Québec: Escalade Parc Régional du Poisson Blanc Guidebook by Socrate Badeau

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Voici un guide complet de l’escalade qu’on trouve dans le Parc régional du Poisson Blanc. Il y a longtemps que la grimpe se pratique sur le territoire, mais en 2016, suite à la demande des gestionnaires du Parc, ceux-ci ont établi une collaboration avec la FQME et à l’aide de plusieurs bénévoles ont procédé au développement de l’escalade sur les falaises du réservoir. Le résultat est ce qui se retrouve dans ce guide: cinq secteurs avec plus de 130 voies.

L’approche à l’escalade se fait uniquement par bateau et peut nécessiter jusqu’à 4 heures en canot pour se rendre. Il est donc commun de faire du canot-camping sur les îles aux sites désignés. Pour toute réservation ou information pour le camping vous devez vous référer au site du Poisson Blanc:  www.poissonblanc.ca

Il est essentiel de respecter la réglementation en vigueur dans le Parc. Y avoir accès et y grimper est un privilège, aidez-nous à conserver l’accès à ce site unique.

Bonne aventure!

Here is the complet guide to rock-climbing in the Parc Régional du Poison Blanc. Climbing on the various cliffs in the parc has been occasionally practiced by adventurous enthusiasts.  But, in 2016 development stepped up. The Parc administrators collaborated with the FQME to organise and structure the development on the cliffs of the Parc.  So, with the help of many volunteers there a been a huge boost to the number of climbs and cliffs accessible to climbing.  The result is that there are now over 5 areas with over 130climbs.  

Approaching the climbs can only be done by boat.  A canoe approach can be up to 4 hours.  It is therefore common practice for climbers to camp on one of the many islands at the designated camping spots.  For all information on access to the Parc and camping reservations please consult the parc’s webpage at:  www.poissonblanc.ca

Climbing in the parc is a unique experience, and it is a privilege to have access to such a magnificent and natural place.  Therefore, please respect all parc policies concerning reservations and access.

Have a great adventure!

The Wood: Climbing in Castlewood Canyon by Mike Burdon

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 There’s a lot of places to climb in the Front Range of Colorado, but Castlewood Canyon State Park is unique among them all. The first reason is its location; Castlewood is one of the few climbing areas in the front range, that is not actually in the mountains. It sits out in the plains to the east of Castle Rock, about 45 minutes from Denver. 

Castlewood is also unique in its rock type. While a variety of sandstones, granite, gneiss and basalt can all be found in the Front Range, this is one of the only places to climb on  conglomerate. This style can be tricky at first, but super fun and rewarding for those who have spent some time with it. It involves cranking on cobbles, sinker pockets, crisp edges, beautiful alligator skin and some wild looking features! 

Castlewood has long been known for its bouldering, which is fantastic in both quality and quantity. As a previous guidebook author once marveled,  the bouldering here is “inexhaustible!” 

The more one seeks, the more one finds! But Castlewood is not only a bouldering area! There are over 130 sport routes, more than 200 trad climbs and still tons of potential for new routes of every style. 

Due to its proximity to  Denver, Castlewood has been a popular recreation spot for families and beginner climbers. On any given Saturday you’ll see a bunch of families toproping at the Grocery Store Wall, or the Boy Scouts out learning to rappel. Recently, however, there has also been a resurgence of more serious climbers, realizing the park’s untapped potential for new  sport climbs, hard boulders and serious trad climbs. In the last year there have been many new routes developed; trad climbs as hard as 12a R, sport climbs up to 13a and boulders in the double digits! Castlewood is not just for kids. 

The Wood also provides an opportunity to get off the beaten path. As crags like Canal Zone and the Graveyard are becoming increasingly overrun with the ever-growing number of Denver climbers,  Castlewood Canyon remains a place of scenic solitude, where one can enjoy a quiet climbing experience away from the crowds and highways. 

So whether you’re looking for some adventure and exploring, bolt protected pocket-pulling, cranking on cobbles, or a chill day in the forest, Castlewood has what you’re looking for and I hope this guidebook helps you find it.

Smoke Hole Canyon: Entrance Walls, Copperhead Cove and Jake Hill

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Back in 93, when Troy Johnson and I made our first pilgrimage to Smoke Hole Canyon, there was a ragged piece of white tat hanging from a rusted piton up in the deep green Entrance Arch dihedral that would eventually become the start of Hunting Unicorns. Climbing, long slumbering in the shadows, had returned to Smoke Hole Canyon.

The first bolted lines would go up in Copperhead Cove soon thereafter, including Faces in Stone and the start of Bad Drugs. Then other routes at other canyon crags called us away, and the challenges of access between floods kept us away. We scattered to the four corners in 1995, and I spent six years exploring the Four Corners region. 

In 2009, Cindy Bender and I put up our first route together on a tall, roof stacked corner in the Cove, and called it Going on a Bender. In 2011, we moved to Arizona, and the Cove went back undercover.

Flash forward to 2017; I returned to cleaning and drilling lines at the Cove and Jake Hill with Michael Holmes, J. and Ben Feher. More recently, Virginia activist Mitchell Goldman joined the fun, adding the mixed lines Flagman and A Drop in the Ocean.

Today, three decades after Troy and I first drove into the Canyon, the Entrance Arch has 30 routes of its own, with 16 more lines waiting at Copperhead Cove, and 9 instant classics at Jake Hill.

If you are a new Smoke Hole climber or have not previously downloaded the guides, grab them today to get the best tools for exploring Smoke Hole’s crags, old and new. Your purchases help support trail work and other stewardship efforts in the canyon and at nearby Reed’s Creek, while giving you all the best beta on route development, camping, parking and access issues.

Come explore the best of the old, and the new, at the Entrance Walls of Smoke Hole Canyon.

Last Chance Canyon New Mexico Rock Climbing by Stu Smith

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Last Chance Canyon is a true gem of New Mexico climbing. Located deep in the Lincoln National Forest and with the closest “town” being the very small community of Queen (population 50 and formally classified as a ghost town) the feel of the area is remote, isolated and very peaceful. The canyon’s limestones walls hold over 100 routes, in the range of 5.3-5.13+ from thin vertical face routes to jaw dropping jug hauls out monstrous caves the place has something for everyone of all abilities. The limestone within the canyon varies in quality from average to bullet hard top tier seemingly belonging in Spain, the majority of established routes are on fantastic stone. All of these goods are spread out over 16 crags amongst the beautiful winding canyon floor and relatively close together, once in the canyon (10-15min walk) it’s never very far from one crag to the next. 

Last Chance Canyon Sits at 5,706ft altitude, In the summers it can be much too hot for climbing but in the fall, winter and spring it is prime time, because of the nature of the twist and turns of the canyon there is always a wall you can go to for sun or shade no matter the time of day depending on your preference. These attributes coupled with the remoteness of the area make this a fantastic stop for the winter climbing road tripper, ample sun, good rock and no crowds what more could one ask for.

If planning on staying at the canyon for longer than a day a few things to keep in mind. There is no water or toilets so come prepared. The nearest larger town is Carlsbad 1 hours’ drive away which has all the supplies you could need. The dirt road leading to the parking/camping area is rocky but generally passable by all vehicle types with proper driving, I witnessed a very new very low BMW creep its way into the park lot one morning. Don’t miss checking out this beautiful and unique area, you will not be disappointed. 

Québec: Grand Morne Rock Climbing by Nicolas Rodrigue

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Le Grand Morne est la fameuse paroi mystérieuse de la Beauce. Communément appelé le Morne par les locaux, on peut considérer ce site comme le joyau de la région. L’escalade au Morne est unique. C’est une falaise du terroir vertical qu’on ne retrouve nulle part ailleurs. Le Morne c’est un rocher volcanique surprenant avec plein de formes et de prises cachées. Grimper au Morne, c’est accepter de se perdre dans une lecture d’itinéraires déroutantes. On y trouve des voies multi longueurs avec de l’ambiance et une gestuelle variée et complexe. En plus, il vous faudra savoir trouver les placements de protection dans cette escalade majoritairement traditionnelle. Vous voilà avec un grand cru d’escalade bien épicé qui demande temps et patience avant d’en apprécier toute la subtilité. Le Morne est une montagne à approcher avec respect et qui permet de développer le sens de l’itinéraire et de l’engagement. Prenez le temps de découvrir le Morne grâce à ce topo qui  contient plus de 250 photos et une description complète de toute les voies (plus de 280 voies, 375 longueurs) d’escalade qui sillonnent la paroi. Les bénévoles du CEMA sont toujours au travail, attendez-vous à des mises à jour de façon régulière.

Ouray isn’t just for Ice Climbing!

The San Juan Mountains of Colorado rising to over 14,000’ are probably the prettiest in the state. A variety of exposed colorful rock layers contrast with the pines and aspens that grace their lower ramparts. Far from any major metropolitan areas, the air is fresh, and you can take a moment to take in your surroundings. Glacier carved valleys and cascading waterfalls surround you. Rock outcroppings protrude from the trees in almost every direction exciting the climber’s mind.

The geologic variety is as wide as the colors of rock in the San Juan Mountains. 1,400’ walls of quartzite and slate dating back 1.7 billion years have been uplifted and exposed in the mountain canyons and eroded calderas. Crags such as The Trough, Techno Crag, The RV Wall, and the Wicked Crag line the precipitous sides of Highway 550. You may see them, but the windy and exposed highway devoid of guard rails will keep your eyes from staring too long. The San Juans host some 20 calderas and some of the most significant volcanic events on the history of the planet. Like icing on a cake, the San Juan formation has left giant walls of volcanic ash at the tops of most of the peaks. While most of this layer is fractured to the point of being unappealing to climb on when it’s not froze in place, there are some dramatic exceptions to this rule. Most notably, the Hall of Justice is one of the more memorable sport crags you’ll find in the country. With routes up to six pitches in length, the dramatic exposure just walking the upper ledge will have your full attention. A host of long 35-meter pitches of steep pocked rock rise above and below this ledge.

Located between the upper volcanic ash and quartzite basement layers are a series of sandstone, limestone, conglomerate, shale and mudstone layers interspersed with igneous intrusions. You may be climbing on several different rock types throughout the course of a pitch at some crags.   

For the more faint of heart, there are some of the most friendly and convenient options imaginable. Ouray’s Rotary Park crag hosts a bathroom with running water, barbeque grills, and over 50 bolted climbs between 5.2 and 5.12d rising just a few feet from your car. The Stripe Crag in Silverton lacks the amenities of Rotary Park, but also hosts a variety of grades with a short approach just outside of town.

When the high peaks unleash their fury, fair weather can often be found on the high desert Dakota Sandstone escarpments west of Montrose. A series of long east to west canyons offer mountain biking, off-roading, rock climbing and bouldering. The most notable is Dry Creek which features about 70 climbs between 5.7 and 5.13 overlooking a vast dry western landscape sloping down to the fertile farmlands of Montrose.

With Moab and Indian Creek only a 3-3.5 hour drive and the big walls of the Black Canyon sitting on the hill above Montrose there is no lack of full value year round climbing in the immediate vicinity. Locals don’t really take rest days here; we just change sports. You can river surf, ski, mountain bike, run, 4×4, run one of several via-ferratas, hike, paddle lakes and rivers, and soak in hot springs if climbing doesn’t suit your fancy.