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Aug 27, 2012, 6:09 PM

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Thunder Bay, Ontario trip
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My girlfriend (Jex) was invited to a wedding in Sudbury Ontario last Saturday, and she invited me to accompany her. Then, she declared that Sudbury (about 500km/300mi) was almost all the way to Thunder Bay (a further 1000km/600mi) and she had never been to Thunder Bay (which is up west of the northern bend of Lake Superior), so we should take the week before the wedding and go there. Also, to bribe me to come along, she said there was good climbing up there. Of course, I was hooked. :)

I picked up Thunder Bay Rock by Alex Joseph and Randy Reed (Randy actually happens to be my brother-in-law), which is the latest guide and started planning climbing -- looking mostly for easier stuff, as Jex doesn't climb as well as even my moderate level.

Friday I took the red-eye home from California, took a nap Saturday for a couple hours, packed, and we headed out of Ottawa around 2pm -- aiming to make it to Sudbury where we would overnight with Jex's gramma. Sunday we drove on to Thunder Bay. The drive along the north shore of Lake Superior is gorgeous -- and there's lots of rock along there. (Both Alona Bay and Old Lady Bay appear to have gorgeous cliffs dropping down into the lake, I wonder if they are climbed at all?)

Monday we planned to do some hiking and a 5-pitch trad climb in Sleeping Giant park. The Thunder Bay area has a bunch of diorite bluffs, and the Sleeping Giant is a classic example of these. The hike in isn't short, but we ran into a complication where the trail the guide book gave for access to the climbs had been closed by the park (erosion issues) and an alternate had been constructed. (The trail had other purposes than accessing the climbs, it just happened that the climbs started a short way off the trail.) The alternate trail looked to pass very close by where the climbs were marked, so we headed up it. After much uphill slogging, we got close to the climbs and found that we had, accidentally, hiked to the top of the cliffs, rather than the bottom. On a normal satellite-eyes-view of a map, the top and bottom of a rock climb are pretty close together. Oops. We were, unfortunately, too exhausted to hike back down, around, then up again to the climbs -- so we stashed the packs, hiked around on top of the giant, then hiked back out. A wasted 20kms (13 miles) of hiking with climbing gear on our backs, oops.

Tuesday we took a break to recover, doing tourist stuff.

Wednesday we headed for a set of short sand-stone cliffs just across the road from Pass Lake. Here We did several nice climbs, one sport, a couple trad (including a fun, though easy, chimney) and a TR route. One of the trad routes, Knobbly Road, was covered in candy and little toys -- balls stuffed in the crack, candy necklaces and little plastic animals on the ledges, etc. I found it made the lead fun, though Jex found having to move stuff out of the way to use holds a bit distressing.

Thursday we headed to Mount Helen, a 70m (or so) high gneiss slab with some fun two-pitch trad climbs. Not sure of how stiff the ratings were, I started with a long rising traverse up The Uppder Dike, then after getting about 45m out, built an anchor, then finished up a more direct route, with a mix of bolts and gear. We did a couple other two-pitch routes there, and quite enjoyed the climbing.

Friday was the drive back to Sudbury, and Saturday the wedding itself.

Sunday, after the post-wedding brunch, we headed for Mount Doom in Sudbury itself, where we top-roped a few climbs. The rock there was more gneiss, but covered in a black patina from all the pollution. (Sudbury is a major iron & nickel mining and smelting centre, and though the emissions have been greatly cleaned up in the last decade or two, it used to be that everything in the area looked like a blackened moonscape.) We top-roped a few routes during the afternoon, then headed home.

(This post was edited by dagibbs on Aug 27, 2012, 6:21 PM)

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Post edited by dagibbs () on Aug 27, 2012, 6:21 PM

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