Local Motion - New Brunswick

Welcome to Local Motion where we celebrate hiking, biking, rock climbing, paddling, skiing, and exploring in Southern New Brunswick.

January 30, 2011

Winter Ascent of Cheekbone Corner

On a sunny day in mid-January Lucas, Cory, and I headed to Welsford to climb...we came prepared with ice screws and a full trad rack. We hiked to Waterfall Wall hoping to find ice but it was pretty rotten so after a lap on the old white stuff, we played on a mixed route in the center of the wall. We threw ourselves at the route's blocky roof, hooky and hanging on our tools. Cory made some progress on it but without ice above the roof we couldn't finish the route.
Cory hooking through the roof
 A few hundred feet down the cliff line, Cheekbone Corner baked in the sun. It looked downright tropical - the cracks were free of snow and pink rock gave the illusion of warmth. Cheekbone is one of Welsford's classic routes with at an old school rating of 5.7 the 200 ft corner has a wild alpine feel.

We put away our ice axes and crampons and racked up with cams and nuts. Cory lead the first pitch through the dry offwidth and then carefully inched up snowy rock and moss to the belay. The easiest part of the pitch turned out to be the hardest, let me tell mountaineering boots are hard to use on an icy slab!
Cory on the offwidth

Cory leading the first pitch
Lucas climbing pitch one

The second pitch, was pure gold! I took the rack and grovelled my way through the chimney and skooched up to the first ledge. Cams slid perfectly into the dry cracks. With my gloves off, I could crimp the cold rock just enough to inch through the wide stemming section. I mantled onto pigeon shit ledge, shook out my frozen hands and stared at the famous roof. Everything was going great until I reached up and got a handful of snow. I finally worked myself into the narrow gap, one arm slapped at the snowy ledge, the other arm pressed the wall and my feet kicked at the air. I was stuck, my adrenaline kicked in and I found some hidden strength to squirm and wiggle in an upward motion until finally I reached out and grabbed a snowy edge.  Aww, relief came with a blast of endorphines. This was Type 2 Fun at its best!

Humping over the first bulge on pitch two
While I was off in lala leading-land, Cory and Lucas were quietly freezing their asses off at the belay. In the time it took me to lead the pitch clouds shaded the sun and robbed us of any warmth. Mad props to those guys for climbing the route in the cold. By the time Cory was near the top, the temperature was well below freezing and the airy traverse was all iced up for him!

Cory on the icy and airy traverse

Final moves

At the top out.
What a kick ass way to spend a winter day. I had no idea that winter climbing in mountaineering boots could be so much fun. I'm so glad Lucas and Cory convinced me that it was worth going to Welsford and even more so for letting me lead the money pitch of Cheekbone. Good memories!

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