After leaving James to fend for himself in the hopping town of Deer Lake (rumour has it he had to wait 3 days for a flight back to France), the rest of us made the 4 day mission back to the land of freedom and SUVs. With a week left before Alex and I had to fly home, we went to Maine to check out some of the sea cliffs there.
First up was a little sea cliff called Quoddy Head. We had heard rumours of an nails hard, unrepeated 5.13d called Maniac. It was put up in the early 1980s by a man known as ‘Spiderman Dan’ and if it really did turn out to be this grade it would have been one of the hardest routes (if not the hardest) in the country when it was put up.
Quoddy Head is the most eastern point of the USA and also it seems… the most foggy. Trying hard to ignore painful flashbacks from our 10 day stint in the thick fog of Devil’s Bay, we made our way to the illusive Maniac.
We were surprised the route hadn’t seen a repeat since the wall is really cool looking. A clean face with yellow and black streaks up it. The first half is trad and the second half is sport and it climbs a lot like a steep slate route but with rougher rock. Nice crimps that face the wrong way with intricate foot movements. Having climbed 3 routes since I left home I was even more unfit (if that’s possible) than I was before Newfoundland. But this route was really cool and I wanted to do it.
Alex polished it off on the second day (but not as easily as you would have thought). I gave it a top rope try that day to warm up and was unable to link more than 4 moves together. I looked down and told the guys it would be ‘an absolute miracle if I did the route’.
Either our religious member of the team had a little word with the big man upstairs, or I pulled something out the bag, either way I got it on the third day and was psyched, not out my tree, but pretty damn psyched.
Although its the sort of climbing I’m good at – crimpy wall climbing – the hardest part for me was not getting too pumped and since I have almost no forearm stamina to speak of at the moment I found it difficult to grade. Alex seemed to think it was 5.13c/d or 8a+/b. That was.. until I did it and then he probably thought is was 5.10! Jokes aside, we didn’t find it easy, so it was a good effort for Dan to have done it back in the day and we were happy to confirm the grade for him, as hard.
The other area there, is a place called Great Head. It’s another sea cliff with nice rock. It doesn’t have that many routes but worth a visit if you’re in the area. Alex completed a project and almost ticked the crag. I, on the other hand had a few pathetic attempts at some of the routes and feeling a lot like a wet flannel, realised I would just have to be content with taking Maniac from Maine and call it good.