Moss Cliff

September 10, 2008 / Hard Times, 5.9+, 4p, trad.

Moss Cliff is an imposing cliff with a couple of striking crack systems. "Hard Times" is the recommended route in "Selected Climbs in the Northeast" and takes the central crack/chimney system. It looks quite good - at least from the road. A tyrolean traverse is required to cross the river on the approach, which itself makes for a good adventure.

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Moss Cliff looks pretty striking from the road.
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Information panel at the trailhead. Many climbers come here from Québec, hence the info in french (BTW they need help with the spelling....)
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We're lucky. A brand new tyrolean traverse has been recently rigged up.
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Getting ready for the tryrolean traverse.
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Eric pulling himself across the river (click for movie).

At first, we're worried that the cliffs might still be wet from yesterday's rain, but a quick check with binoculars put those worries to rest. We start with the tyrolean traverse across the river. We're pretty psyched since we've never had a chance to do one of these before. This one is a fixed line, and very taut, which makes things easier. The double strand of rope used to set it up is a bit of a pain, making the use of pulleys or ascenders impossible. Fortunately the rope is very tight, so pulling oneself hand-over-hand hanging from a carabiner is quite doable (yet tiring).

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Lucie on the tyrolean traverse.
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Starting the ugly 4th class approach pitch.
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A vegetated ramp leads to a comfortable ledge.
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Gotta love tree climbing!
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Starting pitch 2 (5.9).

Once on the other side of the river, a decent trail leads to the base of the rock. The cliff doesn't look nearly as striking from the base as it does from the road… lots of vegetation, and the routes are pretty broken by ledges and trees. But we're here… so we gear up.

"Hard Times" starts with an ugly class 4th approach pitch. The second pitch is also a bit dirty. I finish the pitch following the steep crack of "Aerie", since going straight up is out of the question due to thick moss and running water.

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We end up traversing right to the much cleaner "Aerie" crack.
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The final moves.
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Eric starting the crux pitch (p3, 5.9+).
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A steep, awkward and sustained pitch.
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Lucie following the crux pitch.

The third pitch is the business, and follows the obvious right-facing corner. Tough pitch. Very steep and sustained, with some awkward sections.

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Almost there.
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Pitch 4 (5.9) follows a short handcrack.
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Lucie finishing pitch 4.
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More tree climbing leads to the mossy ledge with rap anchors.
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Views from the top.

The final pitch is a very short hand crack to a small tree, before walking left across a mossy ledge to bolted rap anchors. Two double raps bring us back to the ground.

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Two double-rope raps bring you down.
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Pretty mushrooms on the approach trail.
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It's not over yet. We still have to cross the river again.
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Pulling the packs across (click for movie).
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Lucie dangling over the river (click for movie).

We hike back down to the river, and reverse the tyrolean traverse. We're feeling quite tired. Pulling ourselves across the traverse feels like a lot of work.