Saturday, September 28, 2013

Mt. Percival & Mt. Morgan - Fall Hiking

Mt. Percival
Elevation: 2,212ft


Mt. Morgan
Elevation: 2,220ft
 

Trails: Percival, Crawford-Ridgepole and Morgan Trails
Elevation Gain: 1,500ft
Distance: 4.8 miles roundtrip
Duration: 5.0 hrs

Difficulty: Moderate
The Terrifying Twenty Five List:  Mt. Percival Trail (Boulder Caves Route)
Danger: High (caves, ledges, cliffs on trail) 
Rock Scrambles: Boulder caves and rock scrambling - Class II

Caves, ledges and ladders, oh my!!! Mt. Hale was originally the planned hike of the day, but when I met up with Sue and her son Nick, she said that Lisa wouldn't be able to make the hike due to illness. So we decided to hike to Percival & Morgan instead and headed out to the Squam Lake area. 

I had hiked these two back in 2011 with the New England Over 50 Meetup group. But we hiked the looped trail in the opposite direction. We hiked it during the winter and we bypassed the Boulder Caves. I was eager to see what this hike was like during the mild season and I also needed to hike the Boulder Caves route. Actually, I was eager to do some rock scrambling along the ledges and through the cave leading up to the Percival summit. So here are my photos taken starting with the fun Boulder Caves section of the hike.

Most of my photos were taken with my iPhone, so I apologize for the blurry photos! \m/ 


Much of the trail near the ledges looked like this! :)
Which way do we go? ;-D
Two options to choose from. You can choose to go
through the boulder caves or the trail along the ledge.
A bit of scrambling making certain to follow the yellow blazes....

The blazes lead us to the entrance of a small cave
Notice how small the opening is? It's easier to squeeze through
if you take your backpack off and pass it through the opening.
Then we squeezed through another small opening.
(that's Nick going thru)
Coming out of the cave there's a yellow blaze!!
We just followed the yellow blazes.




Finally, the summit! We spent an hour at the summit
eating our lunches, posing and snapping photos! :)
 
 
The lookout ledge at Mt. Morgan
We only spent enough time at the Mt. Morgan summit
and its lookout ledge to snap a couple of photos.

 
 Then we headed down the trail to another boulder cave!
There were folks coming up the "trail" so we had to wait for our turn.
At the end of the cave are fun rickety ladders to descend!!
Oops, the first ladder is missing a couple of rungs!
No worries, lots of good foot/hand holds in the rock! :)
You don't have to ascend/descend using the ladders.
You can choose to use the ladders along the cliffs or just stay on the trail.
During our hike I kept saying how glad I was that we decided to do this hike instead of Mt. Hale. It certainly was such a beautiful day with beautiful views of the Squam Lake!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Women's Trad Climbing Clinic - Rock Climbing


Women’s Trad Climbing Clinic
American Alpine Club Craggin' Classic 2013
Cathedral Ledge, North Conway, NH

Found out about this awesome event while I was still hiking in Hawaii. I had taken the AMC Rock Climbing Course with the intent of learning how to set anchors. But along with it came lessons on Trad Seconding and some ops to second. This clinic looked like the perfect op to finally get to learn about setting anchors, so after checking my calendar, I quickly booked my spot for the Women’s Trad Climbing Clinic.

Check-in was at the Glen Ellis Family Campground in Glen, NH. After meeting with Alexa of Mooney Mountain Guides, we drove to The North End of Cathedral Ledge. It was a short hike uphill from the street parking. There were 8 students, 1 instructor and 2 assistants and Alexa quickly got to demonstrating building bomber anchors.

In this clinic we learned components of building a safe anchor system using the  acronym ERNEST. In the AMC Rock Climbing Course the acronym SERENE was used. After doing some research on this, ERNEST and SERENE are to the two most commonly used/easily remembered acronyms for building anchors. They’re very similar with some climbing schools teaching it one way, and some the other way.

ERNEST
Equalized
Redundant
No
Extension
Strong (stable)
Timely

Solid: This means that each individual piece that makes the anchor (i.e., nuts, cams, ice screws, pins) are solid enough on their own.

Redundant: There should be more than one piece for the anchor. Common anchor examples are two bolts, three pieces of rock gear, etc. One exception is a single rock or tree that can be considered  as sufficiently reliable on its own.

Equalized: Each piece in the anchor should share the load of the anchor force equally. If there is slack to any single piece, that means that that piece is not loaded, and the anchor is not equalized.

No Extension: This means that if one piece should blow out of the anchor, there will not be a shock-loading of the anchor as a result. If there is slack to one piece and the others blow out, there will be a severe load directed onto that piece,  “a shock loading”.

Timely or Efficient: These terms relate to the common adage "speed is safety." While speed is not the only important element, it is quite important to make your anchors in a timely manner. If it takes 30 minutes to make an anchor, that can add up to a lot of time during a long multi-pitch route. The faster you can make an excellent anchor the better. Take the time you need to make a good anchor but remember that a fast but weak anchor is no good!

And we also learned important components when placing Cams;
1. Rock Quality (are you placing your gear in solid rock)
2. Direction of Pull (angling your gear in the direction of pull)
3. Surface area (that each of the surfaces of your gear is making good contact with the rock)
4. For placing Nuts, all the above but also look for constrictions

After the demonstration, we paired up (I paired up with Karrie) and spent the next 3.5 hours building our anchors. Alexa, Sam and Sara came around to check our anchors. We stopped to break for lunch and someone mentioned getting some climbing in. It was getting chilly and some of the women in our clinic wanted to warm up. So Alexa set up a top rope on Child’s Play (5.6). But Suzy and I wanted a chance to do some mock trad leading. So a top rope was set up on the right section of The North End. It was my very first time setting Trad protection and clipping in, and I was STOKED! Sorry, I didn’t get any photos of our mock trad leading!

I’m so glad I signed up for this clinic. It was packed full of information and I didn’t expect to learn such a great deal. I met other women of different levels of climbing, and got to work with really good climbing instructors as well! The only thing I didn't like about it was that it wasn't long enough. :) I wished it was over a course of two-days! The first day building multi-pitch anchors with some mock trad leading. Then the second day to go over the anchors then actually doing more trad leading on single/easy pitches! Thanks go to Alexa Siegal of Mooney Mountain Guides, Sam Bendroth of (IMCS) International Mountain Climbing School and Sara of CAMP. And thanks to the American Alpine Club for setting up Craggin’ Classic 2013!

Enjoy some photos taken the day of the clinic!


 The North End of Cathedral Ledge
Alexa of Mooney Mountain Guides (4)
Our turn to build anchors
Karrie and Alexa
For a bit of challenge, Sam had Karrie and I build 3 sets of anchors on two different cracks.
After building the first set of anchors, we set aside those pieces of gear and then built the
second set of anchors using the gear we had left on our harness.Then we set aside those pieces of gear and built our third set of anchors using the gear we had left on our harness.

My turn! (2)

Pam and Alexa
Helping one another with knots
Alexa Trad leading to set up top rope on Child's Play (3)


Karrie looking on, with another clinic in the background

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Mount Whiteface - Hiking


Mount Whiteface (4,020 ft)
Elevation Gain: 2,850ft
Trails: Blueberry Ledge, Rollins, Dicey’s Mill
Distance: 9.8 miles roundtrip
Duration: 7.5 hours (include stops along the trail for posing, at the lookouts and summit)
My 4000+ Peaks #27
Listed 4000+: #45
Difficulty: Strenuous 
Danger: High (steep, ledges, cliffs on trail, rock scrambling)
Rock Scrambles: Two short sections Blueberry Ledge trail - Class II

Originally we were also going to hike to the Passaconway summit but with time constraints, we weren’t able to do so on this hike. So we just bagged Mount Whiteface. But hey, no worries!!! As I told Sue, the mountain will always be here. Plus, Lisa also needs to bag Passaconway, so there ya go!  We’ll be able to hike Passaconway, the three of us!

The Blueberry Ledge trail is in fantastic shape and is maintained by the Wanaloncet Outdoor Club (WODC). I was impressed with the stone stairs along the trail. But even more so impressed with the stairs on a very steep section at around 3000 feet elevation!

Near the summit it gets really fun, with breathtaking views from lookouts. And, heart-be-still, scrambles galore! We did a lot of posing for photos here! What good is a hike if you can’t have fun huh! That’s what prolly took up most of our time….all that posing! LOL!

Since this was a “loop hike,” I kept my camera out for the entire hike in order to get photos. Enjoy my photos of our hike along the beautiful trails!