Living in Quebec in the winter isn’t the best way to improve as a crack climber… or is it? A lot of people ask me what I do to stay in shape for crack climbing in the winter...
I tell them, well I just crack climb all year around. No matter how wet or cold it is, you can always crack climb.Sometimes I crack climb icy cracks with ice tools (also know as mixed climbing).
Sometimes, on warmer days on south facing crags, I go sans-tool and crack climb with gloves and boots on. Sometimes I crack climb in my garage. It's all good and I like it all.
Sometimes, on warmer winter days I like to rock climb (warmer can be relative...) This is a picture of me leading the second pitch of Black and White 5.10+ at -4 Celcius. To warm-up for this 3 pitches routes we did a nice WI4 route just around the corner... We did not aid the route! We free climb the whole thing. The crux was the mantle in 1 foot of snow at the top of the cliff...Sometimes I crack climb in my garage. I believe this crack is the hardest crack on the east coast. It is still a project!
Two weeks ago I went to Exit 30 crag in the Adirondacks and checked out the Fecalator. I had wanted to climb this route for years but had never got around to make the trip down there. This route is simply amazing! It was put up by bad-ass Chris Thomas (a BD co-worker) in 2004 and at M10 it proudly stands as the hardest trad mixed route on the east coast.The first pitch is M7/M7+ and could be considered scottish style. It has everything from steep crack moves to frozen turf to ice blubs…The second pitch is the business. A 10 meters slabby section brings you to a very steep and wild looking hand crack. Right at the end of the steep wall an ice dagger comes out of the crack. It is a very unique route because one needs a large bag of tricks with a wide range of movements to climb it. From fist and hand jams to ice tool hooks and torques to overhanging ice climbing (I used about 50% hand jams and 50% ice tools torques)…Getting psyche for the crux pitch on the Fecalator:
Right in the middle of the business:
Winter crack climbing is fun!