In the 70’s and 80’s before indoor gyms existed in Toronto, Toronto based climbers trained at an outdoor wall in Toronto called the Pumphouse. On summer evenings in the 80’s, up to 20 climbers would meet to train and socialize. To-day a few climbers still train at the pumphouse.
Buildering in Toronto was never received very well by officials. University of Toronto security staff clamp down on bouldering or climbing on their buildings. In spite of this, most of the classic routes at U of T have been climbed illegally. In contrast, Kingston area climbers have a buildering guidebook to routes throughout the city. The CN tower, the classic big wall buildering venue, still has not had a Canadian ascent. Only the American Spider Dan gained official sanction to climb the Tower and proceeded to solo it. Torontonians Dave Smart and Jerry Banning made a previous illegal attempt but came down because of high winds.
However, the City seems to tolerate climbers on the walls of the Pumphouse. They have asked that climbers do not climb the wall but traverse only as they are concerned that someone will be hurt falling from too high. This is quite acceptable to climbers since traversing is the best climbing on the wall.
In the 80’s Dave Lanman established Mr. Natural (12a) and the low line (11) both classic traverses on the north wall. Mr. Natural uses natural holds only (no flag stone edges) for hands and any feet for the length of the wall. The low line uses a series of low holds for the length of the wall. The regular line is about 5.10 and takes the easiest traverse along the length of the wall using all holds.Other lines exist on the south wall and the small building within sight on top of the reservoir. Many boulder problems also exist on all the walls.
One summer Chris Oates and I had a friendly competition to do the most laps continuous. Near the end of the summer I did 19 and 1/2 laps. Shortly after, Chris did 20. We both quit because our fingers hurt so much. I think 20 still stands as the record.
Andy Cairns became bored one year and set
a goal to touch every corner of every panel. While trying to find a rest
at one of the high corners, he fell and broke both heels. He hobbled to
the hospital and by strange coincidence, the hospital emergency room doctor
who treated him was also a climber who occasionally trained at the Pumphouse.
Pumphouse workouts largely train finger endurance and mostly require open handed and crimp grips. As a result it is great training for limestone face climbing.Training here can get boring . It helps to vary the activity.
September 29, 2000