Montagne du Tranchant

This is the most popular crag in the Lanaudiere region, in rolling forested hills about an hour north of Montreal, and about 3 hours from our last stop at Lac Long. We headed over on Canadian Thanksgiving / Columbus Day, making the most of a crappy forecast for the drive and a catch up with van chores (it’s not all full-time fun you know – there’s recycling, trash and waste water to dump; propane to refill, if you can track it down; and essential provisions to re-stock, eg beer and bananas!)

The rain had cleared by the time we reached our campsite – yet another leafy, water-side idyll, this time in the Regional Park Forest Ouareau, Section ContrefortsWe had the whole place to ourselves, and enjoyed the tranquility of the evening light on the lake.Temperatures plummeted to -5C overnight, so a leisurely start was in order, to let the frost clear.Time to research our next steps in our journey south, only to find that pretty much every campground between Québec and New York had shut up shop for the season after the public holiday the previous day (if not a month or more earlier!) The season is certainly changing and winter is on its way. Much Googling and a post on Mountain Project identified a few options for the coming days, by which time it was at least +5C and the sun was on the crag – time to go climbing!The crag is 10mins from the camping, with its own parking area… from which you can make out the rocks looming over the tree line. There are about 50 routes up to 40m high (with intermediate belays so you can climb them in two pitches if you’d rather, and get down again with a 60m rope) on steep granite(?) with an abundance of positive incut holds making for really enjoyable “climbing gym” style climbing. The flaky nature of the rock, and recent development of the crag, means that there’s the occasional fragile hold, and the advice to wear a helmet is probably good to heed.You can download an excellent free topo (all be it in French) here:

We did three of the “must do classics”, all given 5.10a and 4*s:Denis de l’Évidence (originally 5.9 but apparently a lost hold has upped this to 10a, though we weren’t really sure where). Here’s Helen heading up the initial corner with the crux overlap looming 30m above at the top left of the photo.Vérités Dérangeantes, which takes a striking corner line (you can just about see me about to pull around to the right of the huge hexagonal roof in the photo below)… and Pensée Magique, probably the best of the lot, up a sustained crimpy wall. Here’s a local nearing the top:All about 40m, well bolted (take 16 clips including some long ones if you want to do these in a single run-out as we did), and thoroughly enjoyable. Great views from the top, too.There looked to be plenty more of a similar quality from 5.6 to 5.13, so you could spend a few days here (and there are more crags nearby adjacent to the camping, and around 500 routes in the vicinity if you wanted to spend a week or two here). Not for us though, as with winter hard on our heels, it was time for us to be on our way south for a last night in Canada before crossing the border back into USA. Can’t complain – that was 3 routes, 6 pitches and about 700ft of climbing more than we were really expecting to get done!

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