Friday, November 14, 2008

Combined Rack

Leo and I combined our racks while climbing at the Gunks.  My contribution was a set of Wild Country Chocks, at set of Black Diamond Camolots #0.5 to #2, a set of Black Diamond C3's 000 to 2, set of Camp Tricams  and a  set of trad draws.  The best contribution from my rack was definitely my 2 Metolius Supercams.  These off-set cam have an amazing range and would be bomber when nothing else would do.  A definite addition to a full rack.
Leo had some great additions himself.  He had a set of Metolius off-set nuts that slotted so well in old pin scars.  He also had a full set of cams (Metolius?) that he recently had re-slung with double length webbing.  What a difference it made.  Usually you did not have to use a draw to clip in, the sling was long enough.   This was rounded out with some small cams, a set of draws and various other things.  A very nice set-up for multi-pitch climbing.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Garage Woody

This is a better picture of the Garage Woody.  This is up for 2 reasons.  First is to announce the first annual Cremasteric Challenge (look it up) in honor of the coming cold weather.  The second is to announce that we are going to build a wall in Kim's Basement.

The Cremaster will be held in early December.  We will keep you posted.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Far Right

This picture is further right again.  Note the off-vertical feature from the previous picture.  The face continues to curve away from the camera as you scan right.  Again, lots of terrain in the 200 foot region.  This is not to mention the small face at the bottom.  It is probably 70-80 feet and looks vertical.

I think I have a lot of work ahead of me.  

A Little to the Right

This is the face directly to right of the previous picture, note the small face at the bottom of the picture.  The face appears well featured if not too fractured.  There is an off-vertical crack going from the bottom to the top.  Just to the left of this would appear to be a 150 to 200 foot slab climb.  Definite moderate terrain

Manuel's Face at a Distance.

This is a picture of Manuels Face that Bob and I have been working on.  There is a swath of trees coming down the middle of the face.  The actual face we have been working is immediately to the left of the trees.  We have not checked out anything right of the swath.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Back in business

Sorry to all.  My modem was down for a while.  New post to be seen soon.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

High Exposure 5.6

High Exposure is one well known climb.  It was the only time Leo and I had to get in line to get on a route.  It is really known for its last pitch.  The first 2 are pretty standard climbing.  The last pitch starts on the GT Ledge where there is a large belay ledge.  In the first picture, Leo is about to start the third pitch.  He climbed up a slabby block under 'the roof' to the crux.  The crux was using a small crimp to ease your weight out from under the roof to spy the next hand holds above the roof.  The problem is that it is kinda hard to reverse and once you get out there, there is 200 feet under your back. 
The second picture is from the rap anchors to the right of the route.  The unknown climber is setting a belay anchor on the ledge.  Directly above him, about 15-20 feet, is a small ceiling which is the crux.  It is approached from the far side.  Above the crux is about another 80 feet of slightly overhung climbing.  Leo thought this pitch was amazing, he couldn't wipe the grin off his face.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

No climbing today

Couldn't get out this am.  I don't think there are going to be many more potential days before the snow comes in.  I will take them as they come.
This picture was of the lower rap anchor on the Horseman.  There are 4 pitons slung together with various pieces of webbing and cord.  You can't quite see them but there is two rap rings threaded thru it all.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Climbing Sunday

Kim and I are going climbing Sunday morning.  We are going out to Manuels to do some developing and climbing.  We are going to meet at the Majors Path Tim's at 7:00am and we will be back by 11:00am.  Show up if you are interested.

Thee Pines 5.3

This was a very nice route that I lead.  It has three pitches, each marked by a massive pine.  This picture is at the base looking up at the first pitch.  You belay from behind that massive pine.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Dudes Bouldering

Believe it or not, the Gunks has a new hardcore bouldering scene.  At many places along the Carriage Road, huge boulders are just laying around.  It struck me as odd to see people bouldering when you have 1200 multiple pitch trad routes at your disposal.  
I can't remember the name of the problem but these fellas were working on a V7.  Easy access, good landings and a ton of problems.  The Gunks is definitely seeing a bouldering boom.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Long Way Down

This picture was taken on Shockley's Ceiling during the second pitch.  Nice little foot ledge.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Birdland 5.8

A Gunks local dropped by the gym one day.  Leo asked him about a stellar route that was off the usual tract.  Before Leo had the question out of his mouth, he said Birdland.  It had a different quality to it than most Gunks climbs.  It was slabby, a little thin and...a sport route!  Well let me qualify that, a Gunks sport route.  Back in the day, pitons were used freely for protecting routes.  On frequently travelled routes, the pitons were just left in place.  Here there were 6 pitons protecting about 100 feet of climbing.  Leo had certain trust issues with the pitons, he had everyone of them backed up. 
We were just packing up were this older thin wiry guy arrived and began getting ready to climb, but he didn't have a partner.  We started chatting and I asked him what he was going to climb out of curiosity.  He said he was going to free solo Farewell to Arms (5.9) to get to the anchors of two other routes, both mid 5.11's, and do 10 laps on each (top rope solo).  I wished him luck and we left.  Leo and I figured he must have been blowing smoke.
Back at the hotel room, Leo was flipping through my new "Gunks Guide" and there was a page on this fella, Mike Sciacca.  He was a Gunks regular and would frequently do 10 to 20 laps on Gunks test pieces.  He is well known for delivering amazing beta.  He had talked a newbie through a 5.10!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Following on Gelsa

Leo snapped a few pics as I followed him on the second pitch.  This was just after the radical 5.4 crux.  
It is hard to explain to describe how a 5.3 can be so intimidating.  Maybe it is just me BUT when you have an updraft that balloons your shorts, you KNOW there is nothing but air below you.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Gelsa 5.3

Gelsa has been described as the best 5,3 in the North-east.  You can almost see all three pitches in this picture.  Pitch 1 follows a ledgy corner to a belay ledge at the base of the tree (foreground).
Pitch 2 dose some face climbing to the base of the corner.  Pitch 3 is the shit.  A dead vertical corner for about 100 feet.  The exposure was extreme but the climbing was just 5.3 and the pro entirely solid.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Betty 5.3

I tell ya, a 5.3 at the Gunks is unlike any other 5.3 I have been on.  Betty is a 3 star two pitch climb.  It starts by following large discontinuous cracks then some face climbing to a belay ledge.  Leo managed to get some crag booty out a crack at the back of the belay ledge.  He worked hard for a small mangled cam.
The second pitch was great.  It followed a corner/chimney and then onto some more face climbing.  I was getting used to the corners by this point but it was this step that got me.  I was standing on this large ledge where my right foot is and had to step out over the chasm, about 3 feet, to keep on route.  It was really easy climbing but it was the exposure that made it spicy.
It looks as though my last piece is about 10 feet below me but there is another cam at my shoulders.  I am not sure I could have done that move 10 feet above my last piece.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Shockley's Ceiling 5.6

Shockley's Ceiling is one of the classic routes at the Gunks for a number of reasons.  It follows a "bold natural line" and is composed of "an imposing ceiling and exposed corners".
Another reason for its fame is that the climb sits directly above a hairpin corner in the road below.  Frequently tourists stop here to watch climbers so you always have an audience.
Bill Shockley and Doug Kerr did the first ascent in 1953.  Bill Shockley went on to win the Nobel Prize for inventing the transistor (Shocking!!).
Pitch one starts by mounting some large blocks and follows into a chimney to gain a large belay ledge (60 feet, 5.4).
Pitch two traverses up and right below a large right facing corner shaped somewhat like a large  flake. Once on the outside of the flake, take an airy step left to the outside of the corner.  Follow the face to a small alcove to belay (130 feet, 5.5). 
Pitch 3.  Above is the beautiful white ceiling split by a right-leaning crack known as Shockley's Ceiling.  "Climb to the base of the ceiling, tell yourself it is only 5.6 and crank it.".  Climb the corner to a second ceiling above described as small but awkward.  Leo found this ceiling more challenging than the first.  
The other difference about this climb for me was that there was no fixed belays and no rappel stations.  This made it more committing.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Shockley's Ceiling 5.6

This was just before we began climbing Shockley's Ceiling.  This is another popular climb.  3 pitches with the crux ceiling on the last pitch.  More on this later.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Ken's Crack 5.7

Leo noticed this thin crack towards the head of the trail. It had good face holds and was only a single pitch. I climbed it first. My foot slipped just after placing my second piece of gear. When I looked, only two lobes of the cam were engaged. I climbed a bit higher, and the crack opened nicely. I placed another cam which was solid. I kept climbing, slipped and fell a second time. It held no problem. It was my first significant fall on pro and it helped build my confidence. The rest of the climb went clean.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Rhododendron 5.6.

Rhododendron was the first climb we got on at the Gunks.  It was a nice straight forward 5.6 with great gear all the way up.
  This is a picture of Leo at the 2 bolt rap station, roughly 20 meters off the deck.  Many of the tree used to be the rap stations but the webbing around the tree would injure the bark and kill the tree.  This has led to the use of bolts right beside nice big trees.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Sixish 5.4

After seeing what the Horseman was like, I felt I should try a more tame lead.  We were close to Sixish, a 3 star 5.4.  It was called Sixish because it climbs more like a 5.6.  
I was quickly humbled by this '5.4'.  I was not expecting to come up against a small ceiling.  I backed off and Leo took the lead.  I was glad I handed over because it was the stiffest 5.4 I had ever been on.  After that I figured I needed to get on a 5.2 while wearing diapers.
This climb actually enlightened me to a weakness I have, exposure on lead.  I could follow Leo on many of the roofs and corners, but they shook me on lead.  My head is my weakest link.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Horseman 5.5 (Day1 Gunks)

The Horseman was a climb recommended to us by a friend of Dottie's.  He has been a Gunks climber your a long time and he said this was his favorite climb.  He also asked Leo what he lead at home.  Leo replied '5.10'.  this guys response was 'Thats great, you will be able to lead 5.8 here!".

The Horseman is a 30 meter 2 pitch climb.  It starts with some face climbing up to a right facing corner.  Towards the top, it traverses left out onto the face to a ledge for the first belay.  The second pitch was interesting face climbing to the top for a tree rap anchor. 

We know it is a little over 30 meters because we were told that with a 60 meter rope, a rap from the top would get us to a ledge about 2-3 meters off the ground that we could easily down climb.  We simul-repelled and just managed to reach terra firma

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Enough Bill

Bill has been harassing me about not post any pic from the Gunks yet.
Well here!

Bill has been harassing me about not post any pic from the Gunks yet.
Well here!

Monday, September 01, 2008

It has been a while.

I am back!  Took the summer off from blogging.  I got a little too ambitious with the profile stuff.

Leo and I are going to the Gunks on Sept 20th.  Full on climbing for 5 days at the temple of trad!  This will make up for a pretty crappy summer here in NFLD.  I have not put up many new routes and haven't sent much either.  So much for the tick list!

Funny...the summer is becoming my 'off' season.  I train hard all winter feel strong in the spring and then life happens.  I don't get out as much and slack up on training and before I know it, it is august and I am flailing.  This is like the 3rd season in a row I have noticed this trend.  Role with the punches I guess.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Too Cold

Calling for -3 C tomorrow morning. It seems colder than that right now. We will not be goi8ng out!

Tuesday is calling for rain. Next saturday is the Adult Training Bouldering Program sponcered by Viagra and Geritol.

When will the season start????

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Season is Starting!!!


The outdoor season is finally starting and it is going to be awesome. Leo and Matt have been scouting out a face south of Spanky's. It is not really a face but a huge freakin wall. They have rapped down the majority of the face on a fixed line. The wall is roughly 100 meters and is broken up by 3 ledge systems creating what will likely be a 4 pitch 5.8ish climb. Both Leo and Matt are pretty stoked.

Leo also had mentioned seeing other lines including splitters and offwidths. SO when these lines start going down, Flatrock will be a one stop climbing destination. It has bouldering, easy and moderate trad, hard sport climbing and then to top it off, multipitch climbing.

After that I almost feel embarrassed to mention Cemetery Face. Saturday morning Bob, Kim, Yan (sp?) and myself plan to go out to Cemetery Face and scope out a new face. It is about the same size but slabby. Bob and I checked it out last year but never climbed it. There is a crack that will go down easy but the slabs to either side look kinda featureless. The plan is to set a couple of top ropes and see what we can bolt. We will probably meet at Tim Hortons, Majors Path, at 6:00am Saturday morning.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Profiles-Leo Van Ulden

I asked Leo to send me some info on the junior climbing club. I think it was probably a tall order. If you are interested, send me a photo and a short bio to and I will post in due time.
I met Leo back in 1995 on my first visit to Wallnuts just after it opened. Leo and his brother Phil were the rock gods of the time, knocking on the door of twenty years old. There were number of other good climbers around but Leo took a prominent role because of his connection to the gym. At that time he had been climbing a number of years and was puttering around on a home woody with his brother and another fella, Ivan. Leo and Phil with their mothers backing started Wallnuts.
Fast forward seven years and my re-introduction to Wallnuts in 2002, there was Leo. Since then Leo has been a mentor of sorts, as he has to many of us. I took several course from him, including Rock I and Rock II. I have climbed with him on many occasions and always manage to learn something from him.
Leo has been active in maintaining and upgrading his education with climbing. He currently is the only Newfoundland climber (that I know of) who is ACMG certified.
I can't comment about his hardest sends but I have a bit of a sense what he may consider to be big accomplishments. First would be his work with the Junior Climbing Team. He has seen a group of teens come a long way and looks forward to what they can and out of the gym. Author and FA of Sledgehammer. This was likely the first well bolted moderate (5.10ish) sport climb. It is listed as 5.11a but that is primarily to it very thin start. Once to the first bolt it climbs like a 5.10 minus. Others prior were either runout or very difficult. Leo opened this grade for a number of us.
Another great FA of Leo's is Paging Don Keidik (5.10b). This is a beautiful 25 meter climb that became an instant classic.
I hope I don't have too many of the details messed up.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008


For awhile I have been thinking about posting profiles on some of the local climbers. I figure I should start with myself.

I first started climbing in 1995 when Wallnuts first opened. I climbed indoors for 2 years when I stopped. I left Newfoundland and returned in 2002 when I took it up again. My first season climbing outside was 2003 and that was limited. I slowly increased my climbing and training. I went from slogging up 5.8 in 2002 to my first onsight of a 5.11a earlier this year.

I built a bouldering wall in my garage 2 years ago and it has helped my climbing drastically. It allowed me to climb 3 to 4 times to per week and create a system wall for training.

I took a trad climbing course last year at the Gunks in New York State. I would recommend this to almost anyone. I learned a lot and got good practical experience. The guides I have climbed with have been really solid interesting people. Even for the well seasoned, it may be worth while to just get the lay of the land.
I like to develop routes with my climbing partner, Bob. We have noticed a big lack of moderate routes. Our goal is to safely bolt lines between 5.2 and 5.10?. So far we have put up about 10 routes in that grade. This summer we intend on further developing Manuels Face and climbing as hard as we can at Main Face.
I am hoping to get a little profile on the Junior Climbing Club going to Toronto next month.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Middle Cove Bouldering

Middle Cove Beach has a short wall on the left side as you face the ocean. I boulder here in the summer...early morning before it becomes dirty with people. There is a nice traverse, left to right. It is about 30 feet long and probably goes at V3 or V4. I haven't done it clean yet.
The wall is about 10 to 12 feet high and is about 5 to 10 degrees overhanging. I have done a number of 'straight up' problems ranging from V0 to V3. There are more in the waiting.
To the far left is another face, a little higher but with fewer features. Lots of beach below it at low tide but wet at high tide.
One the right side of the bay there are some other faces, but they are decaying and always wet.
There is another

Monday, February 25, 2008

Study of Form

This image called "Study of Form" was downloaded from They have a huge image gallery which is certainly worth looking at.
I think this picture is great. Powerful and calm.
Check out the route data base as well. Bob and I have been putting our FA's in there and there are a good number of classics already posted.

Just curious!?!

Anyone who has gone out to Prosser's Rock on the South Side Hill must pass this face I am curious about. It is about 100 feet wide and anywhere from 40 to 80 feet. The thing about it is that it is almost dead flat, meager features and overhanging about 25 degrees. There are a couple of diagonal cracks but look shallow.
On closer inspection, there are a few vertical discontinuous cracks and dubious face features. I think you would have to be pretty fit to tackle this face. There are a couple spots where an old fart like me might be able to give it a go. If you know this face or are just curious, have a look for possible lines. If you know someone who has tried to climb it, even better.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Rope Chopping

Someone recently asked me why I cut my rope. The main reason is convenience. Hauling around a 60 meter rope can be a pain, especially when the vast majority of climbs are less than 15 meters. It is also alot easier to bring to the gym.
About 75% of the routes at Flatrock can be top roped with a 30 meter rope. This has come in very handy. I have had ropes set up on Candy and Iron Hand at the same time. The only problem is the other 25% of the routes. I guess I will have to buy a second rope...darn!
Actually I always have 2 ropes. I keep the full rope for two years before I chop it. It doesn't see as much action as the cut ropes. I use the chopped ropes for about two years before I retire them. Usually they need to be retired.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Omega Pacific Linkcam

Well I think the Linkcam will be my next bit of trad gear to buy. Quite honestly I have never been a big fan of Omega Pacific. I have thought of them as being on the "bargin bin" end of climbing gear. Don't trust your life to the bargin bin.
I have talked to a few people who use OP and don't have any major problems.
So...why would I think of buying the Linkcam if I don't like OP. The Linkcam does have a bit of a niche and it is the vast range the cam has. The smaller has a range of 0.83 to 2.10 inches and the larger has a range of 0.96 to 2.51 inches. That is about the same range a about 4 consecutive cams of standard types.
This is good for two situations. First is the sphincter twitcher. When you have a less than ideal grip and you have one quick chance for a placement, you don't want to fumble with the correct size. The other situation is when you are on a long trad route and you have used up most your cams. This one should fit just about anything.
Then there is the most obvious reason...I like new toys. But it that reason enough, the thing cost about 100$ a pop!!!

Yellow Fever Ledge

I am starting to get anxious for summer. Jay and Bob on the ledge.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


I spent the weekend in Banff for a conference. I was quite surprised to find out that the place I was staying had converted a squash court into a climbing gym. I had to go check this place out and get some training in.
Mike Quigley was the guy working and I had to get my "belay test" from him. After, we started together. I told him where I was from and he says "You wouldn't happen to kow this guy. I met him in Mexico. Jay something....". It turns out that Jay and him climbed together for a couple of weeks. Like Jay, this guy takes his climbing pretty serious. Curently he is training for a trip to Nepal next summer.
Jay spoke highly of Newfoundland climbing and he is totally stoked about coming out here some day. He was very interstested in getting out to Devils Bay.
It is a small (climbing) world.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Power Training

Tonight is a power training night. Warm up as usual with technical endurance. Find a truely difficult project,boldering or route. Try some progressives.

Progressive: First 3 moves of problem. Not first hand holds but first MOVES. Shake out and then the first 3 again. Shake and work the 3 to 4th move. Shake out and then the first 4 moves. Then the first 6 moves. Then 8 if possible. Finish with the first 3 moves. If you are able to climb beyound 8 moves in a row then the problem is not hard enough. If you cannot get pas the first 4 moves that is OK, just repeat the first for for the total number of sets.

Try to do progressives on 3 to 5 different problems.

Finish the workout with a Rock Ring workout. For those with three sets of frenchies after the rock rings.

Power Training

Monday, February 04, 2008

Psych Test!

Leo discussed a concept directly out of "The Rock Warriors Way". It had primarily to do with possibilities and positive thinking.

Tough climbs are hard and can be mentally defeating. "That hold is shit." "I can't stick that sloper" or "That is a dangerous clip." All these negative thoughts can stop you in your tracks before you even leave the ground. Instead, look at the positive attributes of the climb. You know it is hard, thats what makes it a worthy climb. Whats good about it? Does the bad sloper have a sweet spot? Is there a safe clipping position? All these questions can unlock what seemed like an impossible problem.

Take on a positve attitude. Learn from the problem. Anger will do nothing but sap your energy and blind you to the possibilities.

Tag Anyone?!

Well after a warmup and working projects Leo made us play...TAG! Nothing like making a bunch of 20 something and 30 somethings run around a gym like a bunch of kids! There is no dignity left.

All kidding aside, it was a good and challanging exersice. It forces us to stay on a wall and keep moving for 20 minutes, without being board to death, not bad.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

My Home Wall

Hard to get a good picture of the wall. This is along the back of my garage. First panel is 15 degrees, second has a 2 foot kicker then off at 30 degrees and the third has a four foot kicker and then off at 45 degrees.

For endurance, I traverse back and forth.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

It has been awhile.

Well if there is anyone still looking at this blog, thanks for the persistence.

Leo's course is going well and would encourage anyone to drop by. Aside from a good workout, there is a lot of information being passed around. There is a good turn out each week and a number of people come by themselves and get matched up so not having a partner is no excuse.

We are getting to know one another and I think this will be great for next summer. I think most of us are chewing at the bit to get strong for outdoor climbing.

Setting: an awesome exercise!
Leo discussed setting with us about 2 weeks ago and it makes a lot of sense. Setting is having your body ideally positioned so one hand can release the wall, position it above the next hold for a count of 5 before grasping the hold. It forces you to center your weight properly and use the least energy consuming stances. Keep your hips into the wall. Do as an endurance exercise.