Friday, December 31, 2010

The Pitches of 2010

This past year brought a wide variety of experiences. I started out feeling more strong than ever and pushing myself as best I could. It was a great time. Even my good friends were telling me that they noticed big differences in my climbing approach. I'd like to find that again in 2011.

I ended up having a slower year in climbing than I'd have though... but that was mostly due to injury (and gettin' hitched!!). All the same, it was a great year. Here's what sticks out:
  1. Main Street, WI3: Mt. Misery: Anders convinced me that leading ice was actually possible for sane people. I now own screws and used them today. Looking forward to more ice.

  2. Odin, A2: Cochrane Lane: It took me all of February to psych myself up to leading this. When the weather finally started heating up in March I knew Erick would belay me. After hours on the route and within sight of the anchor I lobbed myself for a huge 30' footer and bailed. It was not a loss. It was my biggest fall and my hardest attempt at aid. I learned a lot from this failure.

  3. Awe, 5.10a: My first decent lead after lopping off a bit of my index finger. A re-start and an important confidence booster.

  4. Mon Premiere French Kiss, C1: Cochrane Lane: My super fun bachelor party line. A natural line up a striking feature. Inflatable boobs on. Portaledge city waiting at the top with cold beer. The best!

  5. La Renversee, 5.9: Kamouraska: Overhanging jugs forever with a nice view!

  6. Popcorn, 5.6: Main Face: Midnight climbing by headlamp. High quality rock. A party of 4 which included Mark M. on a trad route! Jager bombs waiting at the end. What more could you ask for?

  7. They Died Laughing, 5.9: Cathedral: Fell/took all the way up but loved it all the same. A stout finger crack that I can work on in the future.

  8. Reppy's Crack, 5.8: Cannon: The first pitch on Moby Grape and a completely perfect splitter. I led it just after the crack of dawn on what would be the biggest climb to date for me.

  9. The Finger of Fate, 5.8: Cannon: This was the 5th or 6th pitch of Moby Grape and Hennigar's lead. The traverse off the anchor was airy enough to beat any single moves in Welsford and the actual Finger of Fate was an unreal feature. I've not found any pictures that do it justice. If you think a lead of Gumby's roof is impressive... you ain't seen nothin' yet.
And just as last year, a few pitches I'd rather forget:
  1. Odin, A2: Cochrane Lane (part 2): The pitch that never was. Was heading back to re-lead it and clean my gear after a week but was stopped by gore within 50 feet of the line. Set me back 6 weeks, 1.5 cm, and about 2 grades.

  2. Sleeper, 5.7: Main Face: So dirty that we swore we were nowhere near the 3-star route described in the guidebook. I got shut down and had to take on a 5.7.

  3. Scrambled Signal, 5.8: Cedar Pt.: The line that refused to be bolted. Went there twice with a load of hardware. After eating 3 battery charges in less than a single bolt-hole I gave up. Not worth the effort.

First Ice of the Season, Last of 2010

Went out ice climbing with my new (to-me) gear and the same old Jon C. It was a good way to spend New Year's Eve day. We stopped in at a roadside waterfall he heard about on the way to Hayes Falls. Lower Joclin Falls is a short 25' chute with potential for about 3 lines. Jon led the FA on the right side of the falls while the center was blasting water at full bore. Well done!

A look at the Lower Joclin Brook Falls.

This place can be found by parking at km #250 heading west from Fredericton on the Trans-Canada. I've marked the spot on my 'NB Ice Climbing' map. Worth a quick stop.

Jon leading the right side.

Hayes Falls was in. The ice was varied with some hero ice mixed in with some baked ice and the occasional hollow stuff. I led the center line a few times and Jon led the smear in the woods. The main falls has a lot of water volume crashing under the ice which made for an interesting day.

My new Cobras were very very nice! A bit of work is needed on the interface between my Rambo 4's and my old plastic boots. They fit... but not 100%. I'll probably write about this sometime but for today... all was good.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Worth a Thousand Words

So this picture can tell you two things about me:

  1. I'm a knob and yep... I'm still wearing my well socked-in flip-flops with 3 inches of snow on the ground. I concluded that this was retarded today so I promise I'll smarten up. Socks aren't worth much once doused in slush. Gross. If I've ever harped on you in the past for wearing impractical footwear you really ought to call bullshit on me. (that's you Jenny)
  2. This picture isn't typical of my snobby camera set-up which can only mean... wait for it... yes, I own a cell phone. [Gasp]

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A Few New Bolts

You win some and you loose some.

Last weekend I planned on finally bolting 'Scrambled Signal', a moderate sport line at Cedar Pt. on Sunday. That meant that I had my bolt kit and the drill with me on Saturday while I was climbing at Sunnyside. Liam and I looked at a line he'd cleaned a year ago and both decided it was both worthy. This line is at the far right end of Sunnyside past 'Celestial Motion' just before it becomes a boulder heap. I even think it may have been looked at (and possibly scrubbed) a few years prior by Erick... but if so... it's been abandoned. Liam asked for some help since it would be his first route. It was a quick job and a fine addition. Well done Liam. 'Two Armed Bandit' 5.10d. A nice addition.

Liam putting in bolts for his new line.

The next day bolting at Cedar Pt. didn't go as well. I drained a full battery on 1/4 of a hole just as I did the last time I tried to establish this line. I jugged back up to my pack and grabbed another fully charged battery only to waste it on 1/2 a hole near the top of the line. WTF! Two dead batteries in less that a singe bolt hole. The weird thing is they both were drilling smoothly making quick progress and then went instantly dead. To make matters worse, the second hole was being drilled in the marble-looking rock that makes up the top 20 feet of the route. This rock was literally pulverizing from the vibration all around the bolt hole giving it a blown-out look. It did not inspire confidence. For this reason, I believe the second quarry area at Cedar Pt. might have to remain a top rope only area.

Monday, November 8, 2010

History at UNB Rock & Ice

Since I've taken on the job at the climbing club I've yet to write anything about the experience. Mainly, it's because I'd be stretched to have positive things to say. I've had a rough time this year and I've felt squeezed from both the University and occasionally from other climbers. It seems as if all new ideas are bad ideas... and that has me wondering whether I'll ever bother again. Now, that's been my personal experience and not a reflection on the club as a whole. The many volunteers we have this year have been stellar and new climbers are appearing with enthusiasm all the time. Which is great.

Anyway, my perspective on the job brightened up considerably when I received an interesting letter, right 'out-of-the-blue'. It was addressed to me from a Mr. George Strunz. I've pasted in some snippets below:

Hi there:

A recent e-mail from a Shay O'Hanlon of the Irish Mountaineering Club got me reminiscing about the joy I got from climbing when I was much younger, and brought about the attached little article.
While it is mainly concerned with climbing in Ireland, at the end, it does mention some climbing I did in the White Mountains and especially on Mt Kahtahdin with a group from MIT in the 1960s, and later the efforts of a small group of us start a climbing club here in NB. We explored quite a few routes on Eagle Rock though I have forgotten most of them by now! The hoped-for club never really got off the ground (unintended pun) and after its demise, I used the small amount of money left in our treasury to buy a book on mountaineering for the UNB library. (Unfortunately I have also forgotten what the book may have been something by the late Gaston Rebuffat, a member of the French team who were first to climb Annapurna in the Himalayas in 1950.)

I am delighted to know that the UNB Ice and Rock Climbing Club is thriving. It may be interesting for you to know that the rock climbing potential of Eagle Rock was explored some 50 years ago...and possibly earlier for all I know!

All good wishes
george strunz

George wrote again today to mention the names of several other climbers now in their 70's & 80's, some of who still reside in Fredericton. Unfortunately, he doesn't believe any documents or photographs of their climbing days in Welsford during the early 1960's still exist. I'd be curious to see if anyone can track down the book mentioned above.

Just thought I'd share this interesting piece of history. I've always been told that the club as it exists today was formed in the 1970's by Steve A. This piece of information would date club back another decade... and I think that's worthy of mention.

Monday, November 1, 2010


Not sure which costume was more frightening:

Zombie climber!

Dick English. Uurrgghhh

Monday, October 18, 2010

Changing Seasons

A few photos taken since the seasons started to shift:

Conks growing on a nice oak in N.H.

One of Fredericton's massive sprawling elms.

The image of the elm is actually 3 glued together. I took 10 exposures trying to get the whole thing combined into a single mosaic but I missed big sections. I'll have to go back. The crown on that thing just goes forever in every direction. If I only had a ultra-wide lens.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


Over the long weekend I hitched aboard a road trip to N. Conway, N.H. for some climbing. It's been a year since I've been there and unfortunately, I don't feel as strong as I did last year. Regardless, I was determined to have a few firsts... and I did.

Saturday my only real objective was to jump on a sustained 5.9 finger crack called 'they died laughing'. It's a Henry Barber route (as are half the lines at Cathedral) and it's crazy aesthetic. After a quick easy warm-up I racked up for it. About 2 pieces in I was already breaking down. The polished rock was spitting my feet out of every jam and Chris was scolding me for not committing myself to climb above my gear. I ended up resting on gear all through the crux but I eventually made it up. Ok I guess but I'd like to try it again.

After that Tracy and I went for an easier climb up Funhouse. A nice line but was unpleasantly cut short by the sound of skidding down a slab and the thud of a decking climber to our left. After a few yells the guy responded that he was ok. By the time we were down to find him he was gone without a trace. I guess it sounded worse than it was?

Sunday Chris and I were up and out before sunrise to climb Moby Grape, a 9 pitch, 5.8 at Cannon. A long route with an alpine feel, it climbs the tallest line on the massive exfoliating dome to a peak over 4100 feet elevation. I think it`s one of the tallest walls in the northeast.

I led the awesome Reppy`s Crack first pitch, a perfect hands splitter. Chris led the next two pitches past a nice roof crack on nice rock. By pitch 4, my feet were colder than a well diggers ass and it was slowing me down considerably. A decision was made that for speeds sake, Henni would have to lead the remaining pitches and I'd have to improve on my cleaning speed. Beyond pitch 5, you can no longer rap the route and are committed to the top.

Me... about 2/3rds up Reppy's crack.

Again me... cleaning pitch 3.

Mid afternoon laded us at the Finger of Fate pitch. This thing is absolutely improbable. It's a 20-foot high shark fin pounded into the cliff like a piton of the gods. It's climbed by campusing/heelhooking along very positive holds for a few moves and then chucking your whole body up into the widening crack and humping your way to the top (sweet)! Even getting to it has a few really cool and spacey moves downclimbing to a thin traverse off the anchor and then onto a really crazy hanging thin flake. Exposed and wild!

Hennigar... poking out from the Finger of Fate.

Beyond that the climbing was mostly slabby to the top with the odd wet patch and run-out. I led the last pitch of a few moves to scrambling to the top. We got off the climb at about 5:00 pm. It took us about 10 hours.

The Whitney-Gilman Ridge is the arete in the background in sharp contrast. It was first climbed in 1929 as a solo by the pair. Clearly... they were made of different substance than modern man.

A final note on this climb is that you'd want to avoid getting finished in the dark. The climbing wouldn't be the problem rather it would be very difficult to get back down. Finding the descent path involves thrashing through dense thicket, boulders, and deep cracks. Lots of misleading goat paths go off in the wrong direction. Definitely not ideal to be doing in headlamps.

For the best topo we found, click here:

Monday, October 4, 2010

Rock School

Rock School went down last weekend. What could have been totally screwed on weather turned out great. I think most folks got enough climbing in and had fun.

Whipped off some photos while I was there:
Amer... doing his best epic-face! Awesome.

Fall colours in full swing. Red Maple

Little Miss Olivia K... most certainly a future climbing star!

The night sky over Cochrane lane.

Monday, September 27, 2010


Yesterday I took my old man to the CFL football game in Moncton. He's a huge CFL fan and he's been stoked to go since it was announced a year ago.

The event itself was really smooth. Buses ran quickly from parking to the stadium. Lines moved efficiently. Beer available everywhere! Nice work Moncton!

The football was sloppy. A lot of fumbles and interceptions... many in scoring range. It was a weird game.

The one really funny thing was this red-haired, freckled kid two rows in front of me. Now I don't like to label people... but this kid lived up to the stereotype. 100% Team Ginger! Some fool felt it was a good idea to arm him with a Vuvuzela??? As such, in good ginger form he made it a mission to piss off everybody around him. He buzzed that thing in the ears of the rows in front of him and swung it around hitting the girl sitting in front of me in the face.

Eventually, the kid's dad finally clued-in and took it away. Staying true to form little ginger cried, stamped his feet, and then pouted! Super Funny!


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Welsford at Night

Last time I went to Welsford I tried my luck at a few nighttime long exposures. The sky was without clouds and no moon. It didn't go as well as I'd hoped. I set a 45 minute exposure and went to sleep... but when I woke up... the battery had died without taking the shot. I did manage to sqeeze off this 5 minute exposure for interests sake though. I'm surprised how much movement in the stars there was in that little time.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Cauliflower Math

My mind wandered sitting around tonight waiting for Hurricane Earl to hit. What's a hurricane and a cauliflower have in common? Spirals. That's what. Digging through this week's veggie box I found a head of cauliflower that is mathematic in it's symmetry.

Trippy eh? Maybe I just need to dial-back on the veggies... I'm going crazy.

Friday, September 3, 2010

New From Big Up

It's tough for me to get excited about indoor climbing flicks... but this is well done.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Congrats to Marcelle & Chris

Marcelle & Chris were married yesterday. Great day, good party, and lots of good friends. Before the wedding they roamed around town into some good spots for photos. I'm not sure if this runs a foul on etiquette... but I brought my camera to the pro wedding photo shoot.

Lookin' good kids! A few more photos here.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Another Float

Last weekend Jill and I made our annual float to Grand Manan. Great place. I spent the weekend roaming around taking photos, watching marine life, and eating fine foods. Blackberries were in full season so I ended up picking a kilo while waiting for the ferry. Another kilo probably never made it into our buckets..

Blackberries. Tart.

We came to a couple of epiphanies:
  1. We want to get back onto team veg. So as of Sept. 1st we're vegan again for a while.
  2. We want waterfront property. Eventually. But not on the island... somewhere on the lower river. I'm now shopping.
Anyway, I think half the reason why we like fishing communities so much is that they seem to share our taste in colour. All vibrant; all the time. Although I found lots of nice flowers and nature over the weekend it was the man-made colour on the island that really stuck out:

A collection of the colours I found.

Anyway, I've talked about it before but this map points to the location of the best campsite I personally know of.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Cover Story

A week ago I was interviewed by Here Magazine about climbing. Today it was published... along with a few of my pictures (one of which was the cover shot... nice). Yep... no credit... by that's my photo on the cover! No mention of it being of Moncton climber Franca Z either. Why are we both not rich and famous now?

The interview went o.k. and the article isn't as ridiculous as I expected given the odd questions I answered. But seriously... long-boarding is nowhere near as cool as skydiving or climbing. Come on.

It's funny. Notice the stock picture of the guy belaying in jeans, sneakers, and ice screws on his harness? WTF! Oh wait... that must be Hennigar since nobody else has a daisy chain of tied webbing. LOL.

Monday, August 9, 2010

A Stag for H-Bomb

Last weekend I threw a stag party for Chris Hennigar. A few years back we spent a day climbing at Main Face in NS just outside of Halifax. It's a pretty spot with a decent trad cliff growing right out of a big lake. I got wind that the cabin at the summit was open for rent and got the contact info from Climb Nova Scotia (now a card-carryin' member).

In typical style for Henni and I, we packed an obscene amount of stuff which had to be lugged in. He focused on necessary climbing gear... while I went heavy on bringing beer, liquor, and meat. The drive there was quick enough but we got there after dark, leaving us a bit insecure at the prospect that we were lugging hundreds of pounds of stuff up a steep ATV trail in the wrong direction. Anyway, we eventually ended up at the cabin a-ok.

The cabin at Main Face. Not pretty... but location is everything I guess.

(Funny side note: Mark, driving in a separate car behind us... got separated and lost in rural Nova Scotia. He decides the appropriate course of action is to call a stagette party full of ladies for help. Nice work Mark! Try again.)

The lines at Main Face can be really quality, but unfortunately, as we were warned, many of the 3-star classics are quite overgrown. Expect moss, lichen, and blueberries to be the norm. A few lines remain naturally clean and they are stellar. Oskar and Mr. Puff were exceptionally nice.

Henni cruises Oskar.

Fred proposed 'The Meatgrinder' as Henni's epic route for the weekend and it didn't disappoint. He got up it though and wasn't beat up too bad in the process. Way to go for awkward 5.9 offwidth!

We had a big feed Saturday night and after a few beer decided to do a midnight run of Popcorn, the classic 5.6 that goes strait out of the lake. This is a cool 45% dike that traverses about 15 m in a 25m pitch. Mark, Adam, Chris, and I jaunted up this with headlamps. Perfect finish to a long day with a belay view of the cosmos and owls hooting across the lake. We were back to camp by 1:00 a.m... in time to down a few Jagerbombs and shoot Ian's pimped out pellet rifles for a few hours! Drunk, we finally crashed around 3:30.

Monday, August 2, 2010

NB Day Weekend

Great NB Day long weekend.

7-Mile Lake

Went to Jenny's camp and spent a great day drinking, flag-raising, and swimming in the heat. Got on the boat with Jill and her parents for delicious surf n' turf the next night. Today, I finally started painting the house. Why does the colour never look the same as it does on the chips in the store?

Jill back on a boat with me... she swore this would
never happen again!

A fire to make Ryan proud!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Farewell Norweigan

Anders (who is the star of half of my climbing notes in the last year) is moving back to Norway this weekend. We went out for a few final pitches last night after work. Great night. Melanie came along and did a great job up a tricky route in the Upper Tier. Anders sent his project and I took a few photos. It's going to be tough to find another belayer like him... cheers! Hope we can link up for a few more pitches in the future. Perhaps a 400m WI4?

Anders making a clip.

Melanie sticking the crux! Nicely done.

Mr. Clean sending Mr. Torpedo

...and a link to the full set

Thursday, July 15, 2010


I figure at least once a year it's worth it to head up Cheekbone Corner.

Interesting Fact: This used to be termed 'the Nose Buttress' as per this early topo of the area:

This year the occasion was that Anders is soon moving back to Norway and he really ought to climb it before he leaves. We left town Tuesday after work with that objective in mind, arriving at the base of the 1st pitch ready to go around 7:00. On a good day, I figure I could lead this in around 2 hours... leaving plenty of time before dark. The plan is for Anders to lead it.

He ties in and sets off, knowing that the 1st pitch is easy climbing but poorly protected. About half way up the corner he decides he doesn't like the look of things and bails; down-climbing back to the ground. No big deal. It's now 7:30 and I decide we're here anyway so let's go for it. I rope up and move to the alternate 'Pete's Retreat' start. Before leaving the ground I say to Anders 'don't forget your head-lamp'! He replies 'What? I don't have it today'. Who heads to Cheekbone after work without a headlamp? Oh well... 1 is enough... and I'm off.

We traded pitches up to 'pigeon shit ledge' (which is nicely clean now thanks to peregrines) and I bring him up while enjoying the sunset. Now in the twilight, I send him to lead the last pitch for the photo hanging off the needle. He cruises it, but can't find the route afterwards. Just go up! After some time he makes a tree and I follow up, now in the dark.

After walking off and getting back to the packs it's now at least 10:00. I call Jill:

'Jill... I'm ok... I'm just not going to be home for at least another hour and a bit', says Chris.

'Where are you?', replies Jill.

'I'm at the base of Cheekbone Corner', I respond.

'Well... that is stupid!', she explains... and shortly thereafter hangs up.

Needless to say... this isn't the first time I'll be returning home from this route around midnight.

While on the way home just pass Sunnyside, I hit a skunk. Dang. The car now smells like burnt skunk. We roll up our windows. Another 20 km down the road we hear the sound of a big motor gaining on us quickly... but no lights. We roll the windows back down and Anders realizes that it's an army helicopter right above and behind us... following us down the middle of the highway... in the middle of the night... at 110km/hr... with no lights on. A little unnerving. I'm sure the pilot was training for how to blast me away... but this ain't Afghanistan and I ain't no Taliban. Please strafe somebody else. It followed us for about a kilometer then broke off and was gone. Very weird.

What a great night!

Friday, July 9, 2010

The Wedding

Now I got married about two weeks ago. I must say that my wife Jill was awesome. She pulled together a wedding and reception that worked out perfect. Very relaxed, great friends, unique ideas, it was totally custom made for us. Great job Jill.

I had a lot of fun. We took pictures down town Saint John before the wedding an made a total spectacle of ourselves. Random cruise boat people would clap for us as we stormed around the market. We tucked in a ceremony in the Public Gardens just in the nick of time before the place was overrun with graduating high-school kids. (I was guaranteed no other weddings that day but nobody said anything about hoards of well-dressed kids). We also did a good little party afterwards at my in-laws place with piles of food and drinks. I had a perfect time.

Thanks to everyone willing to take a random Tuesday to see Jill and I get hitched!

A selection of friends and family... as shot through our photo-booth... with my chintzy ebay $5 remote setup. Worked like a charm!

Ryan. In his best rock-out face.

Jess and Jon (crafter of our rings)

Krystal and Jenny (my best lady)

The Tompkins ladies.

Marcellegar! (best man on the left)

Adam (Rasta wedding singer!) Jah Mon!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Stag Party

I need to catch up on a few fun things that happened over the past 2 weeks... beginning with perhaps the coolest stag party ever.

Chris, John, Anders, and I booked out of work early Friday afternoon headed for Welsford. My mission was to lead the arch in Joe's Garage and have an anchor set under Gumby's roof before dark. We packed up aid racks, portaledges, beer, food, water, etc. and were off. Hiking with all that will either kill you or make you strong as a bastard. No middle ground.

We got to Joe's in decent time considering the burden and I got racked up. I was then awarded my weekend 'rack'... a set of inflatable D-cup boobs. Climbing with large boobs is damn near impossible. You can't see your gear sling, your feet, nothing. I was constantly having to move them around to get the right size cam off my harness. Nice to look at... but I'm glad I don't own a set. Fast forward a few hours, the worst pin I've ever trusted, and a wide crack to find me now at a bomber anchor under the roof.

Me leading the arch - Probably C1+ @Anderfo

By now Erick had joined us, hauled, and had the ledges almost all set up. By dark we were all set up with plenty of beer. The boys even brought up an inflatable wife, Rosalita, to keep me warm. Very nice touch.

Anders... insulin deprived! @Anderfo

Saturday morning we climbed a bit, cleaned our rather huge mess at the base of Joe's, and headed off to the Gorge. The Gorge is probably the best swimming hole in NB. Cliffs, a big bridge jump, Tarzan rope, and always good weather. Ryan met up with us there.

Ryan launching the cliff @Anderfo

Next we were off to Pennfield for skeet shooting. Now I grew up in the city with a fishing father so I'd never handled a firearm before. Totally a good time. The lot of us fired at least half a thousand shells that afternoon. I did better than I thought but still sucked. Anders was quite good and Erick is pro. Then again, he quit climbing for this stuff.

Note the shootin' glasses and hooters! @Anderfo

Following that we made it back to Fredericton for a night of booze at Chris's place. Jenny came out and braved the stagosphere and we spent the night burnin' stuff, drinking, and hot-tubbing. I'd be hard pressed to think of a more bitchen' 24 hours.

All pictures stolen from Anders. He has more here

Monday, June 14, 2010

Another Great Weekend

I'm marrying the right girl. With only 9 days to go before the wedding Jill was all 'go ahead and climb again today sweetie, I'll look after the boring wedding stuff'. I'm livin' the dream! So, I got two good days in this weekend.

Saturday at Cochrane lane with Anders and Sunday at Cedar Point with Chris and Marcelle. Anders had the camera Saturday so there may be pictures here sometime. I had it Sunday so here's a few of NB's best educated climber! Shooting was a bit crappy. No sun, slow lens, high ISO. I wasn't super happy despite this being about as photogenic as a setting as one can ask for.

Chica Bonita

...and several more of MacGruffin