Tuesday, July 1, 2014

"Be Solid at the Grade"

When climbs are described simply with: "be solid at the grade", climbers should take note. 

I went to finally check out McQuirk's Mt. yesterday. Located near St. George (N.B.'s "Granite Town"), this crag, along with it's sister Utopia, make the trip to Charlotte County quite worthwhile. Several years ago... someone telling you that they found a true multi-pitch granite crack-fest within a short 10 minute mostly flat approach from a main road in southern NB would sound like complete horseshit. This thing is seriously tall (most routes are two full pitches) and is seriously obscured from the road. 

Hint: Park at 5.3km south of Second Falls 

First, I'll say Kudos to Greg H., Mike D., and anyone else who excavated cracks, cut trail, and installed rap stations here. This place has been developed right. Relatively new routes are completely clean and free of loose rock. Want a view of what it probably looked like 2 years ago? Climb something at the far right end of New Crack City wall and look at the sea of lichen off to the side. Incredible effort. 
What a sweet campsite!
Now the climbing. Apply tape liberally before heading out. Some pro instruction here. If you're like me and you want to warm up on easy stuff before venturing anywhere where folks say "be really solid at 5.9" then head towards New Crack City. We accessed the tree ledge by climbing After Midnight which turned out to have a spicy section of face climbing (entirely possible that I was off route). When you get to the first anchor you'll see a huge spread of clean cracks in front of you. Just launch and pick the one that looks best. I have no idea which I climbed... but it was sweet sustained jamming. The crux of the day will be to not get stuck climbing every pitch on this wall. They all look good... but there is better stuff waiting. 
Tape fist bump!
Next we climbed Fifty Mission Cap with Chris H. gunning for the onsight. The intimidating looking roof turned out to be heady but easy face climbing. The thin corner is absolutely the crux. A heinously hard move to transition into a crack on the left face tuned out to be the crux for both of us. Summon your inner gymnast and stem wide like a hero! This felt way harder than 5.10c but admittedly... I'm out of shape and have only 2 days of rock so far this year /hangs head/. Superb route. 

Finished the day by trading leads on Magic X. Found the route description a bit misleading but we headed up a big blocky corner and that seemed to put us on the right track. The highlight of the first pitch is an airy step off a big ledge out onto a pocketed face. An anchor on the ledge make it seem like the right place to stop but if you're climbing the second pitch I'd recommend clipping one bolt with a long draw and making the step as your last big move on the first pitch. I think it would be more scary as a first move off the anchor if you choose to stop at the big ledge. There is a second anchor just slightly higher up and left which is a perfect belay for the second pitch, which is sustained and sweet 5.8 crack climbing. Bring at least 3 green Camelots... and more if you have em'. 
Topping out. Sorry, no climbing shots possible today.
From what I saw and the 5 pitches I climbed... this place is pretty much the quality of Cathedral Ledge. I'd say it's certainly as good or better in quality than Cochrane lane or the Precipice in Maine. It's got the quality if not the sheer quantity. The rock has a bit of loose crystal which will exfoliate quickly with traffic. I'll be back for sure. Neutral Tribe looks absolutely stunning... top of my tick list now. 

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Control your Fear, Place your Gear, Earn your Beer!

Yeah... that's a leopard tube top at the crag.
Climbing partners are worth their weight in gold, or DMM offset brass nuts... whatever works for you. For me, the equation balances when a person's willing to learn, willing to teach you new tricks, and is focused on a mix of improvement and fun. Despite appearing like a total gong-show in this image, and despite chucking various objects at me from heights half the day yesterday, I vouch that Sonia is a really good climbing partner. 

Both of us jumped at early-season opportunity yesterday on what was a busy, perfect weather climbing day at Cochrane lane yesterday. Sonia led About a Rope which is a terrific moderate and is no means a walk-up. The leader's got to think about rope drag, ledges, protecting the second on traverse, and a high crux that's got tough gear to place at the grade. Get on it if it's at your grade!

Small cams can hold big mans!

At the end of the afternoon I jumped on Sticky Fingers despite having wimpy fingers from a winter of non-climbing (ice doesn't do much for crimp strength or tip toughness). After doing a better than I expected I found myself through the thin crux and placing a final blind piece from a secure finger lock. Clipped er' and just as I was committing to the final move my smear blew. This old yellow TCU... one of my oldest pieces held like a champ. Not that it was a big fall (8' or so)... but the first one of the year always feels bigger than reality. Beer earned!

We weren't the only climbers around yesterday, the place was full of locals, visitors, men, women, and even a very psyched kid out for a hike. Cars were parked to the end of the field and lots of people were thinking about goals for the season. What are your goals for this year? 

Sonia leading Sparky Start

Happy to top out About a Rope

Tracy over on Pass the Moonshine

Sunday, April 20, 2014

First rock 2014... only about 3 weeks late

Well as of yesterday it was still snowing in the morning... but I think that's finally done. Spring is weeks late and most crags will be seeping snow-melt for a while. Cedar Pt. is good though... as always bone dry and warm.

I caught up with a good crew of Pepper Creek climbers for a few quick laps today. Not climbing in the gym over the winter hurts though... tonight my fingers ache, my tips are raw, and my calves are still white-hot burning fire! All the jogging / cycling / and chin-ups in the world don't compensate for a lack of climbing. Still though... was a terrific day to be hucking myself at warm rock with good company.

I've noticed that someone's contributed a lot in terms of chains and quick clip biners for this crag. Excellent! Perfect place to have them and a real service! I have noticed very quick rust accumulation on the galvanized chains. Marine environment and mixed metals perhaps? Check out this image of Stef belaying us up on these chains... I don't know if they are even a year old? I don't remember them last year.

Placing inexpensive equipment contributed out-of-pocket is a necessity for a place like this. Stainless quick-clip anchor installation is an expensive proposition and nobody's going to do it in a place that's got a history of anchor chopping (I had one removed that I placed a few years ago). That could  be a different story if we had a bit more security on the access however. If climbers knew they had a permanent right in this area it could make a great project for Ascent NB to work on. As it is now... I think it's a good example of how unsecured access leads to use of budget hardware (and rightly so). Not trying to knock the contribution someone's made... it's totally safe and appreciated... but just trying to image a future that could include fancy bling anchors!