Saturday, December 31, 2016

Leprechaun's Lement (WI2-3) - Ice Climbing

ice climbing, lead, kinsman notch, leprechaun's lement
Thanks for the belay, Ken!

Great to get out on the ice for the first time this season - a meetup event at the Kinsman Notch in Woodstock, NH. Just got a couple of top rope laps in but my last climb of 2016 was a lead on the fun & easy, Leprechaun's Lement. The grade was easy (WI2-3) but the ice brittle, so I re-bored a couple of screw holes. 

At one point I looked up and thought that it would so much faster if I didn't place any protection and just climbed this route to its anchor. I have to admit that thoughts of solo-climbing an easy grade has crossed my mind several times. But I have to learn to keep mum about it. I find that openly expressing an interest in solo-climbing freaks people out. 

Climbing this grade was uber fun. Shit, leading is fun! And if you've been reading my climbing posts, you've probably noticed that there have been several multi-pitch climbs where I have climbed as a "follower/middle" climber. I'm trying to get away from this type of climbing as at this stage, I would prefer to either climb as a "second" or "lead" climber. I learned how to lead on grades 2 & 3's. Now my goal is to get as much mileage in leading grades 2 & 3's.

Ken Domino on my belay. Photo by Steff Laituri.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Navigation, Route Planning & Map Making Course

Over the weekend, Steff and I took a Navigation, Route Planning & Map Making course with IFMGA/AMGA Mountain Guide, Marc Chauvin of Chauvin Guides International

The course was held 10am to 5pm in the Mt. Jefferson Room of the North Conway Grand Hotel in North Conway, NH. We learned the different functions of, Avenza Maps Mobile App and Google Earth.

Relevant Course Links:
Digital Elevation Model Shading:
Using layers in Cal Topo:
Using Google Earth & Cal Topo:
Creating Geospatial PDFs:

Video created using my iPhone 7 and the Splice app from GoPro

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Wilderness Navigation - Compass & Map

Pawtuckaway State Park
At the top of Rocky Ridge, Pawtuckaway State Park
Left to right: Allison, Lovey, Susan & Brenda

No surprise that "Hiking" was voted the most popular activity! I wanted to set up a Wilderness Navigation course for the Nature Girls Meetup group but didn't know if it would be something that the members would be interested in. So I set up a poll listing 10 different outdoor activities and asked the members to vote - and Hiking won out. Based on the poll results, I had Steff secure a date and price with the groups guiding company, Mooney Mountain Guides, and we set up a meetup event for the course. The response was overwhelming and spots filled in no time!

On the day of the meetup event we met at Popovers in Epping, NH and over coffee and yummy popovers, we covered parts of a compass, Declination, Boxing the compass, and Boxing the compass & map. With practice maps we learned Aiming off, Points and Handrails. And finally we learned taking and following a compass bearing.  After a couple of hours we headed over to the Pawtuckaway State Park for the fun part!

In the parking lot Alex handed out maps and we "Boxed our compasses & maps" using a porta potty and a sign for reference. 

We broke up into two groups; the first group to plot coordinates between a bog and the Round Pond and then onto the "picnic area". 

Our group was led by Alex and we plotted coordinates up and over the Rocky Ridge, along the state park boundary to a bog, and then meeting up with group 1 at the saddle between Mt. Pawtuckaway and Rocky Ridge. 

We bushwhacked our way up to Rocky Ridge where we enjoyed the view and Alex showed us how to triangulate our position using two bearings, Mt. Pawtuckaway and Middle Mountain.

After lunch, we followed the state park boundary lines 
(marked by trees with blue on them) to a bog. 

From the bog, we hiked the short distance up to the saddle between 
Mt. Pawtuckaway and Rocky Ridge where we met up with group 1 led by Andrew.

From the saddle, our group hiked the White Blaze Trail for a
short distance passing huge boulders of The Devil's Den area. 

We bushwhacked along the bog, staying at an elevation of 400 feet until we came out to the road. And from there we hiked back up to the trailhead parking lot. 

I had a lot of fun today, the topic was interesting, easy to learn and Alex was fantastic! He was patient, laid-back, positive and loves to teach. If we had questions, he answered them and made certain we understood. Taking lessons from an AMGA guide, I was confident that we would learn the skills necessary for compass & map navigation, but also learn the most current skills used in the industry. Alex's services as a guide are invaluable and the group instruction was perfect for the Nature Girls. 

Alex Teixeira has been an AMGA guide since 2007. He has been with Mooney  Mountain Guides since 2010 and has been its owner since 2014.

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