Sunday, May 27, 2012

Trip updates

Time for a climbing update; I'm way behind as per usual. Since my last post we have been climbing locally and also checking out new areas further aboard like the Adirondacks and Val David.


Three weeks ago Martin join us for a trip to the Western CWM. I climbed the usual routes with a warm up on Neruda. I ran a quick TR lap on Security before giving Al on the Run a redpoint attempt. The first two clips came and went easily enough however it took several attempts to clip the third. With the third clipped I pulled the roof and climbed out the rest. The upper slab is easy enough but the bolt spacing combined with the pump from the bottom makes for some mindful climbing. The redpoint is coming; just a matter of time.


Over the Victoria Day weekend Matt, Hedy and I left early Saturday morning for the Adirondacks. We arrived late on Saturday and got two climbs in at the lower Beer Walls before dark. I started on a 80 foot left leaning 5.8 finger crack called Rockaholic. The start was wet but straight forward with the crux coming at about 20 feet or so off the ground. The gear is good, mostly small cams and the odd nut. The feet can be tricky on this climb as the off vertical slab is fairly blank, it is a good thing I had lots of Montagne d'Agrent slab practice. My onsight success on this climb set me up for a wake up call on the next climb.
Beware of the Daks' +. Since the easy 5.5 that I wanted to climb was taken we moved on to
 Clutch and Cruise 5.8+. This climb is also 80 feet but in contrast to Rockaholic's slab it starts with
 a large overhanging roof crack in the world's most awkward corner (IMO). The crack was fists
 (or bigger) sized. After placing gear and down climbing three time to rest and hanging a couple times on a cam I decided to give it a max effort. I pushed through the roof and into the upper dihedral looking for a good stance only to have to climb on. There was no reversing my position. Finally on good feet I was able to slow my heart and place a cam. Matt who almost never says anything, in that instance, suggested that I don't run it out so much next time. I agreed.

Pushing on the rock quality get progressively worse until stepping out left you are face with a broken slot. The climbing here, although easy, I found to be incredibly spooky. The last 15 feet seem to take forever as I wedge myself into the slot as it widened near the top. The climb ends on a large cedar tree which is growing out on the cliff side. It is big enough to saddle up, which did I. I can't remember ever being so happy to hug a cedar.              
That night we camp at a free area just up the road from the Beer Walls pull out. It was a beautiful night. Beer, friends and no bugs around the campfire. The next morning it was off the the Creature Wall.

Creature Wall has a number of left leaning cracks. I lead Gob Hoblin 5.7, which felt much harder than Fun City at Barkeater. It was a little wet when I climbed it though. Take a good number of #1 camalot sized cams for this one. After TRing a 5.10 ish face climb the 30 plus degree heat was too much for us and we packed it in.

Val David:

This past weekend Jeff, Pete, Iris, Matt, Hedy, Andrew and I ventured to Val David, meeting Jason and Ken at Mont Condor. I was not sure what to expect and I was not super keen to return to Val David after climbing at Chico et Valse last summer. On arriving, we found Mont Condor completely empty, perfect. Jeff and Matt started up Bloody Hand while I took on Le Recoin 5.7+.

Le Recoin 5.7+:

The beginning involved several sloppy and muddy ledges so I left my approach shoes with the intention of switching footwear at the base of the wide crack. On the way there I slung a stump for pro and had a good old time slopping around in the muck. On reaching the start of the crack I climbed up a ramp to place a #2 C3 and then a #4 camalot in the main corner. I then downclimbed to the base of the ramp and switched to real climbing shoes. The corner is a wide crack, think arm bars and solid foot jams, which leads to small roof. A #4 camalot protects the topout through the roof (in fact a #5 would be golden) however I had already place my two #4s lower on the climb.  What to do ... what to do? I downclimbed to get one of course. A fun climb but I'm not sure anyone else thought so, all well. Later on I ran a lap on this climb in my approach shoes to clean the top anchor off it. Amusingly my approach shoes made for better foot jams in the wide crack.

A Val David souvenir. Don't trust old pins.
Bloody Hand 5.7:

While I was leading Le Recoin, Jeff and Matt gave Bloody Hand a go only to back off 15 feet or so from the top. I offered to finish it. On climbing up to their high point I was greeted  by a totally tip out #0.75 camalot. The cam had walked in the flared crack to a completely open position and had grappling hooked itself on an edge. Fantastic. I placed another smaller cam in a slightly lower pod deep in the crack where there was no chance of it walking out of. It was troublesome to clean but well worth the added security. With good gear I then finish off the last 15 feet or so and topped out the climb. A nice climb but the bumps and nodules in the crack can make placing gear tricky.

Pas de Face 5.10c:

The original bolt on this climb has been replaced by 4 glue-ins up the slab. The upper section is protect by gear. The thin slab down low was classic Montagne d'Agrent type climbing on thin edges and crystals. For some reason I'm good at this sort of thing and with assurance of solid bolts I made steady progress up and past the four bolt. The mental crux for me was the switch over from bolts to small cams. Five feet or so above the last bolt I placed a #0.4 BD C4 although a #0.5 would go there too. At this point you must commit to a left traverse on a small horizontal for your hands and not the greatest feet, small edges and smears. The beta: stay calm, walk your feet up, reach high into the small crack to find a thank god finger lock, high feet, layback, walk up your feet to the ledge, rockover, stand up and rejoice. The first cam now seemed way too far away to offer much comfort. Thankfully the climbing eases at this point. To protected the end I place a #2 C3, # 0.3 C4, #1 C3 and finally a #00 C3. This climb only gets one star in the book, I think it deserves three for sure. Just like Le Recoin I ran a TR lap on this climb later to clean the top anchor.

Nez en Moins 5.11a:

A super fun sport climb with the crux revolving around pulling a roof and then mantling up to get establish on the upper face. I gave it a go on TR and one hanged it (the only fall of the day).