Sunday, November 17, 2013

The rebirth of Dry Tooling

When I started visiting the plentiful bolted venues like Haffner Creek, Killer Cave or
Bear Spirit,
my main intention was to maintain a minimum fitness level to be able to strike when multi pitch mixed routes like the one above came into climbable shape.
Since the route has perfectly formed right now
I picked a picture of the mighty Rocket Man.

 Most climbers still falsely call it mixed climbing, but the only part that's mixed are the different opinions about the sport. Some do it, like me, as a preparation for ice climbing in the so called shoulder season...because that's where most folks hurt their shoulders. Others do it to get strong for actual sport mixed climbing, which is a similar game, just with some ice added.Then there are those who do it because they don't know what else to do, in a time where ice is still rare, thin, unpredictable,
and skiing rather desperate.
But more recently there is a new wave hitting the Bow Valley. Climbers do it just for the sake of dry tooling, simply because it actually can be fun and physically demanding. And with the generally well protected climbs one can go to his very limits without risking their lives or potentially serious injuries.
Although most consider "the Playground" on Grotto Mountain as the birthplace of pure dry tooling, 
a bunch of other routes exist already well over 15 years, a few examples shown below.
One of the earliest and most known dry tooling routes in the Rockies.
Caveman in upper Haffner Creek had always been criticized due to the lack of ice,
but was still the most climbed hard core route in the area,
simply because it has a lot of fun moves on it.

Another high end classic with no ice at the same venue,
"Fire roasted" with the mandatory swing.

Below an old picture of a route of mine in lower Haffner,
then aptly named "the girl without titts",
because a mixed climb without ice is like a girl without...
Now one of he many lines there who never or very rarely see any ice on it.
Nobody seems to care about the lack of ice anymore.

What I show below are new, still kind of secret areas where hardcore locals put a lot effort into their development. Like the Playground, they are entirely made for dry tooling, but on bigger cliffs in a more scenic environment with southern exposure.
What you make out of this is up to you, and although I have my own "mixed emotions" about this I think it's going to take off in the near future. In my crystal ball I can see climbers doing this year around to open up cutting edge routes and possibly during prolonged spells of foul weather in the Summer.
And hey, it gets you out of the house with some cool people into some cool places. Also a motivating factor to stay fit in a time where Thanksgiving is followed by Halloween and Christmas with plenty of opportunities to gain weight.
Now we just need the industry to catch up with producing fruit boots again, although more and more climbers simply use their rock shoes for it.
Other products on my wish list would be heated gloves, pre heatable tool handles and some sort of turbo boost to get me up some of those amazing lines.

One of the new monster cliffs in development stage.
45 degree continuos overhangs and over  50m long.
Note the tiny climber in the lower left reaching the 20m anchor.

no need to mention that cliffs like this require a certain amount of fitness-
and of course dedication to put them up while lead drilling, like the picture below.
(uups, that looks more than 45 degrees to me)

Another welcome trend with new route development is to stay away from pack rat stinking caves in the shade.
Since there is no ice required for this sport, why not do it in the sun.
The Winter is grim enough.
Bring your T shirt and leave your long johns at home.

One more welcome trend (at least for the men) is that more and more women take up the new sport,
it is not uncommon that girls outnumber the boys in these areas.
A way better ratio than any bar in Canmore or Banff.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

morning magic

Within the last few days there have been a few spectacular sunrises in the Bow Valley. Luckily they coincide with regular breakfast time, so there is no need to set an early alarm to be able to witness them. 
The pictures below are all taken from the front deck of my house at around 7.30

Monday, November 11, 2013

classic early ice lines close to the road

The climbs below formed early this year and are ready to go.
Have fun and play safe!

For those of you who don't know where they are, click here to find out.