The Cote Nord borders the St Lawrence for 1250 kilometres (775 miles), from Tadoussac to Blanc-Sablon Quebec. The coastline of this region has been designated the Whale Route, since 13 different species of whales, including the blue whale, can be found in the waters of the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence, very close to the shore.
As the temperatures in NH heated up to over 60 degrees Jerry and I made plans for a quick exit to the north. We drove north to Quebec City then traveled along the Whale Route. The route is a wild land, full of extremes, long distances, big rivers, and vast forests. We felt out in the middle of nowhere!!!
The highway stopped, no bridge to cross the huge Saquaney River. To our surprise one must take the ferry to continue up the Route de Balines The 12.5 hour drive went by quick, we arrived at Sept Iles and checked into the Voyager Hotel, which would serve as our base camp.
Talk about snow – Sept Iles is buried under meters of snow right now. With the first crux (the drive) out of the way we moved onto the next.
Renting the snow machine from the Harley Dealer in town was another puzzle. The guys assured me they would hook me up when I arrived and hook up they did. A trailer with wide track snow machine was waiting along with shiney new helmets to keep us safe. As it turned out this was a solid sled that fit the two of us and our climbing gear. Jerry and I were on our way.
The Monster Ice Climbs we had heard about are nearby up the Sainte Margarite River. The headwall is a truly spectacular wall 6 miles up the river. As we rounded a bend the magnificent wall came into view with grey and orange rock and numerous wild looking golden ice climbs!!!
Le Pilier Simon-Prouix is a beautiful ice climb. This climb rates as the easiest line on the Margarite Headwall. It is a big route with thick golden ice that gets steeper as you climb. The upper part has a couple of corners systems with small ledges to gain some rest on. A fabulous climb for Jerry and I!!!
You can feel the size once you locate me climbing the first pitch. These routes rival any in western Canada but are seldom climbed due to the remote location.
Jerry enjoying steep sticky ice on Le Pilier Simon-Prouix.
I landed in this cool cave on our descent. Finding shelter from above is key when rappelling down these ice climbs. Caves provide a floor, interesting ice formations, and a reprieve from the exposure.
This ice route is called Speedy Gonzales WI 6+. Sure looked beautiful and difficult from the ground.
Another big ice route called La Mulot. Multiple ice and mixed lines grace this wall. La Mulot proper is on the left side.
Sept Iles is a 12 hour drive from central NH. Its a good size city with all one needs for comfort and rest. Bring all your technical gear, the city is pretty lacking in that area. Be ready for an amazing adventure into the wilds of northeastern Quebec.
Thanks to Jerry for this last minute trip. It was quite the experience for the two of us!!!