Monday, September 28, 2015

Cap Trinité with Emilie

My time in Quebec is drawing to a close. The last weeks were full on intense climbing, mostly trad with some sport mixed in for relieving the mental :)

The culmination was surely the trip to Cap Trinite last week. I first got psyched about it when Felix showed me the topo and kept hoping to find people to go there. It's not easy to find partners for these routes. Luckily, I got to meet Emilie through Julien.

Cap Trinite sits above the fjord of the Sagunay river in Northern Quebec. It's 250 metre granite wall has long been a playground for aid climbers. It's majestic - steep and monolythic with cracks providing route to summit. Free routes are all moderate to hard! It's a place with character. This means few routes are clean and well travelled, so you often climb on slightly mossy rock. Shit! Well, one gets used to it, it's just the smears have less friction and you want to protect more! I am very much looking forward to Yosemite and its perfect clean granite :)
We were lucky to be lent a canoe from a friend so we could make the approach in the coolest way possible. Walking 2+ hours loaded with gear, food and water would be a bit less badass.
view from the bay
routes in the left part of the wall are incredible: steep climbing on cracks with an amazing exposure over the sea. The orange rock is the crumbly part though!

Instead of the story of me climbing in Quebec, this could be a story about the strongest couple in Quebec. Getting the insight into the scene through a local is way better than travelling on your own, but it's not just about that. I'm grateful for the inspiration and knowledge I got from them. My friend Julien has travelled all of Europe's crags to craft his skill and is repeating the hardest routes here in a matter of few tries, and then there's the projects. Even though working full time now, he's a pretty strong weekend warrior :) Quebec's hardest route may soon be on his account I think!
Emilie has been on the road ever since getting into climbing. She's one of the most experienced climbers I've ever climbed with and on the rock she moves with impressive confidence. She taught me a lot and, looking back now, I wouldn't want to go to Cap Trinite with anyone else. Big walls require experience and inventive thinking, and it's worth having at least one such person on the team :)

breakfast in our camp while the wall gets the first rays of sun

On Monday we did the logistics, stocked up on food, loaded the boat etc. and did the tiring 6 hour drive north. On Tuesday, we paddled in early morning with the high tide on a beautiful, calm sea (well, river?). Tides are strong here (about 4 m shift) and it's good to plan arriving on high tide to avoid walking on wet slabs or deep mud. Tidal currents can also be strong, but apparently not in the small bay of Cap Trinite, so this is not an issue. The craziest is that some routes start from just above the water and can only be reached at low tide!
We set up my tent and got on climbing! 'Les grand galets' is the classic of the wall, usually done in aid over a few days. On free, it has 4 5.12 pitches (out of 8 in total) with the hardest being the second pitch at 12d, a stemming corner/finger crack. Rock is solid on this route and most pitches are considerably clean.

With gear beta from Em I managed to flash the second pitch and she sent it second try. We fixed our rope and left the rest of the route for the next day.
On Wednesday, Patrick from Quebec joined us and we went in the route early. Changing leads, me and Em climbed the route and Pat followed on the other rope. I failed in the 11d pitch which proved to be the hardest of all for me! I had a long battle with it, getting wack pumped and scared, but somehow managed until my foot popped just below the anchor. I was still happy with my fight and I got to test my placements with a nice fall, which is good for getting my trad head a bit more sorted.
sorting the gear before the last pitch in Les grand galets
Patrick following in the 11d stemming dihedral
None of the pitches proved easy, but we did the route and rapped on daylight, feeling content after a big day!
Wednesday we were feeling a bit tired, but we still went for a harder route. La Cavale woke me up well with adventorous climbing on mossy terrain in the first pitch. I failed in a slabby 12b pitch, but later managed to send the hardest, 13b pitch (french 8a, I think it's 7c+ though) and Emilie was close to send, I'm sure she would get it in the next lead try (she did it on second later)! We climbed up and skipped the last two, easy and very grassy pitches.
Em following on La cavale

We were feeling good, started rappeling, but then the epics began, all at once: I kicked my headlamp off my helmet while rapping and my rope's sheat tore somehow. So that you could see the white strings of the core, ughh... We improvised a bit and made it to the ground safely. We reckoned we had a good score nonetheless. We already did 5 multipitch routes together (including three in Gros Bonnet) and we thought one epic out of five is pretty normal!

Friday we were feeling well trashed and going for an easier, shorter route before going back sounded nice. Well, Mareé Haute turned out to be nothing like that, with 5 pitches of continous, hard crack climbing (between 5.11d and 5.12b), and a good portion of sand and crumbliness! I was leading every pitch and I think this was my most gripping trad experience so far. Every pitch, got me totally pumped through the whole body and the placements in the sandy crack were not reassuring.
Even though we were aiming to come back by daylight and paddle back in to the bay, our rope got stuck on the rappel. It was just one of those classic, cold-shiver moments when you keep pulling on rope, more and more, until you slowly realise the other thread is not moving. Emilie sorted our shit out with a heroic 60metre jumar up to save the rope.

Emilie feeling good after the offwidth section in Maree Haute, well, she cruised it...
We returned in a eerie canoe ride back in full moon, talking nonsense to somehow keep us awake. We were both pretty trashed.
Landing at low tide meant we had to carry our boat through 100 metres of a muddy floor of the bay. If you go, try aiming to always paddle at high tide!

So this was our Cap Trinite trip. I heard it called as the best cliff of Quebec, and that may well be true (in regard of multipitch, trad climbing...). It gave me a memorable experience and some valuable lessons. Thanks Hugo for providing us with the canoe and Patrick for joining us on Grand galets and the few beers! Above all thanks Emilie for keeping the psyche alive!

I put together a short video of the trip! I'll get it uploaded shortly!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for showing off Cap Trinité! Hope it will attract more international climbers. The place is so beautiful, it merits more traffic.