Sunday, February 28, 2016

Frankenstein Cliffs - Ice Climbing

Frankenstein cliffs, crawford notch, ice climbing

Frankenstein Cliffs
Lost In The Forest
Crawford Notch, NH

Hero ice is better than no ice! 

My buddy Geoff is a leader with the AMC Berkshire and organized an ice climb for today. We met up in the upper parking lot of the Arethusa Falls trailhead along with Steve, John, Dane, Toby and Graham. The day before NEClimb posted ice conditions which were very promising, so I was counting on getting in some laps! We hiked across the trestle and stopped to read the ice at the slab area - so thin in most parts and baked as well. So we continued down the tracks until we got to the bottom of Lost In The Forest. There were only two parties of 2 already climbing so we made our way up. To the left of Lost was a lower angle slab so one rope was set up and used for warming up, the other 3 ropes were set up on Lost. The rest of the day was pretty mellow with the 7 of us climbing. There was lots of fat ice, but it was soft and easy for the tools and kicks. It made it easy for me to practice my climbing technique that I learned during my lesson from Alexa the week before. Don’t know how much more of a winter we’ll have left. But sure am glad to get in as much climbing as I can! It was a great day for climbing hero ice! Enjoy a few photos taken of our day at FC! And thanks for the belays Steve!!! :)

Low angle slab to the left of Lost

Geoff with Graham on his belay

Graham and Toby

Dane and John

Toby taking a break on the rock behind me

Steep stuff to the right is really fun
John with Toby on his belay

Steve on the steep (short but sweet) stuff!

At the end of the day we rapped down to the tracks
Toby with Steve on his belay

On our way out, we came across Alexa Siegel & my buddy Laurie! 
Laurie was taking the 2-day, Ladies-Only Steep Ice Climbing workshop
through Cathedral Mountain Guides.  She was rocking the steep stuff!
cathedral mountain guides, alexa siegel

Friday, February 19, 2016

Private Lead Ice Climbing Lesson - Day 1

Crawford notch, ice climbing, trestle

A "technical" day on ice today! My lesson with Alexa Siegel of Cathedral Mountain Guides today was fantastic!! We spent the day at the "Slabs" area of Frankenstein Cliffs, an the area just past the trestle working on skills for leading ice. Alexa understood from the get-go what my goals were and what I wanted out of my private lesson with her. I wanted to learn new ice climbing skills such as leading ice and we covered everything on my list! I got to try out some Outdoor Research gloves...I really liked the OR Stormtracker gloves for leading! And I got an outline of what we covered in my lesson so I can practice these new skills every day. Thank you so much Alexa for an amazing lesson! Didn't get very many photos, just a few....

Learned how to read ice!
candling, baked, delaminated

Practiced placing pro with both my left and right hands

Also built anchors, learned to belaying a second as well as haul/lower a second. Went over Rope management at the belay station, Swing leads and Building V-threads.

I also did some mock leading, and my climbing technique
 was honed as both a follower and as a lead climber. 

At our lunch break, we got a little visitor. He isn't at all shy! He was trying to get into Alexa's backpack. He has probably been hand-fed.

At the end of the day I got some cool stuffs - couple
CMG posters, a cute pink beanie cap and a camp knife.
Put both posters in a frame and hung it up in my gear room/office.
ice climbing lessons

We couldn't cover everything in one day, so I've signed up for a second day with Alexa. Read here about my Day 2 of Private Lead Ice Climbing Lessons.

Alexa Siegel works year round as a climbing guide for Cathedral Mountain GuidesMooney Mountain Guides, The White Mountain Climbing Camp and The Kismet Rock Foundation. She is an AMGA Certified Single Pitch Instructor and Wilderness First Responder. Along with Janet Wilkinson, Alexa started a Ladies Only Climbing Series with Cathedral Mountain Guides teaching women of all abilities ice climbing and mountaineering skills. She is a grassroots athlete for Outdoor Research and a member of Mountain Rescue Service.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Railroad Cut, NH – Ice Climbing

cut, rr, keene, ice climbing, low temps, frigid cold

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

So here we go again....another single digit day, but the addiction is strong and I couldn’t resist, yet again! Was supposed to be climbing the Auburn Ice Canyon but that got cancelled because the floor wasn't hard enough and there was only one flow up compared to the 4 we climbed on two weeks ago. So Kevin and I drove up to Keene, meeting Jeff on the way. Nuno and his son David was in the parking lot when we pulled in. Later George Adams came by and climbed with us. The low temps were really tough on my asthma and breathing. It went from 13 to 7 degrees in 3 hours. Plus, The Cut is like a wind tunnel and as the temps dropped, it got harder for me to climb. At the end of our day I felt exhausted, like I had felt when I hiked to Lion's Head the weekend before. But my exhaustion was due to the low temps. I did get in 4 climbs but could only finish the first two, my hands were so cold. Just a few photos of our day at “The RR Cut”.

Jeff checking out the climbs
Climbs are in, but it's gonna be brutal!

Jeff gearing up

Nuno setting up

Jeff up top, Kevin & George looking on


Nuno with David on is belay



Jeff did a fine job on this flow but near the top, lost his right crampon

Kevin and I's too cold to smile!


George leading some real nice, thin stuff!

Sunday, February 7, 2016

MW Ice Fest Weekend 2016

ice, climbing, petzl, lynx quarks, la sportiva

My quads kill! And Friday’s commute to North Conway totally sucked. But it was all worth it since the weather for the weekend turned out so nice. I also got to spend time hiking with my good friend Steff, eating pizza with fellow meetup ice climbers and climbing with my climbing buddies, Jeff, Geoff and Kevin. A great, full weekend!

My pack ready with my mountaineering and ice climbing gear

I didn’t sign up for any of the clinics at the MW Ice Fest this year, but I did get in an amazing hike and some ice climbing! Friday’s commute to North Conway was slow and sloppy, but once in North Conway the weather and the roads were good! Steff and I stayed at the Claredon Motel.  Although the d├ęcor is outdated, it was clean and the staff was very friendly. Headed to the Muddy Moose for a delicious dinner!

Muddy Moose Restaurant & Pub
So a Moose, a German and a Hawaiian walk into a bar . . .  

On Saturday morning Steff and I headed to the Mount Washington summit. We met a lot of folks along the way…Marc Chauvin and his group, Justin of EMS and his group, a couple who turned around because he dropped a layer, Marcus and friends who ice climbed the day before, June the solo hiker, Craig (also solo) the photographer and Tren whose hair and beard were frosty because he wasn’t wearing a hat! Like a couple folks, we only made it to Lion Head (5,091ft) because of high winds and low visibility. Also, my quads were starting to ache and I had to use my inhaler a couple of times the higher we got because of slight wheezing. If I had been solo, I would’ve turned around once I broke treeline! Maybe if I hike in clouds more often I’ll get used to it? Anyways, the mountain will always be there. And I brought along my iPhone and a Fujifilm FinePix XP80 but both eventually stopped working because of the cold – I completed forgot to keep a spare camera battery warm.

Here we go!

View from the Lion Head Winter Trail

A queue at the first steep rock section

Itty bitty mixed climbing with no rope

Pretty much all the way up
Above treeline (5)

On our descent we passed the jacket that a guy dropped

For the steeper sections of our descent, we just set up
some rope (8mm x 15m) to help with the descent. (4 photos)

Here's a photo of me on the descent of this steep portion. 
Honestly, I ice climb and was not very comfy with this axe. 
I would have preferred my technical ice axes on this 
trail (both on the ascent and the descent) since they feel more 
like an extension of my hands rather than this mountaineering axe.

Final stretch back to the parking lot

After our hike to Lion Head, Steff went off to stay with some friends as she was skiing Wildcats the next morning. I checked into the Briarcliff Motel. The staff was very courteous and friendly but the room they originally gave me (#15) had two sets of windows and the back one, didn't lock at all! When I first go into a room I always check to see that the windows and doors can lock, the water pressure in toilet, sink and tub is good and the tub and sink don't plug. I went back to the front desk and was immediately given another room - that worked out perfectly! I met fellow meetup ice climbers at Flatbread for dinner where we had a really good turnout. Delicious pizzas and lots of laughs!

Hungry ice climbers!

On Sunday morning I met up with Jeff, Geoff and Kevin – together again, the 4 climbing amigos. We climbed at Cathedral Ledge along with some climbers from the ice fest as well as the AMC Boston Ice Climbing program. We got in several laps of the North End Slabs and Pillars. So thankful for easy laps since my quads were still burning from the hike the day before!

Several "ice climbing firsts" for Kevin

 First time on lead belay...

....for Geoff

And first time "cleaning"

Geoff top belaying Jeff

Lovey and Kevin selfie at the top

Fireman belay for Jeff

Met another Hawaii girl who ice climbs!

Climb with Aloha!

Geoff and I