I worked on the the new comp problem which went up this past Monday. There are 22 new problems in all. I did the first 10 back-to-back with some discomfort in my finger. After some rest I dispatched 11,12,15, 16 and 17. I tried 13 and 14 but my finger was not going to allow me to these problems so I let them be. The big difference here was static vs dynamic movement. Both 13 and 14 have dynamic movements which I knew would hurt my finger and I just could not commit to the move. As for the other problems they are definite no goes with a hurt finger and it was hard not to get on them.

I woke up to a swollen finger this morning; a sure sign I over did it. Perhaps I should climb routes at gym until my finger is better although I would rather boulder. It might be time to suck up the -10 degree C weather and do some clean aid climbing, I don't know. Maybe tonight's snowboarding with help me not think about climbing.

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.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Finger injuries suck

It is now clear that my finger is definitely injured to the point that climbing harder boulder problems is not a good idea. Base on my last finger injury it will be a month or two on easy climbing followed by a slow build up back to hard crimps and the like. Of course, the trick is to stick to this plan. It is easy to get bored and try something too hard.

Friday, January 7, 2011

That time of year?

Well I may have messed up one of my fingers during yesterday's session at the gym. Just when I thought I was getting stronger, typical.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

A new year for climbing

There is nothing like the excess of Christmas and New Years' to make you feel weak and out of climbing shape. I have only climbed once in the last 20 days. Although, this is most likely a good thing as my shoulders and tendons needed rest anyway.

Of course no New Years' Day post would not be complete without a list of goals for 2011.

  • Get more multi-pitch experience. Go to Weir (Yellow Line, Black and White), the Dacks (Endless list of climbs here) and the Whites Mountains (Moby Grape and may others).
  • Look for/climb new/old routes at Calabogie.
  • Climb more 5.10 gear routes at Montagne d'Argent.
  • Just get out and climb!