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tequilaboom


May 13, 2014, 8:59 AM
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Good Trad Climbing Destination Ideas?
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Hey guys,

I was just wondering if you could recommend any good (nothing too hard) trad climbing destinations?

Last year we went to Colorado for 3 weeks and that was fantastic. This time, we would prefer not to drive as far as Colorado (we live in Ontario).

If you folks could recommend a spot(s) we could spend 2/3 weeks trad climbing in, that would be super appreciated. If it's multipitch - great, if not, still ok!

I'm open to suggestions both in the US as well as Canada. Thanks folks.


granite_grrl


May 13, 2014, 11:24 AM
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tequilaboom wrote:
Hey guys,

I was just wondering if you could recommend any good (nothing too hard) trad climbing destinations?

Last year we went to Colorado for 3 weeks and that was fantastic. This time, we would prefer not to drive as far as Colorado (we live in Ontario).

If you folks could recommend a spot(s) we could spend 2/3 weeks trad climbing in, that would be super appreciated. If it's multipitch - great, if not, still ok!

I'm open to suggestions both in the US as well as Canada. Thanks folks.

Gunks. May be a little hot for your tastes after June, but that will depend on your tolerence and what kind of summer we get temperature wise.

If the Gunks are too hot then look at the Daks. Can also consider other places like Montagne d'Argent or Val David in Quebec.


dagibbs


May 14, 2014, 10:43 AM
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The area around Montagne d'Argent (Saint Jovite/Val David, Quebec) are one good choice. MdA and Val David both have a good selection of single-pitch trad climbing, and MdA has a bunch of sport, including a few moderate multi-pitch sport climbs. And, The Weir is nearby, and it has three multi-pitch trad climbs (3-4 pitches each) two at 5.7, one with a 5.8 pitch. (As well as some harder multi-pitch. Not sure what "nothing-too-hard" means to you.)

Another very good choice would be the Adirondacks. Lots and lots of varying multi-pitch climbing in the easy to moderate: Chapel Pond Slab, Upper Washbowl, Poke-O Moonshine, Pitch-Off Chimney Cliff, and many more. Depending on how much approach you want to do, there's some excellent more back-country choices like Gothics.

New Hampshire is another good choice -- especially the North Conway area. Whitehorse and Cathedral ledge have a goodly set of climbs, with the Standard Route up Whitehorse Ledge being a 9-10 pitch climb (shortest pitch about 25m, longest almost 70m) at 5.5 being a good example of what you'll find. There's also good climbing at Canon cliff, and along the Kancamangus highway, though the approaches are longer, and trickier. And, again, for a break from trad climbing, you're not far from Rumney that has got a lot of lovely sport, and bits of trad as well.

If you want to head north instead of south, the there is a lot of good climbing, including a lot of good trad climbing up Thunder Bay area. Some of it is multi-pitch (2-3 pitches) while other bits are more single-pitch cragging. I think there's also been a bunch of moderate multi-pitch trad opened up along the east shore of Lake Superior -- Batchawana Bay area. That could easily be combined with a Thunder Bay trip, since it is on the way.

I think, though, if you haven't already spend time in the 'Daks, they're probably your best bet. _Adirondack Rock: A Rock Climber's Guide_ is the book to get, and it is an excellent guidebook. (http://www.adirondackrock.com/)


tequilaboom


May 14, 2014, 10:55 AM
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Awesome suggestions folks!

I have been to Montagne Dargent and Val David and thought they were both really great.

As for the Daks, from what I have heard, the longer routes are mostly very slabby without much protection options - is that the case, or were people just exaggerating? Also are the Daks really crowded in August?


granite_grrl


May 14, 2014, 11:11 AM
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tequilaboom wrote:
Awesome suggestions folks!

I have been to Montagne Dargent and Val David and thought they were both really great.

As for the Daks, from what I have heard, the longer routes are mostly very slabby without much protection options - is that the case, or were people just exaggerating? Also are the Daks really crowded in August?

I don't think the Daks are ever really that crowded (at least not like Ontario or the RRG over easter weekend).

I would double check on the bugs before going there though. I think by August the worst would be over, but I'm not sure.


dagibbs


May 14, 2014, 11:18 AM
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tequilaboom wrote:
Awesome suggestions folks!

As for the Daks, from what I have heard, the longer routes are mostly very slabby without much protection options - is that the case, or were people just exaggerating? Also are the Daks really crowded in August?

Due to the geological history of eastern North America, i.e. they are old mountains with recent(ish) glaciation, much of the moderate multi-pitch climbing in these areas ('Daks, New Hampshire, etc) will have some amount of slabishness to them. And, protection quality and availability will vary from climb to climb. But, there is a good amount of good trad climbing with decent protection. And, the guidebook I mentioned is very good about giving information on what to expect on a route. A grade for a multi-pitch route might read something like 5.8 (5.6 PG, 5.3 X) -- saying that the overall difficulty is 5.8, but that the 5.8 section are well-protected, there are slightly run-out or difficult to protect sections of 5.6, and extra-ordinarily run-out or ground/ledge-fall sections no harder than 5.3. So, you generally have a very good idea of what you are getting into. And, yes, some of the longest cliffs (Chapel Pond Slabs, Poke-O Moonshine Slabs, Gothics) are slab climbs (at least for the moderate routes up them), but something like the Regular Route up Chapel Pond Slab comes in at 5.5 PG, 6 pitches. Other cliffs, like Pitch-Off Chimney Cliff or Upper Washbowl have 2-4 pitch routes that are not slab climbs, while still being moderates.

As to crowding -- the 'Daks are so big, with so much rock, that it really isn't an issue. On the weekends, the really popular cliffs/routes can get a bit of traffic -- during the week, no problems at all. So, if you're there for a couple weeks -- hit something more remote on the weekends, and hit the popular stuff (e.g. the stuff with less than a 20 minute hike in, like Chapel Pond Slab with its 1 minute approach) on the week days.

Plus, run-out slab is fun. :)


dagibbs


May 14, 2014, 11:22 AM
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granite_grrl wrote:

I would double check on the bugs before going there though. I think by August the worst would be over, but I'm not sure.

Bug season is similar to eastern Ontario/southern Quebec; worst should be over by late July or early August. You'll likely still encounter some mosquitoes and the occasional deer/horse fly, especially around dawn/dusk -- but not huge quantities of them, nor many/any black flies. Should be at the level that bug spray will keep them at bay -- I wouldn't expect to need bug netting while climbing/belaying. I don't know what the status of deer ticks is nowadays, though.


tequilaboom


May 14, 2014, 12:25 PM
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Gotcha. How about the general quality of the rock? Is it Granite mostly?

Also, the guidebook that was suggested is apparently out of print until they release the new version. I've quickly searched in Amazon with no luck either. Would you know where I could get this guidebook? Or is the only option to wait and hope they release it before August?


dagibbs


May 14, 2014, 12:38 PM
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tequilaboom wrote:
Gotcha. How about the general quality of the rock? Is it Granite mostly?

Also, the guidebook that was suggested is apparently out of print until they release the new version. I've quickly searched in Amazon with no luck either. Would you know where I could get this guidebook? Or is the only option to wait and hope they release it before August?

The rock is generally Canadian Shield rock -- so granite or granitic gneiss mostly. (That's from a climber's way of looking at it, a geologist would probably have about a dozen more accurate ways of describing it.) Of course, you still have a freeze-thaw environment. So, generally the rock is good, but the more remote/less climbed the route, the more likely you are to find loose rock. In the climbing I've done there, I've found the rock quality to be generally good to excellent.

I picked up my copy of the guide at MEC in Ottawa. The MEC web site doesn't list it, though, so I don't know if it is out-of-stock, or just poorly catalogued. (They don't always properly list books on the website, the Ottawa MEC also carries the MdA guidebook, but it isn't listed on the mec.ca web site.) So, maybe call or drop by your local MEC?

I'm not sure where home is for you, but if you ask around any friends that you know that climb, there's a good chance that someone around has a copy that you might be able to borrow. Lots of southern Ontario climbers visit the 'Dacks and have a copy of the book.

(I looked on amazon.ca too. $1600 second-hand? Is someone insane?)


jktinst


May 14, 2014, 1:56 PM
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excellent overview, dagibbs, but why is Bon Echo missing? Lots of good moderate trad multipitches there.


dagibbs


May 14, 2014, 2:06 PM
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jktinst wrote:
excellent overview, dagibbs, but why is Bon Echo missing? Lots of good moderate trad multipitches there.

Convenience -- essentially all the climbs at Bon Echo start from the lake, meaning you need a boat to access them. But, the down-climbs for most climbs don't get you down where your climb started (and rappelling is against the agreement with the provincial park), so getting back to your boat is somewhere between inconvenient and very very inconvenient. The best way to climb at Bon Echo is on the weekends, from the ACC hut, where the club custodian will handle the dropping you off/picking you up part of the climbing. This would work for the weekends of his trip -- but he mentioned 2-3 weeks... he'd be left with very inconvenient week-day climbing. Now you could do it with 2 canoes... leave one at the base of the downclimb, and the other at the base of the climb. Of course, you're now leaving two canoes attached to the cliff, and hoping nobody causes problems for you, takes your canoe(s) or anything. And, you need to both be at least semi-competent soloists in a canoe. (And own, or rent, a pair of canoes.) Again, probably not worth the bother.

So, if he wants to climb at Bon Echo, which I agree is well worth doing, he's better doing it as a few weekend trips, rather than a 2-3 week climbing vacation.


jktinst


May 14, 2014, 2:57 PM
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dagibbs wrote:
...So, if he wants to climb at Bon Echo, which I agree is well worth doing, he's better doing it as a few weekend trips, rather than a 2-3 week climbing vacation.

Good point. I’ve only been there twice, both times mid-week, but we had rides to the climbs’ bases and back from the boat dock with other non-climbing family members in a canoe. However, the cliffs south of the isthmus start from a talus, not right from the water. Also, in addition to a good selection of moderates and harder climbs, those cliffs have a couple of 4th class easy way downs that bring you back to the talus so they can be done with a single canoe that can be pulled up on the talus during climbing. For the climbs that start right from the water, I wonder how feasible it might be to try and hitch a ride with canoeists who go along the cliff to look at the petroglyphs and to come back with the tour boat... Having said that, while I’d love to spend a whole week climbing at BE, I suspect that I would find 2 or 3 weeks too long for my taste. Come to think of it, I’d say the same of the Gunks. Now the Daks would be a different story. The extra time would be great to explore the more remote areas I never get to on shorter trips.


dagibbs


May 14, 2014, 3:12 PM
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jktinst wrote:
dagibbs wrote:
...So, if he wants to climb at Bon Echo, which I agree is well worth doing, he's better doing it as a few weekend trips, rather than a 2-3 week climbing vacation.

However, the cliffs south of the isthmus start from a talus, not right from the water. Also, in addition to a good selection of moderates and harder climbs, those cliffs have a couple of 4th class easy way downs that bring you back to the talus so they can be done with a single canoe that can be pulled up on the talus during climbing.

There's about 20 climbs off the talus. There's probably another 10-15 climbs which start near a down-climb or rap-route (e.g. Saucer Lucy area). How many of them are "not too hard" is harder to say. A Bon Echo 5.9 might be somewhat stiff. If you can do 6 pitches a day (which is, I think, very conservative) that's about 6 days worth of climbing. Not enough for a 2-3 week vacation.

I dunno about hitching a ride along the face. If I'm a bit tippy in a canoe already (as many tourists would be), then I'm not going to want someone hopping in/out from the cliff itself.

The 'Gunks would have a lot more to offer for a 2-3 week vacation, but in August, are likely to be cooking hot.


tequilaboom


May 14, 2014, 3:58 PM
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Bon Echo has been on my radar for a long time, but as you guys have mentioned, the logistics of setting up a trip like that deterred me from climbing there. I definitely plan on going there one day.

I'm really liking the fact that the Dacks are so large, and offer that sense of adventure - I'm really leaning on going there after hearing your recommendations.

As for the Gunks, what would you guys say is the main difference of climbing in the Gunks vs Dacks? I've read that the Gunks was one of the premier places in the US where climbing was really developed (along with Yosemite and Eldorado Canyon apparently). I've watched some youtube videos but as you know, it's hard to really get a good grasp about a place through youtube.


dagibbs


May 14, 2014, 4:28 PM
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tequilaboom wrote:

As for the Gunks, what would you guys say is the main difference of climbing in the Gunks vs Dacks? I've read that the Gunks was one of the premier places in the US where climbing was really developed (along with Yosemite and Eldorado Canyon apparently). I've watched some youtube videos but as you know, it's hard to really get a good grasp about a place through youtube.

The Gunks is, essentially, one long nearly-continuous band of cliff. Whereas the 'Dacks are a huge state park with all sorts of mountains, cliffs, ridges, etc. This means that there tends to be something of a similarity to climbs at the Gunks where you won't find that as much in the 'Dacks. You will get more choice for sun-exposure, facing, etc with the variety of cliffs in the 'Dacks. You will be able to find wilderness and adventure feeling cliffs in the 'Dacks, while the Gunks will feel more like a climbing park. You can climb and camp for free in the 'Dacks, but will have to pay at the Gunks. Also, with the variety of altitudes available in the 'Dacks, you'll have more options for temperature compensation -- picking lower altitude cliffs on cool days, but higher ones if the weather is hot.

The Gunks have that history because they're a major, visually obvious, cliff near a major population center. The Gunks don't (though climbing does have history there) because they are far away, they're off in the middle of nowhere. In fact, much of the early development in the 'Dacks was done by Canadian climbers out of Montreal, and you'll still here French quite often down there. (And, as for history, I think the first recorded ascent in the 'Dacks, of the Trap Dike, goes back to 1850.)

And, you were asking about crowds -- you'll find far more people climbing at the Gunks, whereas in the 'Dacks you'll have lots of good opportunities to be the only team on your cliff.


tequilaboom


May 14, 2014, 4:56 PM
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Well I think I have made up my mind with your help. I'm pretty sure I will go to the Dacks :)

Just heard back from the guidebook author who said the new edition has been sent to the printer. Let's hope I can get my hands on a copy before my trip!


dagibbs


May 14, 2014, 5:05 PM
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tequilaboom wrote:
Well I think I have made up my mind with your help. I'm pretty sure I will go to the Dacks :)

Just heard back from the guidebook author who said the new edition has been sent to the printer. Let's hope I can get my hands on a copy before my trip!

Sounds hopeful for getting a copy in time.

I hope the trip turns out well for you.


potreroed


May 15, 2014, 7:39 AM
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Devil's Lake in Wisconsin has 1800 routes and 800 boulder problems on high quality quartzite--all trad, no bolts. Beautiful lake where they don't allow motor boats and lots of old-growth forest.


jktinst


May 15, 2014, 9:52 AM
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dagibbs: I really don’t want to come across as argumentative here and your points are definitely valid. It’s just that this discussion got me thinking about how one might go about planning a week’s climbing vacation at BE and I feel that it may be more doable than you seem to believe. I’m not saying two or three weeks here. Just one.

I agree that bumming canoe rides to the cliff from strangers is not a great plan but the BE campgrounds across the lake from the cliffs are full all summer long. A not insignificant number of those campers bring their own canoes and a not insignificant number of canoe renters are reasonably experienced canoeists.

You could plan the WEs on either side of the week with the ACC to climb routes that are harder to access from the lake, taking advantage of their motor boat, then plan to rent a canoe sometime during the week and take a day or two (depending on your climbing ability) to explore the south cliffs. If you’re minimally outgoing, you may be able to get to know some reasonably experienced canoeists camping there for the week and who would not mind dropping you off at one of the more sheltered coves that are commonly located at the bottom of moderate BE “ramp” routes. Finally, you could save some of the routes that start near the bottom of one of the 4 official rappel routes or one of the various “easy way downs” as second climbs for those “canoe ride-bumming” days.

I’m not going to try to plan this week route-by-route and it’s quite possible that the route availability (especially on those busy ACC WEs) and selection (of where the routes you want to/can climb are located along the cliff) will not work out as well as I imagine, resulting in having to spend 2 or 3 days out of 8-9 hiking, canoeing or lounging on the beach instead of climbing. Still, it seems to me that even if you don’t have two canoes to play with or friends/family willing to be your “canoe taxi” for a whole week, it’s not a huge stretch to imagine that you should be able to arrange a fairly decent climbing week at BE.


dagibbs


May 15, 2014, 10:08 AM
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I'd call this a discussion rather than argument, and I've no problem with that. And, hey, it's the most interesting thing happening on rc.com right now. Actually, it's about the only thing happening on rc.com right now.

I agree, you could do a good one-week climbing trip to Bon Echo, as you suggest use the weekends to hit the harder-to-access climbs, and do the easier-to-access ones during the week.

I assumed, perhaps incorrectly, that the OP was from the (greater) Toronto area. From there, I still think Bon Echo is better done as a series of weekend trips, since it is definitely well within weekend-trip range, and that if you have a full week (or, in OP's case, two-three weeks) it would be more worth it to go farther afield, to somewhere that isn't easily doable on regular or long weekends. If somebody were located in, say, Windsor where the drive is a lot longer, then a week-long trip to Bon Echo does make a lot of sense. I would bet, though, that most Ontario climbers are living within a range where weekend tripping to Bon Echo makes most sense.

Now, Bon Echo could be a good week-long trip for someone coming from south-east Michigan, or northern Ohio during the summer, when it might be warmer than you would want for heading southwards to the Red River gorge.


tequilaboom


May 15, 2014, 10:46 AM
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You have assumed correctly - I live in London ON, and most of the time I climb in the Escarpment here, which is a lot of fun, but unfortunately I have a hard time protecting routes properly due to the varied nature of limestone, so I get psyched out.

In comparison, Colorado, and Quebec were simply fantastic in terms of protection and rock quality. Since I'm a novice trad climber with mostly only access to limestone cliffs, my progression has been slow over the past few years. As you can imagine, good protection definitely inspires confidence - and of course I understand that an experienced trad climber can protect routes better than a novice climber could, regardless of the rock quality.


dagibbs


May 15, 2014, 11:52 AM
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tequilaboom wrote:
You have assumed correctly - I live in London ON, and most of the time I climb in the Escarpment here, which is a lot of fun, but unfortunately I have a hard time protecting routes properly due to the varied nature of limestone, so I get psyched out.

In comparison, Colorado, and Quebec were simply fantastic in terms of protection and rock quality. Since I'm a novice trad climber with mostly only access to limestone cliffs, my progression has been slow over the past few years. As you can imagine, good protection definitely inspires confidence - and of course I understand that an experienced trad climber can protect routes better than a novice climber could, regardless of the rock quality.

Ok, being a novice trad climber, that further recommends against Bon Echo -- it also tends towards... challenging gear placements. Different reasons from escarpment limestone, but still the case.

I think you'll find that you like the rock in the 'Dacks, too.


boymeetsrock


May 15, 2014, 2:04 PM
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If you thought CO had good rock quality, you will find the Dack's to be excellent rock quality. I'm a big fan of the Dack's and could easily spend weeks there without hitting the same cliff twice.

Gunks is too hot in August.

Have fun!


sonso45


May 20, 2014, 9:17 AM
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I climbed the Daks last October and had fantastic weather. The rock was very good and protection placement was fairly obvious or it just wasn't there. Probably because of the routes we chose. You can find what you're looking for in moderate routes and no crowds; unlike the Gunks.

I love the Gunks too but the mass of people make it less desireable.

I found the Gunks climbed harder because of the horizontal nature of the protection whereas the Daks were typical granite vertical cracks. Both would be a great trip. I'd think the humidity in August and the potential for bugs, might make it a bit uncomfortable.


sbaclimber


May 21, 2014, 4:07 AM
Post #25 of 29 (2451 views)
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Registered: Jan 21, 2004
Posts: 3082

Re: [sonso45] Good Trad Climbing Destination Ideas? [In reply to]
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sonso45 wrote:
I'd think the humidity in August and the potential for bugs, might make it a bit uncomfortable.
Bugs shouldn't be too bad in Aug. Heat and humidity though, yeah...

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Forums : Climbing Disciplines : Trad Climbing

 


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