Lauzon | N46 13' 33" W82 51' 54"
Lake Lauzon has close to a dozen ice routes, most of which are WI2-WI3 and between 20-30 m and now a fair amount of rock routes have been developed as well. Lake Lauzon is located in Algoma, near the town of Blind River. The crag faces north and thus the ice can be incredible brittle and cold.
Lake Lauzon is located in Algoma north east of Blind River, midway between Sudbury and Sault Ste. Marie. From Sudbury head west on Hwy 17 (the Trans-Canada) to Blind River around 160 km.
You will be driving just south of Lake Lauzon as you get close to Blind River from the east, but it seems that the distance to walk to the ice routes from the south would likely be long, thus the standard approach is from the west even though the drive is longer.
From Blind River head north on Hwy 557, and keep going straight onto Granary Lake Rd when Highway 557 makes a sharp turn to the left (west), 3 km north of town. Almost immediately turn right (east) onto High Rd at the cemetery. Drive east along High Rd. After about 5 km the road will make a leftward (northward) turn near a hydro line. Follow the main road to its end, by-passing a left-hand turn to Bass Lake. The road ends at a public boat launch. It’s approximately 7 km from the Granary Lake Rd, 10 km total from Blind River.
From the boat launch head out into a small bay, then turn right and head west for 1 km to the north shore of a big peninsula jutting into Lake Lauzon (passing to the right of a large island). A long discontinuous cliff line runs for over 2 km along this peninsula. The cliff varies in height from 15 m to 60 m. In places it rises straight out of the water, in other places it is set back from the shoreline 20-30 m. The rock is slabby and compact, with many small features and very few continuous crack lines, between 75° and 90°in steepness. The high point of the cliff is named Old Baldy on maps. Its far western end is called Pregnant Point (you’ll understand why when you see it).
The ice flows at Lake Lauzon are found in 3 distinct areas along the cliff line:
1) The West End – several short flows approximately 150 m past Pregnant Point
2) The Central Area – basically just the long, beautiful ice flow of Notorious for Wolverines
3) The East End – a group of several fat longer flows almost at the end of the cliff line, past a small bay
The routes are described from west to east.
The cliff line at the west end rises straight out of the lake. The cliff line here is fairly short and interspersed with treed slopes and gullies. There are several shorter ice flows here, two of which have been climbed.
The Smiling Bohunk | WI3 | 10m
FRA David Broadhead/Randy Kielbasiewicz/Danylo Darewych February 17 2014
Climb a short, steep curtain of ice.
The Demon Magarac | WI3 | 17m
FRA Randy Kielbasiewicz/David Broadhead February 17 2014
Located in the corner of a small “bay” along the cliffline, some 20 m left (east) of the Smiling Bohunk. Climb the ice straight up to some trees.
Continue east along the cliffline for another 500 m. The cliff line rises higher in a series of rocky knobs/outcrops as you head east. Then the cliff recedes back from the shoreline some 20-30 m. On this section of cliff there is a lone, prominent ice flow.The flow is wide up top, but narrows to a thinner tongue of ice down low.
Notorious for Wolverines | WI3 | 35-40m
FRA Danylo Darewych/Tiago Varella-Cid February 17 2014
Climbs the left-hand side of the ice flow on short vertical steps, interspersed with easier-angled ice.
At the Highway 17 restaurant in Blind River Danylo the ascensionist asked the waitress, who lives on Lake Lauzon, what animal was making all the tracks along the base of Old Baldy. With a completely straight face she replied: “Lake Lauzon is notorious for wolverines.” “Oh, really?” he replied, blissfully ignorant of the fact that wolverines are not found in Central Ontario. The large and raucous group of ACC ice climbers at the restaurant, all 14 of them, had a good laugh at his expense over that one.
Battle of the Bulge
Into the Wind
Dinner Plate Blues
Notorious for Wolverines
Continue east along the shoreline for another 600-700 m. The cliff line peters out after about 200 m in a bay and becomes merely a treed slope for 200 m. The cliff line reappears again on the far side of the bay. It doesn’t look particularly high from a distance, nor does there appear to be much ice, but first impressions are deceiving. There are 8-10 lines located in close proximity (within 100 m) of one another on this slabby section of cliff. The ice on the right side and centre of the slabs comes in fat and reliably every year. The ice on the left side tends to be a thin veneer down low.
Magic Carpet Ride | WI2 | 10m
FA Dane Graham/Randy Kielbasiewicz/Danylo Darewych March 16 2015
A short flow located 50 m before (right) of the main area.
The next three routes (pictured above) are all basically variants that go up the same iced up slab.
Himalayan Monk Pants | WI2+ | 30m
FA Ernie Tymeczko/Karen Houle-Tymeczko
Located on the far right end of the iced-up slab, in a bit of a gully left of a slight rib of rock. Solid blue ice.
Named by Mark Hurst who climbed it on a bitterly cold February day and overheard Jon Gullet nearby claim it was so cold he'd stuff a Himalayan monk down his pants...
Dinner Plate Blues | WI3 | 25m
FRA Jon Gullet/Kim Gullet February 17 2014
Located about 5 m left of the previous line. Start between bushes/shrubbery down low and head straight up the centre of the first iced up slab. Named for the colour and brittleness of the ice that day.
Cold Plates | WI3 | 25m
FRA Joe Palma/Astrid Palantzas Feb. 17 2014
Another line up the first iced-up slab. Climbs the left side.
Into the Wind | WI3 | 25m
FRA Dave Britnell/Jessica Cao/David Lamb February 17 2014
Climb up a slight gulley/runnel filled with thick ice some 15 m left of the first iced-up slab. “As steep as the center ramp at Bow Lake. It was a hell of a lot harder in the cold.”
Battle of the Bulge | WI3 | 20m
FA Ernie Tymeczko/Karen Houle-Tymeczko
FRA David Broadhead/Randy Kielbasiewicz February 17 2014
Located 8 m left of Into the Wind, on the other side of a clump of trees, or 25 m left (east) of Cold Platesand Dinner Plate Blues. Climb up fat ice over the namesake bulge midway up. In a really fat year the bulge will blend into the ice around it.
Battle of the Branches | WI2 | 20m
FRA Danylo Darewych/Randy Kielbasiewicz/Dane Graham March 16, 2015
A variant of Battle of the Bulge, located 4 m left of that route in a slight groove just past a small rock outcrop. Climb up the groove, weave through the branches of a tree 7 m up, and continue up to a second tree.
Cold, Hard and Britnell | WI2+ | 37m
FRA Randy Kielbasiewicz/Graeme Taylor January 13 2015
Located 15 m left of Battle of the Bulge. Climb an ice-filled groove/gully. The only solid belay trees are set back an additional 8-10 m from the top of the cliff. Head right to rappel off the rap station above Cold Plates. Named for Dave Britnell who upon seeing the line the previous February muttered his timeless mantra “Nice gully.”
Dü It | WI3+ | 30m
FRA Dane Graham/Randy Kielbasiewicz March 27 2014
Located 20 m left (east) of the Cold, Hard and Britnell. Climbs very thin ice on a 70° slab. Start left of center. Finishes in the middle dodging some trees.
Death by Tatonka | WI3X | 30m
FA Randy Kielbasiewicz/Dane Graham March 14 2015
Located another 15 m left of Dü It. Another climb up thinly iced-up slab. No pro for the first 15 m. Scary, but not nearly as debilitating as Tatonka - the mix of Zubrowka and apple juice concocted by Raphael the night before and foisted upon an unsuspecting former Seventh Day Adventist.
Bunny Hill | WI2+ | 15m
FRA Graeme Taylor/Randy Kielbasiewicz January 13, 2015
Located another 75 m left of Death by Tatonka in a low point of the slabby cliff-line. Climb a short, fat, wide flow of ice.
Better than Nothing Right | WI3 | 25m
FA Dane Graham/Randy Kielbasiewicz March 14 2015
Better than Nothing Left | WI3- | 25m
FA Randy Kielbasiewicz/Dane Graham March 14 2015
These two routes are located another 300 m left of the Bunny Hill, in a separate small bay. The two routes share a common start.
The Tao of D | WI3- | 12m
FA Randy Kielbasiewicz and a reluctant Graeme Taylor
"Is it worth it?" Taylor
Climb a short flow of blue ice straight off the lake.
Himalayan Monk Pants
Battle of the Bulge
Old Baldy is the high point of a long discontinuous cliff line that runs for over 2 km along a peninsula in the north-western part of Lake Lauzon. The cliff line varies in height from 15 m to 60 m. In many places the cliff rises straight out of the water, but there is a continuous section of 500 m below the highest section of cliff where there is land at the base, some 20-30 m from the shoreline. The rock is slabby and compact, between 75° and 90°in steepness, with many features and cracks, although many of the crack lines are not continuous. The cliffs far western end is called Pregnant Point (you’ll understand why when you see it).There is good potential for lots of interesting routes at Old Baldy, especially if you have a drill to place bolts on the slabby sections between protectable features. The cliff faces north-east. It gets morning sun and shade in the afternoon - useful to know for climbing on hot summer days
Follow the directions above e to get to the lake. Turn off High Road about 9 km from Blind River (1 km before the boat launch) onto a side road/driveway marked number 1677 (there are 6 names on this driveway). Drive down this road for 700 m past 2-3 cottages on the lake until you reach a spot where a slabby rock rib comes down to the road on the right next to a telephone pole at the top of small incline (and 25 m before you reach a parking garage on the left). It’s approximately 7 km from the Granary Lake Rd, 10 km total from Blind River.
There is not a lot of parking near the start of the trail. There is a bit of a pullout 100 m before the trailhead on the left side of the road between the cottages (sometimes occupied by a trailer) and another one occupied by some old vehicles/equipment about 15m before the trailhead on the left. If you see a cottager, it is best to ask whether it’s OK to park the car. Cottagers have been approached and spoken to in the past about the first pull-out and they said it would be OK to park there. You can also simply back your car up onto the low-angled start of the slabby rock rib on the right side of the road. In a worst case scenario, you’ll have to park back on the main road (that’ll be an extra 10 minutes of approach hike). The cliff itself appears to be on Crown Land, but you are crossing private property to get to it, so please be on your best behaviour.
Walk up the slabby rock rib that runs perpendicular to the road on the right side of the road. Cairns appear almost immediately. Follow them to the top of the rock rib, then through some fairly open forest and then onto open slabs of rock. The trail is fairly well beaten in and well marked with cairns. It brings you to the top of Old Baldy and a nice view northward across Lake Lauzon. The trail to the top of Old Baldy is about 750 m long and takes 15 minutes to hike.
Rappel/Descent options. The approach brings you to the top of the Old Baldy cliff. You have to rappel or scramble down to the base in order to climb. It’s easier and safer to rappel.
a) You can make a full 60 m rappel from almost directly below the high point knob of Old Baldy, as outlined in the description for the Unicorn, but this means rappelling from cams placed in a crack.
b) To rappel from a tree, wind your way down on climber’s right from the high point knob to the right shoulder of Old Baldy. Find a solid tree from which to rappel and lower down (it’s about a 45 m rappel from the shoulder). This should put you near the start of Slowpoke.
c) It is possible to scramble down to the base even further climber’s right, the descent is sketchy and in-obvious. This is also your escape route back up, if you can’t climb your way to the top for some reason. It is also likely possible to rappel from trees to climber’s left of the high point of Old Baldy.
Potential Sport routes that have been TR'd
Seven routes have been climbed thus far, but there is potential for many more, as the face is riddled with cracks. The problem is that most of these cracks don’t quite reach the ground. Trying to figure out from the top which crack reaches the base of the cliff or which crack you’ve succeeded in gaining from the base is the riddle.
1 Supersoaker | 5.8 | 53m
FFA Mike Grainger/Chris Talbot/Danylo Darewych July 6 2020
Located on the left side of the main face at Old Baldy, not underneath the high point knob, but under the left shoulder (climber’s left). From the high point walk skier’s right down the shoulder to the first major strip/gully of vegetation. Walk down this strip and as you turn the shoulder look for two bolts at shoulder height in the wall on your left just past a slight birch. These mark the top-out of Supersoaker.
Warning: If rappelling from the top to the ground with double ropes be aware that the ropes have a tendency to get hung up on a small knob at the mid-way belay stance when being pulled from the ground. We have yet to hammer off this small knob.
If you’re at the base of the cliff, the start of the route can be found by walking about 30 m left of the base of Unicorn or 12 m left of Doubting Thomas– look for a slightly more open area with a stand of 3-4 birches (one big and old, one with a 90 degree bend in the trunk down low; also an S scratched into the rock/moss; there is also a big pine growing on ledge 10 m up and slightly right of the start) and big debris cone of dirt and moss.
• Pitch 1, 20 m, 5.5. Climb mossy ledges/ramp for 5 m and gain a left-facing corner system. Climb up it to a belay stance some 6 m below an overhang (two bolts). Pro is a little sparse and fiddly.
• Pitch 2, 33 m, 5.7/5.8. Make an awkward move off the belay, climb up to the overhang, pull over the overhang/roof on good edges, continue up the crack/corner system above (3 bolts) and finish up on slabby terrain along a line of small birches on your right.
2 Squirt Gun | 5.8 | 45m
FFA Mike Grainger/Danylo Darewych August 30 2018
The first pitch is the same as for Supersoaker. From the belay at the top of the first pitch, step right to exit the corner onto a thinner, right-angling crack. Follow this to the top. Beware of some detached flakes at the start of the right-leaning crack. Belay at trees. Wander up grassy ledges around low-angled slabs to the top (or climb the slabs, if you wish, for another 10-12 m) to the Supersoaker anchors.
3 Doubting Thomas | 5.7/5.8 | 48m
FFA Danylo Darewych/Mike Grainger July 9 2019
Located beneath the left side of the head of Old Baldy. From the top of Old Baldy, wind your way down to the left shoulder of Old Baldy and find a wide, grassy, partially treed ledge that angles gently back below the head Old Baldy. The top of the route is found midway between two clumps of birches about 7-8 m apart, and 6-7 metres back from the cliff edge (N46° 13.538' W82° 51.898'). We anchored off the (climber’s) left side birches. There will be two crack systems below you as you rappel. The route climbs the left one. If you’re walking along the base, look for a small belay platform of flat rocks at your feet, or for fat cedar with a U-bend at its base growing out of the cliff 7-8 metres up and a bolt 4-5 m up (3-4 m rightwards of the cedar).
Climb up to the first bolt, then angle right to short corner and follow two more bolts up to the left. Cross rightward across some hollow-sounding blocks past a semi-hidden bolt and then follow the crack to the top. The crux is at a thin crack where the wall steepens - climb the easier face just to the left of the crack. The angle eases considerably afterwards.
4 Scorpion | 5.8/5.9 | 50m
FFA Danylo Darewych/Mike Grainger August 2 2020
This route climbs a line 3-5 m right of Doubting Thomas, however the start at the base is about 10 m right of Doubting Thomas and actually closer to the start of Unicorn. Rappel 60 m down the line of Unicorn and step climber’s left 4 m to the base of a leftward-diagonaling crack.
Climb up the leftward-diagonaling crack for 5-7 m to a bolt (left of a small birch). Continue upwards following a line of weakness/corner/crack system. There will be several cruxes along the way that require big, long moves onto ledges, including pulling on a small fin of rock (just very slightly loose, but keyed in) and a bigger block on the right higher up (also keyed in at the base, but tread carefully) and jamming up a wider crack. Two more bolts along the way protect blank sections. Near the top, clamber over easier angled ground past a birch to a grassy ledge below a final very thin exit crack in a short left-facing corner. Belay from the stand of birches on the big ledge below the “head” of Old Baldy.
5 Unicorn | 5.8 | 60m
FFA Danylo Darewych/Mike Grainger July 5 2018
This route climbs a rare continuous crack system the runs almost the full height of the cliff.
Follow the cairned approach trail to the high point of Old Baldy. Seven metres down from the summit (when facing the lake) you will see a small clump of birches. Immediately to the (skier’s) left of them is a thin crack with two rappel anchors next to it. Make a full 60 m rappel to the base of the cliff. Climb straight back up, following the crack system in two pitches. Lots of good edges, ledges and stances.
· Pitch 1, 5.8, 25 m. Start slightly left of where the rappel deposits you (opposite a birch tree with some rockfall scars on the trunk side facing the cliff). There are also two U-s scratched into the rock at the start. You have to climb 4-5 m up on fairly easy edges before you can place a first piece of protection, then a couple of metres higher you will reach the start of the crack system. The crux of the first pitch is a small overhang/bulge ¾ of the way up. Originally, this bulge was bypassed by a crack on its left and then a traverse back right into it at the top. However, the excavation of 2 small 0.3 cam placements below the bulge has made the direct line over the bulge more reasonable. There is a spot for a cam right at the top of the crux bulge. Continue up to a small ledge with blueberries and a small birch tree. Gear belay.
· Pitch 2, 5.6, 35 m. Continue following the crack system over slightly easier-angled ground, by-passing clumps of cedar and birch trees over several small ledges and topping out on a crack just 2 metres right of the original rappel crack (which you can likely climb as well, if you so choose).
6 Slowpoke | 5.7 | 43m
FFA Danylo Darewych/Randy Kielbasiewicz June 27 2015
This route is located below the right shoulder (climber’s right) of Old Baldy, just right of the “head” bulge. You can rappel down from a clump of cedar trees just below this right shoulder. If you're looking for the start at the base, it’s located about 15 m right of Unicorn or some 75 m left of the vegetated scramble up. Look for a small, right-leaning broken pillar/block with a flake of rock sticking out of it and a birch on top. The route starts here (N46° 13.573' W82° 51.943').
Climb up from the broken pillar/block (be careful as there is some loose, hollow rock) for 5-6 m to another big block, traverse right across it to the trees, head up past them to a short, left-facing corner with small birch. Continue up the crack system above. The climb follows this crack system to the top, although occasionally you can make use on adjacent crack to the left. Look around carefully for the path of least resistance (double ropes useful) and for good holds hidden amongst the tufts of grass. You can stop at a lower cedar (there is someone’s cordelette and a carabiner there), but it is better to belay from the higher stand of trees. If you scramble the remaining 6-8 m past them to the shoulder, you have to belay off big, slung blocks.
On the far end of the right shoulder is a small, slabby knob with two rappel rings on it. Two mixed routes lie below. They share a common start at a large crack and a first bolt. A short trail from the shore of the lake leads to the cliff at this point.
7 Double Protection | 5.10a | 33m
FFA Colin Shepitka/Andrew Junkin August 2020
The left line. Climb straight up between fractured cracks and face sections to anchors with rings. A rappel from the top anchors of route #8 links up with these anchors. Gear + 6 bolts.
8 5.10b | 55m
FFA Colin Shepitka/Andrew Junkin August 2020
The right branch.
• Pitch 1: 35 m, 5 bolts. Gear anchor on a ledge.
• Pitch 2: 20 m. Climb cracks to anchors on top.
9 Farmboy’s Birthday | 5.9 A0 | 50m
FFA Mike Grainger/Danylo Darewych July 9 2019
Farmboy’s Birthday is located at the climber’s far right end of Old Baldy. From the top scramble down to the right shoulder of Old Baldy and then head along the clifftop for about 60 m. The top of the route lies between two tiny, spindly birch stubs (knee high) (N46° 13.567' W82° 51.956'). You can set up a gear anchor from some small cracks and rappel. If you’re walking the base of the cliff, the start of the route is located at the far right end of the cliff, where the shoreline is only about 7-8 m away below you. Look for a cedar tree on the left and birches on the right several metres up, plus a ledge with a row of cedars about 17 m up.
• Pitch 1, 5.9, 18 m. Climb up to the left edge of the ledge of cedar trees, following the slight groove and crack system marked by a dark water streak. Protection is a little sparse at first (sling the cedar on the left with a long sling), but there where you need it at the difficult sections. Belay from cedar trees.
• Pitch 2, 5.9, A0 (probably free at mid-5.10). Traverse to the right side of the ledge. Head up 3-4 m, then awkwardly climb the left-angling crack (crux; bolt). Continue up the crack system to the top. Climbing difficulty eases considerably at the top.