Saturday, March 09, 2019

Little Shits Pulldown

The Little Shits Pulldown was held today. The junior team was cursed at many times.

Back in February, I asked the junior team to set problems in my garage. Under Ben's guidance, 8 problems were set. I foolishly thought I could work on them. Neither Jan or I could send any of them. That's how the comp got its name.

I had arranged it as a fundraiser for the junior team. I gave them 150$ for setting the routes for me. I also told them that the person who set the route with the most 'likes' would win an additional 50$ towards comps. The route setters were kept anonymous, identified only by letter.

Today we raised 81$ from the comp and with my 150$, I will forward 231$ for the junior team.

The winner of the route setter comp was letter H. See vid below.

The Hardest problem set was F, which was guessed to be about V6. See vid below.

The winner of the Pulldown was Craig Martin with 107 points. He flashed 4 of the 8 problems, 2 on the second attempt, one that he sent with more than 2 tries and one that he never sent.

Until next time!!!!

Saturday, October 06, 2018

Outer Cove-Cobblers Path

Jan and I were playing on the Cliffs at Outer Cove. Very easy slab climbing from 100 to 200ish feet high. I put in a couple of top bolts for safe escape.
Today Jan, Quinn and I were climbing these.
The top bolt to the left (closer to the point) was over a line I thought would be stupid easy, and it was. I didn't count on the runout at the top. I had 4 pieces in on a 100 foot route. I guess the belay was optional.
The other set of bolts are over a couple of cool cracks, but one in particular was wide and deep. This one also got a little thin at the top. Jan describe being 'in' the crack as needing total body engagement.

Access: Take Cobblers Path to the point. The path leads down to the right. Carefully pick your way along the ledges. **You can access the top bolts on the path above. Take note and find the base of each climb.

Belay is Optional 5.2 R
(Trad 30 meters: Top bolts; FA J. Peterknecht;  N. O'Regan)
Start up easy slab to a large ledge. Head to the 'nose' like feature (points to Lt). Limited placements for last 40 feet.

Total Body Engagement 5.4
(Trad 30 Meters: Top botls: FA A J. Peterknecht;  N. O'Regan)
Follow the ramp feature until you see a 6-12 inch wide crack that goes up then left. Come back right and continue up to the left of the bulge. Use the hueco features to get over the bulge. Top bolts straight up from there.

Jan (in orange) at the bottom of Total Body Engagement (5.4) belaying Quinn.

Sunday, September 09, 2018

Scar Face and Stumped

Beautiful morning today. Jan and I have continued to work on Marine Slab. Last week we bolted two more lines and today we sent them.
We had a discussion on what to grade them. They feel stiff but they are slab climbs. Slab climbs typically feel stiff because of the fall potential. Instead of a nice clean fall it is more like sliding down a cheese grater. I didn't want to inflate the grade and once the routes are dialed in, it doesn't 'feel' as hard. I thought they climbed similarly and close to what Marine Slab is like.
Please try these climbs and comment on what you think the grades should be.

Scar Face 5.9
(Sport 10Meters. 4 Bolts plus anchor: FA J. Peterknecht &  N. O'Regan)
Starts on ledge above the start of Marine Slab (can use same start if you want). The first bolt is quite low. The climb starts with a pair of vertical 'cracks' that lead out to the left. If someone falls unprotected at this point, it could be a 15-20 foot fall. This is the reason for the first low bolt! At this point you are below a scar on the face. There was some pretty rotten flakes here that we had to chip off. Find the finger pockets on the horizontal ledge and work to the right to the next vertical 'crack'. Gain a nice foot ledge and then an easy scramble to the top.

Stumped 5.9
(Sport 10Meters. 4 Bolts plus anchor: FA J. Peterknecht &  N. O'Regan)
Starts just to the left of a large stump in the base of a crack. Work you way up the blank face til you gain a right hand in the 'crack'. There are three equally spaced foot ledges that allow for good clipping stances. The crux is the top and one crimp helps unlock it.

Wednesday, September 05, 2018

It got hard really quick!

I am talking about RedHead A7+ epoxy for gluing in bolts!!!!

Jan and I were out bolting today. We put up two new lines but didn't have time to send them (yet).  I was drilling and Jan was cementing the bolts. There was a small chip that was keeping the bolt from sitting vertical. Jan took a bit of extra time to get the bolt to sit correctly. When he went to place the cement, it had hardened inside the nozzle. It was maybe 10 min since the last bolt. It setup really quick.

It was warm on the face and that certainly can speed up the hardening of epoxy. A7+ is known for a fast cure time (35 min), maybe too fast. I used to use Hilti Hit ICE which had a 12 hour cure time. I never had a nozzle clog.

If you have used other 'glue', let me know what. I am curious about other brands now.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Marine Slab 5.10a and Shark Bait 5.7

Finally a bit of news on the development of Marine Slabs. Yan and I have been out gaining access to the top, putting in top bolts and cleaning the face under a couple of lines. We identified several lines with potential and top roped the shit of them and chose two line for our first sports lines in the area.

Marine Slab 5.10a 
(Sport: 15Meter. 6 bolts plus top anchors: FA J. Peterknecht & N. O'Regan)
This was the first obvious line we found and it follows the arete on the first prominent face. As we were cleaning the face, we found a few good features very close to the arete which are glued together with thin slab moves. When we were deciding on bolt placement, I had a certain flow of the climb I was trying to capture and good clips from good stances.
The first three bolts are on easy terrain and they bring you out to the arete on your left. The 4th bolts send you out towards the arete with classic slab feet, smearing on barely positive features. There is a vertical crack that has been eroded to a flaring feature that allows you to gain a upward facing triangular jug. You clip the 5th bolt off this position. Traverse to the right where a 1 inch wide ledge waits. The 6th bolt is clipped standing on this ledge. This bolt is a bit run out. Follow the small crimps up to the top anchors. There is an easy finish by going back to the right.
This climb has features that we have noticed in the area, thin slabs and big features. It is a good representation of what to expect out of this area.

**Grades** Neither Jan or I have a lot of experience on slab but I have always been surprised by how stiff the grades felt. As well, we cleaned these routes well but a lot of the pebbles in the sandstone pop out when fully weighted. Over time, these climbs will become 'smooth' which may affect the grade.

Shark Bait 5.7
(Sport: 11Meter. 5 bolts + Top Anchors: FA J. Peterknecht & N. O'Regan)
We climbed this little face on our first day exploring the area. A fun but deceptive climb. After we cleaned the base, we noticed how a low angle slab led up to the line we were looking at. We put the first bolt at the top of this slab. Don't take it for granted, it is a little trickier than it appears. The second and third bolt are quite close but this is to prevent a ground fall onto the slab below. Once the second clip is secure, a high step to the right gains a couple of knobs to grab for the 3rd bolt. A couple of cool looking features lead up to the 4th bolt and then over the nose to the 5th bolt. The top is easily gained from there. Lots of jugs with thin feet at times.

Now that we have the first couple of lines up, more should be going up soon. We have another 5 lines planned and we are find more stuff all the time. Fun!

Sunday, July 01, 2018

Marine Slabs Update July 1

Jan and I have been working on the Marine Slabs. One thing I can say is that it is deceiving.

I currently have 3 sets of top bolts placed over a potential 5 lines. I thought there was one section was was really easy, about 5.5ish. We were toproping the face looking to put together a couple of lines and it climbed much harder than I anticipated. We are now looking at bolt placements for 2 lines on that face.

Just over the aret of this corner is the main slab I initially noticed. We have cleaned and TR's the left side of this face. Along the aret, there are some nice bigger features. If they we consistent, it would be stupid easy. They are spaced with slab moves between. This one will be fun.

Up the middle is very thin. There are a couple of eroded seams than allow you to smear but only one or two places that would be secure for clipping.

Further right on the face are a couple of seams or crack lines than will swallow pro. That's one nice thing about putting put trad lines, little bolting.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Homemade Bosun Chair

Developing rock climbing routes generally means spending lots of time hanging in harness. I try to find good thick adjustable harness but you still get uncomfortable after awhile.

I was on the MEC website when I came across a Black Diamond Bosun's Chair. At first it struck me as odd, but then I realized just how genius it was. Bosun's Chair was originally from the word 'boatswain'. It was a plank used to allows sailors to work on rigging at heights. I used a Bosun's chair when I was a kid on my Dad's sailboat.

Did I mention the Black Diamond product was 80$? I figured I could put something together using some scrap plywood and some newly retired 7mm cord. Here is how I did it.

  1. Get a piece of 3/4 inch plywood cut to the dimensions of 6x18 inches. 
  2. Using a 3/8 drill bit, drill a hole in each corner about 1 inch from each edge. Have a scrap piece of wood under the plywood to prevent tear-out.
  3. Chamfer or round all edges using a hand plane or course grit sandpaper.
  4. Sand the inner edges of the 3/8's holes so there isn't a sharp edge chewing into the rope. 
  5. Sand the plywood using a random orbital sander. Start at 80 grit and then work through 150 and then 220.
  6. Finish the wood with a polyurethane or varnish. This protects the wood and stiffens it.
  7. Take 2 pieces of 7mm climbing accessory cord (not the crap you buy in a hardware store) approximately 5 feet in length each.
  8. Feed the cord through the holes, one cord on each end, so ends are on the 'up' side of your bosun chair.
  9. Tie opposing double fisherman's knot like you would to create a sling or prussit.
    1. Tie one side first and place the end of a shoulder sling over the remaining loose end.
    2. Finish the second knot, capturing the sling between the two opposing knots.
    3.  Repeat the same knots on the cord on the other end of the 'seat', again capturing the other end of the shoulder sling between the knots.
  10. Now you will have two loops of cord on either side of the seat. Rotate the cord so the fisherman knots bring the sling to the level of your lower back. The sling provides a backrest.
  11. Now to customize your Bosun's Chair.
    1. I bought a cheep leather tool pocket (17$) that was the same width as my chair. I put an eye screw on either end of the seat. The eye was just big enough the accommodate the 7mm cord. I threaded a piece of cord through the pocket's 'belt loop' and then through the eye screw on each side, securing it with a simple overhand blocker knot.
    2. On the other side, I place 3 eye screws, one on each end and then one in the middle. I thread another piece of 7mm cord through all 3 eye screws and tied it off with blocker knots on either end. This makes 2 gear loops on the opposite side from my tool pocket.
To use the Bosun's Chair, it is very important that this is only meant for comfort and it is not a piece of your safety system. It is all retired cord and slings. Set up your rappel system using your personal anchor system (or equivalent) to extend your rappel devise and a prussit as a back up off your your belay loop. Take the chair and clip the two loops with one carabiner into a loop on your personal anchor system. If it is clipped to low, you will be still hanging in the harness. Clip it too high and you will not be able get into it. It should be just high enough that when you sit on it, your harness becomes slack. If any part of the Bosun's Chair fails, you fall back onto your harness/rappel system.

Sunday, June 03, 2018

Ouch! I did it again.

I decided to build a new volume for my bouldering wall. It actually turned well but unfortunately, I had a bit of a mishap. I decided to power plane my left index finger. It hurt like hell and I sprayed blood all over the garage. I don't recommend anyone to do this.
Not my finger but similar.

A power planer (for those who aren't sure) is used to take very thin layers of wood off a piece of lumber, usually to make it flat (remove high spots). The planer has a set of two blades that rotate very quickly and shave off wood as you slide it along the piece of lumber. I can't remember exactly what I did, but it was along the lines of almost dropping the planer and trying to catch it before it hit the ground. I am now missing a good chunk out of the side of my finger.
Power Planer

It reminders me of the time that I was pruning our bushes and I nearly cut the top of the SAME finger off. I spent hours in the ER waiting to get it sutured back on. The tip ended up drying out and it fell off. Well this time there are no edges to sew together, just a wide open wedge of flesh missing. All I can do is keep it clean and covered. It it starts looking funky, I will get someone at work to look at it.

This is a mixed blessing (of sorts). I won't be able to train for awhile and climbing will be difficult. It won't stop me from setting moderate routes and clearing brush.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Galvanic Frustration

I hate to think that Newfoundland is the only place placing bolts on sea cliffs in Canada, but apparently so. If you had noticed, most of the routes in NL are bolted with stainless steel (SS) glue-in bolts. This is awesome as they are very low risk to corrosion, the bond between the rock and bolt is stronger than the rock itself and finally there are no voids or compression points that could result in bolt failure. But they are kind of a pain in the ass to lower off.

I have been to areas where they have fixed draws at the top of sport routes and it makes life so much easier (and safer). The future routes I am going to put up, I intend on placing fixed draws. My challenge is Galvanic Corrosion! It is accelerated corrosion that occurs when there are 2 different metals touching in a wet salty environment (Newfoundland). It is basically the same principle batteries use. Two different metals with a difference in electrical potential (high school chemistry) can generate a current and break down the anode (more negative) of the battery. The two metals must be connected by an electrolyte solution ie-salt water. So, if I use a SS bolt and place a zinc plated chain for the draw, it doesn't last long (pic). I believe there are one or two routes on Main Face that are badly rusted out because of this.

Mountain Equipment Coop is my 'go to' place to get my fixed gear. I have always used either SS 3/8 compression bolts (inland) or SS 12mm glue-ins bolts but I have either placed rap anchors or just the glue-ins. I used to get SS carabiners thru MEC but they don't carry them anymore. What they do carry is a SS Cold Shut that fits a 3/8's bolt. This can't be used with a glue-in (preferred on the ocean). I could use a SS 3/8 compression bolt but less than ideal. I tried to order 10 tonight but it will take 6-8 weeks for delivery.

I had planned on using Fixe Gym Carabiners to retro fit routes that I had used glue-ins. The problem is that they are a zinc plated steel and the will suffer galvanic corrosion. Let me stress that they will be safe but they will only last 3-5 (or longer) years instead of 10-20 years. I am going to use a SS quick link between the bolts and the draw to assure that no damage occurs to the bolts. Once the carabiner are suspect, the carabiner can be switched out. That is a lot easier than re-bolting.

Of note, Fixe does have SS carabiners but they are 31 USD each plus duty (50ish CAD). A bit too steep. There are other types of SS carabiners but they are for marine use and not rated for climbing. There are also other fixed draws available but they are zinc plated steel as well.

Just remember, you are responsible for your own safety and if you feel something is suspect, don't use it or back it up.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Marine Lab Slabs

Yan and I went out Saturday morning to check out a face near Marine Lab. I am always looking for climbing that is close to home and an easy approach.
I had been considering checking out the slab/nose that is right beside the road. It's only about 15 feet but maybe a bit of slab climbing.
I thought I could see some short faces above but never paid much attention to them. I took my drone out one day to try to get a better look. I was pleasantly surprised to see another wider face above.
The Marine Lab Nose
I had a bit of time after work on Thursday and curiosity got the better of me. I started bush wacking up to where I thought the face was. I am glad I did because what I saw had potential. The face was higher than I expected, 30 to 50 feet and about 50 feet wide but of pretty much blank slab. I began to walk along the base to find that it kept going. It was shorter and hidden in trees but I came across some interesting features that would make for cool trad climbing.
I snapped this picture of the first face I saw and sent it to Yan. He wasn't long in asking where it was and when were we going.
We went up there Saturday morning and had a look. After checking out the entire line of rock, we came back to the first face. There were two lines that looked like easy trad. I had just received 2 new larger cam and was looking forward to using them so I asked to take the sharp end.
There is something extra 'spicy' about being the first to climb a route. There are loose rocks that you don't want to drop on your belayer. Handholds break away, footholds crumble and everything sounds hollow. It is times like these when you think saplings could handle a lead fall.
First Face of the Marine Lab Slabs
The first 15 feet follows flake with a wide gap behind it. It would have been perfect for a 'Big Bro', which I don't have. I managed to find a few placements that allowed me to get to a sizable tree which I slung and then on to the top. It was easy climbing but scary because it was so dirty. I will give it an accurate grade when it is clean but it is probably about 5.5. Regardless I am going to call it "Big Bro".
Yan came up behind me and we made are way to the top of the face, exactly above where the picture is taken. Yan set up a top rope and we checked out this little section. On the far left is a fun easy section that will be a great sport route (5.7ish). We tried two lines up the middle of the face. It was much harder than I expected but it was probably because it was not cleaned yet. It will be moderate slab but not sure where in the grades as we were pulling on little pebbles that were coming off. I like it because we don't have many 'slab' routes on the Avalon.
So it looks like I found myself a new project!
Marine Lab Slab from drone. Smaller faces continue on the right.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Hollow Rock

I was out at Blood Bath last night putting in some top bolts. I really wanted to get something over Grunt (5.11a) as I want to work that route. It is tricky to place bolts at the top as the cracks from the climb continue on top. The bolts should be 6 inches from any edge or obvious cracks. It took a fair bit of trial and error to find placements. I placed one hole and then realized the second spot was over an in-cut...not great. This reminded me to check the stone where I placed the bolt hole. It sounded like a bongo drum! Grrrr.... Shitty reminder to check the rock BEFORE I drill. I filled the hole and left it alone. I will have to climb Grunt to decide which side of the cracks to put the bolts.

Of note, there are new bolts above Little Jack's Corner (5.7) and Sue Be Doo (5.8).

Saturday, May 12, 2018

New Cemetery Face Topo

I managed to get a good shot of Cemetery Face today. I created a topo that should be easily downloaded.
Cemetery Face

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

Flat Rock Route Ethics Summary

I am blown away by our climbing community. The feedback and comments generated by the post on bolting ethics was great. I had no idea my post was going to generate the discussion it did.

I am going to attempt to summarize some general points that were made but also add my own 2 cents.

Top Bolts: There was good agreement that top bolts on single pitch climbs would be a benefit for the community. It will improve access to routes for top roping and prevent some uncomfortable top-outs or awkward raps. David made a very good point of assuring that routes that get new top bolts are cleaned of choss as some trad routes don't see much travel.

 Mixed Routes: This was a bit of a polarizing topic. There was some strong opinions as to whether a routes should be fully bolted, use natural protection when available or keep as traditional as possible. Regardless of opinion, everyone emphasized that they wanted safe route setting. There were some good points made about the benefits of having a variety of route styles; sport, mixed and trad. For example, Candy is a great route to plug your first piece of gear.

Noel's 2 cents: The developing ethic of Flat Rock has been established. It includes all styles of routes and we should be grateful for that. It used to be more hardcore trad but many routes are sport over possible features which could take pro. Whatever is developed in the future, regardless of style, should be able to be safely protected. Dave stated that he will fully bolt a route if less than 1/3 relies on natural pro. My cut off is about half the route. Manuels was established with a different ethic. Some say it is over bolted but I set it for something between the gym and Flat Rock. I will likely continue to bolt Manuels in the same manner.

Developing for the Community: Everyone felt that  further development should have the community in mind. There isn't room for big egos and setting deliberately dangerous climbs is not appreciated. This topic was interesting in that it seemed that when people spoke of the climbing community, they were not necessarily thinking inclusively. The some pro-trad comments didn't consider the challenges of a new climber having to depend on one piece of pro.  The some pro-sport comments didn't consider the benefits of learning to place that one piece of pro. It was great to see a number of comments which considered both sides of the equation.

Noel's 2 cents: I think most importantly we need to be inclusive as a community and this should be reflected in our climbing areas. There should be something for everyone. I love a day of just clipping bolts but there is so much to be appreciated with trad climbing. There is a place for mixed routes as well. Most important is that we are responsible for our own safety. On every piece of gear we buy, there are obvious warnings about how climbing being inherently a dangerous. It is our own decisions and actions that put us at risk. It is up to the individual to skip bolts or to climb a trad route with only a set of nuts. Darwin was on point with natural selection.

Noel's 2.00$: Route authorship. Route authorship is a pretty well accepted concept nationally and internationally. This is different than  a first ascent. The author is the person who cleaned and bolted the route. It is not uncommon for the FA to be done by someone other than the author (ie: open projects).

The amount of time and effort that goes into a route is significant, but it is more than that. This sounds cheesy, but it is kinda like a piece of art. A lot of time is spent visualizing the line, deciding where to put bolts to guide the climbers direction, seeing what features are available for pro. It is the developers creation, their art or their 'story' (hence being referred to as the author). I develop routes for very specific purposes. It maybe to force a run out but above a very safe fall. I deliberately want it a bit spicy. Sure that route belongs to the community, but it is that 'spiciness' that also belongs to the community. Some may love it and others may hate it. It is their choice to climb it or not. As far as altering it to make it more acceptable to some in the community yet ruining it for others, that is not okay unless the author of the route agrees. Imagine grid bolting Maggie or Yellow Fever. The route may be in open climbing area but the spirit of the climb will always be the authors.

With that rant out there, things change with time. Beaches wash out, rock fall occurs, what was once
safe is no longer. As well, authors of long established routes may no longer be available or they set a routes in a manner that is no longer acceptable. There are times when consulting a route author is neither required or possible. If a bolt I placed was damaged by rock fall, please replace it. If someone were to chop my bolts on German Engineered, I will so angery. When ever considering altering a route by placing permanent protection, please make every effort to discuss that with the route author. If someone went around changing the routes I bolted, I would not be bolting much longer.

I think it all comes down to common sense and being inclusive. We need to use common sense when approaching route development and when climbing. Variety is important. We have a growing community and it is great to have something for everyone. Main Face is pretty much played out but there is still other faces that could be developed. My 'take-away' is that Flat Rocks ethic really is inclusive. I am confident now that if I set a new route, I can set it in my preferred style and the community would respect it.

Saturday, May 05, 2018

Flat Rock Bolting Ethics

My first post in a very long time is going to revisit a controversial topic, the ethics of bolting and route development.

Whether you realize it or not, the ethics of route development affects all of us. Have you ever been on a route and wondered why the bolts are run out? The flip side, you may feel as if a face has been 'grid bolted'. Both are perfectly fine, even if you don't agree with how the route developer bolted a route.

Some developers bolt for themselves. They put up routes and don't care what others think of it. They may enjoy long run outs or can't be bothered to clean off the choss. They don't consider the danger that other people may get into. These are typically rated as R-rated (injury likely if fall occurs) or X-rated (death likely if fall occurs). There are many people who like this type of climb, it is considered 'spicy'.

I develop routes for both myself and the community. I don't want to put up dangerous routes. I want routes that are well protected yet appropriate for the grade. I want routes that help climbers grow. I have never been a big fan of mixed routes (half bolted and half pro) because I don't have the same confidence in a small nut as I do in a 3/8th bolt. It is much worse for someone who doesn't usually place pro and potentially very dangerous.

Climbing areas may already have a strict development ethic. The Gunk's in NY is almost strictly trad. They do have some bolt anchors but all bolts are place by park rangers. Other places such as Rumney, NH are know for their sport climbing routes and your will never place a piece of pro. There are many reasons behind local ethics. Some are good and some...not so good.

Flat Rock route development began back in the 1990's. Sport climbing was very young and most climbers still had the traditional style ethics (use natural pro if at all possible). As well, many of the first routes were hand bolted. It takes about an hour to drill one 3/8's hole by hand. This would be motivation enough to minimize placing bolts. This has resulted in mixed routes with fair distances between bolts. They can be quite intimidating.

More classic sport routes began to go up in the mid 2000's and that was about the time I bolted 'Candy'. I really wanted some moderate well protected routes at Main Face. Candy has one crack which can take pro but I wanted to place a bolt near it. This is when I learned about local ethics and that I shouldn't place a bolt because at Flat Rock 'you use natural protection when ever possible'. So that route requires a single piece of pro. I am very happy with the route but I wonder how many noobies have either placed a shitty piece of pro or thought it was a run out.

Main Face has been pretty much played out. There are other areas which could support more lines but I believe that the same ethics would be expected. There are current lines which could be improved with a set of top bolts. There are several nice trad lines that could be top roped if there were top bolts. I have a lot of respect for the developers of those routes and likewise the local ethics. I also believe that some well placed bolts could improve the safety and accessibility to the larger climbing community without threatening local ethics.

I would be curious about the communities thoughts.


Wednesday, May 02, 2018

Craphouse Bouldering

Saturday was a beautiful day here in St. John's. My daughter asked me to take her and a friend out bouldering. Neither had bouldered outside before. I looked at Joel's pre-release Bouldering Guidebook for Flat Rock. Craphouse is describe as a 'warmup' area as it has many jugs and nothing very difficult on the wall. This was perfect for a couple of young gals cutting their teeth on real rock.
Once the girls got comfortable, we moved up to Crabhouse and tried a V0 and V1. These were much more difficult but inspired them to get out again.
Included is a bit of drone footage before we started bouldering.

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Top Bolts at Marine Lab

It has been a long time since I posted on route developing. Well I guess this means I am back.

Jan and I have been climbing at the Marine Lab Wall on nice Friday mornings. The far left side is a bit too high for bouldering but looked interesting. We set up a couple of top ropes and have played on several potential lines. A lot of fun but quite sharp features on the fingers.

This morning I drilled and placed 3 sets of top bolts. Each line is about 18 to 20 feet high. Going left to right, the first follows a corner. Fairly straight forward, probably about 5.8ish.

The second line starts to the right of a large flake of rock, half way up, that looks like a birds beak. Start with underclings that move out to side pulls. Work your way up and over the beak. Maybe 5.10ish.

The third line starts under a overhanging corner. It goes up to a nice layback and then over a shelf. Again some where in the 10's.

Joel had said that they would love to have some top bolts so these longer lines could be worked. It is a bouldering area so I figure that the FA's ought to be highball boulder problems. I certainly have no interest in trying to send them, so all three are open. In fact, the middle one likely could be done with a stiffer direct start.

If you do send them, post to comments who did the FA, when, the name of the problem and the V-grade.

Addendum: Jan and I got out on the TR routes tonight. We had a great time. The first route is definitely a 5.8. Lots of cool handhold with thin feet. Note: the right bolt is slight angled. I try to create a small recess for the shoulders of the bolt so they sit well when I sink them. This one was slightly off. Still solid, no issues!

The second one with the birds beak is great. We started well out left, almost at the bottom of the first route. Great underclings and side pulls. There is a direct start which stays slight right of the beak.

The third is equally as fun. Start on nice side pulls with thumb catches, then into a wide layback. A nice crimp pulls it all together.

Have fun!

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Kim Cole: Rest in Piece

Today I am sadden by the news of Kim Coles death.

Kim had been a climbing partner of mine for years. We sent many days together developing Manuel's during the summer and endless nights training at Wallnuts. Many of my posts are based on the times Kim and myself were climbing together. She was always a blast to have around and her smile was infectious.

Kim was a dedicated teacher who spoke highly of her experience in school. I am sure her students adored her. I am sure there are hundreds of very sad children who are going to miss there favorite teacher.

My last time climbing outside was three years ago..with Kim. I explained to her how I was getting tired of always developing routes and that maybe I needed a break. That break led to a 4 year hiatus from climbing. It also was the last time I saw Kim. Climbing was our common link.

Earlier this year, I found out that Kim was ill and that she had a poor prognosis. Our community has lost a bright light and a great friend.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Climbing and Falling

Image result for angelIt is with very sad news that our climbing community has lost one of our own doing what she loved.
On Friday Aug 21, Jessica McErlean died while climbing at Flatrock. I know very little of the accident and I didn't know Jessica.

This is what I do know. Climbing is more than just a sport, it is a way of being. There are few things that are as exhilarating and humbling at the same time. Climbing forces you to know yourself and look at yourself realistically. Our climbing partners see us at our best and our worst. A true bond is forged as we trust one another with our lives. Everyone who climbs knows what it is like to be on the sharp end of the rope and this is a common bond we all share.

My thought go out to Jess and her family as no one can be prepared for such devastating news. Jess's climbing partners have just witnessed something unspeakable. Be gentle with them. I have witnessed many horrible sights and situations. I have the training, experience and maturity to deal with these situations. No one could have been prepared for what they experienced.

To the rock climbing community in general, trying to make sense of this is difficult. Bad things happen to good people. Planes crash, cancer kills and the innocent get murdered. There is no reason, nothing makes sense. Jessica had a horrible accident and we may never know what the cause of it was. The details may help avoid future accidents but right now, they are secondary. Our community is hurting and the closer you were to Jess, the harder it is.

From the bottom of my heart, my sincerest condolences to Jessica's parents and family, to Jessica's climbing partners (her other family) and to all of those of you who have been touched by this accident.


Thursday, August 09, 2012

Blockbuster 5.11b

Today I left Louis and David at the Hangover.  I showed them a couple of top anchors I placed and let them at it.  After I left, they bolted a new line to the right of Distorted Perception.  Louis got the FA on this one.  While he was prepping the route a few blocks of rock popped out on him.  He called it Blockbuster and it goes at 5.11b.

Dyslexia 5.7

I was out climbing today with Louis Loader, David Bruneau, Kim and myself.  I would like to say that I was crushing 5.12 like the boys but nope.  Louis and David asked if they could come out and do some bolting.  The last time out, Kim and I placed a set of top anchors below Life or Limb.  I showed the guys how to use the drill and the basics of bolting.  
We tied off the rope with a figure 8 at the mid-point.  I rapped on one side while David and Louis came down the other side.  We shared the drilling and bolting.  At one point, I thought the drill bit must have worn out.  David had half the hole drilled and he just couldn't get any deeper. We checked the bit, it was fine.  The battery was fresh.  For a couple of minutes we just couldn't figure it out.  Then David says "maybe I have the drill turned on in reverse!".  The drill has two settings, forward and reverse, for screwing in and taking out screws.  David managed to drill most of the hole with the drill in reverse.  We had a bit of a laugh about that.
Once we finished bolting the line, Louis and David did 'rock, paper, scissors' for the FA.  The line starts to the right of Obsession under a horn-like feature about 15 feet off the ground.  The are a series of nice jugs/rales running diagonally up to the left.  Above the horn, follow a series of under clings to the left arrete and follow another series of jugs for about 15 feet.  The route then head back right to the top bolts. The route is about 75 feet with eight bolts and top anchors.  
David got the FA (sorry Louis).  He wanted the name to reflect his bolting experience, especially the one he drilled in reverse.  I suggested to keep the theme of the wall (Obsession and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) and came up with Dyslexia.  The decision was suominanu.  The route is called Dyslexia and it goes at 5.7.
The pic is David sending Dyslexia.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Historic Climbing Pics of Newfoundland

I had an interesting comment on one of my postings.  I basically was asking if I could get access to old climbing photos from the Avalon.  If you have any old photos that may fit the bill, leave a comment or email it to
When I was climbing in the Gunks, I saw some artifacts still being used.  Even photos like this with an explanation would be cool.
PS  This is a two piton anchor with multiple slings.  This is at the top of the first pitch of a two pitch climb (I think it is the Horseman).

Monday, August 06, 2012

Climbing Partner Needed

I am off this week and I was hoping to bolt some routes.  I haven't been able to find anyone to help me out.  I was hoping to get out tomorrow.  Place a comment and contact info if you are interested.  You can also send me an email or call if you have my info but I don't post it on this blog.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Joe and the Triplex

Last year, Flat Rock suffered a lot of washout.  Candy is a route that I bolted a good number of years ago and last summer, I had to put in 2 more bolts to make the start safe.  I don't spend a lot of time at Flat Rock so I have never gotten back to replace the bolts.
"Replace the BOLTS!!" you might be saying.  Well yes, replace the bolts I put in last summer.  The bolts I put in were a special expansion bolt called Triplex which are produced by Fixe.  They are a removable bolt that fits the same hole as a glue-in.  They are fine as a long term bolt but any expansion bolt on a sea cliff is not a great idea.  The longer they are in the more they corrode.  A couple of years would be fine but not a couple of decades.
Joe is a climber who has recently moved back from Ottawa and has taken up route developing.  He recently pulled out my Triplex and replaced them with glue-ins.  He has saved me that bit of work.  The really nice thing about the Triplex is that they are great for developing.  You can pop in a couple as a top anchor to check out a line.  If the line is nice, replace them with glue-ins.  If it sucks, pull the bolts and try somewhere else.  Joe has mentioned to me that likes the Triplex and plans on using them while he checks out a new area.  It is good to have another developer around.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Life or Limb 5.6

It has been a long time in coming.  3 years ago I began developing the Upper Face.  I placed a fixed line to access the top.  I used that line to set Obsession and Jug-or-Not.  I have been up and down that line a dozen times and always thought it would be a fun easy route.  Today I finally got back to it.

The rope was too old to trust so it decided to bolt it on lead using the fixed line as a back-up.  Kim belayed me as I put in 6 bolts covering about 80 feet of terrain.  Most of it is low grade 5.3ish stuff but there is one short face that requires a bit of actual climbing.

We took down the old fixed line, and placed a new set of top bolts for another route between Obsession and Life or Limb.  You will be able to link route to Life and Limb for a 2 pitch climb.

I the midst of all the rope work Kim and I were doing today, twice I pulled her off her feet.  The second time was much more spectacular because she was belaying above and to the right of the line I was working.  When I weighted the rope, I pulled her off her feet and she began to swing into space.  She pendulum'ed about 20 feet spinning the whole time.  It is a strange thing to see your belay partner fall from above.  Kudos to Kim, her brake hand never left the rope despite hitting her leg off the wall.  Her leg was cut and she bled a bit (looked cool!).  Life or limb, Kim kept me safe.

The climb starts at the highest point of the scree slope directly above German Face.  There is a small ledge with a birch tree were you can belay.  The first bolt is out to the left and the bolt spacing is fairly wide as I was placing these on lead.  Note the black line denotes how to get to the base and the red dots are approximate bolt placements.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Just Back

Just got back from vacation.  I have been away for 3 weeks.  I know, the blog has been kinda dead.

I am very glad to report that Dave Stack has been to the Hangover and has sent the 2 problems I have bolted.  There are two lines off one set of top bolts.  The one on the left has been named "Thuggy and Juggy" at rated 5.10a.  The second line is to the left and is meant to stay on the face.  The bolts were placed to keep climber from going out onto the arete.  Dave has called it "That's Not Right" and is suggesting a grade of 5.12a.

There is another route on this face called Distorted Perception at about 5.8 but the grade needs to be confirmed.  It is just around the corner (to the right) of That's Not Right.  There are 2 sets of rap anchors placed but I have no intention of bolting the lines.  One is to the left of Thuggy and Juggy.  It would definitely go beyond a 5.12.  The other set is to the right of Distorted Perception above a slight overhang.  I have no idea what it would go at but I got very frustrated trying to get off the ground.  There is easy access to the top by scrambling up a ramp to the right of the face.  There are a set of top anchors at the base of the cliff above Hangover to allow easy rap access to the top bolts.

My attempts at developing Hangover have left me a bit demoralized.  It is hard work developing overhanging routes and then not being able to send them in a reasonable time is like slapping yourself in the face.  It just seems stupid!

I will get back to developing now but I think I will be staying at grades under 5.10.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Hangover goes open.

I little bad news for me, possibly some good news for you.  Jan, Walter and myself were out climbing on Saturday.  We went to Noobie Squeeze area and once again I found myself drawn to the Hangover.  The Hangover is the small overhanging face to the right of Noobie Squeeze.  There is one route that sent called Distorted Perception at about 5.8.  I bolted two other routes with a common top anchor.  I was hoping to send the easier of the two (on left) on Saturday but no way.  I figure it is probably a 5.10-.  The route on the right is harder, more like a hard 5.10, possibly 5.11a.
The video shows Kaleb and Terry playing around on them before I had them bolted.  Trust me Terry, it is no 5.7!  Both of these routes are officially open!  If you climb them, you name them and you claim the FA.  Leave me a comment and some details about who was with you and what you think of the climb.

I repeat...The Hangover Face has two projects that are OPEN.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Baby Face: Not what I thought.

I went out to Baby Face yesterday to do some bolting.  Last year about this time, I put up Boston Mantle (5.9) while Bob started bolting another route.  We never got back to finish it.  Bob had placed to top anchors and one bolt.  I figure I would put in another couple of bolts and 'voila' another route.
Well, I put in though couple of bolts after hangdogging for awhile.  It was not a gimme.  If fact, it was kinda frustrating.  There is nothing special about it.  It will probably go at 5.9ish as well.  Since it gave me more grief than I bargained, I am going to call it Colic.
After that, I placed a couple of safety bolts to get access the top of 2 other routes.  If figured they would be quite easy and fit with the theme 'Baby Face'.  They both have short sections that significantly harder than the rest.  The only section that was consistently easy cut across the entire face.  Not good for a beginner.  Probably only put 4 routes on this section.
NOTE:  There are a couple of large loose blocks that I could not take down by hand.  One is in Colic.  Two others are on the left side of the face.  Climb with caution.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

No Partner for Tomorrow

I am going out to Baby Face to bolt some routes tomorrow.  I have no climbing partner confimred.  If someone is curious, I will be out bolting between 0930 and 1230.

Monday, May 14, 2012

New Season 2012

Hi Everyone.

I am BACK!  We have already had better weather than the entire summer last year and I hope it keeps going.  I managed to get outside in April!  I don't think I have ever done that.

I am going bolting on Wednesday and I am really looking forward to it.  I have a new drill, a 36volt Hilti. It is the big brother of the drill I have been using for the last 10 years.  I can't wait to use it.

There are many different routes I want to put up.  There are a couple on the Upper Face that I have my eye on.  I also want to finish bolting Baby Face.  That will be a great intro spot.

I will begin posting about my summer progress, lets hope I am active.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Chloride Stress Corrosion Cracking

The American Safe Climbing Association has some good information about bolting and retro-bolting. I copied/pasted an article off their site. It has to do with the issue of using expansion bolts on sea cliffs and dis-similar metals. Please visit their site for more good information on how to inspect bolts for safety. There are a good number around I would not trust.

The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea
New Warnings about Sea Cliff Bolts
John Byrnes, Skip Harper and Mike Shelton

"My last month was spent climbing in Thailand on some very questionable bolts... About a week ago while I was waiting for a guided party to finish a second pitch on Thaiwand wall, a leader broke a bolt by pulling on the quickdraw. This caused him to fall and break the next bolt. He was lowered off with a badly injured leg. Both bolts fractured in the shaft at the hanger."

"Just returned last night from Cayman Brac and I wanted to drop you a quick line. Really great trip but... when Gene weighted the second bolt on 'Throwin' The Hula Girl' it broke! He came down on his butt and foot and suffered contusions, luckily missing his spine. It could have been ugly. The bolt was stainless steel..."

"Andy... reached down, grabbed the draw and said "Take". As he lowered his weight (the hanger broke). He landed on his back on some big boulders (breaking ribs and puncturing a lung). I tried to help him as my girlfriend ran for help, but he kept insisting that I not touch him and he just wanted to try to keep breathing."

Sardina, Thailand, Cayman Brac, Calanques. Warm weather, beaches, exotic food and incredible sea-cliff sport climbing, but all is not well in paradise. With the growth of sea-side climbing around the world there has been an ever increasing number of bolt failures. The marine environment is tough on metals. The constant exposure to salt water promotes a specific powerful corrosion mechanism that is not seen at inland climbing areas. High quality stainless steel bolts and hangers have failed in as little as 18 months when placed near the sea. Most of the time there is no visible indication they are unsafe. They may look fine but not hold body weight, much less a fall. Affected cliffs don't even need to be right over the water. Breaking waves create a fine mist which can be transported inland for miles by the wind.

The stainless steels used today in almost all climbing bolts are susceptible to a failure mechanism called Chloride Stress Corrosion Cracking or SCC. Just like it sounds, the chlorine ion, which results from dissolving salt in water, and stress must both be present. A typical multi-piece expansion bolt has the shaft in tension, and the hanger has complex stresses placed on it when it is clamped against the rock as you tighten the nut. This type of bolt placed in a sea cliff is a bomb with a short fuse. Once started, SCC spreads like a disease following the stress lines in the steel, much like grass grows in small cracks in concrete and forces the pieces apart. The cracks get larger over time, and soon the microscopic grains of the metal are no longer in contact.

Although SCC can occur on any part of a bolt exposed to salt water, it usually occurs under the hanger where salt water wicks into the crevice between the hanger and the rock surface. Bolts corroded by SCC typically break flush with the surface of the rock. Hangers typically break at the ninety-degree bend, and nuts can crack just about anywhere. At least one bolt vendor sells stainless steel "clad" bolts and nuts. These have a thin outer cladding of stainless steels urrounding a core of mild steel. This type of bolt seems to be worse then others, since once SCC cracks the cladding,oxidation (rust) finishes the job in short order. If you see a stainless bolt with a rust "beard" on the rock under it, beware!


A few years ago the Thailand locals started rebolting with one-piece glue-in bolts made of stainless steel for the simple reason that they knew regular expansion bolts weren't working. These should be an major improvement since they don't have the high levels of stress that expansion bolts have. However, they are not impervious to SCC.

Steel gains much of its strength from "work hardening" which is residual stress created by the manufacturing process, and glue-in bolts have these stresses designed into them. No one knows how long stainless steel glue-ins will last.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Big Concerns About Bolting

I recently heard of a couple things that have made me concerned about people bolting rock faces around St. John's. Terry told me that the Outfitters had brought in some bolts. I went down to have a look at what they have.

I began asking some questions of the sales person. They obviously didn't know much about bolting for rock climbing. He went on to tell me that they have actually been selling a fair number of these bolts. They have also sold just the hangers. So why am I concerned?

In that discussion, the people he had sold the bolts to were thinking of placing them in Flat Rock. The guys he sold the hangers to said he had some other bolts at home. I asked what kind of bolts the guys had at home...he didn't know. I mentioned that if the metals were different that it could accelerate corrosion under the hanger. He didn't realize that nor seemed to care!!!

If you are planning to bolt something outside, PLEASE do your homework! Expansion bolts should not be used down at Flat Rock. There is a lot of water spray during the winter and multiple freeze-thaw cycles which weaken the bolt and the rock around it. The salt water mixed with dis-similar metal accelerates corrosion under the hanger. It is difficult to see this. Flat Rock should be bolted with Glue-in bolts. The bolt is bonded to the rock. No water can get in. The bolt is all one piece so there is no corrosion.

I use expansion bolts in Manuels because it is inland away from the salt water and spray. I have put expansion bolts on the bottom of Candy. These are removable bolts!!! They are temporary. I am going to pull them and put it Glue-in bolts.

If you are buying bolts and don't know the basics, you should not be putting them in. There are many thing that can go wrong placing bolts. It is fantastic to have enthusiastic climbers but it takes a lot of consideration to safely bolts routes.

When I learned to bolt, I read everything I could on the topic. I went to an 'out of the way' rock face and placed a bunch of practice bolts. Then my first season I used Jay and Leo as mentors to make sure I knew what I was doing. Then the next season I began bolting by myself.

Phil had mentioned to me about possibly teaching a 'bolting clinic' with the new climbing club. I would certainly be willing to do that, I just want to keep our climbing community safe.