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

Private Rock Climbing on Whitehorse Ledge 10-28-2012

A little over a month ago Laura and Chris joined me for a self-rescue course and today they returned for some slab climbing instruction. We met at Whitehorse and cruised up to Lunch Ledge via the Quartz Pocket variation of Standard Route.

Laura working her way up pitch 2 while Chris waits down at the first anchor

With each pitch we focused on body position, technique, momentum, and our responsibilities at each belay to help keep the party moving. We reached Lunch Ledge in under 2 hours, and did 3 double rope rappels back to the ground.

After a quick break we made our way over to Ethereal Buttress and climbed Beezebub corner, and excellent lesson in layback technique.

Chris works the opposing forces
Laura enjoying some good holds

We then dropped a rope on “Seventh Seal”, an excellent slab climb disguised as a crack climb. Chris was eager to have a go at the harder rated climb, and made smooth progress up to the thin crack.

Chris scopes out the upcoming thin crack

Here his perception of what constituted a decent foothold was challenged, but he preserved (after a couple hangs) and made it to the top.

After battling it out a pic at the top

I have a feeling it won’t be the last time he climbs this route. Feeling like we had accomplished the goals we set out for we called it a day and coiled the ropes.

Chris & Laura’s enthusiasm for their new hobby motivates me and reminds me of my early years in the climbing world… it’s an insanely fun sport and the first few seasons can be quite exhilarating, and dangerous, at the same time. While already lead climbing on their own Chris & Laura have recognized there’s a lot to learn to be a well rounded safe climber and I’m certain they are on the right path of self-study, practice, and occasional guided trips to reach what ever goals they might set for themselves. They definitely are eager students of the craft, and I look forward to our next adventure together!

 

 

 

 

2 Day Private Rock Climbing

I met Jon 2 years ago when he took a Level 1 Avalanche Course with me. Last winter he took the Level 2 course with me, and has become quite active with his local AMC Rock Climbing chapter in MA. He joined me for two days of climbing on Cathedral and Whitehorse with a focus on self-rescue, and multi-pitch efficiency.

Yesterday we started at “the classroom” on the top of Cathedral Ledge. There we reviewed building gear anchors and extending anchors out over an edge. We set-up a mock-rope rope system and covered belay escapes and leader rescue topics. After lunch we headed down and climbed Upper Refuse, Jon’s first Cathedral Ledge climb.

Jon on the first pitch
Jon on the 3rd pitch

We only took a little over an hour to climb Upper Refuse so with some time left we made our way down to the North End and climbed Child’s Play and Kiddy Crack to work on our crack technique a bit. Jon took an extra lap on Kiddy Crack and we wrapped up around 4pm.

The following day we met at Whitehorse Ledge. A new route had been established just 10 day earlier and Jon was happy to check it out. We climbed the The Cormier-Magness Route’s first 4 pitches (660 feet), then rapped back to the ground for a quick lunch break.

Jon on a really nice “Wheat Thin Arete” pitch, 190 feet 5.6
Jon at the steeper bulge at the end of pitch 3

The first three pitches of this route were highly enjoyable. While there are more pitches above the 4th pitch we did we wanted to get in another classic full length route so we wrapped from the top of pitch 4 and made our way over to Standard Route. We raced up that, and despite a small surprise on the 5.7 direct finish pitch, topped out in about 2 hours total.

Topped out, 1,600 feet of slab climbing in the bag

An excellent 2 days of climbing and instruction, with a highly motivated partner… I’m definitely looking forward to our next adventure together Jon!

Private Rock Climbing 8-26-2012

Laurel and Geoff drove up yesterday morning from Boston to get a little outdoor rock climbing experience before a trip to the Italian Dolomites next week where they are planning on doing some Via ferrata. Since Via ferrata is not very common in the US (almost non-existent) I showed them a via ferrata rig in the climbing school and the basics of use before we headed off to Whitehorse Ledge for some free climbing.

Whitehorse Ledge

After gearing up we scrambled up to the Launch Pad and went over the basics of rope management in a 3-person climbing team. Minutes later we were off and climbing…

Ready to go at the “Launch Pad”
Looking down pitch 2 while Laurel climbs
At the “Crystal Pocket” belay with Cathedral Ledge in the background

We caught up to a couple parties that had started before us at the spacious “Lunch Ledge”. Here we planned to rappel in order to spend the afternoon climbing some steeper crack climbs in the shade. After pre-rigging the rappel we began our descent.

Rappelling from Lunch Ledge
Rappelling down Slabs Direct

After we reached the ground we took a break for some lunch and water, then made our way over to the Ethereal Buttress area. We started contrasting the difference between friction slab climbing and crack/corner climbing on the fun short route, Beelzebub Corner.

Learning to lay-back on Beezlebub Corner
Slingshot belay in the shade

After everyone got a run on that we had some time left so I dropped the rope on nearby Seventh Seal, the thin 5.10 finger crack nearby. That proved an excellent challenge to finish the day on, and we were all pretty happy when we pulled our last rope.

You were both great fun to climb with, and I look forward to hearing about the Dolomites trip. And the Norway ski trip that might become a reality! Looking forward to our next climb together!

 

 

 

 

Private Rock Climbing, August 9th 2012

Yesterday I had the pleasure of climbing with husband and wife Eric and Elizabeth. This Pennsylvania couple was excited to get introduced to the sport with aspirations of caving and canyoneering out west in the near future. Throughout the day they had lots of good questions and were fully engaged in learning. Both were quick studies and despite a slightly late start we put in some mileage!

Whitehorse Ledge
Looking down at the first belay on Beginners Route, Whitehorse Ledge
Looking good!
Looking down Pitch 2 of Beginners Route
Erik rappelling from the top of pitch 3
On our way down
Elizabeth learning about crack climbing technique on Kiddy Crack, Cathedral Legde
Glad to have reached the top of this one!
Erik learning the power of the layback!
Elizabeth getting one more climb in on the Thin Air Face

The weather was just perfect with enough overcast to keep us relatively cool. We even tried our hand at bouldering on the way back to the car. I could tell these 2 had found a new hobby to pursue and look forward to helping them reach their climbing goals in the near future!

Private Rock Climbing at Cathedral Ledge

Yesterday Jamie came up from the Portsmouth area for her first taste of rock climbing. An avid hiker in the White Mountains she was looking for a bit more adventure and we covered a great amount of info and terrain in our 8 hours.

Learning some knots at The Classroom
First Rappell
2nd Rappell down the Barber Wall
1st Pitch of Upper Refuse
Reaching the 1st anchor, with Echo Lake in the background
Nearing the top of Upper Refuse
Nearing the top of Upper Refuse
Almost there
The Thin Air traverse
Looking Down Pitch 3

Jamie was super motivated to become a self-suffcient climber so I pointed her to a few books and suggested a couple follow up courses to help her reach her goals. We’re sure we’ll see her on the cliffs again soon!