Always have a backup plan! Thin Air 10/10/15

The last couple weeks Oliver has been climbing with me to prepare for his Yosemite trip later this month. Having climbed Whitehorse and Cathedral with me over the last two weeks I wanted to get him on something a bit more committing and thought linking together Lost & the Sun and A Bit Too Short on Mt. Webster would be a great day out, especially considering how the foliage is progressing up in the notches. This plan would give us 13 pitches and about 1,600 feet of climbing.

Unfortunately Friday saw a fair amount of rain but early clearing plus breezy conditions and clear morning skies in the notches had me optimistic enough to make the drive up there. It was obvious from the road that both routes were still soaked; the morning sun glistening off the wet granite from bottom to top. We headed back to North Conway taking West Side Rd to get to Cathedral Ledge by 10:30am.

Oliver hadn’t yet climbed the classic Thin Air route, so we made our way up to the base. I wasn’t surprised to see a few parties on route considering it was a beautiful Saturday morning during a holiday weekend. We decided to take a number and I set up a top-rope to the left of the start to keep us occupied while we let the party of 2 ahead of us get established. Once the leader started the 3rd pitch we finished our lunch and climbed the first pitch right at noon. We followed behind the party of two as Oliver commented on how every pitch seemed classic.

Iconic traverse

Iconic traverse

It dawned on me that somehow I hadn’t climbed Thin Air once this year. It really is an all star classic route. I prefer the direct 5.8 finish which keeps every pitch of the route high quality, but I couldn’t quite see if that slippery slab had completely dried off yet so I opted for the slick pine-needle strewn gully finish. From there I could see the direct finish was dry, and since I had run the rope up the pitch with out any gear it was easy to walk over to above the direct finish and flick the rope over so Oliver could enjoy the cleaner finish to a great climb.

After chatting a bit with the couple we had followed we made our way down the bike trail to the base. While this is a bit of an un-official bike trail I have yet to come across a mountain biker on it on any of the dozens of times I’ve used it to hike off. It is definitely faster than the climber’s trail down and 1/4 the distance of walking down the auto-road. Obviously give way to any riders you encounter.

Cathedral Ledge Mountain Bike Trail, the quick way down

Cathedral Ledge Mountain Bike Trail, the quick way down

We had a little bit of time left when we got to the bottom and Oliver was up for one more route so we dropped a quick top-rope on the first pitch of Raising The Roof, 95ft 5.8+. This is my favorite route at The North End. It’s just SO good!

Oliver takes a run on the first pitch of "The Roof", "The Corner", or "Raising The Roof" depending on where you get your info ;)

Oliver takes a run on the first pitch of “The Roof”, “The Corner”, or “Raising The Roof” depending on where you get your info 😉

We walked back to the car and started making plans for our last day before the big trip. If the weather holds steady we have our sights set on Cannon for this Thursday. Stay tuned!

See you in the mountains,


About David Lottmann

David grew up skiing in the Whites and started climbing at a summer camp just north of Mt. Washington when he was 16. Those first couple of years solidified climbing as a lifetime passion. From 1996-2000 he served in the USMC, and spent the better part of those years traveling the globe (18 countries). After returning to civilian life he moved to North Conway to focus on climbing and was hired in 2004 as a Rock and Ice Instructor. Since then Dave has taken numerous AMGA courses, most recently attaining a Single Pitch Instructor. He has completed a Level 3 AIARE avalanche course, is a Level 2 Course Leader, holds a valid Wilderness First Responder and is a member of Mountain Rescue Service. When David isn't out guiding he enjoys mountain biking, kayaking, hiking, backcountry skiing, trying to cook something new once a week and sampling new micro-brews. He lives in Conway, NH with his wife Michelle, son Alex, and daughter Madalena.
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4 Responses to Always have a backup plan! Thin Air 10/10/15

  1. Paul Correia says:

    Hi Dave !
    I am an avid mtn. trail runner and have run the trails all around “The Ledges” and the Moats. Next time up I would like to try the mtn. bike trail to the road then into Bryce Path. Where do you pick it up at the bottom ?
    Thanks Paul


    • David Lottmann says:

      Hi Paul, heading “up” the road after passing through the gate it is close to the first bend when the road really starts to ascend, and travels up just to the left of a drainage that is between the road and the trail. There is a downed tree near the entrance, through it is a bit non-nondescript at that spot. There is currently a hat hanging from a tree a few yards in, looked almost intentional.


  2. Paul Correia says:

    Thanks Dave !
    I’ll check it out hopefully before the snow flies. If i don’t make it in time i’ll snowshoe up it ! Lol ! ………….Paul
    I enjoy your work !


  3. Pingback: The Whitney Gilman Ridge, Cannon Cliff (11/4/15) | North East Alpine Start

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