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October 14, 2004

Hi Folks,

I'd been wanting to get over to Cannon and do Whitney-Gilman for the past several years, but life just kept getting in the way. There is so much to do over on this side of the Kanc, besides the normal family & work considerations, that frankly it is hard to justify investing a full day just to do a single route. However, when 2 good friends Jim and Michelle asked if I was interested, my wife wasn't working that day so she could watch the kiddo & Dad, and the weather looked like it was going to be wonderful, how could I possibly refuse?

The original plan was for there to be 3 of us, but unfortunately Jim was unable to leave early enough so it ended up only being Michelle and myself. We got an early start, 7:30, and were the first ones on the climb. There was only one other party signed in at all, in spite of a number of cars in the lot...more on that later. We choose the wrong trail up into the talus-field & ended up in the middle of the cliff instead of the far left. No big problem though, we just traversed left in the middle. It was such a beautiful morning that we didn't mind a little extra effort. It probably took less than an hour to get to the base of the climb and we were ready to climb by about 9:30.

I'd decided to do the normal off-width / layback crack start off the ledge on the face of the buttress. The last time I'd climbed the route we had done the one around the corner to the right. Doing this one with the pack on was an eye-opener first thing in the morning. Oh yeah. alpine rock climbing. I remember what that was like! RIGHT... That same feeling kept coming back to me all day. There were cracks, jugs, exposure, face climbing, exposure and more exposure throughout the day. We did the 5.8 variation, the pipe-pitch and generally followed any pins that kept us right on the overhanging arete as much as possible.

I had originally thought to do it in mountain boots, but was happy to have opted for rock shoes instead. Jamming toes into offwidth cracks would have definitely been more difficult in my Nepal Top's. And besides, it was absolutely wonderful to sit on a belay ledge with my shoes off, basking in what turned into a bluebird 70 degree day!

I broke the climb up into about 5 pitches so I could see Michelle climb much of the time. She did a great job, especially considering that she hadn't done the climb before. It's amazing how the exposure in places like the Pipe Pitch can get your head in a tizzy. Talking about it later I mentioned to her that I simply don't look down when I'm climbing in situations like that. I don't have any problem with exposure in general, but I don't see any need to get that in my head. I just look up where I'm going. If I have to look down to see a foothold or gear, I use selective focus & don't see beyond where I need to. I don't know what other folks do, but it works for me. Once I'm at a belay I don't care. Hell, I'll lean out over the edge & savor the feeling, just not when I'm doing-the-do. <grin>

Another party appeared when we were 3 pitches up and made very good time. They had minimal gear and ran pitches together as much as possible. In fact they were so fast that they managed to finish the climb about 30 minutes after we did. We were packing up when the leader topped out.

I don't think that I've ever had as nice a day on Cannon and all in all it was as beautiful a day as one could possibly ask for. We've had lots of those kind of days over the past several weeks and I wish that they could last forever. You have to be prepared to grab them whenever you can and I'm thankful that I don't have one of those 5-day 9-5 jobs that keep me inside on days like that. Heck, if I did I'd probably be in trouble with the boss for taking too many sick-days at this time of year.

Here are a few pix that gives some idea of what the day was like:

the ridge
Michelle on pitch 1
A nice hand crack
Some nice exposure
On the final leg

Signing In:
Cannon has a sign-in box and book. It's a smart and considerate thing to to do to sign in. Smart, because if you don't sign out there is some record of where you might be. Considerate because, for example, people might get the idea that going up to do Moby Grape when there are 4 other parties signed in ahead of them isn't exactly a good use of their time! That's what happened on Friday BTW. So be smart and considerate and sign in before you leave the parking lot.

Someone posted a topic on NEClimbs asking what would be good training for climbing? It's such an open-ended topic and one that's different for everyone. I have been thinking about it lately, as I've been climbing more over the past few weeks as the bike season has been winding down. I have noticed a number of interesting things about my current level of fitness as it relates to climbing. Thanks to the bike I have significantly increased my aerobic level this summer. While that is always a good thing, there is more to it than that. I have lost 18 pounds since the beginning of last winter (10 this summer alone). Of course that allows me to pull harder with the same upper body and hand strength. In addition my calves and feet are much stronger. I have found that this allows me to stand on smaller edges for longer periods of time. I'm hoping that this translates into significantly less calf-burn on ice this winter.

I need to work on getting more upper body strength so that's the next step. I plan on taking up cross country skiing this winter to maintain my aerobic fitness. Of course whatever you do, it's almost certainly going to help. The main thing is to do something.

Fundraiser Thank You:
The 2004/2005 Fundraiser is officially over. Thanks to all of you who have contributed to NEClimbs and the White Mountain Report. I sincerely appreciate the support of the 85 individuals who made a contribution. I will be putting together the raffle this coming week and will announce it in the next Report. If you haven't gotten in your donation get it out as soon as you can. Of course you can use the PayPal method at any time.

NOTE - there was a major problem with PayPal last week that caused tens of thousands people all over the world not to be able to use the service. If you tried to send in a donation and had a problem, please try again. From what I can tell the problem has been resolved.

Mobile Version Of NEClimbs:
Up on one of the Mount Washington Valley's finest crags and want to know what that climb you're looking at is? Or maybe you're on your way up from Boston and want to check out the Ice Report for your upcoming weekend plans. Or more likely, you're at work just want to daydream about your next adventure. Well if you have a smart phone handy, you can get to NEClimbs from anywhere you have cell service. While it doesn't offer every single feature of the site and it's not an "app", in mobile form, it does do a whole lot and is very useful. Here is the live link to the mobile version of NEClimbs:

Check it out and if you have issues on your specific phone, please feel free to let me know.

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Remember - climb hard, ride the steep stuff, stay safe and above all BE NICE,

Al Hospers
The White Mountain Report
North Conway, New Hampshire

Chaos rules it all.
Mark Twight
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