Monday, September 5, 2016

Beginners Route - Multi Pitch Rock Climb

North Conway, NH

Beginners Route (5.5)
Whitehorse Ledge
North Conway, NH

We were both were surprised when we pulled into the parking lot. We expected the parking lot to be packed, but it wasn't. When we got to the base of the Slabs, Sean and I were the only climbers there. But after finishing up the second pitch, a group of three showed up at the base of the C-M route to set up top rope at the pine tree. And a 3rd party of two climbers showed up for Sliding Board just as we were finishing up our 3rd pitch. 

Back to climbing with Sean again. He had injured his foot earlier in the season and only now was getting back to climbing. Since he was still experiencing a bit of pain when walking, we decided to cut the route short to rappel down instead of topping off and walking down the trail. We only climbed the first 5 pitches (490ft) but I got to lead the first 3 pitches. It was so much fun, especially that 2nd pitch. 
I was also stoked that we had no one behind us on the route. I didn't feel rushed and I was able to focus on looking for pro placements. 

Overall, the climbing on the 3 pitches that I lead was easy. It's finding places for pro that was challenging. And being such a newbie, I know I took long when placing pro. I wanted to make certain that all 4 lobes of the cam were in contact with the rock surface. Also, I need to work on looking for spots to place pro before I leave the belay station. On all 3 pitches that I lead I found that I didn't see the good spots ahead of time and ended up going past them. So I'd downclimb a couple steps in order to get a good stance and to place pro. 

But most times I did guess the right pieces of pro to place on the first try. Selecting which piece and what size pro to place reminded me of my (much younger) days as an aircraft Pneudraulics systems mechanic in the U.S. Armed Forces. It's very similar to determining which tools to use in assembly and disassembly of aircraft parts.

Sean was super great in pointing out the route - just what a newbie like me needs! He also critiqued my pro placements. 

Trad lead is addicting. Besides the mechanical aspect of the sport, I love that it involves problem-solving and climbing/risk management - it's totally fun! Looking forward to more trad climbing!

I didn't get a chance to take a lot of photos, so here are a few. Too busy climbing! ;D

Looking up at P2 from the belay

Belaying Sean up P2

Looking up at P3 from the belay

I was tempted not to place any pro
on this pitch since the climb was so
easy,  but I did end up placing 3 pieces; a cam, a pink tricam and then another cam.

Little pedestal at the end of P4

Piton just above the P5 belay

Sean at the end of P5

Views from the Smile Belay