Ulric Rousseau outlines the many charms of his home province, climbing and otherwise.
The plane banks nose-hard to the left as my flight begins its descent. As it straightens out and starts to drop from 24 000 feet, I begin to make out the faint city lights of my home island silhouetted against the dark black nothingness of the St Lawrence seaway stretching into the night. Cocooned in my window seat, I cannot help but remember good times spent there; the girls stumbling out of bars in mini skirts at 3am, the Hollywood soundstages causing downtown gridlock havoc and the days I spent alone, iPod blasting, and my drill pounding away at untapped walls of bomber granite.
Within a 100 kilometres radius of Montreal there are more than 60 climbing areas which cover every aspect of modern rock-climbing. These include Rumney and Cathedral Ledge in New Hampshire, Shagg Crag in Maine (a short drive and a passport with visa will give you entry to the US without hassle). The far reaches of the Bas St-Laurent are also close, leading you north into the Appalachians and it’s deserted beaches for bouldering and white-pocketed granite climbing in Kamouraska.
Within the Laurentians in the northwest lie countless crags surrounded by thousands of isolated mystical lakes that are open to explore and investigate year round.
Along highway 327, 200 feet tall green firs and red maples flash past as you punch the accelerator. Whizzing alongside hidden pristine lakes, up and down steep hills until, veering right, the huge 1.5-kilometre-long cliff of Weir suddenly appears from nowhere, bringing the joy-ride to an abrupt halt.
Weir stands 100 metres. More than 70 routes of all grades and styles await you, including Adagio, one of the most interesting 5.8 trade lines in the east. Another classic line, Temple Du Soleil checks in at 13a for 40 metres of mixed bolts and gear.
The left sidewall offers the ultra classic 11d Capitain Mon Capitain, with three more great lines to the right, respectively 12b, 12c, and 13b, from 22 to 32 metres. With all of them steeper than the next, you’ll get your one-day’s worth of burns quick enough.
Nine times out of ten you will have this world-class cliff to yourself, with no one to disturb you except possibly alien chit-chat spilling from a very large array of satellite dishes just a stone’s throw away.
To read the second half of this, see issue #89 of ROCK magazine..