Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Ueli Steck 2016 Tour - Boston

swiss machine, alpinist, climbing, solo, ice climbing, mountaineering

Got the chance to meet "The Swiss Machine" in person! Watching videos of Ueli Steck run, yes run, up mountains without a rope is jaw dropping. So to see him in person, be in the same room, shake his hand, thank him and tell him how much I enjoyed his presentation, was just as amazing for me!! Just a few photos of his presentation, Q&A, and autograph signing and photo taking.

The Man, the Legend, The Swiss Machine!

Presentation, Q&A, autograph signing
(3rd photo is Brian of MetroRock)

I wished I had brought my ice axes for Ueli to autograph....I could've fit them both in my day pack! There was a smart dude who brought a poster as well as his copies of The American Alpine Journal 2014 (88, Vol 56). Also, during his presentation he did mention sore/bad knees 4 times!

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Black & White Rocks - Rock Climbing

anchors, static rope, top rope, middlesex fells, black and white rocks, pinnacle, rock climbing

Wonderful afternoon with Noreen, Boomer, Nuno, Nancy and David at Crag 1 (Pinnacle) at Black & White Rocks! Wanted to make sure that the hike wouldn't be too strenuous for my old buddy Boomer, so I suggested Black & White Rocks to Noreen. With its super short approach, Boomer had no problems! David and I were able to lead the very easy, very short Fern route. Then we spent the next several hours top roping. 

Nancy's first time climbing outdoors!




Easy Lead

Boston Horizon

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Three Falls for Boomer - Waterfalls & Hiking

Spent overnight at my friend's vacation rental. Conveniently located right off of Route 16 in North Conway but super quiet and comfy! We had plans to hike to Arethusa Falls making a loop along the Frankenstein Cliff trail. But my old  buddy Boomer was a bit sore so we backtracked to the trailhead stopping off at Bemis Falls for lunch, and then Coliseum Falls. As you can see by my photos, Boomer absolutely loved all 3 beautiful falls!

Along the Arethusa Trail

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Square & Whitehorse Ledges – Rock Climbing

Pinkham Notch, rock climbing
Square Ledge

Beautiful day for climbing! 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 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

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

Climbing Anchors and the Evolution of the Quad
by Dick Chasse

The Masterpoint, The Shelf, The Components: Anchor Anatomy In Action
by American Alpine Club

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.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Mt. Isolation - Late Spring Hike

isolation, presidential range, dry river wilderness, trip report
A few feet more to Mt. Isolation summit

Mt. Isolation
Elevation: 4,003 feet
Trails: Rocky Branch, Isolation, Davis Path
Elevation Gain: 3,400 feet
Distance: 14.4 miles roundtrip
Duration: 12 hours (includes stops along the way and at the summit)
My 4000+ Peak #34 
Listed 4000+: #47
Difficulty: Moderate – Fricken’ Looooooong!

Number 34 for me! I’ve been wanting to hike “Iso” for a while but NOT SOLO! So when I got a chance to join Steff, Lisa, Jeanne and Luann for this hike, I took it. Little did I know that even the “easiest trail” was going to be a haul-slop-and-slog! 2 miles into this hike I had extreme cramps in both quads. Over the next 30 minutes dearest Steff pumped me full of Magnesium pills…10 to be exact. I almost headed back to the trailhead with Steff in tow, but the cramps subsided and I continued on. So glad I did but geeez, my quads were mush at the end of this hike. And to add, on our descent I slipped and landed on my tailbone! (I did get a post-hike, deep tissue massage and this helped immensely!)

If only this trail were totally dry. A good portion of it was wet, underwater and/or full of mud. Lots of water crossing…all fun of course, but I lost count. I got several bug bites and although I didn’t find any on me, Jeanne did manage to pull a tick off her forehead. I brought 3 liters of fluids and had half a liter left at the end of the hike. The last hour of our descent we all donned headlamps. 12 hours on the trail was rough! We headed to The Red Fox Bar & Grille in Jackson for our post-hike dinner, limping from the car to our seats!

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Thoreau Falls - Solo Hike

hike, ethan pond, tlc book tours, appalachian trail, national geographic topographic map guides, la sportiva, ultra raptors, mountain runners, trip report
Thoreau Falls

Thoreau Falls – Solo Hike
Trails:  Zealand, Ethan Pond Trail/Appalachian Trail, Thoreau Falls
Miles:  9.4 Roundtrip
Difficulty: Easy side of moderate
Danger: Low

Finally a good (hiking shoe) day! I was waiting for that window of opportunity to get back out and hike a section of the Appalachian Trial, and today seemed the perfect day! I received the National Geographic Appalachian Trail Map #1511 (Hanover to Monte Carlo Topographical Map Guide) to review. After looking through the map, I decided on a 9.4 mile hike to the beautiful Thoreau Falls. Two weeks earlier I attempted to hike to Thoreau Falls but 2.5 miles into my hike, the top of my foot started to hurt, so I turned back. A good thing since the pain became worse and I couldn’t wait to get my boots off once back at my truck. I carefully took my boots off (with lots of swearing) and threw them in my backseat (with more swearing).  I did return the boots…Vasque Talus Ultra…to REI. I was disappointed since I really wanted to like/love these boots. But they really didn’t fit right and I needed hiking footwear that was much more flexible for my feet. I ended up purchasing a pair of La Sportiva Ultra Raptors. These mountain runners are a cool bright blue and with its lightweight, breathable uppers and stick-to-rock-soles, I was on my way! Yup, happy feet and a great hike! And I just want to give a shout-out to the 4 AT Thru-Hikers I met on my way out; Hey Indiana Jones, Patches, Yoda and Bill Nye...great chatting with you and safe hiking to the Katahdin summit!

Enjoy my photos taken along the hike as well as my review of the National Geographic Appalachian Trail Topographic map guide.

Along the Zealand Trail

At the junction of the Ethan Pond and Zealand trails

Here we go along the Appalachian Trail through the Zealand Notch!

Wooded Area (7)

Split Rock

Approaching the talus field

The trail comes into the wide opening with spectacular views! 
Looking (north) back at Zeacliff and Mt. Hale

Whitewall Brook

Looking up Whitewall Mountain and its talus field!
I loved this section as it reminded me of Canon Mountain
and its highly visible talus field from I-93 in the Franconia Notch!

A bit of fun rock scrambling as the trail crosses the talus!

Zeacliff Trail junction

A couple of hikers making their way down the Zeacliff Trail through the notch!

Trail follows a gradual curve out of the notch and into a wooded area
I thought that this section here was the prettiest! (3)

At the Thoreau Falls trail junction

Into the Pemigewasset Wilderness

and the final 0.25 mile to follow the Thoreau Falls Trail to the top of the falls

What a view!

What I like about the Appalachian Trail Topographic Map Guide by National Geographic
- Water resistant, tear resistant and lightweight
- Highlights the Appalachian Trail making it easy/fast to find on the map
Features resupply locations, key points of interest, safety guidelines, local contact info, area history and more.
- Trail profile at bottom of each page that show distances between shelters, camping areas and trail access points.
- Although held together by two staples, the map does lays flat.
Overall, this map is very easy to use and carry. I'll continue to use it for all my day hikes along the Appalachian Trail!

About Appalachian Trail Topographic Map Guides
National Geographic’s 13 all-new Appalachian Trail Topographic Map Guides cover the iconic trail mile-by-mile from Georgia to Maine, in a unique booklet format that’s backcountry durable—lightweight, waterproof, and tear-resistant. Printed in the USA, these innovative maps are rapidly becoming essential tools for everyone from day trekkers to thru hikers. Each guide includes detailed topographic maps at a scale of 1 inch = 1 mile, with each page centered on the trail, overlapping with adjacent pages so there is little chance of getting lost. Helpful trail profiles show the distance between shelters, camping areas, and trail access points. The front pages of the guides feature resupply locations, key points of interest, safety guidelines, local contact information, and more. Proceeds from the purchase of a National Geographic map help support the Society’s vital exploration, conservation, scientific research, and education programs.

Purchase Links

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Check out my YouTube channel at:  Hawaii Girl Adventures I will eventually be phasing out blog posts and be posting videos of my climbing, h...