I’ve been hearing about the climbing out at Mt. Forist for a couple years now. One can’t drive through Berlin and not notice the prominent looking 500 foot cliff on its northern outskirt. I only had time to today to jump on 5 of the 20+ routes listed in the new mini-guide published by Matt Bowman “firstname.lastname@example.org” but I will definitely be heading back there soon to explore some more. I’ll keep this post super short and share a video I threw together, largely with the help of some cool new cell phone tech I am reviewing for The Gear Institute (and will also publish here).
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.
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.
Everyone took a spin on Child’s Play, then we headed for the top for some rappelling to round out our day.
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!
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!
It was 1994 and I was 16 years old. I had been spending every paycheck I earned after school at the Salem, NH EMS on climbing gear. While cooling off one night at the long since closed Mill City Rock Gym I thumbed through a climbing magazine article titled “Ten under 10- Ten Classic Trad Climbs Under 5.10”. Number 6 on this list? Lakeview, Cannon Cliff, New Hampshire, Grade 3 YDS 5.6.
I was intrigued. Moderate multi-pitch climbing in New Hampshire? I had to do this climb. I started obsessing about it that summer. My first attempt was with my Assistant Manager Peg Foss. We drove up 93 in a light drizzle that ended right as we arrived in the iconic Franconia Notch. The cliff looked like it might dry, so we hiked up to the base. I took the first pitch, damp 5.3 climbing, but do-able. Peg started up the 2nd pitch, and at the first over-lap struggled, yelled “watch me” and slipped off.
It was her first leader fall.
It was my first leader fall catch.
She slid past me on the slab with enough time to make eye contact and ask “You got me!?”
Her only piece, an inverted pink tri-cam, kept her from going more than a few feet past the belay. Her ankle was bruised and she had torn through her nylon hiking pants to her underwear, but we somehow decided it would be a good idea to keep going. I volunteered to do all the leading.
2 pitches from the top the description in the guidebook confused me. Up this gully into a left facing book?
“Well this must be it.” I thought.
20 minutes later while sketching out in what I later discovered was off-route 5.8x terrain I finally admitted defeat, lowered off a suspicious horn, and we bushwhacked our way off the route to the north. After 20 years I still remember it as being one of the most heinous bushwhacks of my life.
My junior year of High-school started.
For my 2nd attempt I convinced a school mate to play hookie and “come try rock climbing”. I drove us north up 93 with a borrowed harness and convinced myself he would be fine following in sneakers. At the top of the 2nd pitch he declared he was terrified and didn’t want to continue, so I traversed out right into the shrubbery and embarked on the 2nd worse bushwhack of my life.
On my 3rd attempt I teamed up with “Tom”. We arrived at the base of the route just as another party was starting. I did everything I could to stay on their heels so I would find the correct finish to the climb. Finally, I stood out on the Old Man’s brow and tried to take in the amazing valley that sprawled below me, having just completed my first multi-pitch rock climb. In only 3 attempts. In just under 9 hours.
It’s been 20 years. What has changed? There was the 4 years in the Marines. 18 countries. 5 continents. Getting out and moving back to NH. Going back to work for EMS in Newington, NH. Transfer up to North Conway EMS. Retail. Waiting tables. Bartending. Seeing people die in the mountains. Avalanche courses. Guiding courses. The Old Man falls down! Get hired as a guide. More courses. A couple more deaths. Some… strangers in the mountains doing what they loved, others… much closer.
A girlfriend. A fiancee. A wife! A son! A daughter!
Here I am. 20 years later. Back at the climb that made me a climber. Leading Oliver, who started climbing a decade before I was born, and making his way back into the sport after a 30 year hiatus. Still using the 40 year old backpack he climbed with in Yosemite and the Cascades!
We leave the car at 10:35am, a late start for Cannon in my opinion but Oliver has showed endurance and skill over the last few weeks climbing with me on Cathedral and Whitehorse and I’m confident we can make good time.
We reach the base of the climb in about 35 minutes. I mistakenly took us up the Moby Grape approach trail forgetting that the Lakeview trail requires taking a hard right on the Pemi Trail after crossing the bridge. No matter, this only probably cost us 5-10 minutes. We rope up and off we go.
We make fairly good time up the first 4 pitches. The Old Man falling in 2003 has greatly altered the 5th pitch, and I choose to do the “uphill tree thrutching” bypass to the right to gain the traverse over to “Lunch Ledge”. Here, at 12:30, we take a minute to eat and drink.
Then up the two iconic last pitches… some of the best 5.5 & 5.6 climbing anywhere.
All day in the back of my mind I had been thinking about the memorable “Archival” Flake that guards the fun stemming corner at the top. This flake has frustrated quite a few good climbers, and for the leader it is a bit of a “no fall” zone due to the low angle slab below it. I had it mastered 20 years ago, and today muscle memory brought me up it via “monter a cheval”, or “mount the horse”.
At 2pm we were on the top. While the flake move had provided a solid challenge for Oliver the reward at the top was obvious.
“This may be the greatest climb I have ever done” says the guy who used to stay in Camp Four and lead friends on climbs in the Cascades in his college years.
It was at this moment I realized I first stood up here 2o years ago, a somewhat reckless teenager getting hooked on something that would steer my life forever.
After a 30 minute break we make our way down the descent trail reaching the car at 3:15pm. I peak Oliver’s interest in some of the great climbing across the way.
Here’s to the next 20 years of adventure, and what life will bring. They’ll be plenty of ups, and a few downs, but I couldn’t be more excited to experience them.
This past Wednesday Oliver returned for some more preparation before his Yosemite trip next month. We started the day with a full length route up Whitehorse via Standard Route (1080ft, 9 pitches, 5.7).
65 degrees, sunny, light breeze… perfect climbing weather… and we had the whole cliff to ourselves all morning! We quickly climbed up to the Crystal Pocket.
After a quick snack on Lunch Ledge I decided to climb the original “Brown Spot” 5.5 variation since I always take the Slabs Direct 5.7 variation. I quickly discovered why I never take this variation. The bolt protecting the move is one of the nastiest old 1/4 inches I’ve ever seen. The climbing itself doesn’t feel any more secure than the 5.7 variation. I stopped a little higher on the next ramp to belay to keep the rope drag down, and while I thought replacing the bolt might be a good community service I think it’s probably better to just stick to the direct finish. It’s MUCH nicer in every possible way.
It was only 12:30 so we ate some lunch and made our way down the hiking trail. Oliver was interested in going over some of the various anchor strategies we used on this climb so we drove over to The North End of Cathedral Ledge. There we spent a half hour or so going over some new and old techniques of constructing anchors. To wrap up our day we took a quick spin on Child’s Play, the fun 5.6 crack climb, then headed back to the shop.
Oliver’s got a couple more days planned with me this Fall before his Yosemite trip and is getting a few training days in at the tres-new Salt Pump Climbing Co. gym that recently opened in Scarborough, ME. If you are Downeast you should definitely check this amazing climbing gym out!
In 20 years of climbing I have only recently started carrying belay gloves with me on a regular basis. When I first started climbing it seemed like an unnecessary extra item. My hands could handle a little rope burn from time to time right? After joining the local Mountain Rescue Service I started carrying them on rescues due to heavier loads and lots of rope work (and some BSI protection).
In the last two years I have switched to carrying them 100% of the time, and now feel like I am missing something if I leave them at home. Perhaps it is because I am climbing & rappelling on skinnier ropes than I was 15 years ago, but the added security and comfort they provide easily justifies their cost & weight on the back of my harness.
For this review I tested both the mid-weight and lightweight versions of these gloves. When I first tried on the mid-weight Petzl Cordex Belay Gloves in the store they felt a bit stiff. The double goat leather palm and fingers definitely looked durable but I could tell they would take a little breaking in. In just about 5 days of use they softened up nicely.
For a rugged belay glove they fit my medium sized hands quite well, and the neoprene velcro cuff made them feel secure when in use. The convenient carabiner hole in the cuff is also substantial enough that there is no fear of of the carabiner attachment failing (unlike some models that just sport a thin sewn loop). I carry these on an oval biner’ that sports two prussic’s, a micro-ascender (Petzl Tibloc), and my knife.
The only downside was these gloves felt a bit hot during last week’s upper 80’s lower 90’s temps. After searching online I found a good deal on a pair of the lightweight version of this glove:
They feel just as durable in the palm and fingers as the midweight version but the back is almost 100% breathable stretch nylon. These will be much more comfortable climbing in warm weather and will definitely outlast the cheaper suede style belay gloves some of my fellow guides use.
Manufacturer Description and Technical Specs:
Ergonomic cut for great dexterity without being too tight
Made of high quality leather for the perfect balance of durability and dexterity
Durable double layer of leather in high-wear areas: fingertips, palm, between thumb and index finger
Back made of breathable stretch nylon for excellent fit and ventilation
Neoprene cuff with Velcro closure
Carabiner hole to attach gloves to harness
Material(s): goat skin leather, stretch nylon
Certification(s): CE EN 420, CE EN 388 (3133)
Weight: 100-120gr (depends on size)
If you haven’t used belay gloves before I’d suggest you try it out. They make a lot of sense for multiple styles of climbing. Catching sport climbing falls will feel more secure. Rappelling skinny rope in steep terrain will feel more secure. Even quickly coiling rope to move on to the next route is easier when the rope can quickly slide through your palms without nylon on skin friction. You can find them on Amazon here.
If you have an opinion on using belay gloves please share it below! Let us know what model’s you’ve tried and liked (or not liked) in the comments below.
Thanks for reading!
See you in the mountains,
Disclosure: I purchased these gloves with my own money. This post contains affiliate links.
Yesterday’s weather forecast called for 94 degrees in the valley’s. I wanted to climb, but I didn’t want to cook, so I called up my old friend Rob to see if he would be in for a morning climb up this classic alpine ridge. He agreed, and asked if his girlfriend Stephanie could join us. While we wouldn’t be setting any speed records as a party of three I liked the idea of a more mellow social climb, so the plan was made and off we went.
We reached the base at 9:30 and I was surprised no one else was on route even though it was a Monday. I took the first 3 pitches leading on doubles and while we swapped racks for Rob to lead the 4th pitch we saw the first of two other parties arrive behind us.
The first party of two was making good time but stayed to the right on the more direct 5.9 variation. Rob cruised the 5.8 variation (does anyone ever climb the Allis Chimney anymore?) and I took us up and right to link up with the “Fairy Tale Traverse” pitch. This is one of the coolest pitches in the White Mountains.
Around this time I discovered this was Stephanie’s first multi-pitch climb, having only climbed once or twice at Square Ledge. Great job on the route Stephanie, hope you and Rob are still together 😉
We coiled the ropes and started the hike up to the top of the ravine.
I hope to climb this a few more times this season. It had been a few years since I had been up there and I had almost forgotten what a great route this is. It is definitely a great option when valley temps are forecast-ed to be scorching!