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Menard, Mongrain Relish Newfoundland Ice

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