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After almost a week of gorgeous weather we got a bit of well needed rain yesterday. Not a gully-washer, but a light soaker that lasted most of the day and evening. Although the leaves had mostly come out, this really did the deed. A walk in the woods with the dog this morning really made it obvious that it's green everywhere you look. Ands in fact if you're out therein the woods looking for something in the distance, you might not find it!
Last week I was happy to be able to get out and do some climbing with Jerry Handren. Jerry's been in town this spring working on a much-needed new guidebook for the Mount Washington Valley. It's been over 13 years since Ed Webster did his 3rd edition of Rock Climbing In The White Mounts of New Hampshire. Lots has changed in that time and while the NEClimbs.com routes section has helped, we've desperately needed a new book.
I've seen Jerry several times at Found Ledge over the past few weeks, but this time he asked if I wanted to go out and climb at White's Ledge. It's been a while since I've been there, so I jumped at the opportunity. We met at the entrance to the gated dirt road that runs along the Saco. As we were getting gear together a van came by and stopped. It was Rick, the owner of the house down at the end of the road. He reminded us to be careful not to block the entrance as it is used regularly. Seemed like a nice guy and we chatted for a few minutes. I asked if the low point in the road was muddy and he stated that the State had done some work in there last year and it was in good shape. That in mind I left my van and we drove Jerry's rental-car down to the pullout. Unfortunately I picked the wrong one, too early, and this got us off course and into the ledge too far to the right. Fortunately last Thursday the leaves weren't quite filled in and we were able to just make out the cliff so we got there without actually getting lost, we just traversed into the talus field from the right! I need to get the exact distance from the gate to the correct pullout and put that into the web site directions.
Jerry wanted to do Endeavor first as this is probably the best overall climb over there. He has a pair of 70 meter double ropes that make leading this kind of wandering climb really nice. I hadn't done it in a couple of years, but everything was as I remembered it. We both agreed that it is a sterling climb that is perfect for the 5.7 leader who wants to test themselves a bit. All the moves are really nice, the gear is everywhere you want it and although there are some old pins you can easily place gear instead.
We rapped off without doing the upper section and walked over to the right to check out Inside Straight, a route done first by George Hurley in 1981 and then freed a week later after by Paul Boissoneault. The very short first pitch goes up a mildly strenuous finger/hand crack to a funky ledge with a belay on a crappy beat-up birch tree. The second pitch goes up a steep slab past 2 old bolts. The move to the first bolt is IMO a bit necky as if you come off you will hit the ledge and drop off several feet. Not really very fun, but once you clip the bolt the climbing is very nice! You traverse over to the right to a crack and some trees where you get a good belay.
The original route continues up several pitches with nothing really to commend them, however Brad White and Dick Peterson put up a much more appropriate finish called Trump Card. This requires making a difficult step over to the left right off the belay and then climbing an incipient crack with small gear and a solid RUP to a ledge and 2-bolt belay. While Ed grades the route and the direct finish both at 10a, IMNSHO it's more like 10b. Your mileage may vary... Regardless, it's a nice route and if the bolts were replaced it could be popular.
Lastly we headed over to take a run on Finesse, a climb that George and I put up in 1999. It goes up on a clean face just right of Especially When The October Wind Blows following a series of bolts and small gear placements to a tree belay. This is a very sequency climb that goes at 10c. I remember George wanting to call it 5.10, and only upping the grade after coming back to it several years later and finding out how hard it really was.
At the time this was the hardest climb I'd ever done and it took me quite a while to work out the moves. It was very impressive to watch Jerry on-sight it with no falls or hangs. he is a really good climber. I did it on a TR, and while I didn't fall or hang I wouldn't have wanted to lead it. Fortunately the protection is exactly where you would want it.
We followed the well travelled climbers trail out to its intersection with the main trail, took a right and were at the road and the correct pullouts in no time at all. A short walk and we were at Jerry's car. All in all a great day of climbing in a wonderful location and we didn't see another soul.
On Monday Joe and Judy Perez and Jeff Lea and I went into Humphrey's to finish off a new route we'd been working on a bit over the past couple of weeks on the far left side of the cliff. It goes up a clean face just to the right of Judy's climb Gaggle Of Geese. The week before I'd gotten up above the main section by climbing Tree Keys and traversing left over a Juniper covered ledge. We worked it and did some cleaning that day and a few days later Joe & Judy came back without me, put up the anchor higher past an easy headwall and left a fixed line. On Monday I used my shunt to climb the line and switch it to a TR. We each did another run or so, marked the bolt locations and then I went up with the drill and put in the bolts. There was on up on the easy upper headwall, 6 on the harder middle section and 2 on the lower slab.
I took a break for something to eat and drink and figured I'd give it a try. While all but the upper headwall has some difficulties, the crux is getting onto a ledge at the top of the middle face. I'd managed it on TR, not without a bit of difficulty. I managed all the moves up to that point in good form, but I simply could not make the crux move cleanly. At the risk of making excuses, after all the TR efforts and the drilling my hands were toast. [sigh] After a couple of tries I was very frustrated and had Joe lower me down. They were all kind enough to offer to wait for another day when I was rested, but I was worried that someone would nab it so I offered it to Joe. Needless to say he nailed it on the first shot. Congrats to Joe. It's a very nice climb and well worth doing if you are over in that area. At 5.10, it's harder than many of the others and is a good addition.
When we were climbing on White's the previous week Jerry had mentioned that it seemed as if we'd hit a "critical mass" in this new area to make it a popular and I hope that is the case. I hear from a number of folks that they have been over there and have enjoyed the climbing. With the new trail that cuts across from below Wanderlust it's easier to get to the right side of the area without having to go up and down. Thanks again to David G for that massive work.
Ice Conditions Report:
Selected Ice Conditions effective February 23, 2017
The warmup has really hit us hard everywhere but in the higher elevations. Anywhere in the direct sun is dam close to toast right now. The Amphitheater at Frankenstein is off the radar, or certainly should be. You can probably do the Pegasus rock finish, but that's all. And I would be VERY careful walking under anything over in that area. As of today, Thursday Feb 23, Standard Route still looks OK. I also spotted someone climbing on Waterfall, tho I'm sure that the normally funky top outs are worse. The bottom of Dropline fell down, but Dracula still looks good. I was pleased to see that Willies still looks good. The snow has compacted and I saw what looked to be blue ice. The left side of Willard is basically gone, but Hitchcock, The Cleft, Left Hand Wrench, the far right slab and Elephant Head are still climbable. Other than the Barking Dog and North End I would write off Cathedral Ledge. I know people are going to ask about Repentance, etc and frankly I would caution away from it. In fact anything that is supposed to be attached to rock is suspect. Not to mention the fact that there is a LOT of stuff hanging around above you on Cathedral at this time.
Directions: Hike left along the cliff past Robinson Crusoe. Take a left on a separate trail just as you go uphill to the start of Wanderlust. This route is located on the lower slabs at the far left end of the cliff to the right of a large right facing corner and small roof. It is the bolted route to the right of Gaggle of Geese.
Description: Unusual moves and choices characterize this slab and face climb. There are excellent views of the valley from the upper cliff.
Pitch 1: Climb the slab past 2 bolts to the horizontal crack about 25 feet above the ground. Climb over the crack and on the left or right and continue up the face to a difficult move (crux) that gets you onto a ledge. Clip a bolt and continue up an easy but unprotected corner to a lone bolt and 2-bolt rappel anchors higher up. (70')
Descent: rappel the route
History: May 17, 2010 - Joe Perez, Al Hospers, Judy Perez, Jeff Lea
Here's a few pictures from the past week's climbing, enjoy...
Print Sale Benefits Kismit Rock Foundation:
Sale of Cathedral Ledge and Mount Washington panoramic prints to benefit Kismet Rock Foundation. Local photographer and Kismet Rock Foundation Board Member Brian Post is offering two panoramic prints to benefit the North Conway, NH non-profit. $100 from the sale of each print will be donated to Kismet with a goal of $1700 hoping to be reached by July 1. See this page on Brian's website for ordering information and print previews:
The BugCON status bumped up to a 3 earlier in the week. If you're in the woods, out of any breeze or at the base of a climb it can be pretty bad. I suggest bug dope for all...
Peregrine Closings 2010:
To promote successful nesting by NH state-threatened Peregrine Falcons, temporary access restrictions are currently posted at the following New Hampshire cliff sites through August 1, 2010:
Cathedral Ledge (north end only), Bartlett, NH
Eaglet Spire (and adjacent walls), Franconia, NH
Frankenstein (lower south-facing wall), Harts Loc., NH
Holts Ledge, Lyme, NH
Owls Head (see signs on site for closed section), Benton, NH
Painted Walls, Albany, NH
Rattlesnake Mtn. (Summit Cliff only), Rumney, NH
Square Ledge, Albany, NH
Sugarloaf Mtn., Benton, NH
These postings are subject to change as conditions warrant. Printed material suitable for posting will be distributed to field offices, climbing schools, and recreational outlets. Your cooperation is essential to the success of this effort. Share the cliffs with wildlife!
- Chris Martin, Senior Biologist, NH Audubon
April and May are NEClimbs.com month here at Lowe Alpine:
As the snow happily disappears and the sun and warmth bring with it time on the rock and trails, we'd like to enhance your experience with a new pack or accessory. So through May 31st, find the Lowe Alpine product that best suit your needs and enjoy 25% off the entire purchase. Click the link HERE and enjoy...
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
From Everest Base Camp, you can walk four hours and you're lounging on grass, drinking beer with trekkers. K2 stands absolutely on its own. The approach is hard. The base camp feels like the moon. The mountain itself looks utterly impregnable, and there's no easy way up the thing. And all this hits you between the eyes when you see it for the first time. It's like that famous Munch painting. You know the one—The Scream? Except, of course, you're the one doing the screaming.