PSA: Rappel Tree on Sea of Holes No More

Yesterday I climbed Sea of Holes on Whitehorse Ledge with my good friend Benny. As he made the moves past the bolt on the fourth pitch he quickly realized that we would not be doing the original 5.7 finish. The large pine tree that served as the anchor for the end of Sea of Holes and the D’arcy-Crowther Route (pg. 144 North Conway Rock Climbs, Handren) had uprooted.

rock climbing Whitehorse Ledge
Benny at the bolted belay station on the 5.8 variation finish to Sea of Holes with the uprooted tree anchor to his right

There wasn’t much noticeable loose rock or thick root system like the Refuse tree that failed 2 years ago on Cathedral Ledge.

rock climbing Whitehorse Ledge
Not much of a root system

I did not inspect it very closely but it did look a bit hung up on some smaller trees. Hopefully a heavy rain storm will send it the rest of the way down when no one is around. Until then if you plan on climbing Sea of Holes plan to do the 5.8 finish or rap from the 3rd pitch anchor.

See you out there,

Northeast Alpine Start

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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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
Rock Climbing New Hampshire
Belay practice
Rock Climbing New Hampshire

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
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

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!

See you in the mountains,




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,


Private Rock Climbing 7/12/14

This past Saturday I met an incredibly enthusiastic aspiring climber, James, and headed off to Whitehorse Ledge. After some “ground school” we cruised 600 feet up to Lunch Ledge. After taking in the view we made our way back down in 3 double rope rappels, then headed over to Cathedral. Unfortunately our day was cut short unexpectedly, but I’m happy to know I’ll be climbing with James again in the very near future.

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!





Cormier-Magness Route, Private Rock Climbing 9-21-2012

An avid back-country skier and aspiring mountaineer, David’s gone on some pretty inspiring adventures through-out the Cascades and up in Alaska. With strong ties back East he took the opportunity to get out for some multi-pitch climbing with us this past Friday. After chatting about his experience and desires for the day I mentioned a new route that had recently been put up on nearby Whitehorse Ledge, The Cormier-Magness Route.

This route was established on 8/31/2012 by locals Paul Cormier and Chris Magness, and is an excellent moderate line up a section of the Whitehorse slabs that most would have considered picked plenty clean of new route potential. A bit of “hidden in plain sight” if you will.

You can find a detailed route description in this forum:

We started at about 9am and quickly scrambled up the easy first pitch.

Scrambling up the easy 1st pitch
Looking down the classic 2nd pitch arete
Climbing through the summit slabs
Great view of Guides Wall, Cathedral, Humphrey’s Ledge, and Carter Notch in the distance
Near the top
Topped out with Echo Lake and Cranmore in the background

I had climbed the first 4 pitches with a client a week or so ago, and it was great to finish the whole route this time. If you are solid on 5.6 slab then this is a great route for a new leader, despite some run-out bits it protect’s pretty well. Both the 2nd and 3rd pitches have 5.6 cruxes on them. The 2nd pitch is a bit more of a mental crux with some well spaced protection, and the 3rd pitch is a well protected 5.6 slightly awkward step. The upper pitches can be a bit hard to follow, though I admittedly got off route on the 5th pitch by climbing the flake to the right, not the flake directly off the anchor as I should have. It was an easy fix, but it pays to read descriptions carefully!

David was a pleasure to climb with and given his interest in learning to ice climb and in taking a formal avalanche course this winter I have a feeling I’ll be seeing him again!