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August 8, 2013
Oh what a fun week this one has been. Overall the weather has been nice, my hands and wrist actually felt great for a change and I finally managed more than one day of rock climbing in a single week! WOO WOO!!!! I was really happy when IME called me and asked if I was into guiding a half-day afternoon on Monday, and since it was an absolutely spectacular day, how could I turn it down? Since I already had plans to climb on Tuesday for the day with George, and the weather predictions were for more of the same, it was pre-ordained to be a great week.
I met my client Greg at the shop at noon and he seemed like a great guy and his requested climb was Thin Air. COOL Since it's probably the most popular climb on Cathedral, and the weather was amazing, I wasn't sure how busy it was going to be, but we headed over to check it out. When we arrived there were a bunch of cars on the road by the kiosk, but I couldn't see any climbers on any of the pitches. And when we got up to the start of the climb there was a party of kids from Kismet (http://www.kismetrockfoundation.org/), but they were over to the left by No Man's Land and the Saigon's so we were good to go.
We geared up, went through the client basics, telling him exactly where I was going and how he would deal with the gear, and I headed up. As is pretty much the standard now, I climbed all the way to the bolt anchor on the right side of the traverse, placing gear every 6-10 feet. I stay below the horizontal until I'm just below the single remaining piece of fixed pro, then I step up on the sidewalk and move 12' right to the anchor. It makes things pretty easy for the second. Greg did really well, following easily.
I really like to make sure that clients know what to expect., so just as before we talked through where I was going and how he would follow. Then I stepped out right and headed up the sweet flake, through the chimney to the top of the pedestal. Then I built my normal anchor in the cracks. I do wish that the bolt anchor from the 60's was still there, but what can you say? Greg followed and did a great job pulling up through the chimney. Some clients find it a bit awkward, but he did well. I can remember doing it with George Hurley 20+ years and him saying that pulling on the tree was just fine "because it's natural" and I always say the same thing to my clients. [grin]
The next pitch is the "money pitch" IMNSHO and my overall favorite. I always go up through the groove, kind of laying-back on the flakes. It's such a nice series of moves and the the exposure is just wonderful. It doesn't get a whole lot better than that. I always want to see my client as they are coming up any climb, and in this case I really want to be right there to to support them, so I always belay from the overlap about 20' above the crux moves. I could see everything Greg was ding as he moved up from the anchor and onto the face. He struggled a little until he figured out the feet, but because we could see each other he felt really secure.
From here there are a couple of options to the top. The standard line goes a bit left, up through the mossy corner, over the block and steps right to the tree. There is another popular line that goes straight up a slab to a headwall and rates at about 5.8. The thing is there really isn't any gear and I don't like the idea of unprotected 5.8 with a client. Most of my guide friends feel the same way about it, and so as always I went left. Greg followed easily, occasionally waving over toward the tourist overlook. When he got to the ledge he said that his wife was up there taking some pictures. That was really cool and when we walked off she was there to meet us and gave us a ride back down to my van. All in all a wonderful afternoon on the cliff.
Tuesday morning George came by and we headed over to climb at Humphrey's. The original plan was to go to Halls Ledge, but for family reasons I needed to be closer in case I needed to run home. In spite of another fabulous day, there were no cars at the cliff. We walked in all the way to the far left side of the Geriatric Walls. I hadn't done one of my climbs, Daddy Needs New Shoes (5.7), in over a year so that was on the list. George wanted to give it a try, so we geared up and he made short work of it. The start goes up through what looks like a totally moss covered slab, however it is actually cleaned wherever you want a handhold or gear placement and is a lot better than it looks. The crux move is getting through a smallish arch and onto the clean face on the left. I lowered him off and took a run as well. I think it's a nice well-protected climb, with some interesting moves. Next we moved over about 40' right to 3 Brushes (5.6). This is a Chris Magness climb and I've always like it. I led that one and we both felt it was a nice line, tho perhaps with some slightly tricky gear placements for your beginning leader. I hadn't done my climb Life Of Riley (5.9) so we moved another 50' right to give that one a try. Again I hadn't done this one in a couple of years. It's pretty much a 1-move wonder, that in retrospect may be closer to 5.8. Still, it has a couple of nice positions and IMO is worth doing. It has 1 bolt and good gear everywhere you want it.
We took a short snack-break and while we were munching and chatting George mentioned that he had seen an interesting line nearby that he wanted to try. I'm always game for an adventure, so I said sure. He managed to do exactly what he envisioned and it actually was pretty neat. I won't say where it is because he wants to come back and add a single bolt, which will certainly make it more popular and keep it away from another existing route. I'll post some more info soon.
All in all a great couple of days on the rock, and actually I did get in some time on the mountain bike on Wednesday and again this afternoon, between the showers. I am supposed to guide an old client on Friday morning, but the weather isn't looking too great right now, so we shall see. I'm sure hoping we can tho. George and I are planning another trip to the Gunks in October and I'm getting all excited about it. More climbing - YEAH!
It's back! The second annual Cathedral Craggin' Classic is coming up this September 13-15, 2013. This year the headquarters of the festival is the Glen Ellis Campground (http://www.glenelliscampground.com/), just up the road from Cathedral and Whitehorse, where all event activities — camping, slide shows, demo gear, vendor village, pig roast, and more — can happen all in one place.
Check out the AAC Craggin' Classic page for more details on the event. (http://americanalpineclub.org/p/craggin-classic##northeast)
Reserve your tickets for the weekend now at the AAC online shop. (http://shop.americanalpineclub.org/products/second-annual-cathedral-ledge-craggin-classic)
Hope to see you in North Conway this September!
Northeast Regional Coordinator
The American Alpine Club
All climbing closures for peregrines in 2013 have been lifted. Climb anywhere you like.
Still sitting at 3 for another week! [sigh] It's probably not going to change 'till we get some really cool weather. I don't think 40's will knock 'em back.
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North Conway, New Hampshire
|Pucky lads, a wee bit over their heads.|
|Doug Scott after encountering two climbers on Denali suffering from exposure|