Thursday, August 29, 2013

Climbing Cousins

Yesterday Annie and I hosted my cousin's son (I think that makes us first cousins once removed?) Christopher for a day of climbing.  Chris has experience climbing indoors and sport climbing outside, but has never really done much traditional climbing and was interested in learning more.  With the weather forecasted for afternoon T-showers, we thought it best to stay relatively close to home. So Deer Leap was our venue of choice.  We arrived at the base of the Main Wall ready to do The Center Crack when it began to sprinkle.  By the time Chris was climbing the route it was raining quite steadily.  We thought our day was going to start and end quickly, but fortunately, the showers passed and the sun returned and the rock dried quickly.  While we waited for a little drying time we did some ground school with gear placements. Moments later we were back on the rock.  Here are a couple of pics of Chris climbing in style (and posing well, too!)

Chris cruising up the final moves on a 5.10 variation of The Monkey

The day would not be complete without a visit to the pub. We chose The Long Trail Brewery pub and each enjoyed a fresh Long Trail brew of our choosing.

Thanks Annie and Chris for a fun day!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Aiding and an Italian

Last weekend served up spectacular late summer weather. Clear skies, temps in the 70s and cool (but not cold) nights. Perfect for a trip to North Conway.

SATURDAY: Introduction to Aid Climbing, by world-renowned climber Mark Synnott . This was a full day of learning a whole new way to look at climbing.  Aid climbing involves climbing up the rock face by ascending the gear you place in the rock instead of climbing the rock and placing gear for protection.  For any non-climbing readers, a primer can be found here.

This surreal photo of Mark Synnott is the result of
my camera lens not opening all the way. Cool!
While I do not aspire to aid climb regularly, I wanted to gain knowledge and skills in this genre of climbing to add to the tools in my toolbox and perhaps get myself out of a pickle when free climbing.  Mission Accomplished.  One thing Mark said we would learn once we each practiced the techniques he taught us is whether or not we are placing good protection.  When we traditional free climb we are constantly placing cams, nuts and other protection pieces in the rock to protect ourselves int the unfortunate case of a fall.  This takes knowledge and lots of practice and the variables that affect whether or not that piece will hold if you fall are many.  But since we rarely fall we aren't really testing our placements and while we might THINK they are good (will hold if we fall on them), there is no way of really knowing.  In aid climbing, you test each placement BEFORE you use it - once tested you can stand up in nylon ladders called etriers and fully weight the piece.  I was pleased to test successfully on all of my placements when aiding a finger crack climb called the Slot.  In fact, my highest 2 pieces needed to be later retrieved by my partner because I was not carrying a tool to dig them out of the cracks. Sweet!

Two participants in the Aid Clinic (Kristy and Brian). Notice how they are standing up
 in their etriers or aiders. The ropes above them are top-ropes
 to protect us as we learned (ordinarily they would not be there)
SUNDAY: Valerio and I needed to select a multi-pitch route to do together.  Since I had not climbed the big slabs in a long time (and as a result feel less comfortable climbing slab these days) we agreed to try a route on Whitehorse Ledge. So we climbed the Cormier-Magness route which runs up the far right side of the slabs.  This route was developed last August - it sports healthy Whitehorse runouts and bolts just when you need them - nice, new shiny bolts! Refreshing on Whitehorse where many bolts are old and rusty and in desperate need of replacement. No pics yet of this climb with Valerio - awaiting his phone pics. I highly recommend this route - Pitches 2, 3 and 4 are very good and the rest is typical of Whitehorse slab so not of any lesser quality (nice work Paul and Chris!)

What a great weekend - thanks to my Italian friend!!!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Back to School

Old School. Sandbagged. Hard for the grade. Kick-ass.

Annie at the base of the last pitch.
That's the big 3rd class ramp she is on.
All terms of endearment for a climbing route that is harder than the rating implies. There is a feature article in Climbing Magazine this month about sandbagging.  I have climbed quite a few of those routes.  This past weekend we went back to the Adirondacks to climb with Toby and Hanna on Saturday and to tick off the Wiessner Route on Upper Washbowl on Sunday.

Hence the topic of sandbagging - old school routes.

Yup. The Wiessner Route is rated 5.6.

There is only one crux in all of the four pitches. - and it is a very awkward 5.6 crux - figure out how to climb up and onto the rectangular block

Topping out

 I tried it to the right because it LOOKED easier.
A lot of time spent figuring this one out and getting extremely frustrated.

Uh-huh: that's old school 5.6 - Wiessner style!
Hanna working some magic on one of the variation starts to Tillman's Arete
Annie demonstrates her impressive strength at our campsite