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.