The snow is slowly melting, so the more motivated climbers have been going outdoor for a few weeks now. Regular climbers know that climbing conditions in Quebec are rarely perfect. In the spring, between the total melting of the snow and the arrival of the mosquitoes, we can climb for 2 to 3 weeks if we are lucky. Fall is usually a better time for outdoor climbing, with the exception of the drastic drop in temperature in October. Those looking for optimal friction won’t complain though. In any case, in order to enjoy climbing for as long as possible, it is imperative to be well equipped. Some of that equipment is essential, most of it will add a certain quality of life to your sessions. Here are the essentials in order to make your climbing life more enjoyable.
Well, essentially, without crashpads, it is quite difficult to practice bouldering outdoor. The question that often comes up is: How many crashpads do I need? The answer will vary depending on your goals. As a general rule, we’d recommend a minimum of 2 crashpads to protect the fall of an 8 to 10 foot boulder with a safe landing zone. You will need extra pads for boulders that are higher or that have a more precarious landing. As a general rule, when bouldering with your friends, if everyone brings 1 to 2 crashpads, you will be able to make the most of the day without too much hassle. At the shop, the crashpads come in and out pretty quickly. For now, there are a few interesting models left. Among others, the Mondo by Black Diamond which, with its size and thickness, will protect you in most situations. The Drop Zone is a similar product, but smaller in size. Otherwise, Petzl offers the Cirro and the Alta, high quality crashpads that will certainly not go unnoticed with their orange color.
After the crash pad and climbing shoes, the most important tool outdoor is a brush. Without it, you will only be able to give a few tries on a problem before the holds become too slippery and gross. Several types of brushes exist, but boar bristle brushes currently dominate the market. Their flexibility, their ability to dislodge chalk easily and the fact that they do not damage the rock make them an almost perfect product. The three proposed brushes here can be used in different contexts. The Flathold brush is probably the most versatile for small and big holds. The Black Diamond is wider and will do a better job on big holds, while the Digit Climbing will be useful for brushing large surfaces, for example a long ramp or lip, or even in order to clean a boulder that not been climbed for a long time.
Those who wish to develop new boulders will certainly need a metal wire brush. This type of brush should never be used on already established problems. On the other hand, if you wish to get rid of the moss on virgin boulders, this tool will be essential for you. Also, if you want to climb a boulder that hasn’t seen any action for a few seasons, you may have to clean it again with this type of brush.
It goes without saying that a chalkbag is necessary for your sessions outdoor. Some prefer bigger bags, others smaller. The important thing is that it suits your needs and that they last a long time. The Organic Lunch Bag is a timeless classic. Simple, indestructible, and colorful! For a slightly more funky option, SoIll offers a gold Tyvek chalkbag. Very design and solid, it is a choice difficult to ignore. If you want to buy local, Keltech offers simple and effective chalk bags of all sizes.
The type of chalk you use can have a big influence on your climb. Let’s just say some types of chalk are of higher quality than others … Tokyo Powder and Frictions Labs both offer a great quality product. These two options are a little more expensive, but after trying them, you won’t be able to climb with anything else. Flashed, on the other hand, offers an affordable chalk that does a pretty good job.
Whether it is to stabilize your fingers, to protect them from injury or to continue your climbing session despite a lack of skin, the tape is your best friend. Moreover, for climbers not accustomed to the rigors of the rock, you will definitely need it during your first few sessions; your skin won’t hold up! Again, your preferences will dictate your choice. The Mueller tape has been a classic for a long time. Is your skin tearing at a rapid pace? The Mueller is a good choice for that. The Jaybird tape, on the other hand, is a bit stiffer and works great as a tape to deal with your finger injuries. As for Flashed, it’s probably the tape that will last the longest. Its glue is magic. You will need a little more effort to remove it after your session, however.
If you climb outdoors regularly, taking care of your skin will become imperative. Whether it is to heal cuts, control excess callus, or ensure a healthy skin, certain products will make it much easier for you to get there. The entire Rhino Skin product line delivers outstanding quality, whether before, during, or after your climb. It’s worth checking out all they offer! Add a skin care kit and you’ll be prepared for a worst-case scenario. Nothing is more frustrating than having to cut short a nice climbing session because of skin problems.
Is this a joke? No! In recent years, the trend of heaters at the crag has become more and more popular. It will allow you to start climbing earlier at the end of winter, and continue your season later in late fall. With the fairly short seasons in Quebec, a heater could allow you to climb 1 or 2 extra months in the year!
The arrival of mosquitoes in the middle of spring is quite brutal for climbers. It is usually these mosquitoes that put an end to outdoor climbing between mid-May and mid-August, rather than the sweltering heat. Those who want to continue their summer climbing activities will have to equip themselves to face the most voracious insects: a good mosquito spray is in order, and net could allow you to stay sane for a few extra hours. Otherwise, those damn mosquitoes will take over your sanity.
The knee-pad is no longer a luxury accessory for bouldering. Especially considering the style of outdoor bouldering in Quebec, a knee-pad will undoubtedly allow you to climb certain sequences that would have been impossible otherwise. Your partner has just sent his project after 8 sessions? Nothing better than skipping the crux of the same problem in two tries with a kneebar. Alright, okay, you might lose some friends … but there’s nothing more important than sending, right?
Here is a last product for the more motivated climbers. When the month of May draws to a close, you notice the temperatures hovering around 26-27 degrees, and the humidity turns jugs into slippery slopers. Your last resort is to climb at night. If your first instinct is to go with your headlamp, you will quickly find that it makes climbing less enjoyable. It can only light up one place at a time and requires you to constantly move your head. In addition, your friends’ headlamps create a shadow that’s difficult to control. Adding a spotlight will illuminate your project evenly and much brighter. You will almost feel like night has never fallen! Combined with your headlamp, a spotlight will make your life much easier!