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Brent E | profile | all galleries >> climb >> birthday_ridge_solo tree view | thumbnails | slideshow
every picture has it's thousand words and these will, too. Give it time and you can read my little story about soloing rock in beautiful bon echo!
And here it is!

The idea of climbing Birthday Ridge started after Valerie told me that she was planning on going to Bon Echo with her mum and said I was invited. I asked my good friend Rebecca what a suitable route would be to take Val up for her first trad climb - seconding of course. She immediately told me that BR was the classic n00b route and is fantastic, which is confirmed by the guidebook. She said that like many other Bon Echo routes the grade is also a little bit off and it feels more like a 5.4 instead of the 5.0 bestowed on the route. I had no problems with this and was happy to know that I had a goal when I arrived at Bon Echo.

We arrived at the park later on Sunday and got camp set up in the crowded but nice campground. Monday we took the tour of the Native Pictographs which not only illustrated some ancient artwork (beautiful, by the way) but gave one a great view of the cliff. Sadly I think the view intimidated Val and she later told me that she wasnít ready to do the ridge. But, thankfully I had brought the right amount of gear to do it roped solo, as I wasnít prepared to free solo an unknown route, even if it was only 5.0.

A little bit about the route (from the guidebook modified by me):

P1 is a 15m scramble up the scree to a couple big trees.

P2 (35m) climbs the initial boulders up the ridge to a ledge with some large broken boulders. The crux was, I claim, on this pitch which felt harder than 5.0 and occurred about mid pitch. It was a couple moves at the edge of the cliff over a small horn and was terrific. This pitch ends at 2 bolts by a birch tree on a slopey ledge.

P3 is 25m and climbs the slab past a couple ancient cedars where there is a bolt. The guidebook says you can belay here but that seemed silly to me as the top was so close and as I was yo-yoing each pitch to clean.

P4 is 15m and climbs from the aforementioned bolt to the 2 bolt rap station at the top.

My climb started with me loading the canoe with way too much gear, as always, and paddling to the base. After unloading and securing the canoe I ferried the load up the scree to the 2 large trees and start of the actual climb. Having rope soloed just once before on lead I realized that it was easiest to carry the rope in a pack on your back to reduce drag. I stuffed the new half rope and my lead line into the pack with backups on the lead line every 20 feet or so. I had to remove the lid from my pack to get this to work properly. Then it was time to rack up and set off up the little climb.

Iíll add here that Iím really milking this for all itís worth. Yes, it is only a 5.0, I know this. And yes, itís not a long climb. However, I thought it would be enjoyable to read my little adventure story, which is turning into a long story! Hold on; weíre close to the end.

The first pitch and the small crux was fairly uneventful yet really beautiful. The climbing was easy for me although I was still figuring my system. The gear was pretty good, although, again, my first piece was a black alien!! I rapped and cleaned gear from the 2 bolt anchor and toprope soloed the pitch again in a couple minutes. Thankfully the exposure wasnít as bad as Rebecca had made me think it would be.

The second pitch was some wonderful slab climbing with a great view where I stopped to take a couple pictures and a video. I clipped the bolt and moved past a smeary move onto a small ledge to gain easier climbing to the bolts. Gear was mostly medium sized cams and a couple larger nuts on this pitch and the entire route Ė the first piece on P2 being a good nut behind a terribly thin flake. But, since the route was soft I wasnít concerned with a bad fall. The fun was really about to begin when I reached the top.

After getting out the new half rope I rap-cleaned the last pitch down to the 2 bolts that were my P2 anchor. When I got there I thought Iíd pull the rope to ensure I had enough to get to the bottom. No way. There was no way the rope was moving. I tied off the half rope and TR soloed the fat line again to find my ropes were caught in a crack. Back down I went after I cleared the mess. Iím not certain if the rope moved this time. I think it didnít and I think I was back up to the top one more time to fix the chaos. I got tired of screwing up the rap and realized that I was losing focus and trained myself on keeping attentive. I realized that it would be much easier to rap down the steep part of the face, as one is intended to do. This didnít work out as my rope was stuck below so I couldnít pull it up and move over. Back down the slab I went, back on the rope I yarded, this time to have it slowly come down to me. Finally I threaded the 2 bolt anchor at the end of P2 and rapped to the base. More yarding on rope and the route was done! I took my harness off, stripped to my underwear and jumped in the lake. It was the only way to cool down after running out of water and a good way to clean the filth that 2 days sans shower and a few hours climbing had deposited. After that I packed the canoe and paddled back to the beach!

I have to conclude by suggesting that anyone climb this route if they go to Bon Echo. With 2 people it can easily be sprinted up and rapped in short time as long as you rap the steep part of the face. You can also test your meddle on Saucer Lucy (5.7) or Very Thin Nicholas (5.7) on the same ridge. These routes I havenít done but they come highly regarded by Kit Moore as well as the guidebook. Iím happy that I got to do this and will remember the little experience. Thank you for reading and hopefully enjoying with me!


Brent




The route from the water
The route from the water
Up Pitch 1
Up Pitch 1
mid pitch self portrait
mid pitch self portrait
On pitch one with kayaks!
On pitch one with kayaks!
ancient cedars and down the lake
ancient cedars and down the lake
self shadowshot on top
self shadowshot on top