Sunday, July 31, 2011

There be Goblins, Paroi oblique

Matt, Andrew and I loaded up Matt's car Saturday morning and headed to Montagne d'Argent. I really did not have plan on what I wanted to climb; I was just looking for a day on the rock. After some discussion we decide to checkout the L'hippocampe area which works with my Montagne d`Argent onsight policy.

(left) Andrew Chill'in at the base of Wunderbar. (right) Matt moving up the beginning of Gobelin
As per usual, the climb I was thinking of warming up on, L'hypothenuse 5.7+ trad,  was being climbed so we continued over some boulders toward the next crag called Paroi Oblique to have a look at Gobelin 5.7 trad. While traversing over the rubble I lost my footing. I think Andrew slowed me down a bit by grabbing my backpack and I manage to grab the top of the rock as I slid off into the abyss. Not the greatest start to the day. A scuffed side, bleeding knee, shin and elbow and I had not even started climb yet.  Anyway, The path up to Paroi Oblique was heavily vegetated and over grown with raspberry bushes. I'm not sure how many people visit this area but given the overgrowth it cannot be a lot.   

Me leading up Gobelin

Gobelin, a 18m 5.7 gear route, is comprised of an awkward mix of chimneying, offwidth squirming, chalkstones and loose rock. You will need some big cams on this route, I put in a couple BD #3s and a #4. It would have be nice to have a second 4 instead of having to sling a chalkstone for pro. It was solid in the downward direction but I would not have wanted to test it. This is perhaps not a good route for a new 5.7 climber or a new trad climber. One plus of Gobelin is that it sees almost no sun which makes it a great for hot summer days.     

(left) Me looking for holds. (right) Matt in the offwith section of Gobelin and Sevrage's bolt line.

Sevrage, 5.10b sport (5 bolts), runs up the slabby face beside Gobelin. The route is hard crimping with a tricky to read crux between the 3rd and 4th bolt. I downclimbed three or four times to a rest position at the third bolt while looking for holds and working out my sequence. After the 4th bolt the climbing eases on to the 5th bolt and then finishes on Gobelin's anchors. Note that it is a tad run out to the anchors after the 5th bolt.  

Next up was Goglu, another 5.10b sport route. The guide shows 5 bolts but there are only 4 over this 15m climb which made it feel a bit spooky. Goglu is totally different than Sevrage. Sevrage is a cryptic slab with little moves on crimps and smears whereas Goglu has an obivous sequence of powerful moves on well spaced holds. Goglu is an easy onsight compared to Sevrage, a fun climb though.     

After deciding Oreo, a 5.5 trad route, was too dirty to bother with we TRed Fudge 5.10c. I climbed it clean. I should have just lead it instead of letting doubt and tiredness convince me not too. All and all a good day.

Paroi Oblique turned out to be a fun area which we had to ourselves all day. That is certainly not something you would expect on a long weekend. Also, as I mentioned above, the area does not see much sun and we climbed in the shade all day.

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.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A visit to Barkeater

Matt and I travelled to the dacks last Saturday to checkout the Barkeater Cliff.  I'm not really motivated to write a trip report at the moment so here is a point form version.

Self portrait while climbing Big Bertha
  • We parked in the Rock and River guide service parking lot as in the guidebook.
  • Approach took about 40 to 50 minutes, 35 minutes on the way out -- guidebook states 25 minutes. 
  • It was a super hot day, the base is mostly shaded but by afternoon we cooked on the wall.
  • The dacks version of G can vary.
  • Most hardware looked reasonable although there are a number of spinners   
Route attempted:
  • Mr Clean, 5.9, 60 feet, gear : When we arrived there was a group on Big Bertha so I gave Mr. Clean a go as the warm up. It was pretty pumpy as a warm up and I ended up resting on a cam. For me the crack provided solid hand jams and good gear. I climbed straight in for the most part with a bit of liebacking to get over the crux. 
  • Mr Clean runs up the corner
  • Big Bertha, 5.6, 60 feet, gear: An easy onsight with lots of good stances to place gear.
    Matt on Big Bertha
  • Fun CiTy, 5.7, 100 feet, gear: Has some wide sections. You can jam straight in or milk the near by parallel crack for hands and feet near the bottom. I ended up doing a lieback near the top to finish.
    Fun CiTy on the left | Fun Country on the right
  •  Fun Country, 5.10, 100 feet, gear: We TRed this climb. A hard crux through a bulge with a flared out crack.
  • Yakapodu, 5.6, 90 feet, gear: I have a story that goes with climb but I'm too sleepy to write about it. It does involve down climbing to the ground from with 20 feet of the top.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Injured climber update

I got word that the injured climber is still in the hospital but the hope is that he will be able to go home this weekend. His injuries from the fall include two damaged vertebrae, one or more broken ribs, one broken ankle, one sprained ankle and bruising to his lungs and liver.

Here to a speedy and full recovery.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Accident update

Here is the newspaper article but I would dispute the 20 feet. His third piece, that may or may not have taken any force, was at least 25 feet or more up the wall and he pulled two pieces above that. Of course, this does not matter, what counts is that the article implies he is ok given the severity of his fall.

A short day in Gatineau

I met up with Hedy and some others for a short day in the CWM. I did the usual Neruda warm up, sent Security on TR and took 2 laps on Al on the Run on TR as well. Al on the run is by no means easy but it is starting to feel a lot less strenuous. Like any route or problem, once you have the beta wired, you can save energy by speeding through the hard parts. If I feel good then  next time I'm in the CWM then maybe I'll make a red point attempt.

Hedy send me a couple of photos of me on L'ecaille du dragon, 5.8, 25m, 3 bolts + gear, Montagne d'Argent, Antre du Dragon. Thanks Hedy!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Emergency Plan, do you have one?

I was climbing with the Ottawa ACC section at Mont Cesaire at Val David this past Sunday. While we were packing up to leave Chico et Valse, a climber fell, pulling two pieces and decked about 20 feet from us. He had fallen about 60 feet onto a blocky ledge at the base of the climb. They were not part of our group. The climber was seriously injured but thankfully remained breathing and conscious through out his ordeal.

Accident notes:

1) Climber was not wearing a helmet.
2) Climb: La Premiere Valse 5.3. Although I believe the climber fell after getting off route; the climber traversed too high. I did not climb this particular route but I did climb La Valse 5.6 directly to the left while an ACC member climbed La Premiere Valse 5.3. I believe the gear on that route is not obvious and if you miss the right spot there may not be any good gear to be found.
3) Two pieces pulled. At least one was a smaller nut (similar to a #6 or #7 sized BD stopper). I'm not sure how much force was on the third piece down, if any.
4) The climber landed at the base of La Valse. Injuries from the impact were severe.
5) The elapse time from the first 911 call to the climber's extraction from the crag was about 1 to 1.5 hour. 6) Chico et Valse does have an access road which the park authorities used to drive the fire rescue team in on. The approach is about a 20 minute walk from the park office.

Do you have an emergency plan? Some stuff to think about:

1) The fewer people you are with the more tasks you will have to handle. This particular climber was lucky to have 10 people, in addition to his partner, on scene. It can take multiple people to help stabilize a seriously injured climber. I was very impressed on how members of the ACC took over and got the situation under control.

At the same time someone needs to call 911, someone else should be calling the park office if there is one and a runner should be sent to meet the rescue crew. If cell service is nil you definitely need a runner.

2) 911 will ask for an address to send paramedics and fire rescue to. The name of the crag/wall/area is not enough. Luckily an ACC member knew the address of the park office so I handed the phone to them.

3) As above, have the number of the parking/park office if there is one; they will be better at coordinating the rescue. This is something we did not have so I ran to the park office to report the accident. After showing them exactly in the guidebook where the accident happened they directed and met fire rescue at the closest access spot.

4) It takes a long time for the rescue to come even in areas with access roads.

Be safe out there.