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Archive for February, 2012

Of Slaying the Minotaur and The Rise of Daedalus

New Epic Lines on Cannon

Among the ancient Greek legends, it is impossible to separate the tales of Icarus, Daedalus, and the Minotaur.   The same is true of their namesakes on Cannon.  The legacy of these bold lines on Cannon and those who put them up is far greater than the sum of its parts.  Each line tells a compelling story of its own, but the web these stories weave propels them from mere tales to legends.

In 1974, Rick Wilcox and John Bouchard pioneered a bold new line on Cannon.   Dubbed “Icarus,” after the legendary son of the Greek craftsman Daedalus, the two of whom having fashioned their own wings of feathers and wax to escape imprisonment by King Minos of Crete, the line was the first new route on Cannon to be put up in winter.  Just as Icarus and Daedalus saw unbridled freedom in the skies above their cell in Crete, Bouchard and Wilcox saw possibility in the unclimbed slabs and corners of Cannon’s upper reaches.

“Icarus” was a fitting name for Bouchard and Wilcox’s new line: not only did the line rise into uncharted territory, it also saw an epic fall.  Whereas Icarus flew too close to the sun, thereby melting this homemade wings and falling to his death, Bouchard’s fall was arrested by Wilcox’s belay, but not before Bouchard broke his ankle.  Fitting of the New England hardman ethos, however, Bouchard and Wilcox pushed their line to the top and self-rescued – a precedent of daring, skill, and resourcefulness we all can take something away from.

Cannon Topo - Minotaur & Daedalus

Click to Enlarge

 

The Minotaur – NEI 4+ M6+

Matt McCormick & Bayard Russell
February 1, 2012

The Minotaur was part man and part bull.  Locked in the Labyrinth of Crete, the Minotaur fed upon the human sacrifices of Athenian children every ninth year as part of the Athenians’ quest to end the plagues that afflicted their city.  At the time of the third sacrifice, Theseus, son of the Athenian King, entered the Labyrinth and slayed the Minotaur.

Although the Minotaur of Cannon did not have quite the fearsome reputation as that which Theseus slayed, Matt and Bayard nonetheless had to rely on similar traits: prowess, strength, and cunning.  Below are some of their thoughts on the climb, but we’ll leave it to them to spin the tale of slaying the Minotaur:

 

minotaur“This year, just back from a week steeped in Scotish mixed climbing, I was super keen, and a day guiding the Black Dike gave me a glimpse of the great conditions that had settled in while I was away. One smear of thin ice particularly caught my attention.” – Bayard
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“The forecast called for heavy rain throughout the day and temperatures nearing the the low 40’s. Bayard Russell and I made plans to meet at 7:30 in the Cannon Cliff parking lot, reasoning that the temps would stay at least near freezing. As I woke up early and drove to toward Cannon the temperature was around 35F and it slowly began to rain the close I got to Franconia Notch. I have to admit I was NOT optimistic!” – Matt
Minotaur

Looking down on the 2nd pitch of " The Minotaur"

“Topping out the middle of Cannon in winter is not something you get to do very often. The setting is amazing with all the scrub pines and granite blocks covered in hoar frost. Bayard nailed the descent and we were back at the car by 7:30pm. We called our new variation The Minotaur NEI 4+ M6+.” – Matt
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Read more about the climb  on Matt’s Blog mattmccormickclimbing.blogspot.com

Daedalus – M7+

Bayard Russell & Elliot Gaddy
February 7, 2012

When King Minos of Crete needed to cage the Minotaur, it was Daedalus he turned to; in fact, it was Daedalus who revealed the Labyrinth’s secrets to Theseus so he could slay the Minotaur.  In response to this treachery, King Minos imprisoned Daedalus and his son, Icarus, within the Labyrinth itself.  Their only escape – upward, towards the heavens.

With this chronology in mind, perhaps it is fitting that Cannon’s Daedalus rose after the Minotaur was slayed.  Bayard Russell returned to Cannon not even a week after climbing the The Minotaur and pushed Daedalus to the top.  He thought he had just re-climbed Icarus, but looking at Wilcox’s and Bouchard’s photos, came t realize it was actually a different line.  Regardless, the ambiguity of these lines and their history adds to the mystery and overall mythical nature of them as the line between fact and legend becomes blurred.

Great Protection on Daedalus. NOT!

Email from Bayard:
Both really good routes, but I’ve been wanting to send the second pitch of Icarus for quite some time, really psyched to have done it! Just kept saying to Elliot, “this is the best pitch I’ve done all season!” Iced up cracks pretty much were the defining feature of both routes, with the obvious exception of Minotaur’s 2nd pitch. Two totally different days; for the Minotaur we casually strolled up to the cliff at about 10:30, not having any plan until that gorgeous smear came into view. For Daedalus, I was on a mission knowing what good shape the cliff was in; all the right facing corners were just plastered in ice, pretty much a mixed climbers dream. Over the weekend one of my buddies had to tell me to shut-up ’cause i just kept rambling on about how good the conditions were.. see, there I go again.

When I first tried the 2nd pitch of Icarus a few years ago I thought it was M8, this time around I’m not so sure. All that ice made the cracks pretty secure, but the gear was a little tricky. I’m figuring M7+?, who knows. It was a blast!

Read the whole story on Bayards web site  www.whitemountainrockandice.com

 *****

Ultimately, these new routes on Cannon are only the tip of the iceberg.  Last winter, Kevin Mahoney and Elliot Gaddy climbed the Ghost and repeated (or perhaps created a new variation to) Icarus.  This winter, Matt McCormick and Freddie Wilkinson completed the winter girdle traverse of Cannon.  With  ever-changing conditions, Cannon has countless lines still to be explored, and Bayard, Matt, Kevin, Elliot, and Freddie represent only a small handful of the climbers up to the task of adding to Cannon’s mythology.

Sources: Bayard Russell, Matt McCormick, Wikipedia, whitemountainrockandice.com, mattmccormickclimbing.blogspot.com, Ice Climbers Guide to Northern New England by  Lewis & Wilcox

News and Information – 2.23.12

Ice Climbing News and Information from around the Web

A Word – “Thank God there are a few young climbers like Hayden Kennedy and Jason Kruk who exemplify the best qualities of alpinism. The magnificent southeast ridge of Cerro Torre has been unshackled and can now be an inspiration to future alpinists who have the courage to climb rather than merely summit by any possible means.” – Yvon Chouinard

Cerro Torre: Deviations from Reason – Kelly Cordes

The Scottish Boogie – Bayard Russell

American Alpine Club Annual Benefit Dinner – Boston, MA – March 2 & 3, 2012 – Please join Mark, Freddie, and the rest of the Saser Kangri II team for a journey—vividly told in words, images, and video—to one of the last frontiers of Himalayan climbing. – AAC

The Old Breed – THE OLD BREED is a documentary short film about the first ascent of Saser Kangri II, located in the Eastern Karakoram. At 7518 meters high, SKII was the second-highest unclimbed mountain in the world. It was climbed on August 24th, 2011, by the American team of Mark Richey, Steve Swenson, and Freddie Wilkinson. –  Cowboy Bear Ninja on Vimeo

The Fine Art of Going Sideways – Freddie Wilkinson

I LOVE CHOSS - A visual exploration of mixed climbing in the Catskill’s  by  Christopher Beauchamp

Ice Revolution with Rick Wilcox – Granite Films

Six Ascents Nominated For 20th Piolets d’Or – Alpinist

A professor sprays – Raphael Slawinski

How To Use a Pull Cord For Rappelling – Bigfoot Mountain Guides

Self-belay for solo climbing with a fixed belay rope – Petzl

MICRO TRAXION –  Efficient ultralight progress capture pulley – Petzl

Aartun and Gravdal Die On Norwegian Big Wall – Alpinist

Colin Haley’s reflections on climbing with Bjørn-Eivind Årtun – Colin Haley

Ice Climbing World Cup in Saas Fee | Official UIAA Movie

Cover Photo, Newfoundland 2/14/12

Gros Morne National Park
Gros Morne Newfound Cover photo

Michael Wejchert starts up a pitch of WI5 on an 800-foot route in Gros Morne National Park, Newfoundland.  Stay tuned for more as their trip unfolds!

Cox Cove

cox cove Newfoundland

With the sea rocking below, Rockytop and  Michael Wejchert top out on a WI4 route in Cox Cove, Newfoundland.

Michael Wejchert cox cove NL

Michael Wejchert traversing to the route at high tide.

More photos in the NEice Photo Post

Photos by Alden Pellett  & Ryan Stefiuk, Bigfoot Mountain Guides

 

 

AAC Annual Benefit Dinner – March 2-3, 2012

American Alpine Club 2012 Annual Benefit Dinner in Boston

Weekend focus is Partnership: Climbing through the Generations

American Alpine Club

Golden, CO—Today The American Alpine Club—dedicated to knowledge, inspiration, conservation and advocacy for the climbing community—announced the theme, featured speakers, and destination for its 2012 Annual Benefit Dinner weekend, March 2–3, 2012. The dinner will be held at the Seaport Hotel on the waterfront in Boston, Massachusetts, and will celebrate a year of change and success through the theme of Partnership: Climbing through the Generations.

The weekend will kick off March 2nd with a Friday night Member’s Meeting and Climber’s Gathering, a social evening open to all climbers and attendees. Saturday night’s Annual Benefit Dinner will include waterfront dining, annual awards honoring climbing’s luminaries and rising stars, an auction, and a keynote presentation.

Boston native Mark Richey and climbing partners Freddie Wilkinson and Steve Swenson have been tapped to deliver the keynote, sharing inspiration from their August 2011 Saser Kangri II expedition. The goal was to reach the 7,518-meter summit of the second-highest unclimbed mountain in the world—one of the last frontiers of Himalayan climbing. For Mark and Steve, both in their 50s, the climb was the capstone of their long and already distinguished climbing careers. The story of their expedition will provide a glimpse into the future of exploratory alpinism, highlight the powerful tradition long exemplified by the New England climbing community and The American Alpine Club, and amplify the evening’s theme of partnership across generations.

The Annual Benefit Dinner is the AAC’s signature and largest annual event. In addition to fine dining and entertainment, the Dinner mingles climbers of all generations and abilities to celebrate the vibrant state of this 110-year-old organization.

“This year’s program speaks to themes that resonate deeply at The American Alpine Club. The Swenson-Richey-Wilkenson route on Saser Kangri II—previously the second highest unclimbed peak on Earth—is bold and adventurous,” said Phil Powers, Executive Director at The American Alpine Club. “The intergenerational nature of the team and the amazing story of Steve Swenson’s rescue at the end of the trip resonate with what we value at the AAC.”

In 2011, The American Alpine Club implemented new programs, attained advocacy milestones, and expanded its online and grassroots community resources to provide climbers with more resources and ways to connect with each other. In just the past year, the Club has:

• Hired staff around the country to ensure that the AAC is vibrant in your backyard. These regional coordinators regularly connect with Members by hosting local events, conservation projects, and more.

• Expanded its Member benefits to include rescue insurance, climber-friendly
insurance, expansive discounts, and new and improved places for climbers to stay, such as the rebuilt Snowbird Hut in Alaska and the new AAC Clubhouse in Kathmandu, Nepal.

• Purchased 40 acres of land on the rim of West Virginia’s New River Gorge. The AAC is
working with local conservation and climbing organizations to plan a Climbers’
Campground with amenities walking distance from popular crags.

• Launched a new website, bringing local communities together in a more
user-friendly and attractive online space.

• And in 2012, the Club will break ground on a new Climbers’ Campground with easy access to climbing in New York’s Shawangunks.

“The AAC is at its best when we can be helpful to climbers where they climb—in their own backyards. Bringing the annual dinner to Boston is a tiny example of our increased support of local sections. Just in the last year we have added regional coordinators and new conservation and climbing grants to support needs at the local level,” Powers said.

For more information and tickets, visit americanalpineclub.org/2012dinner <http://www.americanalpineclub.org/2012dinner>

About The American Alpine Club
The American Alpine Club provides knowledge and inspiration, conservation and advocacy, and logistical support for the climbing community. The AAC advocates for American climbers domestically and around the world; provides grants and volunteer opportunities to protect and conserve the places we climb; hosts local and national climbing festivals and events; publishes two of the world’s most sought-after climbing annuals, The American Alpine Journal and Accidents in North American Mountaineering; cares for the world’s leading climbing library and country’s leading mountaineering museum; manages the Grand Teton Climbers’ Ranch as part of a larger lodging network for climbers; and annually gives $80,000+ toward climbing, conservation, and research grants to adventurers who travel the world. Learn about additional programs and become a member at americanalpineclub.org. Join the AAC’s online community at facebook.com/americanalpineclub.

 

Contacts:
Erik Lambert
Information & Marketing Director
The American Alpine Club
elambert@americanalpineclub.org
(303) 951-4572

Alycia Cavadi
Momentum Media PR
alycia@momentummediapr.com
(617) 875-5553

 

Kancamagus Dream’n

On the Drool of the Beast & Sheer Elegance

Footloose and crowd free on two New Hampshire classics.                                                                  

Mt. Kancamagus (L) & Osceola's East Peak flank the Mad River Notch, the home of On The Drool of the Beast.

It was Icefest week end here in New Hampshire. Many people shy away from areas during these times, thinking every piece of frozen water will be wedged with humans…. If one knows where and when to climb, this is not the case.

The Kancamagus is an east-west highway. It slithers like a snake through the White Mountains and gives access to many popular climbs.  The most sought after is Way in the Wilderness on The Painted Walls. And right next door is The Rainbow Slabs. On the other side of the road, in a slice on the side of Mt. Chocorua flows the heavily hit Champney Falls. These are the places that will surly be busy. But there are other climbs that will not be

On the Drool of the Beast  II 5

For a backcountry area, the ice in Mad River Notch and the amazing line of The Drool are quite easy to get too. One just has to commit to an easy 2.3 mile walk and a wee ‘lil bushwhack. I have done the route three times with the first being in’93 and had sung of it’s aesthetic beauty to many friends over the years. The Drool is one of those routes that lives on the peripheral of thought for most. Lurking with its back to the road.  Not visible without hiking in, with the more noticeable ice almost always taking precedence over it. But I had one friend that wanted it bad and was willing to take the chance on it being climbable even on a short day. If it was not in,  little time would be left for something else.

I met Emilie Drinkwater in the Greeley Pond parking lot and though the trail was packed, we decide to ski in. We had two different reasons for this. My reasons, not being a very good skier, the approach and descent would be just as exciting as the climbing. Emilie wanted too because she claims to hate walking and getting out would be quite fast. I also think she knew with my skiing skills, I would provide some good entertainment. And I’m pretty sure I came through on that.

We stop at the spot where one can get an obstructed view of the climb. Emilie had been wanting to do this route for years and had the same reaction I had with my first sight of its line. “WOW!” then,  “That is only one pitch?”  The route looked pretty good, with the exception of one section down low that we could not see. Once up close it all was there, however it was thin.

The beautiful ribbon of The Drool and a lean version of Aye Karumba! (R) photo-Emilie Drinkwater

Emilie was her usual, humble self and while racking up, made some silly comment about if she did not make it I could finish it.  I said sure and reminded her of the schooling she doled out with the Rollies at Sozt’s during Mountain Fest.  After the first few pieces of rock gear were placed at the start, the rest went like clock work for her, what a surprise.

Emilie working the thin start

The Drool has everything a climber could wish for. Its location and the impeccable nature of the climb suffer few rivals. Good rock & ice gear, stemming, chimney moves, corkscrew weirdness and pure straight on ice for the finish.  All in a remote mountain setting with spectacular views across the Greeley Ponds to the layers of mountains stretching out to the southeast.

In no time at all Emilie had topped out and I was climbing.  The typical thought “I’m glad I’m seconding”  entered my mind right from the start and stayed with me through the steeper than it looked from below finish.  Once back on the skis, the  trip out was fast, with minimum damage to my coccyx.  Along the Kancamagus we stopped near the pass for a look back west  to Mt. Huntington. Ted Hammond had mentioned Sheer Elegance, the stand out route on it’s huge southeast face was looking good. And it did indeed.

Sheer Elegance II 4+ 5.6

Anyone driving on the highway has seen it. As one drops over Kancamagus Pass towards Lincoln, Mt. Huntington tries to block your passage.  Its bulky southwestern shoulder with its massive wall will fill your vision.  In the winter an amber like sheet of ice trailing off to a slender ribbon, cascades down the chocolate coloured slab. Always tempting, always dismissed…. except by a few.

Mt. Huntington and the line of Sheer Elegance

 

Sheer Elegance (center) and other beautiful climbs to the left.

A few years ago a good trail was established by Chuck Woodman and others while putting up some of the rock routes on this complex cliff system.  This trail, if one knows where to find the start offers an very cool, easy way to the cliff.  Ted Hammond and Mark Casale packed it out going into the routes on the left end of the cliff. And while doing so got a first hand look at the start of SE.  The report was a big grin.

A view of the route from the approch

The day dawned clear and cold but the sun could compromise the ice if one gets too late a start. A semi late night after the dry tooling comp did not put much of a damper on our departure time. Freddie Bieber , Ted, Mark and I were at the cliff  with Fred racked and rolling by 9.

Freddie engaging the elegance

When Fred got to the start of the crux the scale of the steep section really showed.  And though he had not been on any steep ice this year, Freddie cranked out an excellent lead.  After the crux the ice kicks back for a bit to a snow & ice ramp that leads right. After that a huge sheet of soft, amber leads to the trees.

Ted Hammond coming up the finishing section

The day was absolutely  brilliant. Good friends sharing an amazing route none of us had done, totally alone.  And that is a rare gift. The rating is a bit old school and I’m not looking to change it.  However I found the crux to be similar to that of Repentence when it is in good.  Narrow, barndoor-ish and in the grill a little longer, but then easier.  We did the route in one long pitch with double 70’s.

Sheer Elegance and On the Drool of the Beast are beautiful gems.  These lines are total classic’s and I feel very lucky to have done them this year. Both routes require cold and cloudy weather to form. Keep the eyes open, Sheer is right in plain view. If it looks good from the road go for it! As for the Drool…. take a chance and a walk, if it’s in your be smiln’, I guarantee it.

Good job to Emilie & Freddie for their nice leads and for dragging my butt up two great routes.

~Alan Cattabriga

 

 

 

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