Menard, Mongrain Relish Newfoundland Ice

Posted on: January 15, 2008

Baby Beaver (5 pitches, 250m), left, and Tundering Lard (5 pitches, 250m), right, in Gros Morne National Park, Newfoundland. Louis Philippe "LP" Menard and Yan Mongrain snagged the second ascents of these lines in early January, 2008. [Photo] Louis-Philippe Menard

Editor's Note: This posting was updated on January 18, 2008 after Casey Shaw and LP Menard notified Alpinist that the routes documented below had been climbed previously.

During December and January Louis Philippe "LP" Menard and Yan Mongrain ventured to Gros Morne National Park, Newfoundland, in search of new ice routes. They climbed two lines that, unbeknownst to them, had previously been climbed by Joe Terravecchia, Casey Shaw and Jim Shimberg.


Menard and Mongrain hoped to arrange for a plane to fly over the park's fjords, helping them plan objectives and approaches to make the most of their nine-day stay. When they discovered that no planes were available—and that a helicopter ride would cost $1,500 per hour—they decided to explore on foot, with skis and sleds.

On December 27 they traveled 10 kilometers inland from near Rocky Harbor on the St. Lawrence Gulf, following a topographic map that suggested a labyrinth of steep and tall walls. Atop one of these they set up base camp. Menard, recovering from a broken ankle, noted that they had "no particular expectation other than exploring and trying to find some wicked, remote big wall with virgin ice lines."

Mongrain on Tundering Lard, leading Pitch 1, which Menard described as "superb, offering two delicate free-standing pillars, and narrow and intricate climbing throughout." [Photo] Louis-Philippe Menard

On January 1 they tied in at the base of the Cholesterol Wall and made the second ascent of Baby Beaver (5 pitches, 250m) that Menard described as "really attractive... I enjoy thin ice flows [like Baby Beaver] that force you on a specific line that's thin and delicate rather than climbing on a huge sea of ice." Ten meters of delicate rock then 30 meters of WI6+, Menard reported, led to four pitches of sustained, slightly overhanging ice. They returned two days later to make the second ascent of Tundering Lard (5 pitches, 250m), a combination of steep ice and tricky drytooling, just right of Baby Beaver. A delicate and difficult mantle transition from rock to ice defined the crux on Pitch 2. Menard swung onto the questionable ice curtain over bad pro, then continued up beautiful flows.

Although successful on these two lines, the pair generally was frustrated by an unusually large amount of snowfall: 4 feet in five days. It forced them to "let go" of numerous other projects they were considering.

Menard, whose words, with partner Maxime Turgeon, appear in Issue 15's "Spice Factory," broke his ankle while in the Karakoram this fall. (See the October 16, 2007 NewsWire to read about Turgeon's success on Farol East after Menard's injury.) "I was psyched with my ankle [in Newfoundland]," Menard said. "This was the first time I'd climbed since my injury—and what a climb—it felt great. I'm pretty sure all the [approach] skiing helped as a recovering therapy." Getting frostbite on his foot on January 3, however, made Menard's recovery bittersweet.

Sources: LP Menard, Casey Shaw

Mongrain following, having just pulled through the second pitch crux of Tundering Lard. [Photo] Louis-Philippe Menard

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Keeping new routes "under the radar" is just plain selfish. Climbing a new route and talking about it to fellow climbers is simply a way of sharing the pleasure of the climb, encouraging others to also enjoy it. I've known Mongrain long enough to know he's not the bragging type. If others have climbed it before and didn't want to share the area with the climbing community, it's their right... Not because others want to share it that they're necessarily bigheaded about it.

2008-02-13 10:27:14

Well, first, second or whatever ascent, the boys still put out, did the approach, had fun and climbed hard, something I always enjoy hearing about. There is clearly competition for first-ascents regardless of what a climber says or how long they hold that information private. This is obvious because no-one has yet said where these routes are in Gros Morne despite saying there was other potential. I don't blame them for keeping it vague and there's also great experience to be had in exploring on your own without the electronic-age, "leave-nothing-to-chance" beta. It's a wilderness area and going in not knowing what you'll find is half the fun.

ps- As Joe T. advocates, leave your drill at home!

2008-01-19 21:42:34

A counterpoint to some counterpoints below here...I'm not certain about the "run to the mags with everything" assumption all the time. Disclaimer first: I'm not trying to attack the below posts, which were very civil. Also, I know Joe T a bit, and know of some of their incredible trips up there. I, too, have utmost respect for Joe and the boys — they're all super badass and I also like their low-key approach.

I don't think there's anything wrong, however, with LP and Yan (or anyone else) reporting their adventures. The report and photos were inspiring, I liked 'em. Given that you're here, perhaps you like reading about these things and seeing cool pictures, too. Of course these reports should be as accurate as possible.

Also, in the small climbing world, word spreads quickly when climbers as competent as these guys go on trips. Word invariably gets to the climbing media, but I know for certain that it's not always the actual climbers sending press releases or whatever (sometimes it is, though). I'd say nearly everyone can relate to sending out an email with some cool pics when we're psyched after an adventure. Even if you just send it to a few friends, another click or two from others and it reaches an editor's desk. Nothing wrong with that, I'd say. People want news and like it — again, anyone reading this can't very well claim otherwise.

Likewise, I think reports can be absurd sometimes, too, such as pre-trip hype reports or thoroughly ignorant/un-researched assumptions. For a personal example of the former, unbeknownst to me until after a trip I did this summer—on which we got little done, anyway—Alpinist posted such a report that hinted at a big "competition" in the Charakusa. Quite silly, I thought, but I suppose the rest of the world has Brittney Spears and what-not. We all have different lines in the sand, but I'd like to see reports after something actually happens.

Sometimes I hear people grumble "well, me & ol' Chickenlips McGinty did that back in the day, we just didn't feel the need to tell anybody. We keeps it real!" In these cases (I realize Joe isn't saying this, I'm making a general observation), I wonder if anyone else gets the irony of now coming out with that self-satisfying line?

Well, if you never report your climbs to anyone — which is fine and in a sense we all admire that — then certainly ya can't get indignant when someone makes an innocent assumption of a new route. I sincerely doubt that Joe's indignant about it. What I am saying is that, seems to me, LP and Yan made an innocent enough assumption of new routes. As such, they should only receive a few turns on the Rack, versus the full flogging. And on the whole "keep it quiet" thing, which is cool on one hand, but ironic as well — at least to read it here, where we're all looking at cool pictures and reports in the first place. Anyway, all kinds of interesting angles, I suppose.

Again, not trying to raise a ruckus here. Just some things to consider.

Kelly Cordes

2008-01-19 12:18:54

Joe T with various partners have "climbed that area silly" in Joe's words including the 2 routes reported on here. Personnally I like the low key approach....... Let's keep Newf rock and ice "under the radar"......

2008-01-17 09:15:11

Joe and partners most definitely ice climbed extensively all over Gros Morne, not to mention numerous rock routes on the Southwest coast (I was along for the first and several subsequent trips).

Joe's just so low key, you've never heard about the pile of lines he did there. His approach is an interesting counterpoint — I think — to the current, gotta-run-to-the mags-with-every-thing-I-did way of thinking.

2008-01-17 08:48:40

These appear to the same walls I visited with Joe Terravecchia a few years back. I would bet on it. As many people know he has been doing new routes here for many many years.

2008-01-16 21:20:19
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