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October 16, 2008
I hate to admit it, but I'm not a very good crack climber. I know it's something that you have to work at, and I really don't do that. Given my druthers I would rather climb thin face stuff or friction any day. That's not to say that I don't have fun climbing a nice layback flake like Loose Lips or Doh at Mt. Oscar. Those are different. I just don't enjoy jamming my toes in a crack and twisting them till they hurt. And since I play so much music I really worry about what crack climbing does to my fingers, especially the knuckles. So when George Hurley called my on Tuesday evening to go climb his new creation, a second pitch to They Died Laughing over at the North End, I admit that I wasn't exactly overly enthusiastic. But my interest in seeing his new climb and my need to get out before Thursday's impending rain overrode my reluctance & I agreed.
I had some business to take care of in the early morning so we agreed to meet on Wednesday at 11. It was a beautiful morning and there was hardly anyone at the cliff, not a soul was at the North End. We geared up and George asked me if I wanted to lead They Died, but I passed on the offer. It was enough for me to watch that 70 year old guy cruise the pitch.
George on They Died Laughing
I wasn't nearly as elegant, the pain in my toes reminding me of my general negative feelings about finger cracks. Once I got going tho it wasn't all that bad,still I was happy to get to the top. George had built an anchor directly above The Died with one of the pieces being a bong back around to the right that I'd never seen before. Maybe this was prescient, considering that the climb that we were going to do had always been there but no one had seen it either.
The new climb is named Post-Mortem - ostensively because that's what is done after the died laughing! It starts by climbing up the little buttress where the anchor was built to a grassy ledge, taking care to avoid the poison ivy, and then continuing up a shallow groove past 3 bolts to the Unicorn Ledge.
I found this to be quite hard, but well protected. By the old-school rating game I would say 9+, and quite frankly thought it was harder than something like Loose Lips. My guess is that this move, which George says is the crux of the climb, is on the order of 10b. You can do the rest of the climb in a single 60 meter pitch, but we opted to go to the Raising The Roof anchor on the left wall.
From the anchor you step back down to the smooth slab below the upper Unicorn corner, which is also the rock route called The Liger. Climb the clean slab past 3 welcome bolts to the small ledge and scrawny maple tree. George choose to sling the tree.
slingin' the tree...
From the tree you step a bit right on the ledge and pull up on surprisingly good holds to a stance on the slab above. This is a very cool move, but there is a neater one to come! Just behind the tree is a crack in a corner that takes good gear. From here you step a little left, then back right and up on reasonable holds to the 2 bolt anchor and the end of the climb. I think that the last set of moves from the tree are all in the 5.9 range. To keep things at around that rating you could do The Roof up to the Unicorn Ledge belay, which goes at around 5.9, and then finish off with this climb. Perhaps not a bad option.
George on the upper slab
George at the anchor
While there is some more rock above, George's opinion is that there is nothing to recommend it and I believe him. I have to admit that it's pretty amazing that he has found another cool climb in an area that most folks would figure was tapped out. Over the past few years he's found Bailsafe, a climb right beside Birdnest, as well as both Raising the Roof and The Liger. Who knows, there may still be more hidden Hurley gems at the North End.
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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:
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The White Mountain Report
North Conway, New Hampshire
|I soon learned that Everest wasn't a private affair. It belonged to many men.|