AMC Camp, Mount Washington, and Whitehorse Ledge!

Crazy busy week with 5 straight days of guiding! It all started Monday when another AMC Teen Wilderness Camp Group joined us for 3 days of rock climbing instruction. We enjoyed beautiful weather that first day up at Square Ledge.

Vivian rappels the 150 foot West Face
Vivian rappels the 150 foot West Face
The girls rocked at belaying through-out the three days
The girls rocked at belaying through-out the three days
Vivian starts up the Chimney Route
Vivian starts up the Chimney Route

Unfortunately a deluge of rain was inbound for Tuesday, but the group was motivated to try to get a little outdoor climbing in before we would have to swim back to the van. We got a couple ropes set up on the Thin Air face as the first few drops started, and then the kids took multiple laps on the face despite the moderate to heavy rain. I was glad I had brought that quint-essential piece of guide equipment:

Thanks CT!
Thanks CT!
Even climbed the first pitch to clean the anchors with it
Even climbed the first pitch to clean the anchors with it

We returned to EMS North Conway to dry out and spent the afternoon creating some bouldering competitions on our modest but creative wall.

Bouldering Comp
Bouldering Comp

For our last day we split into multiple rope teams and climber 4-5 pitches on Whitehorse Ledge before rapping and top-roping over at the Ethereal Buttress area. No pics of that day unfortunately but everyone who tried Seventh Seal made it to the top!

Thursday was a unique guiding day for me in as such that it was a Mount Washington Ascent. While I do a fair share of these during our winter season they are not as common in the summer, when hoards of hikers climb this popular mountain displaying the full spectrum of preparation and trail knowledge. Despite having a fair amount of experience, Alan and his 18 year old son Matty had learned climbing with a local guide has some advantages, and I was happy to return to the mountain that I spend so much time on in the colder months.

Hitting the trail from Pinkham Notch Visitor Center
Hitting the trail from Pinkham Notch Visitor Center at 8:30am
Crystal Cascade
Crystal Cascade

The bottom portion of the Tuckerman Ravine trail was quite crowded for a Thursday, but the weather was fair and it is summer vacation still! As we passed the Huntington Ravine trail the crowds thinned out a bit. A mother resting at the Huntington Ravine trail sign before descending mentioned her teenage sons had continued up the Tuckerman Ravive trail after consulting their map and determining that the sign indicating this was the Huntington Ravine Trail was not correct, or meant something else. A harmless mistake at this point, it reminded me that map reading skills, and navigation in general, are a much needed skill for this vastly growing outdoor user group. (Yup that is a plug for my Wilderness Navigation Course).

We soon reached Hermit Lake.

First views of the bowl
First views of the bowl

We took a quick breather on the caretaker’s hut porch then continued to climb up to the floor of the ravine. Just below the “open book” waterfall we stopped again before tackling the steeper bits of the headwall. While Alan & Matty snacked I started sniffing around for any remnants of snow. Yes, it was August 13th. But I had heard a couple weeks ago there was still a decent sized patch of snow. A month ago I could see it from Square Ledge. Today it looked like it had finally all melted. Then I saw something out of place between the rocks. Reaching down it was about a foot in length, covered in dirt & needles so it blended in with the rocks. I rinsed it off in the water cascading down the headwall and a few hikers gawked in disbelief. The last of the snow in Tuckerman Ravine:

No glacier this year
No glacier this year

We started up the headwall.

Just above the first waterfall
Just above the first waterfall

When we reached the rim of the bowl we took another break and looked back towards Lion’s Head.

See the hiker out on the diving board?
See the hiker out on the diving board?

A slow steady push up the summit cone had us on top at 12:45.

A well earned summit photo
A well earned summit photo

It was an excellent day with a great father/son team. I’m thinking they might be back for a Mount Washington Observatory Overnight with us this winter!

That brings us to today! Claude, his wife Melissa, and daughter Katie, are adventure incarnate. With a long list of tales from whitewater rafting out west, canyoneering, climbing here and in the Tetons, horseback riding, and much more I knew we were in for a fun day. We headed over to Whitehorse Ledge and climbed the Standard Direct route right to the top. It’s been awhile since I’ve guided 3 people up Whitehorse, and I was reminded that 600 feet of rope is a lot of rope. The fresh breezes made the day quite pleasant and we reached the top at 1:30pm. An excellent day with a really fun family!

Morning light
Morning light
Looking down from Crystal Pocket
Looking down from Crystal Pocket
Hanging out at Crystal Pocket
Hanging out at Crystal Pocket
Summit shot
Summit shot

That’s it! What a great week. Tomorrow off and then teaching another Wilderness Navigation Course on Sunday. Thanks for reading!

See you in the mountains,

NEAlpineStart

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