Monday, April 30, 2012

Bear Mountain!

On Sunday, I felt the need to get out, do some exploring, and stretch my legs.  My explorations usually take the form of rock-seeking-missions, and I decided that this Sunday was going to be no exception.  I have long wanted to go check out the cliffs at Bear Mountain, and to see if there were any bouldering opportunities to be had there.  I knew (from rumours, and various online fragments of information) that the cliffs at Bear Mountain were sandstone, and tended to be somewhat sandy (i.e. poorly cemented); not exactly a destination.  However, climbing is climbing, and adventure is adventure, so I grabbed a coffee, put Lupin in the van, and headed off to Dawson Creek!

Perhaps the most unique thing about Bear Mountain is the enormous wind turbine installation there.  There are over two dozen HUGE wind turbines installed along the ridge, which gives the setting a somewhat science-fiction vibe.  I parked near the end of 233 Road, near the first wind turbine. I decided to hike through the forest along the entire length of the scarp (to ensure I wouldn’t miss any boulders lurking in the forest), then hike along the top of the cliff on the way back (to enjoy the view and check out the cliff itself). 

To make a long story short, my explorations were moderately successful.  Good news = I did find a nice cluster of boulders in a pleasant woodland setting with nice landings.  There is probably room for about 50 problems, with lots of overhanging arêtes which will provide some decently hard problems.  Bad news = there was only one cluster of boulders.  I did find a few more boulders at the far end of the scarp, but they were neither big nor plentiful.  Also, the boulders are formed almost exclusively by big cubes of coarse sandstone-conglomerate.  The conglomerate will be a little hard on the hands (think texture like a meat-tenderising hammer), and isn’t always completely solid.

I did see a few really nice-looking potential problems, though.  The first big boulder I saw (photo 1) was a big brick-shaped block, but one end was propped up; as such, the two suspended arêtes had sit-down starts, and could both be in the V6-V8 range.  Another cool-looking line (photo 2) was on a big tooth-shaped boulder with a scoop.  It didn’t look difficult, but did look really (!) fun.  Other than that, there were a number of arêtes and small caves scattered around (photo 3), from which a dedicated boulderer could make a nice circuit - once everything was cleaned up.

If anyone wants to go there and take a look, do some scrubbing, open some problems, let me know!  I am certainly willing to show anyone what I’ve found.  Cheers!

1) The business end of a giant brick of conglomerate.  Sit down starts on the right and left.  My walking stick  (about 3 feet long) for scale.

2) Cool scoop, with a crack/seam feature.  One of the best lines I saw at Bear Mountain.

3)  Bear mountain boulders.  

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Hasler Flats Trip

I headed to Hasler Bluffs this past Monday with my friend Domhnall to do some climbing, and check out the potential for new routes and bouldering in the area. One of our goals was to get a rope on at least one new line at Hasler Bluffs. When we arrived at Hasler Flats, we first stopped to check out the new area, then headed over to Hasler Bluffs. We walked the length of the crag to check it out (Dom hadn't been to the area before), then we decided to lead (what we thought was) a moderate bolted route that wasn't in the guide. It turned out to be an oddly bolted 11-, so I took some hangs at the bolts trying to get psyched to boulder up to the next bolt, which always seemed to be in an odd spot and a little too far away. After we finished with that route, we went down to the base of the crag and did some bouldering on the blocks down there. We repeated Anonymous Arete (Dom flashed it, very nice!), and then cleaned up a new line on the adjacent block. We worked it and finally sent it - it's a really classic compression problem up a steep bulge (probably V4ish).

Then we headed back up to the cliff where I led Nose Goblins (5.7), which is a fun route with good gear, although I felt that there were some loose flakes on the route that could maybe have been pried off to make the route safer. We moved the rope over, and Dom made quick work of a .10b crack. We moved the rope over again, so we could toprope a new line that climbed through a beautiful orange wall with a big roof at midheight. It looked about .11b from the ground, but it turned out to much harder and more technical than I thought (partially because some of the rock was covered with a beautiful patina, which meant that the friction in those sections was a bit reduced). Such an amazing route - hopefully I can get out there to put bolts in it soon. There is a lot of potential at Hasler Bluffs for hard routes in the .11+ to .12+ range.

There is a (somewhat outdated) guide for Hasler Bluffs written about a decade ago; it is certainly worth having if you are planning a trip to the area. The guide (hosted by the Prince George section of the ACC) can be found HERE. I am hoping to write a new Hasler Bluffs Guide this year, but we'll have to see if I have time.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Need a New Mat?

Revolution has their 12-G Mat on sale! Not a bad deal, especially if you knew someone in the States who you could have it shipped to. Check it out here.