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I've been fortunate to have been befriended by local guide and climber George Hurley about 8 years ago, a bit after Alyssa and I moved up to the Valley. George is a prolific new-route-kind-of-guy, thus always looking for partners to hep him put up his latest new creation. It seems to go with the territory. Our first excursion was over to White's Ledge at the end of the season in '99. He had found an interesting line on a clean face just to the right of "Especially When The October Wind Blows". We worked it a couple of mornings a week over the month of November, finally getting it clean on November 28th. That was our last rock climbing of that season as it started snowing as we walked out.
Over the ensuing years we've climbed together many times and it's always been a stimulating experience. In spite of living down in Wonalancet these days, George gets out climbing far more than most or tons more than any other septuagenarian I've ever known. Since he knows that I work at home, he occasionally drops by the house in the morning to see if I want to go out. Lately it seems as if I'm always busy as he usually shows up between 9:30 and 10 AM, right after my plans are all made for the day. On this Tuesday he called me about 8:30, not giving me time to have filled up my day, and we made plans to climb in the late morning. He'd been chomping at the bit to show me an extension to a climb at the North End called Raising The Roof. It sounded like a good plan to me.
We got over to the North End at about 11 and there wasn't a soul around. Certainly not that surprising the day after Memorial Day, but it seemed unusual nevertheless. The Roof is a climb that goes up a kind of gully, just left of The Slot. I've climbed several times since it was cleaned about 2 years ago, doing the traverse to the trees as per usual. Apparently last year Brad White cleared out the trees & brush on the right side of the roof, allowing you to continue straight up the corner to a reasonable tree ledge. It's about 5.9 with good protection. Apparently George and Chris Noonan found the upper section last summer, cleaned it up & sent it.
I hadn't this version myself so I let George lead. He motored up nicely and set up a belay in the corner at the ledge. I followed and was amazed to find it a perfect extension of an already nice route with great holds and good gear everywhere. Slings and rings on a tree about 10' to the right would allow you to rappel but what George wanted to show me was higher still.
While you can continue directly up the corner with a 60 meter rope, George stepped out right & went up a small buttress. I'm not sure if this would be the best thing to do, but he said that he felt the corner was loose. I could see one block in the corner that should be removed if this is to become the popular continuation. Regardless, belaying from the tree ledge allows you to see your partner as they climb - always a good thing! Whichever one you choose, 30' of climbing takes you to the big Unicorn Ledge. This is where the winter climbs Unicorn and Broken Pick are located and not anywhere I would have expected to find a rock climb.
George placed a 2-bolt anchor on the left side of the ledge last summer. I was up there last winter and never noticed it as it was covered in ice and snow. He pointed out "The Liger", a 5.10 route that goes up the Unicorn corner that he and Dave Lottman put up. The route George wanted to show me starts just a bit left of the anchor and a little right of an obvious mossy crack. You climb the blocky corner with good gear. Near the top of the corner you move right, still with good gear and look for a line of 3 bolts. Lean to your right (crux) and hand traverse up and right on good holds using the rib for your hands. The exposure here is very entertaining. You will come to a large horizontal crack that takes good gear. I suggest loading it up as the second crux is mantling into the crack and reaching the 2-bolt anchor. While you could climb the mossy and totally unprotected 5.6 slab to the top of the cliff, there is really nothing to recommend it.
This is a hard 5.9 and by no means a give-away. It's a great climb, in an unlikely location. It's hard to believe, but here is a 3-pitch climb at the North End. Amazing... I haven't done The Liger, but George says it's great too. Here's another excuse to get out with George next week, tho I really don't need much of one. Kudos to everyone who was involved in these endeavors. Here are a couple of pictures...
PS - Yup, that's me climbing without a helmet, something that I probably haven't done more than a handful of times in well over 15 years! I had transferred my gear from one pack to another and left my helmet on the chair in the breezeway when we left the house. It was too much hassle to drive back over & get it when we got to the base of the climb and I noticed it was missing. It may seem silly but the entire time I was climbing, even on a TR, I was nervous. It's like driving without a seat belt, you just feel naked. Of course nothing happened, George didn't even knock a pebble off the ledge, but it's not something you will likely see me do again.
Ice Conditions Report:
Selected Ice Conditions effective March 28, 2015
FLASH - I rode by Frankenstein this morning on my way up to ride my FT bike into Zealand. The ice still looks surprisingly good. Hopefully it will make it through the week, in spite of the warming trend. Stay tuned...
15th Annual Women's Rock Weekend:
IMCS and EMS are working together to provide a great weekend for ladies and New England climbers!
JUNE 23rd &24th - NORTH CONWAY, NH
This weekend is designed for women of ALL abilities at a great price. Climb for you first time, learn rock rescue, refine your crack skills, or get on the sharp end!
* Free goodies to our ladies from our sponsors!
* DJ, FREE BEER, and slideshow ($5) for EVERYONE! We want to bring New England climbers together for a really fun night! Yes, FREE BEER for EVERYONE! @ IME 4-7!
Slideshow: Caroline George- on first ascents ice climbing in iceland and first ascents crack climbing in Ethiopia!
Sat. night @ 7:30 next to Flatbread Pizzeria.
* Silent auction filled with goods to help a local women's shelter!
* EMS Pancake Breakfast on Sunday! $5 or free to participants! @ Flatbread!
So, everyone come up and ladies sign up to kick-start your climbing summer! It's THE weekend to be up here!
The ticks are seemingly worse than last week. A five minute walk through some bushes on Wednesday evening yielded 6 ticks on my legs! Mosquitoes and blackflies are swarming so keep that DEET based bug dope handy for now.
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.
NEClimbs & White Mountain Report On Facebook:
Join us and LIKE us on Facebook. I'll try and post some interesting pix every Thursday and the latest Ice Report in the season, tho certainly not the whole Report. Here's where you can check it out:
The White Mountain Report
North Conway, New Hampshire
I was once bouldering in solitude in the Needles, when a young female walked up and introduced herself and asked who I was. I told her and continued bouldering. She turned and walked away after a few minutes, saying over her shoulder: 'you can't be John Gill. He climbs much better than that'.