The 2014/15 ice season was filled with various ups and downs, and mix of wild stoke beside stints of demotivating events. Many lessons and experiences were had.
i. Competition Climbing
ii. Big Ice
iii. Development and First Ascents
iv. Season Close-Up
I. Competition Climbing
Before the season officially started I was fired up to train and climb on a competitive level, setting my eyes on Bozeman. A lack of initiative and a mix of other things led to the goal being dashed, with no one to blame but myself. The demotivating circumstance set me back to being lazy.
The Smuggs Dry-tool Comp came onto my radar when my friend Steph had announced that she signed up. The comp provided a perfect intro to the scene without the committing IWC affair - awesome! I was in a mad rush again to train, planning out a pretty tight schedule. Unfortunately, I knew any gains in strength would not show themselves in time for the comp, so I trained to avoid injury. What worried me most was actually my lack of any indoor drytool experience. My friends luckily offered up their home gym for a few brief sessions, and then next thing I knew, it was time for the comp. They say that you can never fully prepare yourself, but only you know if you've done your homework or not.
The comp came and went, and I somehow managed to squeeze onto the podium at 3rd place (out of 16 or 17 competitors). I could have done a few things differently, but different things could have happened to me as well. What I remember most about the comp experience wasn't the actual comp, but the people I met. The comp was the perfect opener for meeting a lot of new people (who all proved to be super cool).
All-in-all, the experience was without a doubt a positive one. I'm extremely grateful that the opportunity was there and for the folks at Petra Cliffs for organizing it.
II. Big Ice
The season was in it's final quarter when I scrambled together a trip to Willoughby. Prior to it, I had almost no experience with "big" ice - my climbing generally consisted of short and steep pitches, or long and moderate ones, so the cherry had to be popped eventually.
The trip to Willoughby turned out to one of my all time favourites. The ice was fat, temps were glorious, and the crowds were minimal. It was an absolute joy to climb without the fear of bottoming out picks on long and consistent pitches. My partner(Dave) and I both pushed ourselves that trip, and we capped it off by climbing Call of The Wild, which ended up occupying the seat for my new favourite ice climb. I feel like Dave might agree on that one as well ;)
So what did I learn from this experience?
- Having good endurance pays off. It's really nice to climb continuously on pitches longer than 30m without needing to shake out and breaking the groove.
- It reinforced my love for mixed routes and technical ice. It was nice to climb the long, fat, and continuous flows at Willoughby, at the same time, I really wanted additional challenges and variety - perhaps that's why Call of the Wild ended up being so much fun.
Willoughby is a special place, and I'm grateful that I had to chance to climb on some ultra classics!
III. Development & First Ascents
The topic of first ascents and development is still a pretty new one to me, luckily, I've had a lot of guidance since my first FA last year on Raven. I'd personally like to thank Andriy for my many experiences related to the topic, who's stoke, generosity, and patience is far greater than my own.
Shingle Me Timbers, WI4 28m (Timbertrail)
I was lucky enough to be invited to climb at Timbertrail by Matt Ferguson, who had been developing the crag for the last couple years. The cliff is heavily featured and lends itself to many climbs within a compact area. All the main flows have been climbed, except one that doesn't quite touch down. A few rock moves will establish you onto a daggered curtain, and then it's all ice to the top.
I thought I'd more stoked to have an FA on my first pure ice climb, but it didn't seem like it. It was a healthy reminder that the real joy from first ascents comes with the work that's put behind it and the process of exploration. I walked into the crag and did the line, but Matt had the pleasure of discovering and developing something completely new.
The route was named after Andriy's case of shingles this winter, combined with the name of the crag, "Timbertrail".
Broken Arrow, M6 WI5 20m (Timbertrail)
On the same day "Shingle Me Timbers" was done, Matt showed us his mixed project and offered up the FA. It was his first bolted mixed route, and one that picks the plumb line at the cliff.
I got to be the first one to give it a red-point burn, but unfortunately I fell quite low when my picks chewed off a hold. I pulled up on the rope and finished the route afterwards, but it was a bit of a buzz kill. Daniel Martian went up after me and was able to do it cleanly, setting himself up for the proper FA and an awesome photo!
The route was named by Matt when he first TR'd the route, and we decided to keep it, as it was already quite fitting for the final dagger crux.
Triple-S, M8+ 20m (Dorset)
This line was bolted earlier in the season by Andriy and myself, and before that, the line was scoped out and anchored by Josh Smith and Andriy. When I first tried the route, I worked it down to one hang on TR, passing the crux, but resting before the pretty serious red-point crux. I was surprised at how sustained the route was and just how well the moves flowed. Since it follows a natural feature, you're not stuck guessing half the time of where to go (like many sporty dry/mixed routes) - just go!
Triple-S is particularly important for me because I learned how to properly torque my picks on it. Prior to this route, I didn't do much(if any) torquing with my mixed climbing, I was mainly hooking or slotting constrictions. Triple-S would have none of that, as it features a crux with an overhanging crack that is both flaring and parallel. I was shut down at the crux for a long time, and was confused as to how Josh and Andriy were able to do it. Andriy gave me a couple pointers, and then it clicked (like learning how to ride a bicycle). It was a valuable lesson that has undoubtedly assisted in my mixed climbing career, making future placements more secure, and opening up more windows.
The route was named Triple-S as an ode to the hardest 8+ in Seneca Rocks, and a nod to Josh Smith, who couldn't be there at the time of the FA (Sadly Sans Smith). Bolting the route was a little tricky, and we kept in mind that future visitors may not have a stick clip. The bolts at the start appear very close to each other, but if you get on it, you'll see why :) .
Unfinished Lines and Projects (???)
There aren't many open lines and projects, but the ones that are open are keeping me excited for the coming season, and anxious of conditions. One hopes that the weather is fine and that there be cool things to report!
IV. Season Close-Up
My final ice weekend in Southern Ontario ended with the completion of Triple-S, work on a classic route, and a chance to climb on Ontario's most fabled mixed route.
The Saturday was a bit of a mess with the rain and cold weather. My waxed gloves completely soaked through, and I was barely able to look up to belay Andriy on Triple-S with the rain in my eyes. It was clear that the season was coming to an end, so I was glad to see the book closed on the route that day.
Sunday was much better for weather. I headed over to Diamond Lake with some friends to see what little ice was left, and try out Metamorphosis. When we arrived, all the ice was basically out, but Where Egos Dare was somewhat in.
I first attempted WOD 2 years prior and failed miserably when I thought I could do it with 7 ice screws. I went half way up, got scared, and realized that I didn't have enough to finish within my safety margin. I lowered, suffered the embarrassment from the observing parties, and then put up the line on TR for my partner. It was really nice to visit the line again after 2 years, completing it in tougher conditions to see some progression. It made me really grateful to know that my earlier failures and mistakes didn't result in any injury.
The second part of the day was a work session on Metamorphosis, the line to the immediate left of WOD. It's a proud route that heads up a overhanging crack to a free-hanger - quite the sight, and undoubtedly the king line of the cliff. There wasn't much ice left on it, but the movements were still there. The climb is quite techy, but good slots and holds appear when you need them. After a ledge full of dead birds and the upper bolt, the climb ramps up to it's 10+ rating quite quickly. It became apparent that ice needed to be in the cracks to link the final bit, or some weird torquing magic needed to happen. After exercising all my options, I succumbed to the route and came down. I didn't get to the top, but I was able to pull much more of it than expected, and satisfied my route curiosity.
As we walked out of Diamond Lake, I found it hard not to notice all the disintegrating ice. I devote a lot of myself to honing my ice and mixed climbing skills, so it was an uncomfortable to see the medium on which I practice that fall apart. For whatever reason, I held onto this winter more than previous years, and felt I hadn't learned enough yet to see it go. I was told in that moment that the fleeting of nature of ice is part of it's draw - it's death and rebirth between the seasons.
Goodbye for now winter, see you in awhile.
Shingle Me Timbers: WI4, 28m . Feb 22nd, Peter Hoang & Joe Palma
Climb the first flow left of "Changing Highways". Start on the ramp and scratch up the rock and onto the curtain if it's not touching down. Ride the sheet to the top. Rappel from the tree.
Broken Arrow: M6, WI5, 23m . Feb 22nd, Daniel Martian & Peter Hoang
First mixed route right of "Big Time" when you walk in. Climb up the slab and over a series of steps before entering a small cove. Take a breather and then mount the dagger! In thicker years, the dagger touches down to become a full-fledged pillar! Fully bolted, rappel from trees. (equipped by Matt Ferguson & Andriy Kolos)
Triple S: M8+, 20m . Mar 14th, Peter Hoang & Andriy Kolos
Bolted line to the immediate left of "Maybe You Should Pray." Climb up a crack system, traverse left, and then head up a thin seam to glory. Sustained and pumpy! Keep some juice for the sting at the tail! Fully bolted with lower-offs. (equipped by first ascentionists and Josh Smith)
The climb wasn't anything particularly epic, but it showed me just how applicable my small-town mixed climbing skills were to objectives abroad.
Ergocentrique: M10+ (one hang)
I tried this route 2 years ago on my way back from Katahdin, and got to return this year to see a large improvement.
Call of the Wild: WI6
Though it wasn't in FA conditions (crux pillar wasn't free hanging), it was a good challenge for me, especially after the existing pump from the first pitch.
Various random climbs & variations: ??
There was a lot of random lines that I tried this year that didn't officially have names, or were variations of a route. The accomplishments aren't very appealing on paper, but they taught some pretty valuable lessons.
Assisting with the design of the Southern Ontario Ice guidebook
Working with Andriy was an absolute pleasure, and it was extremely satisfying to see my cover & back designs on the shelves at MEC.
Helping with Southern Ontario's first ice fest
Though my participation was limited, it was nice to help advertise and gather fellow ice junkies together.
Participated in my first dry-tool comp
I write about this in detail here, but long story short, it was awesome.
Got a 5 page write up/photo essay in Gripped
A huge thanks to Brandon for reaching out to me for this piece. So nice to see my photos and words in print!