Sunday, October 23, 2016

Mount Monadnock - Solo Hiking

white cross trail, solo hiking, NH 52 with a view, summit selfie

Elevation: 3,165ft
Trail: White Cross
Elevation Gain: 1,765ft
Distance: 4 miles roundtrip
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

Took a short drive west to hike up Monadnock and it was so refreshing! Originally I wanted to head north but with some overnight snow fall and ice, I didn't feel like driving in the stuff. So Monadnock was a good call for me. At the Poole Road entrance, park rangers said that there were 50 mph winds with reports of ice and snow at the summit. Felt good to get back out and hike the last of Autumn season.....winter will be here soon! 

Summit selfie Video
Along the White Cross Trail
white cross trail, solo hiking, NH 52 with a view,
Snow along the trail

mt. monadnock, white cross trail, solo hiking, NH 52 with a view

mt. monadnock, white cross trail, solo hiking, NH 52 with a view

mt. monadnock, white cross trail, solo hiking, NH 52 with a view

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Cormier-Magness 2016 - Multi Pitch Fall Rock Climb

Cormier-Magness (5.6)
Trad, 8 Pitches, 1150 feet
Whitehorse Ledge
North Conway, NH

No Rope? Wait. What? I yelled back to Sean that I needed more rope and his reply was clearer. "No Rope!" What I thought was insane rope drag, was in fact, the end of our rope. I had gotten onto a small ledge with a tree stump and had 12 feet more to the anchor at the end of the 6th pitch, The Low Beer Light pitch. Down-climbing was my only option. No worries. I had used the tree stump as a hold to get up to it, so it would have to do as a hold to get down. I girth-hitched a cordelette to the stump, then connected my anchor to it. I lowered myself slowly, unclipped my anchor from the cordelette and downclimbed by stemming the holds I stemmed to come up. 8 feet below this stump I had placed a #1 cam and removed it. 25-30 feet below the stump ledge was a ledge with several trees where I set up my anchor and brought Tom and Sean up. 

Sean, Tom and I climbed this route last July, with Sean leading. Like Sean, I had gone past the tree anchor on the short (60') 5th pitch, The Northwest Passage. And that's how I ended up on the "tree stump ledge". Sean said I just had a "lead epic." More like "newbie lead epic" I thought. I told Sean that I had had enough leading for the day and he laughed. We finished out the route with Sean on lead and met several other climbers also topping out before making our way down the hikers trail. 

Overall, the day was fantastic with amazing views - the fall foliage is coming in beautifully! I enjoyed the route overall and hope to get back. Distractions at the belay, (like that couple from Montreal who didn't know the route and wanted to follow us), as well as not knowing where the next belay station was didn't help my confidence level. So I really want to get back to make P5, The Northwest Passage, right. I will never forget this day. Enjoy a few photos taken of our fall climb.

**Although downclimbing is a good skill to have, it could've been prevented today had I read the beta on pitch 5 before leading it.

P1, to the pine tree

P2: The Wheat Thin Arete
The "mental crux" pitch

This second pitch wigged me out at first, no lie. It took me a good 5 minutes to get onto the flake. After I got onto the flake and past the little tree in the horizontal crack, I realized that I was making the pitch harder than it really was. The holds got better as I ascended the pitch and I  was able to relax and enjoy the climb. I clipped into the bolts and used the edge of the arete as a hold. I'd definitely lead this pitch again!

Bringing Sean up P2

Tom at the P4 start, The Open Book

Climber Brian on Sea Of Holes with heli in the background

Looking back at the "Sea of Green" on P4

Here's where I ended up setting up anchor after downclimbing. The lead climber (of the Montreal couple) was making his way up as I was downclimbing to this ledge. We laughed as I didn't make the anchor on 60m ropes. And he wasn't sure that his 70m rope would reach the anchor. But it did. 

Tom making his way up P7, The Platinum Slab

These two guys simul-climbed The Standard Route. 
Sean (left), reminiscing with them about climbing in the Grand Tetons.

Fall foliage views were amazing!

Humongous mushroom!

I got these little gems in the mail the day before and placed a couple of them along the 1st pitch!

Friday, October 7, 2016

Rappel vs Repel

rappelling, eaglet spire, franconia notch, multi pitch, rock climmg
Twilight Rappel from the Eaglet Spire,
Franconia Notch, NH

I rappel, not repel! The words are easily mixed up and the misuse of Repel in place of Rappel is especially common.

To descend a vertical surface, especially a cliff face, by sliding down a rope with a device that provides friction. 

1. to ward off or drive back
2. to cause aversion or distaste
3. to present an opposing force

Saturday, September 24, 2016

The West Chimney: Eaglet Spire - Multi Pitch Rock Climb

tabletop, small, summit, spire, franconia notch, the west chimney, new hampshire, free standing
Sean and I on the Eaglet Spire summit

The West Chimney (5.7)
Trad, 3 Pitches, 200 feet
Eaglet Spire
Greenleaf & Climbers Trails
Franconia Notch, NH

Cool temps are perfect for a hike and a climb in Franconia Notch! Sean and I met up with his son Tom and a few other Boy Scout troop members at the Lafayette Campground parking lot. We hiked up to Lonesome Lake to lunch and enjoy the views. After about an hour, Tom and the scouts went on their way to the Cannon summit. They had a long day ahead with plans to continue onto the Cannon summit, the Cannonballs, an overnight stay at the Kinsman Pond shelter, and then a second day bagging the north and south Kinsman peaks. 

Sean and I headed up to Exit 34B and parked on the side of the off-ramp at the Greenleaf Trailhead. We hiked up the Greenleaf Trail and took the "climbers trail" to the Eaglet Spire. Sean had climbed the Eaglet Spire 16 years ago and had been wanting to get back to climbing it again, so I was really looking forward to this climb. At the base of the route I felt that same excitement I always get when I'm about to ride a really cool roller coaster. Only thing, today I was going to climb a spire! I was stoked! Enjoy some photos of our day at Franconia Notch.

Lonesome Lake
Photos Lovena Harwood and Eric Reitter

On our way up to the Spire there were 5 parties ahead of us, some already making their way down. At the trailhead parking lot we bumped into Jay, Katlyn and little Bella who were on their way up. Making their way down from a hike were Will and his 3 kids. It's a popular place, and one I hope to visit again! 

The final push up the talus field
tabletop, small, summit, spire, franconia notch, the west chimney, new hampshire, free standing

Gearing up at the base of the route
Profile Lake down behind me

Sean ready to go at the start of P1

Making my way up P1

Making my way up the 'chimney' of P2. Both Sean and I were cussing and laughing while climbing the Chimney of P2. It was both challenging and fun to climb. Stem it.
chimney, pitch 2, spire, franconia notch, the west chimney, new hampshire, free standing

Another use for the selfie stick!

Sean's viewpoint as he makes his way up P3

P3 the traditional way. 
That bolt is reachy and the Mountain Project beta is spot on!
And yes, I grabbed it to get onto the ledge above it.

Eagle Cliff

Making my way up P3

Some old pins

At the summit!
Left to right: Anchors, rap rings, Profile Lake

Atop the Eaglet Spire summit
The tiniest summit I've ever been on!
tabletop, small, summit, spire, franconia notch, the west chimney, new hampshire, free standing

Twilight rappel
(there are a couple of overhanging sections on this steep rappel)

Franconia Notch at twilight

Hike out in the darkness

I am thankful that Alexa told me about the Sterling Hollowblock (shown below) during my private ice lead lesson this past winter. Afterwards I went straight over to IME and bought one, it's just $12! Today this "$12 piece of gear" saved my ass! That first step off of the Eaglet Spire is known to be notorious. As I was going over the edge to rappel, both my feet slipped out under me. I only fell a few inches and into the wall, but it was enough to make me let go of the rope and a sling that I was holding onto. That HollowBlock caught me - always back up your rappels! And I had to leave the sling. It was attached to the bolts above the rap rings and I couldn't reach it. So I flung the sling over onto the top of the summit so that it wouldn't get tangled in the rope when we pulled it. Sterling Rope of Biddeford, Maine, USA.

rappel backup

Saturday, September 17, 2016

End Crags, Crow Hill - Rock Climbing

Mid State Trail to the top of the ledges

Great day for some mellow climbing! Never been to the End Crags of Crow Hill in Leominster State Forest. So Nuno, Nancy, David and I headed there for a day of top roping.

At the base of End Crags

Nancy on Pine Tree
It was Nancy's second day of climbing outdoors!

Beginner's Blessing

End Route

Monday, September 5, 2016

Beginners Route - Multi Pitch Rock Climb

North Conway, NH

Beginners Route (5.5)
Whitehorse Ledge
North Conway, NH

We were both were surprised when we pulled into the parking lot. We expected the parking lot to be packed, but it wasn't. When we got to the base of the Slabs, Sean and I were the only climbers there. But after finishing up the second pitch, a group of three showed up at the base of the C-M route to set up top rope at the pine tree. And a 3rd party of two climbers showed up for Sliding Board just as we were finishing up our 3rd pitch. 

I was stoked to be back climbing with Sean again. He had injured his foot earlier in the season and only now was getting back to climbing. Since he was still experiencing a bit of pain when walking, we decided to cut the route short to rappel down instead of topping off and walking down the trail. We only climbed the first 5 pitches (490ft) but I got to lead the first 3 pitches. It was so much fun, especially that 2nd pitch. 
I was also stoked that we had no one behind us on the route. I didn't feel rushed and I was able to focus on looking for pro placements. 

Overall, the climbing on the 3 pitches that I lead was easy. It's finding places for pro that was challenging. And being such a newbie, I know I took long when placing pro. I wanted to make certain that all 4 lobes of the cam were in contact with the rock surface. Also, I need to work on looking for spots to place pro before I leave the belay station. On all 3 pitches that I lead I found that I didn't see the good spots ahead of time and ended up going past them. So I'd downclimb a couple steps in order to get a good stance and to place pro. 

But most times I did guess the right pieces of pro to place on the first try. Selecting which piece and what size pro to place reminded me of my (much younger) days as an aircraft Pneudraulics systems mechanic in the U.S. Armed Forces. It's very similar to determining which tools to use in assembly and disassembly of aircraft parts.

Sean was super great in pointing out the route - just what a newbie like me needs! He also critiqued my pro placements. 

Trad lead is addicting. Besides the mechanical aspect of the sport, I love that it involves problem-solving and climbing/risk management - it's totally fun! Looking forward to more trad climbing!

I didn't get a chance to take a lot of photos, so here are a few. Too busy climbing! ;D

Looking up at P2 from the belay

Belaying Sean up P2

Looking up at P3 from the belay

I was tempted not to place any pro
on this pitch since the climb was so
easy,  but I did end up placing 3 pieces; a cam, a pink tricam and then another cam.

Little pedestal at the end of P4

Piton just above the P5 belay

Sean at the end of P5

Views from the Smile Belay