Sunday, March 4, 2012

The West Coast...

I'm not talking about California. I'm referring to the western coast of Newfoundland. I recently returned home from a 9-day trip there and this second visit confirmed a few thoughts from my first trip there in 2008. First, Newfoundland is a pain in the ass to get to. Second, it may be the best ice climbing venue in North America and it's undoubtedly a world class spot.

I guess my first thought explains why barely any climbers go there. Our trip to and from Newfoundland was full of strange weather delays that left us feeling pretting antsy about the whole affair. Nonetheless, the trip was spectacular and successful.

It's hard to make such a superlative comment as "the best ice climbing venue in North America", but the area surrounding Corner Brook and Gros Morne National Park is so heavily laden with ice that it's hard not to think this way. There are roadside crags and multipitch lines, several backcountry amphitheaters like Huntington's Ravine scattered throughout the region, wooded backcountry crags with lines of all difficulties, untold multipitch oceanside climbs and several fjords with challenging access that hold a lot of 300+ meter tall ice routes.  All of this is packed into a region the size of the White Mountains or the Adirondacks.

Gros Morne National Park

The best part is that there's no guidebook, and no plans for a guidebook anytime soon. A trip there is a trip full of "unknowns". Trips like this usually end up feeling wildly successful or utterly depressing, depending on one's outlook and the number of times you get shutdown looking for climbs you think exist. If you're looking to turn your brain off and use a guidebook, look elsewhere. If you're looking for an adventure that you'll cherish forever, by all means go, and make your trip a long one. There's a lot to do there.

I'm going to let Michael Wejchert, whom Alden took to calling "Junior", tell the story of our trip this time. At 25, Michael is approximately half Alden's age. He's one of a small cadre of young winter climbers living in the Northeastern U.S. He writes well and is motivated, so it's his turn to give us a trip report. When he posts it, it will most likely get posted at his blog Far North.

Here are some of my best photos from the trip. All of these were taken with a Panasonic Lumix ZS-5 using the Intelligent Auto mode. I use a really lightweight free photo editing program called Photoscape for some minimal post-image processing. Here's the link to the album

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