NEClimbs - information for New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont rock and ice climbers
BugCON 2: some mosquitoes, possible blackflys swarming with minimal biting
2 out of a possible 5
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August 23, 2018

Hi Folks,

Last week I was bemoaning how I was planning on going climbing on Thursday, but couldn't because it had rained the night before. This morning was about as opposite as you could possibly imagine - low 70's, breezy and generally glorious. Needless to say I had to stack some wood and go for a mountain bike ride as soon as possible.

While last Thursday did start out bad, around 10 AM as I was finishing the Report the sun came out in full force and it got breezy. This got me all antsy...

I didn't want to drive up to Berlin like we'd planned, since I couldn't be sure it would be dry. However it seemed a no-brainer to give something on Whitehorse a try. So I called Brad and suggested we get together at 1 and try for Echo Roof. Well, of course when we arrived there was already a guided group with kids and lots of ropes all set up. [sigh] So we headed back along towards the slabs walking right along the cliff. I was up for trying Man's Best Friend, but it looked wet. We'd already done Short Order, so that was off the table, and I'm not feeling up for Sleeping Beauty. Hmmm...

We waked right along the ledge to a tree and decided we'd give Pathfinder a try, with this start. The slab is very moderate, but there is no gear until you get to the single bolt belay at the start of pitch 2 of Pathfinder. This needs to be addressed at some time, since it makes no sense at all! This is about 20' or so to the right of the 2 bolt anchor for the Miner-Joseph-King Dike route. From here you friction your way up the slab, past 3 bolts, over a bulge with a pin that you can back up in a crack with a small cam. Step to the right over the bulge, then step back left & up to a bolt, trend slightly left to a dish stance with a pocket for a Tricam, pad on up and right to a bolt and to the 2 bolt anchor on the left side of the dike. [whew]

We only had a single 70 meter rope and I was interested in the cleanish white slab on the left of the dike, so that's where I went. It was OK, but not great. I think I got in 1 piece of gear in 80'. [yikes] There is a crack in an upper block that contained a very old bent pin, just below a tree. I belayed at the tree & brought Brad up, but he continued up to the next tree about 20' higher with a much better stance and lots of slings and rings.

There was no reason for me to go up there so he setup the anchor, pulled up one of the rope, passed it through the rings and tossed the end to me. We weren't sure if the 70 meters would make it to the bolted anchor at the dike, so we tied knots in the end and I headed down. Turns out that it made it with 3' to spare! [yahoo] Brad rapped down, we pulled the rope and continued down to the big ledge. We moved left to the good 2 bolt anchor, why not, and back to our packs. We made it back to the cars in a tidy 2 hours...not too shabby for two old guys.

Pathfinder is an interesting climb, tho somewhat contrived. The upper 2 pitches are significantly more difficult, the 9+ one is quite committing IMO.
NOTES - The dish with the pocket on pitch 2 above the bolt above the bulge is CRITICAL! Otherwise you are looking at probably a 70'+ fall! I admit that I went too far right and missed it. Fortunately there is a bolt on the slab 20' or so below the anchor. While this pitch is rated 5.7, IMNSHO it's not for 5.7 leaders. The rock is great but it's fairly runout, even if you find the pocket. Also, tho the bolts are 3/8, in general the studs are rusty and in both Brad and my opinions should be replaced. Just so you know.

I've managed to get in several nice days of riding here in the Valley. Two days on the west side and one on the east. Overall everything is in great shape right now, tho there are a few trees down here & there. I've stopped on every ride to clear stuff off the trails. I carry a smallish folding saw that lets me get rid of some things, but hardly all. There are 2 down on the Lower Stoney Ridge, one of which is going to take a chain saw and a couple of people to deal with. But all that's the exception to the rule. In addition, in spite of the rains there is very little in the way of mud. I guess that will tell you how dry things were.

This cool spell leaves us with darn near no bugs at all. [woo woo]

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Remember - climb hard, ride the steep stuff, stay safe and above all BE NICE,

Al Hospers
The White Mountain Report
North Conway, New Hampshire

The rules of the game must be constantly updated to keep up with the expanding technology. Otherwise we overkill the classic climbs and delude ourselves into thinking we are better climbers than the pioneers.
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