Saturday, January 31, 2015

Railroad Cut, NH – Ice Climbing

Railroad Cut – Ice Climbing
SW4-Cheshire North Rail Trail
Keene, NH

Okay, so I know I said I wouldn’t climb on another single digit day, but the addiction is strong and I couldn’t resist! To add, it was windy so I actually thought that being within “The  Cut” would somehow give me some protection from the wind, but not so. And the ice was sooooo hard - not getting any purchase for my feet isn’t fun for this Hawaii Girl, I hate climbing on my hands and arms! But we did get a couple of climbs in, so I'll quit whining here. Just a few photos of our day at “The RR Cut”. 

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Monkey Wrench & The Cleft - Multi pitch Ice Climbing

Left Hand Monkey Wrench, WI3
The Cleft, WI2+
Mount Willard
Crawford Notch, NH

As I write this, I’m tired, a bit sore, but very happy! Two days in Crawford Notch, it was an amazing weekend! This morning Jeff S.  took me up the Left-Hand Monkey Wrench and The Cleft. It was way lot warmer (20 degrees) to climb today than yesterday.

View from Monkey Wrench
Route 302, Crawford Notch

View from Monkey Wrench
Flume (left) and Silver Cascades (right)
Crawford Notch, NH


The Left Hand Monkey Wrench is a short, fun climb. We got there and there was one party of 3 on their way up on the right, and another party of 3 waiting to go up on the left. Jeff and I set up to ascend the section on the right side. There was some water coming down, and the ice was starting to get a lot softer and easier to get tools and crampons in. After topping off, we hiked up to the base of the East Face Slab Right climb. Both leaders of the two 3-persons party was making their way up. Jeff and I traversed to the right about a 100m and found the Cleft’s characteristic “slot.” 

Right: The right side of LH Monkey Wrench

At the base of "The Cleft"
Jeff at the first belay station

At the first belay station

I was truly blown away by this climb. We did it in one pitch and it was absolutely fun and amazing! There was hardly any snow once in the slot. Several bulges made for some very fun climbing. One section was steep but the wall on the left was clean, dry, not mossy or icy and had a perfect 3 inch wide, 3/8 inch deep ledge for placing my front points on, as well as a jug for easy mantling. Fun stuff for stemming my way up.

Left: Inside the cool "The Cleft"

Looking down from the top of the climb 

Overall the climb was wet and once we topped out, it started to rain. We hiked up the trail blazed in bright orange until the yellow-blazed, Mt. Willard Trail intersection. Then we hiked down to the trailhead. I was soaked when I got to my truck, but truly happy to be able to do some multi-pitch ice climbing at Mount Willard.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Willey’s Slide – Multi-pitch Ice Climbing

Willey’s Slide, WI2
Mount Willey
Crawford Notch, NH

It's a beautiful, blue sky day, and you don't think you'll get wet but from the bit of sweat from climbing. But anything can happen. And thin ice with running water under it happened to us on today's climb at Mt. Willey!

Is it cold enough yet? Zero degree temps were forecasted for today but Sean and I went anyways. We were the first at the parking pullout below the Slide and the cold blasted us as we stepped out of my truck. There is a direct correlation between the cold temps and my profanity. Immediate frustration set in as my fingers went numb. I couldn’t get the toe and hand warmers going and that didn’t help as well. Sean was able to get two pairs of hand warmers going, but I went without toe warmers.

Views from Willey's Slide (2)

The approach was a workout for me, especially with my EIA (exercise-induced asthma) and the cold temps. We finally reached the base of the Slide, were still the only ones there and we set up for the first pitch on the left-hand side. 

Sean gearing up

From my belay:
Everything went smoothly except for the ropes getting all twisty and frozen. Sean placed his first piece of pro and then disappeared out of my sight as soon as he went over the first low bulge. I started thinking it’s taking a bit too long to be placing a piece of pro when he reappeared. He climbed a bit more to set the belay station, then yelled down to me, “I’m soaked, I fell in!” I have to admit, when I heard him say the word “soaked” I panicked a bit. It was really cold and just not a good day to be wet. My only thought then was to get him down. I yelled up to him that we were done for the day and going home. I climbed up to him, then we traversed left into the trees to walk off.

Sean's side:
Sean placed his first piece of pro just before stepping over the low bulge. He spotted another bulge to the left. But next to it was a bit of snow and so he decided to step onto the snow instead of going over another icy bulge. As soon as he stepped onto the snow, the ice underneath him gave way. He was up to his hips in water and he could feel the current pulling him under. Both his boots quickly filled with water. The only thing that kept both his hands dry, was his axes. He tooled his way up and out of the water!

Icy bulge with running water beneath

Although Sean and I ended up only climbing 400 feet, no one was hurt and Sean's toes/feet are still intact. But climbing in zero or near-zero temps is not something I would really want to do again. And although my brand new ice screws went in “like butter”, both Sean and I agreed we would climb Willey’s Slide when it was a lot warmer and our tools and crampons weren’t bouncing off the ice! 

Left: Removing pro before traversing left to the woods. I look like I'm in "Downward Dog" Yoga pose!

Monday, January 5, 2015

2014: A Year Review

I cannot believe how quickly 2014 has come and gone, but it has been another fantastic year! I still climb 3-5 days per week and have taken to actually enjoying practicing indoor climbing. Where I once abhorred color-coded plastic holds, I’ve come to appreciate their challenges with the simple thought of, “well, all that would be on if I were outdoors!”  :P

Anyways, the start of 2014 couldn’t come soon enough. I had received all brand-spanking new ice climbing gear for Christmas (2013) from my wonderful husband. Although he isn’t a climber and has absolutely no idea about buying climbing gear, he came through with gear I could call my very own. No more borrowing, renting or using ill-fitting second-hand gear. It’s new shit from here on out! 

And all that new ice climbing gear couldn’t come at a better time. I signed up for the AMC Boston Ice Climbing Program. I learned a lot - networking and gaining new climbing skills. I got to rappel down ice for the first time. And my first multi pitch ice climb (as a second) was done on Silver Cascades in Crawford Notch. As the winter came to a close, I got in more ice climbing at Frankenstein Cliffs and Kinsman Notch.

In the Spring I assisted Jeff and Anne in the AMC Boston Rock Climbing Program. I assisted with the Belay and Anchors weekend as well as the Multi-pitch Rappel station on Graduation week. I took an AMC-NH Backpacking workshop. And I got to do more multi-pitch climbs at Whitehorse Ledge and re-visited The Gunks with Jeff and Geoff.

My summer was filled with climbing and hiking. It was fun planning and climbing at Cannon Mountain with Sean and Tom. We did the first two pitches of Whitney-Gliman and a few weeks after that, completed the Lakeview climb. We even came across an angry Mama Black Bear on the trail! My most epic hike in the NH White Mountains ever was the Presidential Range Traverse with Tim B. 3 days, 21 miles and 9 summits with a man I had only met once and had never hiked with before. But Tim was fantastic and comfortable to hike with. In those 3 days we hiked together, I grew to trust him like I trust my closest climbing friends! Unfortunately, our friend Sue fell ill and couldn’t make the traverse with us. Tim and I dedicated our Presi Traverse to her.  As usual, I spent several weeks in August visiting with my ohana on Oahu where I learned to Paddle Board. I also spent time hiking with my cousin Darrell and friend Neil as well as with the Hawaiian Trail and Mountain Club and the Solemates of Hawaii Hikers. And to top it all off, I got a month membership at the local indoor bouldering gym. 

This year’s Fall season was full of super stokes! I did my first Trad Lead at Rock Rimmon. Jeff and Geoff were there every step of the way. And a few weeks later at Farley Ledges, I got to lead Trad again. And oi! All the climbing gear sales just starting up for the holidays surely could not be passed up! As an early Christmas gift, my husband bought me a dozen Black Diamond Express Ice Screws. Yup, totally stoked!

More climbing opportunities have opened up for me as the year ends. I have since changed gym membership to Central Rock Gym. Their Bouldering facility in Cambridge, MA just opened and I’ve enjoyed meeting other climbers and bouldering their routes. I also became an Assistant Organizer for Mountaineering, Climbing & Backpacking of New England Meetup Group and have organized a weekly indoor climb every Monday nights at CRG in Watertown, MA.

I’ve accumulated quite a bit of climbing and hiking gear and they are currently stored in two different rooms of my home, so I really need to get better organized. So our basement is currently in remodel mode (read dusty and construction). When all is said and done, I'll have new office with a closet for all my climbing and hiking gear.

Looking ahead 2015
I wasn’t able to do much hiking in 2014 like I had planned to because of arthritis in my left knee. But since September 2014 I have been on a Protein diet and as a result have lost 20 pounds and 2 dress sizes. My knee hasn’t bothered me since the weight lost so I hope to be able to hike more this year. So my goals for the year 2015 is to stay healthy so I can climb and hike.