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July 31, 2008
There are so many places to climb here in the Valley and surrounding area that it's hard to visit them all over the course of a year. I kind of find myself cycling through some places on the order of every year or so, unless I have a specific reason to go there. Like Lost Horizon... I used to go there all the time, but now I go there every year or so. A couple of weeks ago I went to Attitash Crag and I hadn't been there in quite some time. It was great fun and I'll add it to my mental list of places that I'll visit a bit more often. On Tuesday I had one of my long-time clients, Gordon, come up for a day of climbing. We've done most of the classic 6 & 7's at Whitehorse and Cathedral so I thought that we might do something a bit different and Square Ledge seemed like a good option.
For me Square Ledge is a lot like Lost Horizon in that I went there often for a while, but now visit rarely. It's a great place to take beginners and has become a very popular place for the guides to take groups. After all where can you find really nice 5.4 - 5.6 climbing in a really great locations? It's a bit of a hike up the somewhat steep and loose trail, but once at the base of the crag I felt that really nice comfort level you have when you see an old friend after a long hiatus. Standard Route, The Prize, Joe's Place the Chimney...they all have their own very nice ambience.
We started with The Prize, the climb left of center. I did it in two pitches so I could see him all the way. That's one of the few drawbacks of climbing at Square Ledge. The main anchors at the top are trees that are 20+ feet back from the edge of the cliff. No problem if your partner is only 15'-20' below the top, but not good if they are all the way at the bottom and you have no idea how they are doing. As Gordon came up to the very top the view of Mt. Washington in the background with clouds right at the level of the Alpine Garden was really cool.
nice day but a bit cloudy on the mountain
Another great thing about Square Ledge is that other than a couple of bolts over on the Thriller Arete face, the whole thing is trad. It doesn't get a whole lot better for beginning leaders, gear placement training and gear removal practice. Gordon hadn't climbed in a year so it was great to get him some extra practice taking out cams and wire nuts. When we did Standard Route I used nothing but nuts and really over placed it, just so he would have lots of gear to take out. I'd forgotten that there was this really cool place where you can thread a nut with the wire downward and another place to thread a sling. Cool stuff...
interesting nut placement
For our finale I led up Joe's Place and kept as close to the edge of the Thriller Arete as possible. The extra exposure made the climb just a bit more spicy than your average 5.6 and Gordon really enjoyed feeling as if he was right on the edge of the abyss.
On the edge of the arete
All in all it was a wonderful day. Gordon got in some fun climbing and I really enjoyed renewing my acquaintance with two old friends, Gordon and Square Ledge. Maybe next week I'll have to wander over to Echo Crag. I haven't been there in a while.
It is hard to believe that it's already a single day away from being the first of August. It seemed as if summer just started and here we are only 4 weeks away from Labor Day! I'd like to be able to say that I've done as much stuff as I would have liked this summer, but unfortunately that's not quite the case. I'm starting to whack myself on the butt to get in gear & do a lot of the things I had on my agenda for this summer. How about you? Have you been out climbing, camping, kayaking, canoeing, cycling or whatever very much? It's easy to put things off, I know, even when you live in a place where all these opportunities abound. There are only 4 more weekends left before the de facto end of summer, so get out there & recreate.
Why am I not surprised? There was a news clip on WMUR Channel 9 on Wednesday morning that stated that this summer there has been a larger than normal number of people who are ill-prepared for the conditions on Mt. Washington. The announcer noted that up to 300 people per weekend are unprepared for changes in the weather conditions. I'm not sure where these statistics come from, but it would not surprise me at all - especially with the kind of weather that we've been having throughout July. I did a quick search on the topic and came up with this link & quotes from Mount Washington State Park Manager Mike Pelchat -
Union Leader link
Not too bad this week, mainly because of the nice breezes, and let's hope it stays that way.
Blues harmonica player and singer Bear will be appearing with his 4-piece band at the Wildcat Tavern this weekend. The band plays classic blues tunes by Muddy Waters, BB King and others. The band consists of guitarist Steven Cooney, drummer Jared Steer and me on bass. The music starts at 8:30 and goes until closing.
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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Have fun and climb safe,
The White Mountain Report
North Conway, New Hampshire
|Winter alpinism is hard enough without the added dilemma of free-climbing ethics.|