Whitehorse and Cathedral Ledge Rock Climbing

Yesterday I had the pleasure of introducing David and his daughter Nicole to rock climbing in Echo Lake State Park. We started our morning over at the sweeping granite slabs of Whitehorse Ledge. After some ground school we climbed 4 pitches to Lunch Ledge then rappelled back to the deck. After a scenic lunch a top Cathedral we rappelled the Barber Wall and climbed Upper Refuse to round out our day.

It was great meeting you both and I hope to see you back this winter for that Washington climb!

See you in the mountains,

Northeast Alpine Start



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16 pitches on Cathedral Ledge!

Yesterday I met Antonio from Madrid, Spain at the Northeast Mountaineering Bunkhouse close to Jackson, NH. Antonio had decades of climbing experience from Yosemite to the Andes & Alps and was super excited to sample some of the granite climbing of New Hampshire. The weather forecast called for rain by 2pm so we wasted no time getting to the cliff and started up our first route at 8:30am, Funhouse.

Rock Climbing Cathedral Ledge
Starting pitch one of Funhouse

Antonio’s experience and ability was apparent from the start as he climbed with skill and grace.

Rock Climbing Cathedral Ledge
Finishing pitch 2 of Funhouse

We made our way from Funhouse up to Upper Refuse and quickly dispatched it in 2 pitches.

Rock Climbing Cathedral Ledge
Finishing Upper Refuse

With us both at the fence at the top of the cliff I checked my watch… 10AM. That is probably the fastest I have climbed Cathedral via Funhouse to Upper Refuse while guiding ever! Antonio hadn’t broken a sweat yet so I decided to let him sample some of the great cliff top climbing we have before we headed down for more multi-pitch fun.

Within an hour Antonio ticked off The Lookout Crack (5.9), last pitch of Recompense (5.9) Little Feat (5.9), and the last pitch of The Prow (5.10a).

Rock Climbing Cathedral Ledge
The Lookout Crack- Rock Climbing Cathedral Ledge
Rock Climbing Cathedral Ledge
Little Feat
Rock Climbing Cathedral Ledge
Last pitch of The Prow
Rock Climbing Cathedral Ledge
Classic jams on the last pitch of The Prow

By North Conway Rock Climbs Antonio had climbed 10 pitches by the time we meandered over for a snack atop Airation Buttress. We then headed down to the top of the Thin Air Face and I short pitched us to the Saigon anchor. Antonio took a quick lap on the last pitch of Still in Saigon (5.8+) (historically called Miss Saigon).

Rock Climbing Cathedral Ledge
Last few moves (the crux) of Miss Saigon

We then did three quick single rope raps using Rapid Transit anchors and found ourselves at the base of an empty and open Thin Air right at noon. After another quick snack session we combined the first two pitches and topped out Thin Air at about 1pm.

Rock Climbing Cathedral Ledge
Antonio on the pitch 2 traverse
Rock Climbing Cathedral Ledge
Belay stance selfie
Rock Climbing Cathedral Ledge
Just above pitch 4 crux

Finishing up the 5.8 finish that brought the pitch total to 15… but it wasn’t raining yet… and Antonio still had energy to spare! Even though my radar app showed some stuff coming within an hour we squeezed in a quick top-belay of Pine Tree Eliminate (5.8+) to finish our tour de force of some of Cathedral Ledge’s best rock climbing.

Rock Climbing Cathedral Ledge
Finishing strong

We hustled down the descent trail reaching the cars right at 2 PM as the rain overtook the area.

Rock Climbing Cathedral Ledge
My Radar App

In 5.5 hours we climbed Cathedral Ledge twice. Antonio racked up 1,110 feet of technical climbing according to North Conway Rock Climbs. It was definitely a fun day of moving quickly and efficiently on the cliff. It was great to get to practice some transition skills from the previous day’s Mountain Guide Manual Clinic all for the purpose of giving my client the best possible day I could during his short visit. I shot some video during the day that I edited and uploaded here:

We are climbing again this upcoming Monday when the weather settles. I’m picturing something alpine. I can’t wait!

Rock Climbing Cathedral Ledge
Antonio ready for more after 16 pitches of climbing on Cathedral Ledge!

See you in the mountains,

Northeast Alpine Start



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Family Rock Climbing (8/21/16)

This past Saturday I had the privilege of taking the New Jersey based Schenck family out rock climbing at Whitehorse and Cathedral Ledge. Having spent the previous day kayaking the Saco River they were ready for some vertical fun.

Rock Climbing New Hampshire
On our way to the cliff
Rock Climbing New Hampshire
Alexa was dying to go first!
Rock Climbing New Hampshire
Coming down took some getting used to but we got there!
Rock Climbing New Hampshire
Ricky takes on the challenge. Heights isn’t Ricky’s thing, but he gave it a solid shot and I hope he tries it again!
Rock Climbing New Hampshire
Alexa liked belay duty as much as climbing!
Rock Climbing New Hampshire
Hanging out at the base of Thin Air in the afternoon
Rock Climbing New Hampshire
Alexa took multiple laps on the route
Rock Climbing New Hampshire
Definitely hooked on climbing!

Super fun day with this outdoorsy family! I think a multi-pitch climbing day with Alexa & her dad may be in-store for the near future!

Hope everyone is enjoying this spectacular climbing weather!

See you in the mountains,

-Northeast Alpine Start

Family Rock Climbing 8/7/16

Really fun day today climbing with this family from Austin, Texas! The Weaver’s are adventurers extraordinaire and were wrapping up a 3 week trip in New England before heading back south. Fresh off some intense downhill mountain biking the day before they were ready to rock. We started out day over at Whitehorse Ledge under the giant Echo Roof.

Rock Climbing New Hampshire
Kids first
Rock Climbing New Hampshire
No hands
Rock Climbing New Hampshire
Echo Roof looms above mom & daughter
Rock Climbing New Hampshire
Casual
Rock Climbing New Hampshire
Belay practice
Rock Climbing New Hampshire
Camouflage

After climbing “Holy Land” 5.6 and “Relic Hunter” 5.7 we had some lunch then headed over to the North End of Cathedral Ledge.

Rock Climbing New Hampshire
Resting
Rock Climbing New Hampshire
Afternoon light

Everyone took a spin on Child’s Play, then we headed for the top for some rappelling to round out our day.

Rock Climbing New Hampshire
Family pic before going over the edge
Rock Climbing New Hampshire
Over the edge
Rock Climbing New Hampshire
And down we go
Rock Climbing New Hampshire
Still got energy
Rock Climbing New Hampshire
Hooked on climbing
Rock Climbing New Hampshire
#adventurefamily

Thank you guys for another fun day in the mountains! See you next time for another adventure!

Plenty of great climbing days ahead and the forecast looks great! Come climb with EMS Schools before the summer slips away!

http://www.emsoutdoors.com/north-conway/rock-climbing/

See you in the mountains,

NEAlpineStart

 

 

Rock Climbing Summer So Far…

It’s been a great summer so far with lots of families & camp groups climbing with EMS Schools. I haven’t done as many individual trip reports as most of my free computer time has been spent on reviewing some of the coolest new packs & gear on the market. Hope everyone has been enjoying the summer!

Congrats to Ed. S. for winning the Friendly Foot giveaway on the LaSportiva TX2 Approach Shoe Review and Taylor for winning the Colonial Knife giveaway on the Petzl Bug Backpack Review! I have a quite a few more product reviews & giveaways planned this season so if you’re into that sort of thing be sure to subscribe to the blog.

Here’s our pics from yesterday as I introduced Maya and Seth to multi-pitch rock climbing!

 

See you in the mountains!

You can also follow NEAlpineStart on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter.

Cathedral & Whitehorse, Rumney & Huntington Ravine

This past 3 day holiday weekend had me guiding Yu Chih Chieh from Taiwan as he finished up 8 days of climbing instruction. Yu Chih, who goes by Brendan in the US, is in doctorate level program at Brown University in Rhode Island and is a die-hard botanist (and motivated aspiring alpinist).

Anchor building clinic
Cathedral Ledge

We started the morning with a brief anchor clinic and I show’d Brendan a couple options for extending top-rope anchor setups. Anchor theory is a hot topic with this guy’s scientific mind! We then hiked down to the Barber Wall for a quick rappel and discussed some of the finer points of the process.

Cathedral Ledge Rock Climbing
Rappelling the Barber Wall, Cathedral Ledge, Echo Lake State Park, NH

We then took a quick trip up Upper Refuse with a focus on seconding proficiently and transition efficiency.

Cathedral Ledge Rock Climbing
Thumbs up
Cathedral Ledge Rock Climbing
Topping out Upper Refuse, Cathedral Ledge

After we got a little heckled by the tourists at the top (the frat party was a bit offended I declined the beer they offered me for climbing the cliff, but I was working, and I do not drink Bud Lite) we made our way over to the quieter Airation Buttress for some lunch. Then a quick drive over to Whitehorse Ledge for 600 feet of slab ascent/descent.

Whitehorse Ledge Rock Climbing
Whitehorse Ledge

After 4 pitches of Beginner’s Route we headed back to the shop to look at a quick demo/practice of a belay escape.

For Sunday, July 3rd, the weather forecast was the same as the whole weekend. Bluebird. Knowing every cliff would probably be a bit of a zoo I decided to do something rash and head to the biggest zoo of them all. Rumney.

It had been a few years since I last visited this mecca of sport climbing. We pulled into the lot right at 9:30am and spaces were starting to fill up. The Meadows wall wasn’t too busy and we grabbed “False Modesty” and “Rose Garden” while discussing sport climbing issues that crop up every year (rigging to lower, closed systems, belayer placement, clear communication, etc).

Rumney Rock Climbing
Brendan cleans “Rose Garden” at The Meadows

We then headed down the road and up the hill to the Main Cliff to check out some of the new 2 pitch moderates that have been getting talked up on Mountain Project lately. “Crowd Pleaser” had quite a long queue on it but an obvious local regular pointed out the nearby 2 pitch 5.8 called “Tipping Point” with no line on it. We hopped right on and greatly enjoyed this fun little route.

Rumney Rock Climbing
Brendan reaching the first pitch belay ledge
Rumney Rock Climbing
Pretty scenic spot

The next pitch was super fun 5.8 with a solid crux right at the end… felt a bit closer to 5.9 to me but I’m not that well calibrated to Rumney grades ATM.

We then headed across and up the hill once again passing hordes of climbers on the wildly overhanging and popular crags like Darth Vader & Waimea making our way up to the highest bluff, the Jimmy Cliff. Up here we did two 2 pitch cruiser routes and enjoyed a steady fresh breeze the whole time.

Brendan had quite a bit of lead climbing experience in the gym and no “second belaying” experience so we covered some of the multitude of ways to properly belay the second while enjoying the cool breeze and lack of crowds.

Rumney Rock Climbing
Clip a Dee Doo Dah
Rumney Rock Climbing
Brendan finishes the last climb of the day

We stopped by the Black Crack Boulder on our hike out for yet another anchor building session (a critical trad climbing skill), then headed back across the Kanc to Mount Washington Valley. Despite some concerns about hitting the busiest cliffs on what might have been the busiest weekend we managed 5 climbs at 3 areas with 8 pitches total (plus that whole area is a botanist dream according to Brendan, who would often disappear while hiking behind me only to be found crouched at ground level camera in hand).

For July 4th, the last day of Brendan’s 8 day excursion, I picked an objective that I thought would be a suitable way to finish and also prepare him for his home country objective, Mount Yu Shan, the highest point in Taiwan!

Mount Yu Shan
Mount Yu Shan, highest point in Taiwan: 3,952 metres (12,966 ft)

We headed to Mount Washington with sights set on the Henderson Ridge. I had never climbed this route and found it to be fun outing. It took us 3.5 hours car to car with a leisurely pace and many stops to examine the unique flora that exists on Mount Washington (Alpine Garden Trail). We only saw one other climbing party of two on Pinnacle Ridge, and greatly enjoyed the cooler than valley temps!

After three days with Yu Chih Chieh I know he is well on his way to accomplishing whatever goals he sets for himself. An inquisitive scientific mind and desire will take him far in all aspects of his life and I look forward to the next time I share a rope with him.

Hope you all had a great Fourth of July weekend and spent a little time contemplating how lucky we are to have our freedoms!

Did you get out this past weekend? Let me know what you got on in the comments below!

See you in the mountains,

NEAlpineStart

Petzl Connect Adjust Review

The Petzl Connect Adjust has been out for a little over a year now but many climbers haven’t really had a chance to be exposed to it to determine whether or not it would be a helpful addition to their kit. In this review I’ll go in depth on what this item is, how it is different from other products in this category, and what purposes it might be best suited for.

Petzl Connect Adjust Review
Petzl Connect Adjust

So what is it? Simply put it is an adjustable lanyard for conveniently attaching to an anchor. There are a few applications where using a lanyard while climbing can be quite useful. To name just a few; cleaning an anchor at the top of a sport route in preparation for lower/rappel, multi-pitch rappelling where you want to stay anchored without using the main climbing rope, route development/maintenance. It’s probably best to see it in action before we dive into the details.

There are other options in the “tether” arena, and to fully understand the advantages of this piece of equipment it must be held up against what is already out there. So let’s take a very brief look at the two most common solutions climbers use a tether.

  1. The single/double length sling. Cost effective multi-purpose item with the distinct disadvantages of not being adjustable or shock absorbing. Care must be taken to ensure there is no fall potential on generated slack within that attachment. Not redundant.
  2. The Metolius Personal Anchor System (PAS). 93.5 grams. More expensive than the first option, some limited adjust-ability, options to make the situation redundant. It’s no surprise this item has gained a solid following over the last few years for both sport and traditional climbing climbing.

What does the Connect Adjust achieve that these other options don’t? In my opinion there are two distinct advantages of the Connect Adjust:

  1. It’s CE certified for personal fall protection. Its design incorporates the use of the Petzl Arial 9.5 climbing rope. This adds considerable strength (over 15Kn) and durability, along with some dynamic elongation, to your tether. This option does weigh 32.5 grams more than the PAS and is a bit bulkier to rack.
  2. It’s a fully adjustable tether. Other options simply don’t have the ability to fine tune your adjustment length like this device. Sure, there’s the Purcell Prusik, but that can have limitations based on what you build it with.

Before I dive into a couple drawbacks lets get this out of the way right now.

There is no piece of gear that is perfect in every single situation. So don’t look for that. But there is a great piece of gear for every application out there! In this case the Connect Adjust shines in a few arenas;

  1. Cleaning a sport route. Yes, you can continue to link quick draws together with non-lockers to attach yourself at the top of that sick on-sight you just sent. But you know there are better ways. This could be one of them.
  2. Multi-pitch descents/canyoneering. There are some great reasons to bring this along for these type of trips, mainly, the additional “fall protection”. Before I get into explaining “fall protection” here is a clever solution to be able to use this as a rappel extension while still maintaining the tether option (note you lose a bit of length with the girth-hitch and the resulting tether is about 10 inches shorter than a knotted double-length sling.
Petzl Connect Adjust Review
Petzl Connect Adjust Review

Fall Factor at its essence means how much force will be transmitted to the climber/anchor in the event of a fall. You could connect yourself to an anchor with a 4 foot nylon sling, climb up 4 feet, fall 8 feet, and be seriously injured or killed. That’s “Fall Factor”.

Ok, back to “fall protection”. This device is meant to protect against that in climbing situations in two ways.

First, it’s dynamic in nature. While not considered a “shock absorb-er” the technical specs allow for falls up to FF1. That means you could be futzing about trying to adjust something on the anchor with 2 feet of Petzl Arial between you and your anchor point. If you create two feet of slack but don’t go above the anchor point, and fall directly on the anchor (a fall of 2 feet or less), this attachment will dissipate the energy enough to not scramble your organs. The nylon sling/PAS options will not accommodate this type of mistake.

Second, it’s easily adjustable in both directions. You can shorten or lengthen this with consider-able ease increasing the chance of not having unnecessary slack in the system to worry about generating any high fall factor forces. Granted, adjusting it to be longer takes a little bit of practice, especially if you want to do it one handed, but with a little bit of practicing it becomes second nature, and is definitely easier than the Purcell Prusik which pretty much requires two hands for both tightening and loosening.

With that point addressed there is only one other consideration I want to bring up, and that is in redundancy. The materials throughout are more than enough strong for the application, but when confronted with a double bolt anchor without chains this device doesn’t allow you to be clipped into both without building a quick sling anchor (Magic X) or the like. In this regard the Metolius PAS starts to show some advantage. However, the Petzl Dual Connect Adjust solves this issue quickly, though picks up some more weight & bulk in the process.

L35ARM-Dual-Connect-Adjust_LowRes
Petzl Dual Connect Adjust

I’ll be testing the Dual Connect for the next month or so, and plan to update this post with more info related to that. Specifically I have some ideas for how I will rack/store these items on my harness in a more efficient way. While I admit I won’t pack these on trips where I am shaving ounces everywhere there are plenty of times I can see this making my day easier. Off the top of my head guiding 3 clients half-way up Whitehorse before rappelling, cleaning/bolting new routes in the outback, and as a personal tether for Mountain Rescue Service applications (especially as a litter attendant, this device has great potential due to its specifications).

In summary Petzl has created something unique and innovative here. It’s not the Holy Grail, but it’s functional and serves purpose. It does not replace the PAS, double length sling tethers, or clove hitches, but gives us another option of how we secure ourselves in the vertical world. It’s definitely worth checking out.

So what do you think of it? Have you tried it? What’s your personal tether system look like? Let me know in the comments below!

Disclaimer: Both the Connect Adjust and Dual Connect Adjust are being loaned to me from Petzl for this review and I’ll be returning them shortly. My opinions on the device(s) are solely my own.