Tag Archives: Climbing

Tour de Bloc 10: Climber’s Rock

I typically have a little something to say about every climbing competition I shoot. This time around, though, I got to Climber’s Rock literally one minute before finals were to start. And, when I take photos, I never have to time to watch the climbers and enjoy the show. As you can see from the results, not all problems were topped, and that’s always a touch disappointing for the setters and the crowd, but the energy was high and there was a lot of excitement none-the-less! So without further ado, here are a few pictures from last weekend’s finals!

Women’s Finals:

  1. Marieta Akalski (2/2 & 4/5)
  2. Kerry Briggs (2/4 & 3/5)
  3. Bonnie de Bruijn (2/4 & 3/5)
  4. Holly Reid (1/3 & 4/6)
  5. Clarrie Lam (0/0 & 4/7)
  6. Kacy Wilson (0/0 & 1/1)

Men’s Finals:

  1. Dylan Barks (3/3 & 4/4)
  2. Jeremy Noring (2/3 & 3/8)
  3. Keith Mackay (1/1 & 3/4)
  4. Mathew Moreau (1/1 & 2/3)
  5. Carmen Ing (1/2 & 2/3)
  6. Florent Balsez (1/3 & 3/5)
  7. Dustin Kerr (1/3 & 3/5)
  8. Shaun Hunter (0/0 & 1/1)

Tour de Bloc 10: Altitude

This past weekend was the Altitude comp and although I wasn’t planning on going, I somehow ended up driving five hours to Gatineau! I always enjoy the comps at Altitude. I think it’s because the angles of the walls are very good for me, they use a lot of pinches holds, and there is a ton of room to warm up. The gym is really cool! On the other hand, I have always found it to be a difficult place to shoot photos. I think that between the color of the walls, and their strange angles and curvatures, it is pretty hard to get a good view of the climbers and the problems at the same time. This time around I decided to shoot from above, to change things up. It didn’t make it any easier to get the shots, but it was a lot of fun and a good challenge. I also wanted to take photos of the climber’s expression when climbing, instead of just showing the movements. I’m pretty pleased with the results (especially the one of Fred and Sebas on problem #5), i hope you enjoy them! Oh and congrats to Fred and Cloe to claiming the top spots at Altitude!

Women’s Finals:

  1. Cloe Legault (3/5 & 5/5)
  2. Katerine Martin (3/5 & 5/8)
  3. Ashley Veevers (2/2 & 5/7)
  4. Clarrie Lam (2/2 & 4/5)
  5. Emily Cornelisse (2/3 & 5/7)
  6. Holly Reid (2/5 & 4/5)
  7. Eve-Marie Landry (1/1 & 5/11)
  8. Elizabeth Maltais (1/1 & 4/5)

Men’s Finals:

  1. Fred Charron (2/3 & 3/7)
  2. Florent Balsez (2/7 & 3/11)
  3. Yves Gravelle (1/1 & 4/7)
  4. Sébastien Lazure (1/1 & 2/4)
  5. David Heerema (0/0 & 4/4)
  6. Shaun HUnter (0/0 & 2/7)
  7. Tony Berlier (0/0 & 1/1)
  8. Daniel Gingras (0/0 & 1/2)

Tour de Bloc 10: Allez Up

Well, yesterday was the second eastern competition of the Tour de Bloc 10th season. It was a great show at the new Allez Up climbing gym. First of all, if you live in Montreal and you haven’t been to the new gym, you should definitely check it out. It is one of the nicest facilities I have seen in a long time, especially in Canada! Lots of space and light, great angles, and boulders that top out!

The comp itself ran really well. The problems were fun and varied and there was a great atmosphere. There were a lot of open competitors, though, so getting on the problems wasn’t as fast and easy as it might have been. The field was very competitive all around; in addition to the usual strong eastern crowd, there were a few surprise cameo appearances from Alberta and Nova Scotia, and there was an unprecedented showing of over 40 women open competitors. Finalists had to really work to earn their spot.

As usual, the team at Allez-Up put on a fantastic finals show, with dramatic lighting, good music and live video footage of the upstairs problems for the crowd downstairs! The problems were pretty tough for both the men and the women – a little bit too hard for the men actually (only 2 problems were topped, by winner Sebastien Lazure) – but the World Cup-inspired problems were as entertaining to watch as it was fun and challenging for the finalists to climb on. The race was a bit closer for the women. Elise and Melissa looked especially strong, sending all 4 problems (flashing 3/4), and Clarrie wasn’t far behind with her 3 top-outs. Hope you enjoy the photos!

Women’s Finals:

  1. Elise Sethna (4/5 & 4/5)
  2. Melissa Lacasse (4/5 & 4/6)
  3. Clarrie Lam (3/4 & 4/7)
  4. Marine Cusa (1/1 & 4/6)
  5. Kerry Briggs (1/2 & 4/5)
  6. Marieta Akalski (1/2 & 4/7)
  7. Bonnie de Bruijn (0/0 & 4/6)
  8. Cloe Legault (0/0 & 3/5)

Men’s Finals:

  1. Sébastien Lazure (2/6 & 3/4)
  2. Florent Balsez (0/0 & 4/9)
  3. John Bowles (0/0 & 4/10)
  4. Simon Villeneuve (0/0 & 4/10)
  5. David Heerema (0/0 & 3/5)
  6. Carl Desnoyers (0/0 & 3/6)
  7. Mark Button (0/0 & 2/2)
  8. Hans Christian Montenegro Bogoya (0/0 & 2/6)

Yosemite, part 1

Yosemite Valley is one of the most beautiful places we have ever visited. It just takes your breath away.

Our first day out to the boulders was a little disappointing, to say the least – not because the rock isn’t amazing, it is, but because I fell onto the edge of a crash pad and rolled my ankle! After essentially waiting 2 weeks to settle in somewhere and climb, this was kinda crappy. But these things happen and I decided not to get too bummed out. Staying positive was made much easier by the fact that we met a fabulous Canadian couple (now Seattle residents), Jenn and Mike, and their little boy, who is a month younger than A.J. They’re rad. It’s too bad our trips didn’t overlap more!

I took good care of my ankle and rested it for 4 days, during which Mig went back and took revenge on the silly problem (Battle of the Bulge) that injured me. Then I put my climbing shoes back on (albeit carefully) and we toured the Valley in search of fun, low-ball problems. When you’re just two + a baby, and you’re nursing a fragile ankle, you try to avoid high-balls – and there are many in Yosemite. For this reason, we didn’t try anything super hard. Well, it was partly because of that, partly because it was getting warm, and partly (if we’re honest with ourselves) that we were just getting tired, generally speaking. Nevertheless, we enjoyed ourselves on problems such as: No Fur, Zorro, Smile for the Green Dragon, The Mechanic, and Root Canal.

Some of you may be thinking: how does one go to Yosemite and not climb any long, trad routes? I have to admit that it felt somewhat sacrilege to be in the Valley only to boulder, but we had decided when planning this trip that, with a baby, bouldering would be easier. Not to mention that, when it came to ropes, Mig had only climbed single-pitch, sport routes. That said, when an old friend suggested that Mig (and Marie-Claude) join him on a classic Yosemite multi-pitch, he was totally stok… I mean, scared pant-less. For those of you who didn’t know, Mig is afraid of heights. But, with no surprise to me, he seconded up The Nut Cracker with ease and was psyched to have won a small battle against his fears. Seeing Nic after 4 years was great, but climbing that route with him was even better.

Aside from climbing, we also took many photos, went on hikes, picnicked in the meadows and had another visit from family. But I’ll save all of that for “Yosemite, part 2.” For now, in the album below you’ll find our climbing pics and a selection of scenic photos from our first week or so in the Valley!

Continue reading Yosemite, part 1

Leaving Bishop

After a month-long stay in Bishop, we felt – yet again – that we were leaving a new-found “home,” and right when we had peaked in terms of our climbing. As usual, we had to leave problems behind (un-tried ones are easier to leave than those un-finished and Mig and I each have a problem that we came *painfully* close to sending – “something to come back for,” they say). We also left behind new friends (who actually live in Bishop – not just fellow transient climbers). Finally, we left behind the lovely little mountain village that is Bishop, with its famous Dutch bakery, climber-filled cafes, the Mountain Light gallery, cheap motels, the airport Thai restaurant, happy hour at Whiskey Creek, the Pizza Factory and Holy Smoke BBQ!

All good things come to an end, though, and our time there was definitely a good thing. We climbed with so many awesome people! After the Reeves left, other friends from Toronto (and surrounding areas) showed up: Cassandra, Dennis & their little girl, Keith and Kaska, and the Durago brothers came with Loic (who basically sent everything in sight) and G6 marketing director, James Koka. So much fun! And then there were all the other Canadians, many of whom we already knew from comps and other climbing trips, a few Kiwis, some Americans, and “Leo, from Japan.” A big thanks to everyone we climbed with for making the Bishop-leg of our trip amazing!

In terms of climbing, the idea was to switch gears and try some harder stuff. It’s definitely not easy on the morale to come back at the end of the day without having topped anything out, but it was really fun to sample a bunch of awesome, tough problems (some of which felt doable and others not so much)! Thankfully, stepping up our game paid off; we each walked away with a personal best! Mig did an amazing send Acid Wash Right and I sent Water Hazard & Aquatic Hitchhiker. Projects aside, ee also had a fabulous time on other classic Bishop probs, such as: Jedi Mind Tricks, Cue Ball, Mr. Happy, Karma (new!), and Fly Boy Sit.

Continue reading Leaving Bishop

Bishop so far…

On our first day, my feeling was that Bishop climbing was going to be harder and maybe not as fun as Hueco climbing. The change of rock and style is extremely noticeable and I wasn’t feeling it at first, personally. But later in the afternoon, something kicked in and I ran around and ticked 2 fun moderate problems and 1 harder one and that boosted my confidence and my psych. Since then, my two favourite problems would have to be: High Plains Drifter and Fly Boy. High Plains is a problem that I had my eye on way back in 2001 and never tried (maybe didn’t feel strong enough) and it was high on my tick list in 2009 but I couldn’t try it then either because it was covered in snow. So, I showed up this year with 11 years of anticipation built up! Thankfully, it did not let me down; it is a *rad* problem. I worked it one morning with Adam and a couple other people and as soon as I figured out the subtlety of the drifter move, it went down – despite, I must add, the miserable conditions (major gusting winds, which didn’t make the high-ball top-out very enjoyable!). Anyway, it was major fun and long-awaited tick. Fly Boy (see video) was super cool because it finishes with a big jump. I’m definitely going back for the sit-start because the upper moves are locked in now and, well, the sit-start looks like the better, more obvious line. Otherwise, I’ve done a lot of moderate things here already from previous trips, so this time I want to play on some harder stuff and see if I can get anything done.

Mig’s Bishop days have been awesome so far. He’s proven just how much stronger he is now than he was in 2009 with numerous sends of problems left behind! Two of the most impressive problems ticked: The Hulk and Seven Spanish Angels (see photo), both done in super style. (Interestingly, I can not do either of these problems – yet, I suppose – and he has yet to do High Plains or Fly Boy; clearly he and I have different strengths!) Also, Mig sent his hardest problem to date: Gleaming the Cube! So cool. Other than that, Mig still has few “old” problems to do but he, too, wants to push himself a bit more and have some goes at harder stuff.


We were lucky enough to spend our first week here with Pam and Adam from Toronto, who also have a baby girl! It was really cool not only to share the experience (and work) of cragging with babies, but also to hang out and get to know them better. They are awesome! We will remember fondly (among other things), our little girls having secret conversations, Pam and Mig’s giggle fits, and Adam sketching-out on the down-climb from 7 Spanish Angels.


At the moment we have the pleasure of hanging out with Dennis, Cassandra and their daughter (yes, a lot of baby girls born into the Toronto climbing scene recently)! This is particularly fun for Mig because he has a partner to get out at the wee hours of the morning and night for various photo shoots. He was able to share a couple sun-rise photo sessions with Adam, and now he has a partner to shoot the Bristlecone Pine Forest, Mono Lake, and other sites. Bishop is situated in one of the most picturesque parts of California, surrounded by mountains, lakes, trees, rocks, etc. It’s a photographer’s dream. See the photo gallery for some of his shots so far!

* click an image for larger size (cliqué sur une image pour la voir en grand format).

Tour de Bloc 9: Climber’s Rock

Last weekend’s Tour de Bloc was a lot of fun! It was also full of surprises. First of all, even though the field was super strong, two returning veterans of the Tour de bloc scene (Dave Voltan and Gary Posey) managed to clinch a spot in the finals, while one of my favourites and a regular finalist (Seb Lazure) just missed finals by 8 points. Matt Moreau is a new force in the Tour this year and he showed up and took 3rd place (eking out ahead of Eric Sethna by 2 attempts). In fact, the men’s final ranking was very close – and all about attempts. Fred Charron repeated his amazing performance at the last Tour de Bloc, finishing in 2nd place (1 attempt ahead of Matt). And, in a throw-back to the old days – Rockhead‘s team member and G6 representative Dave Voltan came out on top by finishing 3 final problems in only 4 attempts (one fewer than Fred)! Congrats buddy!

For the ladies, the field was also big (about 40 competitors!), including none other than Thomasina Pidgeon from out west and a whole group of super strong women! Every year the women’s field gets stronger and more impressive! Iyma Lamarche continues to impress on the Tour scene, taking her first win (yep, she beat Thomasina by 7 attempts). Way to go Iyma! Unfortunately, I didn’t get any decent pictures of the women’s finals :(.

Congrats to Voltan and Iyma for their amazing performance at the Climber’s Rock competition! Here are a few photos of the men’s finals!

Fred on problem #2 and #3.

Matt on problem #2.

Eric on problme #4.

Here are the official final results:

Women’s Finals:

  1. Iymma Lamarche (4/6 & 4/6)
  2. Thomasina Pidgeon (4/13 & 4/11)
  3. Kerry Briggs (3/5 & 4/7)
  4. Kacy Wilson (2/2 & 2/2)
  5. Marieta Akalski (2/4 & 3/5)
  6. Su En Neo (1/1 & 3/4)
  7. Amanda Berezowski (1/2 & 3/8)
  8. Kaska Kowalska (0/0 & 3/11)

Men’s Finals:

  1. Dave Voltan (3/4 & 3/4)
  2. Fred Charron (3/5 & 3/4)
  3. Mathew Moreau (3/6 & 4/5)
  4. Eric Sethna (3/6 & 4/7)
  5. Keith Mackay (3/6 & 3/6)
  6. John Bowles (3/8 & 4/12)
  7. Gary Posey (2/7 & 3/8)
  8. Jo Skopec (1/3 & 2/3)


A few more pics:

Tour de Bloc 9: Joe Rockhead’s

This past saturday was the first competition of the 9th Tour de Bloc season and the first thing I noticed was how big the women’s field was compared to other years (about 35 open competitors)! I found that to be a real good indicator of the tour’s success and the popularity of bouldering in Canada, which is exciting to witness.

This competition also proved to be interesting because there were so many new faces to the finals! My two favourite competitors to watch on Saturday were Kacy Wilson and Fred Charron. They both put up super impressive performances, gave it their all, and showed that they are real contenders for the number one spot. Also, I particularly enjoyed women’s and men’s 3rd problem, because of their very intricate beta reminiscing of the European-style problems we are used to seeing on the World Cup series (Thank you Tonde!). It’s unfortunate that no one could manage to finish men’s third problem, but great fun nonetheless!

Continue reading Tour de Bloc 9: Joe Rockhead’s

Tour de Bloc 9: 2011-2012

The ninth Tour de Bloc series had some amazing competitions. Unfortunately, I was not able to attend as many competitions as I have in previous years. I did get to photograph the Joe Rockhead’s comp and the Climber’s rock one. The associated blog posts are here:


Tour de Bloc 9: Let the pulling begin!

Tour de bloc 9 begins this weekend at our favorite local gym: Joe Rockhead’s. Today, I was lucky enough to get a preview of the final problems for the comp this weekend. Brace yourselves! It really is looking like this competition will be one of the best we’ve seen out east! It surely will set the tone for the rest of this year’s tour de bloc. Hope you all can make it!!

As I promised many of you, here is a sneak peek of the finals problem: