Closing the lid on an eventful year

After a great summer trip, I came back home at the end of August. I headed back to the Pic aux Corbeaux at Orford National Park in Quebec, our home crag. The style of climbing at Orford is very similar to Rifle (besides the fact that most routes are shorter at Orford, and that the rock is metamorphic basalt and not limestone) with sustain, cruxy, beta intensive climbing, and kneebar trickery on several routes. All winter while training in the gym, I had a line on my mind I wanted to try named Alpha Gamma (13c) at Orford. I got on the route at the beginning of September, and sent it after eight tries in proper fashion (without the upper no-hands rest). On the same day, I also sent Nano Gamma (13a/b). Both lines are first female ascents.

Enjoying Nano Gamma (13a/b) at Orford NP under perfect weather.

Then I went back to training in the gym mid-September, and managed to injure myself on the system board while working on two-finger pockets... This benched me for a few weeks, but I returned at the end of October and got on Scorecard (13d), a long and complex line at Orford, thinking it would most likely be a longer-term project. I ended up sending the lower part quickly and falling at the upper crux after only a few tries, and sent it at the beginning of November. This line is also a first female ascent, was done without the upper no-hands rest and with the new crux beta, and as such, according to Mikael Fortin, should be considered the first proper ascent of the route's modern version.

The last hold to get a quick rest on, before to the last crux on Scorecard (13d).

First climbed in 2004, Scorecard (or Scorecarte) is considered a lost linkup, with only a handful of ascents. The last crux, a sequence of powerful crimp moves culminating in a long campus-style move from a particularly miserable right-hand crimp to a slopey sidepull much further right, can now be done by pulling harder on the crimp and slapping a new hold to the left, a flat sloper on the edge of the upper slab. In both cases, the problem mostly is to get up to the last hard move off the small crimper with enough power.

Getting into the last crux. From there on, everything move has to be perfectly executed...

Crimping hard on the crux.

This is closing the lid on an eventful year. There is always a part of me wishing I could have achieved more, but I guess that together with reorienting my career with the goal to eventually have more flexibility to go on extended climbing trips (which involves going back to school full-time in a completely different field of study after completing a Master`s degree in Environmental Engineering, not long ago), teaching and training at the local gym, competing, and squeezing in burns on my projects at the local crag, it’s most likely the best I can do at the moment. And yes, this is all and about climbing at the end ;)

As the holidays approach I wish for each and every one of you the joy of living, the richness of family, health and happiness. Keep on climbing (or do whatever you enjoy the most!) as much as you can, and see you in 2016! Cheers!

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