Saturday, September 19, 2015

Henderson Ridge – Multi Pitch Rock Climb

Huntington Ravine, NH
Looking down the Huntington Ravine, Mt. Washington, NH

Henderson Ridge (5.4)
4 pitches, 600 feet, Grade III
Trad
Huntington Ravine
Mt. Washington, NH

Nelson Crag (5,635 feet)
Via Nelson Crag Trail from Henderson Ridge
Elevation Gain: 1,055 feet
Mt. Washington, NH

“You folks are going DOWN?? But why??” . . . . said every hiker we encountered as we made our way down the headwall of Huntington Ravine! We explained that we were hiking down into the ravine to rock climb our way back up out of the ravine! Capeesh? They all got it. :) The Huntington Ravine Trail, btw, is considered to be the most difficult hiking trail in the NH White Mountains. And the AMC White Mountain Guide book suggest that “its use for descent at any time is strongly discouraged.” I’ll assume they mean descending the headwall…..that being said…..

I was hoping to get to hike the Huntington Ravine Trail sometime this year and got my chance when Sean, Tom and I did some multi pitch rock climbing in the Huntington Ravine. We decided on the Northeast Ridge at Pinnacle (5.7) with the Henderson Ridge (5.4) as an alternate. And rather than hiking up from the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center, we decided to do the “Modern Approach” also known as the “Auto Road Approach.”  By using the Mt. Washington Auto Road approach, we cut out some hiking mileage from our day. Please note: the Auto Road is steep, narrow and  winding. It has steep drop-offs and  no guardrails. It is not a drive for folks afraid of heights!

We stopped off at the Glen House just across the street from the Auto Road 
toll booth to use the restrooms and grab a snack. At the toll booth the cost for the
3 of us was $44 - $28 for driver and vehicle and $8 for each additional passenger.
I put my truck in the lowest gear, like the CD says to do, and started up.
There were no  vehicles coming down so I pretty much drove in the middle of the road.
In 2012 I drove up the Auto Road with my three oldest grandchildren. I had forgotten 
about that non-paved section of the 5th mile and felt better once I switched to 4-wheel drive. 
The dirt road was full of loose gravel and there was a lot of running water on it. 



At the 6 mile marker there is the trail sign for the Alpine Garden Trail.
Just a few yards beyond that a small lot to fit 2, maybe 3 vehicles.  

We geared up and got on our way to the Huntington Ravine trail junction. 
multi pitch rock climb, auto road approach

Alpine Garden
multi pitch rock climb, auto road approach

Mt. Washington summit from the Alpine Garden trail
multi pitch rock climb, auto road approach


At the Huntington Ravine trail junction, we stopped to admire
the view into the ravine! The views were amazing!!




Fun on the headwall!
It’s a 4th class trail, exposed, steep and near vertical in some sections. 
Not recommended if you’re not comfortable with down-climbing.  
multi pitch rock climb, auto road approach

Aside from down-climbing fun, the headwall yields some really cool views!
Here's the Fairy Tale Traverse of the Northeast Ridge!
multi pitch rock climb, auto road approach


multi pitch rock climb, auto road approach

Awesome view of the Henderson Ridge!
multi pitch rock climb, auto road approach

multi pitch rock climb, auto road approach

multi pitch rock climb, auto road approach




On our way down to the base of the Pinnacle Buttress, we stopped to chat with all the hikers on their way up the headwall. We even met “Pepper” and John on their way up. Pepper is a great climber and I later found out that he is the first canine Redline Finisher! Woot! 















After making our way down to the base of the Pinnacle Buttress, we sat and discussed if we should climb the Northeast Ridge or not. There were already two teams on the route and a third team roping up at the base. 
















Looking over at the Henderson Ridge, there was no one on it but there were 3 folks between the Yale and Damnation gullies. We thought there were just hikers scrambling around. So we decided to climb the Henderson Ridge and headed on over. To make our way over to the Henderson Ridge, we had to down-climb some more, then bushwhack, then down-climb and a second bushwhack. Then traverse over more talus to the base of the Henderson Ridge. It was my very first time bushwhacking and all I have to say is that I really don’t care very much for it! As I was making my way through the second bushwhack, I stepped into a drop that was about 3 feet deep. I was close to getting impaled but luckily, it’ll just leave a bruise on the side of my right breast! 





multi pitch rock climb, auto road approach

We got to the base of the Henderson Ridge only to find 3 climbers just roping up. We first saw the climbers between the Yale and Damnation gullies and thought they were hikers just scrambling around the ravine floor. But they were climbers who had scrambled up the wrong way. So Sean, Tom and I waited behind them for 45 minutes before Sean could lead our climb. And we would be waiting to start our turn at each pitch thereafter. Overall, we waited almost 2 hours.



What do you do when waiting your turn to climb?
Admire the ravine views......
multi pitch rock climb, auto road approach

.....and build a cairn!

Finally, our turn!
Sean leading up P1
multi pitch rock climb, auto road approach

Tom and I coming up P1
multi pitch rock climb, Huntington Ravine

Sean leading up the start of P2
It started to get windy and clouds came in.
multi pitch rock climb, Huntington Ravine


Clouds covering the Pinnacle and Central Buttresses


Sean almost at the belay station for P3
multi pitch rock climb, Huntington Ravine

North Gully

The ravine from the belay station of P3
multi pitch rock climb, Huntington Ravine


Me coming up P3
multi pitch rock climb, Huntington Ravine

Tom coming up P3
multi pitch rock climb, Huntington Ravine


At our belay station for P4
......waiting our turn
multi pitch rock climb, Huntington Ravine



Sean on the Diving Board of P4

Tom on the Diving Board of P4

...and me on the Diving Board of P4

Me coming up P4


End of our roped climb
4 pitches completed!


But despite our wait for every pitch, we had a wonderful climb up the Henderson Ridge. Our entire climb went smoothly except for both my quads and left arm cramping up as I started up the 2nd pitch. Even after taking in more food, water, electrolytes and Tylenol, my quads still cramped up and stayed that way until we got back to my truck. So many moments of pushing past the pain.

As we climbed, we kept looking back at the 3 teams on the Northeast Ridge of the Pinnacle. We watched as the leader of the first team down-climbed the 3rd pitch. We watched the third team make their way up the Allis Chimney. While our entire day of climbing was in the sun, by 12 noon the Pinnacle Buttress was no longer in the sun. And wind and low clouds swept in and covered the Pinnacle for a few moments. We watched as the first team made their way across the Fairy Tale Traverse, with the second team skipping the Fairy Tale Traverse. And finally, we watched the leader of the 3rd team make his way across the Fairy Tale Traverse as we topped out on our 4th and last pitch. We made the right decision ….it was a Henderson Ridge climbing day!


multi pitch rock climb, auto road approach

We packed our ropes and gear away. But even after 4 roped pitches, we still had a ways to go, to get to the top. So to finish off, we carefully scrambled up the North Gully which is full of loose rock, wet spots, bushy terrain and thick moss. 




Looking down at "The Diving Board" 
as we made our way up the North Gully
multi pitch rock climb, auto road approach

Wildcats Ski




multi pitch rock climb, auto road approach

The scramble took us onto the Nelson Crag Tableland and trail. 








Making my way to the Nelson Crag Tableland
multi pitch rock climb, auto road approach


We made our way to the Nelson Crag summit - Bagged!
Then back to my truck and the scenic ride down the auto road.
multi pitch rock climb, auto road approach


Yes! A great day for climbing! Although there was only a brief moment of cloudiness and wind,we had warm temps and sunny skies for hiking and climbing. There were 6 climbers on the Northeast Ridge of Pinnacle route and 6 climbers on the Henderson Ridge route. I counted 42 hikers on the trail making their way up the fan and the headwall. I stopped counting when we started our climb up the ridge. And as far as the cramps in both my quads and upper left arm....as soon as we got into my truck, they were gone!






References:
Rock Climbs in the White Mountains of New Hampshire by Ed Webster.

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Sunday, September 6, 2015

Endeavor - Multi Pitch Rock Climb

Shaka from the belay station of Endeavor

Endeavour (5.7+)
7 pitches, 550 feet, Grade III
Trad
White's Ledge, Bartlett, NH

What a great day for a multi pitch rock climb! It was super hot with some humidity, but Endeavor was fun to climb, especially that 2nd pitch! We got a late start and waited in line for our turn so we only did 4 pitches. Also, rather than continue up and right to a pocketed crack system, we stayed to the left. So our 4th pitch was done climbing part of the 4th pitch of The White Streak ( 5.7). 

The approach

Up the Talus field

At the base, waiting in line for our turn

Tom coming up P1

At the belay station of P2

This area is bolted for Sport climbing and located
just left of the belay station of P2. Don't know if it's
"Endeavor Variation (5.9+)" or "Something Different (5.10a)"

Making my way up P2

Tom coming up P2

Tom and Sean at the belay station P3.

Relax after climbing P2

Tom and I at the belay station as
Sean makes his way up P3

Finishing up P3

Tom P3

Tom P3

Looking up our last pitch

Making my way up P4

Tom P4


Our climbing route Endeavor (5.7+)

Yellow line = route
Pink circle = belay stations

We climbed 4 pitches with our 4th pitch
climbing part of the P4 of The White Streak (5.7).
(we left a cordelette and 2 biners for our rap)