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