Sunday, April 29, 2012

A cold morning in Gatineau

I returned to the CWM with Andrew yesterday to climb Bitter Fingers 5.6 and work the moves on Wish you where here 5.12b/c. It was just above 0 degrees C and sunny which made for a nice walk along the equestrian trail. While walking Andrew spotted what we believed to be bear tracks in the mud.

Bitter Fingers is a first generation CWM climb that I have attempted twice on lead solo. The first time, Wild weather in Gatineau, I walked away because it looked too wet. The second time, I decided it was not an appropriate route to lead solo based on the route's gear options and awkwardness. This time, on our arrival around 11 ish the climb looked damp in places but definitely climbable. The sun does not hit this side of the cliff until later in the day; in fact there were icicles still on the wall when I started to climb. The mental crux of the route started right off the ground. Starting off a boulder, four or five feet above the stream, you step across onto a small foot hold and pull into the wall on reasonable holds. Matching on a squared edge rail you can place a swallow #1 camalot behind a flake. Care must be taken to get this placement right. The next moves are tricky and committing until you can get a good cam in the above horizontal. This is not a climb for a 5.6 leader. The rest of the climb is protectable however the cracks are full of crystals and irregularities making bomber placements not as straight forward as one might expect. On top of that, the climbing is awkward. All and all it took 30 minutes for me to climb this short route.

To put up a rope on Wish you where here I lead Slippery when wet a 5.10d sport route. This slightly overhanging sport route is in the guidebook but the name is listed as unknown. If you are unsure in anyway about getting to the first bolt on this route just stickclip it. A fall here is very serious. The climb itself is fun, straight forward and the crux is well protected. As a comparison to Bitter Fingers I lead this route in less than 5 minutes.

With a TR on Wish you were here I reminded myself of the movement and crimpy holds. The route is more like a solid V5 highball boulder problem. For me the climb breaks into 2 or 3 sections. Linking them will be difficult but I believe I could redpoint this climb if my shoulder permits the necessary work. Next time I return I think I give it a go with the first two draws preclipped.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Spring update

Ok so I'm a bit behind on my climbing posts so hopefully after this one I'll stay on track. Last weekend I headed out to Calabogie to meet a group of the usual suspects. I arrived a little early so to past the time I lead soloed up the retro bolted Calabogie sunset. By the time I clipped the second bolt the others had started to roll in. As always I self belayed with a grigri and used trees for a solid ground anchor. Afterward I lead Phasers on Kill using my preferred end variation with Pete coming up as a second. Finally, I sent the Vulcan Mind direct cleanly on TR. The rest of my day I spent hiking out to the newly developed area at the far end above the lake. The climbs, mixed (bolts and gear) mid 10s and others look like fun; definitely worth checking out next time.

With a later start and iffy weather Matt and I climbed locally today at crag that will remain nameless. It is a longer approach compared to our usual spots; it took us about 50 minutes. There are three cracks there, at  5.5,  5.9+ and  5.8 all of which are partial sandbags in my opinion if you compare them to Neruda for instance. I lead all three but only the 5.5 cleanly. The other two cracks will go now that I have my gear beta worked out; I kept putting gear in all the good spots instead of my hands. The 5.9+ takes a number of small pieces. At the crux I placed a #0,#1 C3 and a small blue tcu followed by a #4 BD micro stopper and a #000 C3 after the mantle. Since the #000 is only rated to 4kn I ended up replacing it with a 0.3 BD cam soon after placing it. All in all a good day.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

A new reality

After 6 weeks of physio I have come to the conclusion that my shoulder issues are a new reality; this is not something that is going to go away. It is about management now. Will this impact my outdoor climbing, now and in the future, most definitely. It would be easy to go in to a self pity rant about how my high hopes for this season have been dashed but looking around the waiting room at physio I'm quickly reminded that I'm not that bad off.

Anyway, another way to cheer up is of course to buy climbing gear. My new TC Pros just arrived in the mail today so that is pretty awesome. My old pair lasted just over year with lots of miles in the gym and on the rock outside. I'm sure I can push their life a little more too, with some patching. Also in the new gear department is a new rope. Yep, I replaced by beloved Maxim Glider. The Glider was a work horse over the last 3 seasons and it was will hesitation I switched to a Sterling Evolution Velocity 9.8.

The are many pros, cons and specs to mull over when trying to decide on a new rope. This time around I was looking for the best trade off between price, dynamic elongation and impact force. There are number of $250 plus rope out there that I cross of the list fairly quickly. Roughly speaking the added cost usual gives you a bi-colour pattern, dry coating (core and sheath) and 70m. All very nice features. However, after being honest about it I don't climb many routes where the time savings of a middle marker makes a different. There are also very few long routes around here and I really only made use of my 70m Glider on a hand full of time. Lastly, I've only ice climbed once and for the most part I don't climb in the rain so I decided I could make due without the dry coating. For impact force and elongation I believe the Velocity presents a good balance at 8.8kN and 26.4 % respectively. Yes, there are lower impact force ropes but their elongation numbers will be in the high 30s. That is 10% more than the Velocity. Since most of the routes around here are short this is an important point.  For reference note that the Glider has an impact force of 9.5kN and 29% elongation. All this is just theory of course so I'll report back after putting some pitches on the Velocity.        

As for climbing I did get out late on Saturday afternoon. I hiked into the Western CWM with the intention of lead soloing North Wall routes and Neruda but when I got there the place was crazy busy. This not the type of environment I like to climb in but I lead soloed Neruda anyway. As I was leaving I noticed Remi and Derrick on North Wall so after talking to them I decided to stick around and watch Derrick give Al on the Run a redpoint attempt. He got it on his second try. Being inspired I gave Al on the Run  my first lead attempt. I surprised myself by clipping the first two bolts and get the hold just over the roof by the third bolt. At this point you have to make a decision to either high clip here or climb higher to later clip. Both these options have potential for disaster and without the ability to make a decision I came off and lowered. I'm still not sure what I'll do next time.