Sunday, June 26, 2016

Square & Whitehorse Ledges – Rock Climbing

Pinkham Notch, rock climbing
Square Ledge

Beautiful day for climbing! My buddy Geoff and I headed out to Square Ledge, Pinkham Notch’s local crag. You can see this cliff from the AMC Pinkham parking lot. Access is super easy from the AMC Pinkham Visitor Center – just park and cross the street (Route 16) to the Lost Pond trailhead. Cross over the wooden bridge, then turn left onto the Square Ledge Trail. Lots of tourists also headed to the top of the ledge to photograph the Ravines, Washington, Adams and Madison.  Afterwards we headed to Whitehorse Ledge where I got to lead the 2nd pitch of Sea Of Holes. Thanks for a great climbing day Geoff! Enjoy some photos taken of our day!


Hangover Rock

The face of Square Ledge



Thanks for the belay!

Gorgeous views of Pinkham Notch from 
the top of Square Ledge


Checking out Thriller Arete

At Whitehorse Ledge I got to lead the second pitch of Sea Of Holes. I gotta get used to climbing slab with all the gear hanging off me. Didn't even need it all considering I clipped into a piton and then I placed a .50 cam and then a #1 micro cam to the anchors.

At the anchor of P2 Sea Of Holes 
(I actually couldn't find the anchor at first. Started up to the tree on the
left as it had a sling and biner around it. Then I traversed back to the right
and after figuring out where to put my 3rd piece of pro, I spotted the anchors.)

Looking over to Cathedral Ledge


Sunday, June 19, 2016

Multi Pitch Leader Course - Day 2

cathedral ledge, belay, north conway
Upper Refuse P2 Belay Ledge

Another fantastic day of instruction with Cathedral Mountain Guides co-owner (and American Mountain Guide Association certified guide) Bayard Russell! Ashley and I met Bayard at Cathedral Ledge for Day 2 of the 2-Day Multi Pitch Leader Course. Day 1 Lesson here

On our Day 2 lesson we headed up to Fun House for some mock leading. Before heading up to the base of the climb, Bayard took out the “North Conway Rock Climbs” guidebook and handed it to Ashley and I. We looked up the route to check its description, primarily what gear we would need. Ashley and I went through the gear and we put our water, food, camera in my small backpack. Bayard said to look through our backpack at the end of our climb and see what was left in it, then determine if we really needed it. I’m on “hiker mentality” and usually over-pack (just in case) and it wasn’t any different on this day. Bayard gave a solid piece of advice - climbing with a backpack as light as possible will help us go faster. He was right.  I found a section on the start of Fun House to be tough, especially with a heavy pack.

Fun House, Cathedral Ledge
Bayard on the start of P1

At Fun House we waited behind a party of two. The start of this route is definitely sandbagged. It’s a 5.7 but I thought it was way harder than the Pipe Pitch of the Whitney Gilman Ridge route! The first section of the dihedral was fine but I struggled up the overhanging section. Afraid that I’d put myself into an asthma attack, I had to rest and catch my breath. My backpack was also too heavy....2.5 liters of water, a camera, two pairs of approach shoes, hiking compass, hankie, bottles of bug spray and sunscreen, chemical handwarmers, Giddy hand salve, headlamp, several packs of tissue!! And I brought way too much food (PB sandwich, pear, banana, 5 protein bars, 1 Nuun) and I only ate the PB sandwich!  Bayard was right about having too much weight in my pack. I finally made it to the belay station, rested a bit and Ashley and I switched leads. Also, I didn’t think it would matter, so I didn’t organize any of the gear on my harness at this point.

Fun House, Cathedral Ledge
Ashley at the top of Fun House P1

Like the day before, Bayard kept out of our system at each belay station. While we came up on the route, he’d rap down to check our gear placement offering advice and pointing out proper/good placements, and overseeing our transitions. I had a bit of a problem trying to figure out what to place but it was because my rack was totally disorganized with cams, nuts and draws all mixed up on my harness – I was a bit annoyed at myself for not taking the time to organize the gear on my harness. At the base of Upper Refuse Bayard told me to organize all the cams & nuts on one side with the quick draws on the other side of my harness. This helped immensely!

Fun House, Cathedral Ledge
Ashley and I at the top of Fun House P2

 At Upper Refuse there was one party already on the climb. A second party started up Black Lung  then up left on Final Gesture to finish. To keep Ashley and I out of the way of the other two parties, Bayard combined the first two pitches into one, and kept to the left side (crack) of our first pitch. I found lots of good holds and kept placing gear in the crack as I went up. I found that the more gear I placed, the easier it got to figure out what to place. And what a joy it was to have all the gear organized on my harness. Made the process so much more easier and faster! 

Upper Refuse, Cathedral Ledge
Ashley and I at the top of Upper Refuse P2

Once past the first belay station I got into the chimney and the rope got insanely heavy! I kept telling myself that I'd do Upper Refuse again and on lead but I wouldn't combine the first two pitches because there is just way too much rope drag and I'd prolly get pulled off. But that climb out of the chimney onto the ledge was good. There was a sweet undercling that made the rope drag bearable. On the last pitch Bayard wasn’t tied into Ashley so she lead it legit! Yay Ashley! Like the last scramble pitch of Fun House, we finished the last scramble pitch of Upper Refuse using a terrain belay. Bayard also demonstrated the "Kiwi Coil" used for short roping protection on 3rd & 4th class terrain. And since Ashley had never been to the top of Cathedral Ledge, Bayard led the way so all three of us stood atop the summit. We hiked down back to the parking lot and Bayard went over lowering techniques. I also went through my backpack....too many stuffs I didn't use/eat and shouldn't have brought along!  :(

Upper Refuse, Cathedral Ledge
Ashley and I at the top of Upper Refuse P2

All in all, the weekend was a fantastic learning experience - Ashley got to try trad leading and I got to place as much gear as I could!

I don't know what I don't know
[Again] which is the reason I took Multi Pitch Leader course from an AMGA Guide. As with my private ice lead lessons with AlexaSiegel this past winter, I wanted to learn multi pitch trad lead climbing skills so I wouldn't have to "wing it". It was also important that I learn the most current skills used in the industry.

Bayard's services as a guide are invaluable and the semi-private professional instruction was perfect. He answered all of our questions - and we had a lot! The personal attention and constant feedback were invaluable! Not once did I feel overwhelmed, afraid or unsafe. Thank you Bayard for an awesome two days of lessons, it was fun and gratifying to learn new climbing skills. These lessons were another milestone for me. I have been rock climbing for 6 years and seconding (both ice & rock) for 3 years. I wanted to be able to have the fun opportunity of trad leading on a multi pitch climbs with my climbing buddies.


And a final thanks to my husband for his love and support!

The Multi Pitch Trad Leader Course is designed for those with a background of gym climbing and sport climbing who are comfortable leading bolt protected routes. Covered are basics of Traditional protection, anchor building, lead climbing systems and multi pitch rappelling. Taught at a 2 participant to 1 guide radio. 2 days, semi-private course.

Bayard Russell has been guiding in New Hampshire since 2003. He is a certified AMGA Rock Instructor, a team leader and director of the Mountain Rescue Service, New Hampshire’s volunteer technical rescue group, and a passionate year-around, all conditions climber. In 2008, he founded Cathedral Mountain Guides.


Links of interest:
How To Move Faster & More Safely Through 3rd & 4th Class Terrain
http://www.outdoorresearch.com/blog/stories/how-to-move-faster-and-more-safely-through-3rd-and-4th-class-terrain

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Multi Pitch Leader Course - Day 1

cathedral, north conway, rock climbing

A fantastic first day of instruction with Cathedral Mountain Guides co-owner (and American Mountain Guide Association certified guide) Bayard Russell! Ashley and I met Bayard at the North End of Cathedral Ledge to start the Day 1 of the 2-Day Multi Pitch Leader Course. Day 2 Lesson here.





The first thing Bayard showed us was a typical “Cathedral Ledge Trad Rack”. We went over the different types of Cams, stoppers, slings, quickdraws needed for a typical climb at Cathedral Ledges. I was actually surprised that the rack wasn’t larger.












He showed us how to place gear in cracks starting with stoppers. I have to admit, I was not a fan of stoppers. But after this weekend’s lesson, I really like their versatility. Their tapered shape as well as their concaved side can allow it to be placed in pretty much any orientation.



















Afterwards, we practiced building trad anchors using cams and nuts. I really dig this “quad anchor”!


















What I like about the Quad Anchor is that it's super easy and fast to build. And the leader and second can be anchored in and equalized neatly, very quickly and with ease.







Nice crowd at the North End






After covering multi pitch rappelling, we headed out to Whitehorse Ledge. We did 4 pitches up the Standard Route via The Crystal Pocket to the thread anchor in the main arch. Ashley making her way up to The Crystal Pocket.






Selfie at The Crystal Pocket


From there we practiced multi pitch rappelling where Bayard stayed out of our system at each rap station in order to oversee our transitional process.




On our way out to the parking lot a couple in a pink golf cart drove by and her putter fell out. I called out to them and they stopped and let me get a photo next to her custom cart! It was meant to be!


Links of interest:
Revisting the Quad for Load Distribution and Stance Management
by Dick Chasse
http://www.rockandice.com/Article-Images/Quad-Anchor-full-paper.pdf

Climbing Anchors and the Evolution of the Quad
by Dick Chasse
http://www.rockandice.com/climbing-news/climbing-anchors-and-the-evolution-of-the-quad

The Masterpoint, The Shelf, The Components: Anchor Anatomy In Action
by American Alpine Club
https://americanalpineclub.org/resources-blog/2016/6/27/the-masterpoint-the-shelf-the-components-anchor-anatomy-in-action



The Multi Pitch Trad Leader Course is designed for those with a background of gym climbing and sport climbing who are comfortable leading bolt protected routes. Covered are basics of Traditional protection, anchor building, lead climbing systems and multi pitch rappelling. Taught at a 2 participant to 1 guide radio. 2 days, semi-private course. 

Bayard Russell has been guiding in New Hampshire since 2003. He is a certified AMGA Rock Instructor, a team leader and director of the Mountain Rescue Service, New Hampshire’s volunteer technical rescue group, and a passionate year-around, all conditions climber. In 2008, he founded Cathedral Mountain Guides.