Thursday, March 22, 2012

Evening Climbing in March... in T-shirts? WTF!

This week has been pretty wrong in terms of weather. +22 degrees on March 21st? I shouldn't be thinking about after work Sunnyside sessions for another month... but here we are. Yesterday Marcelle and I took advantage of the opportunity.

The hike in is a joke. The ice of last week is completely gone... as is any snow in the woods. With Sunnyside usually seeping from snow-melt well into April this year it's almost completely dry as of today. There we even mosquitoes out? We climbed all night in t-shirts. That just ain't right for the time of year. 

We were joined by a crowd of beautiful women. Sadly, there were no young hot-shot dudes there to impress them... no doubt they were all crushing their sick problems back at the gym. On the flip side, I was quite impressed with several ladies pushing their own limits and becoming proficient leaders. Well done!
Melissa C leading through the tricky start of Little Bones
As for Marcelle and I, we got all of our objectives for the night accomplished: 
  • I got a clean lead of Quantum Theory and we installed a new set of perma-biners at the busy anchor shared between it and Fai Tois Pa Mal
  • Started a project for myself on Dihelio. Feels pretty doable up till the 4th bolt and then it seems like I just ain't getting it? Got any beta for me? Marcelle crushed up to the same spot I did so we both need beta!
  • We climbed 5 lines in 3 hours... which ain't bad considering my extended hang-dog session on Dihelio
  • Finished up the evening by climbing Stairway to Heaven completely by headlamp. 

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Rock & Ice - Back to Back

March can be a pretty good month to climb.

The forecast for the next week is hot. With the temperatures looking like they'll make the high-teens I was interested in catching one last day of ice. So yesterday I took the day off work and hooked up with Stacey & Greg for a final ice day in Parlee. Although the week beforehand had temperatures in the teens and lots of recent rain it was full-on wintertime in Parlee. Every single line... even the stuff on Sunbake wall... was in pristine, fat shape. It was probably the best ice day of the year.
The steep undiscovered wall on the far side of Parlee. 

My tick for the day was going to be a lead of 'Patrick's Choice', a wide WI3 that was in good shape when we were in for Ice School a few weeks ago. I jumped on it as the first line of the day. Plastic ice, easy sticks, solid screws, and I was up in no time.

Next, Greg lead us up a group simul-climb of 'Three Amigos'. Such a nice pitch! By the top a strong sun had me baking in just my shell jacket. 

Afterward I thought that the conditions were never going to be better... so it was time to step it up a notch. I jumped on Yellow Pillar and bagged my first WI4 lead. I finished the day with that but Greg & Stacey went on to do another tricky looking line on the back wall. A stellar Friday!

That was yesterday. Today I tagged along into Cedar Point with Chris, Marcelle, and a big crew. That place is a sun collector. We climbed in t-shirts all day and I even got a clean run up a new 5.10b in the back wall.
Marcelle slings up the funky solution features for pro!

That was the good news... since I flailed my way up 'Torpedoes and Jellyfish'... even though I'd lead it clean before. I can never remember beta. I say it's like onsighting every day for me.
Dom &Cory... we ended up stealing their anchor... ha!
Ice one day and warm, dry, rock the next. No bugs and no bird-closures. March can be a pretty good month.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Catching a Big One!

This is a post for my skinny and/or short climbing partners!

First... I know all of you are excellent belayers! If not... we wouldn't be friends. However I recently read an article from Climbing Magazine's Tech Tips that I thought I'd share. The topic is on how to lead-belay big and/or chunky folks!

Although the article suggests a 25 pound difference is significant... I'd bet that they're thinking about 'average' 150lb climbers. So let's say the ratio (1/6th) is what matters. That means that if you're less than 185 lbs than you are significantly lighter than me, wearing clothes, and a rack. I'd bet most of my partners weigh less than 185 lbs... many by a large margin.

I don't know if I've ever been in the situation of catching someone much larger than me (240+ lbs). They are few and far between. The closest I'd guess would be a fella that I'd ballpark at 225 who fell clipping the 3rd bolt at Gagetown. He pulled me off the ground to nearly the first bolt and he just barely missed decking. So it's hard for me to lecture from experience here.

I will say this... I think the article makes some good points.
  • Helmets are always a good idea!
  • Gloves might be a good idea... especially for really small folks (I won't laugh).
  • Standing in close under the 1st piece of gear is always, always, a good idea!
  • Being tied to a ground anchor isn't necessary... unless there's a real risk of decking
Not sure about their advice to unclip the first bolt though... maybe if it's 4 ft off the ground... 

It makes me think about the flip-side... I often have trouble giving a dynamic belay to really light climbers. When I catch the 'average' 150 lb climber I barely feel it. I certainly don't get launched upward. If I'm expecting a fall I often try to hop but that can be really hard to time correctly... especially if I don't anticipate your fall. If I don't catch you while I'm on the up-side of the hop... you'd better brace yourself. So if I've hard-caught you... sorry... I try my best. 

Sunday, March 11, 2012

0 Degrees & Sunny

In March, 0 degrees & sunny can be a pretty good outlook for a day of rock. Probably not so much in October... but this weekend it sounded doable myself, and quite a few other climbers.

So Saturday Angela and I made it in to Cedar Pt. in Millidgeville. This place is a solar oven. As long as the wind is calm it will be dry and pleasantly warm on any winter day with sun. So while I'm sure it was 0 degrees elsewhere... the microclimate in the quarry was probably +7-8 and the rock pleasant to the touch.

I went in with a bolt kit intent on giving a last look at a line I'd put rap anchors on a year ago at the 2nd quarry. If another worthwhile line or two was in there I'd equip it with lead bolts. Arriving there I was less than impressed to find my rap hangers gone and two stripped bolts remaining. They were placed such to be easily accessible from the cliff top (perhaps too much so). I doubt that they were taken by kids/hikers since you'd have certainly needed a wrench to get them loose. That leaves the possibility of a landowner (the property has been on the market recently) but none of the other anchors were tampered with and the bolts were not damaged. It could have been a climber... but I'd really like to think it wasn't. Not cool if it was.

Between this, unsuitable quality rock for bolting in the final 25 feet of the line, and the low-angle nature of the rest of the area, it will remain a top-rope. Unfortunately a climber will have to bring a huge cordelette to set the anchor since I won't be replacing the missing rings. I expect it will be seldom climbed.

We did return to the main quarry to find Laurent and Miles rapping in. We joined them and climbed a few of the nice pitches for the few hours we had in the sun. I got a few images of Laurent leading Poop Deck... a great 5.9 that demands attention to foot work.

Sunday Jill and I hiked in to Sunnyside with the dog to meet a big crew of people. H-Bomb, Marcelle, Dom, Pete, Matt, Greg, & Steve. Although the snow was falling when we got there the rock was still climbable if not cold. I got up a 5.9 in my new ice boots and fired off a few others. A good day but unfortunately no pics. I've got a few projects to start on in there this year!