Nooooooo!!!!! Injury! I know the worst eh? Ugh, at least this is the start of the comp season and not the end, or the worst yet, right before Nationals. Let's start at the beginning. Over the last couple of weekends when I haven't been doing shoe demos for Evolv or setting for a comp or anything like that I've been taking friends and anyone else out to the local bouldering area, the Niagara Glen, and showing them the classics. For those of you who have never been to the glen, it is a beautiful area that is along the bank and ravine leading up to the Niagara River, the section of the river after the great Niagara Falls. The rock is limestone, like all of Southern Ontario, but is formed broken and with hard edges. There are some pockets yes but for the most part, it is crimps and edges. Two things that are really important to note about the glen is it's unfathomable ability to stay wet (seeping) and, due to the nature of the limestone and the polished state of the rock, it's temperature dependency. Yes, some of the foot holds on many of the classics have become so polished and glassy that the computer screen you're reading this on has 10 times the friction (special mention to Brave New World V5 which may in fact have, due to so many attempts, actually may have mirrors as starting foot holds.) So having said that there are a couple of blocs that I would like to share with all of you as a sampling of my moderate favourites.
I have heard that this is a V2, however, I'll go with the original grade that was given to me when the bloc was first shown to me. I often talk with many locals who know the area better than me and we all joke about how blocs will get more polished, holds will break so that they are almost non-existent, and the grade will go down. Anyways, this bloc, God Must Be A Climber, is more than likely my favourite bloc in the entire area. It is definitely a little difficult to find, facing away from the path and when looking at it from the main trail you may only be looking at a large hill capped in grass and vegetation, and I'd like to point out, with the new Ontario Access Coalition (OAC) agreement with Niagara Parks, I do not actually know if this bloc is still open. Anyways, this is probably one of my favorite blocs of all time, regardless of area. The picture was taken from far away but this problem is aesthetically beautiful and completely uncharacteristic of the glen. Starting down low and to the right of the face on a jug and you traverse up and to the left diagonally on one large sloping rail that finishes with a semi large throw up and two the left to the second last hold which is a fairly large jug. The move this picture shows is the move before the throw, an easy cross to a hard unwind (taller people can bump straight out however the lack of feet makes it a little more strenuous,) that finally comes to the throw up and out left. This is a beautiful line and if it is still open to climb, I suggest everyone get on it.
This is an ultra classic. I'm pretty sure it's still open too! This bloc, so beautiful. Not hard to find at all. It is right on the main trail, on beautiful aesthetic cube bloc. If you haven't done it and you live in the near or are planning a trip there, you have to, have to, have to do this bloc. This pic was obviously taken in the summer, this is my buddy Eric Sethna setting up for the final, big move to the lip. The entire bloc, from the start to this move, every move is full go. You gotta be focused, intent and tight the whole time. The bloc itself, climbs out these perfect sloping edges that, now with time and sends from everyone and their mother, you can see your own reflection in. The starting foot especially, has spat off so much rubber that it is black and is for a fact, without any friction whatsoever. Seriously, I'll get an engineer out there to stamp on that. If you stick that first pull to the sloping edges, it is not over and you better have your game face on cuz your foot comes off once off one of those bad sloping, polished, glassy foot holds and it is on your back, on the shogun. If you deal with the all the delicate power pulling (I know, awesome combination right?!) on those sloping edges, you get one 1/4 pad crimp in your left and, you guessed it, a sloping edge in your right, you set your foot and launch for that lip, make sure you grab the good part!
This is another one of those not so hard to find blocs that is aesthetically beautiful, right on the path and the landing isn't bad compared to some of the other landings in the Glen where the the bloc goes up a 45 degree wall and the landing goes down on a 45 degree. The holds on this bloc are classic Niagara Glen. awkward incuts, better if you have smaller fingers, I've heard that crimps don't feel so awkward...maybe? Who knows. These things are small, sharpish (I think that's a word) but thankfully, they're positive. Some people love this bloc, I know a bunch that hate. Regardless, this is Niagara Glen classic, traversing on incut crimps. There's no other way to describe it, no other things you need to know, no more beta that I'm keeping a secret from you, just traverse on those awkward, kind of sharp, incut crimps to the finishing hold on the lip.
So there you have it, a couple of my favourites. If you plan to go to the glen, look me up, I'm happy to come out, walk around and show you the classics. It's a beautiful area, I've been a lot of places climbing, and there are other areas that are definitely more favourable for me. But, the glen is my home, it's where I learned to rock climb. It's the place I first climbed on rock and it is where i continue to come back to.
Aside from showing people around the Glen and trying to get my finger back in a kind of shape that I can climb on it again, I've been doing what I do, setting comps and then MCing the finals. I won't through a huge paragraph into all the comps (there's a lot and there are more to come in the new year) however here's a clip from one of my favourite blocs I've set this year so far. This is at a Toronto Area local circuit called the Summer Sweatfest. Before you watch this video, I have to warn you, TURN DOWN YOUR VOLUME, the girl operating the camera, my fiancee Michelle, gets a little loud when she's cheering. Anyways, I'm out, peace all, stay psyched, and happy holidays.