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!!!

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