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Archive for the ‘New Climbs’ Category

Before the Thaw

By Matt Ritter

matt1

P2-4 of Cannonade Direct (red) Cannonade Direct Direct (yellow)

From the exposed ledges of the Whitney Gilman Ridge it would call to me. I’d snap seemingly random photographs and stare distractedly. I’d remind myself that as a guide I should remain focused. The giant corner system above the Cannonade Buttress is exposed and looms over the talus like an inverted cargo train. The steep face below is split by a series of cracks and seams that I visually kept following back to the base of this massive corner. In the winter, I’d rack up and wonder about the imposing prow which starts as a large corner, briefly evaporates mid cliff, and reasserts itself in steep prominence like a wave threatening to break on the talus beach.

Despite having made five attempts on this route with various partners, I knew that I could put it to rest this time. The source of this confidence being an extra five feet of ice not present during my last lean condition attempt. This ice made me think I wouldn’t need to place gear in the seemingly unprotectable terrain above my highpoint.

I have climbed on this route with some of the greatest members of our climbing community. Today was no exception, Jim Shimberg owner of Rhino Guides kept telling me I was “grilled” as we made upward progression. The icy cracks of the first pitch felt heavenly and went quickly. Snow conditions were perfect which made the technical pitch two traverse a sidewalk.

“In what felt like the boldest moment of my career, I forged upward. Now, too far above my gear to not hurt myself, perched on an overhanging arete above the talus, on a pitch I’ve lusted over for three seasons.”
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Pitch One

Pitch three is where the business begins. Off the piton anchor, I clip a nest of gear and situate myself at the first crux where a splendid vertical slab becomes slightly overhanging. With both tools over my shoulder, I side pull crimp an edge, step my front points high onto nothing, and at full extension I virtually kiss my ice tool ‘goodbye’ to wrangle a solid matchable edge. Committed, a fall from here would land me below the belayer in a big swinging arc. Better not to fall. A couple solid tool placements and strenuous lock offs allows me to clip a great piton and bust some layback moves on a flake to gain a rest beneath a small roof.

matt3

Pitch Three

Reaching out over my left shoulder, I pull through the roof and high step into the next crux which feels like muckling a greased refrigerator with an iced up rattly hand crack on the left and an equally slick rattly finger crack on the right. Surmounting this block feels monumental.  After some steep cranking, I gain a good stemming rest and a short flaring corner that becomes an in-cut, kinda sidepull rail with good hooks and some tiny gear. Stellar, exposed climbing gains a tiny ledge which, with a micro wire, and a tiny fixed pecker a body length beneath my feet, provided much spice to mantle. Placing a great piton awkwardly at my knees, I was just a few moves from mantling onto the icy sloping ledge above. I’ve always said I was gonna kiss this ledge when I got there. Tough to describe the exuberance I felt from finally reaching this point. The rest of the pitch isn’t easy but comparatively its a walk in the park. I knew it was in the bag.

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Yikes!

 

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Pitch Three During a Previous Attempt

 

Topping out Cannonade Direct. Pitch 4 is a wonderful rock finish with good gear and cracks! Photo by Steve Robitshek

Topping out Cannonade Direct. Pitch 4 is a wonderful rock finish with good gear and cracks! Photo by Steve Robitshek

Michael Wejchert, and I met at Cannon Cliff the next day. I wanted to climb a variation to Cannonade Direct that would allow me to climb the entirety of the monstrous upper corner. Being a little sore from the previous three days of strenuous climbing, I slurped multiple infusions of Mate and blasted Rage Against the Machine. Another warm day. At the base of Cannonade Direct I racked up. Having climbed this amazing pitch five times, I have it rather dialed. I torqued iced up cracks, stemmed familiarly, and sloppily sped up the 65 meter pitch. Now for the variation! I situated myself under the first crux and placed a couple bomber knifeblades.  A right arching seam catered minuscule technical edges and tenuous high steps. The rock is bomber but I enjoyed a handful of whippers due to exploding micro flakes. Making these technical face moves earned me some awe-inspiring hooks and the most elegant horizontal finger crack which welcomed the necessary gear and an adequate rest before the next crux of gaining the ice.

I tapped my battered picks into the snowy little ledge. The ¼ inch space between ice and granite dispelled any myth of security. Wet snow pressed heavily on this precarious substrate. The rock beneath my ice tools was overhanging. I hoisted my front points up to my elbows placing them on perfect ⅜ inch edges. Finally some large footholds!! Here, with my ass in space and my ice tool moving to more secure rotten worthless ice, the ledge and ice curtain detach indifferently. Taking a big clean fall onto a bomber Lost Arrow I come tight on the rope before reaching terminal velocity. My head was down and I could see Michael looking at me as generously plump chunks of aerated ice pummeled me. Without lifting my head, Michael and I made eye contact. “I guess you’ll have to wait for a colder day.” Michael is smarter than I am. “I’m making it to that belay. I think it just got easier.”

Michael initiating the techy crux

Michael initiating the techy crux

I know I’ve got one shot. The holidays are upon us. The rain is upon us. My early season project’s ice will not form again. I lower to the ledge and fire the crux, pull gingerly onto the steep ice and build a belay at the base of the mythical corner.

P3 Cannonade Direct. Cannonade Direct Direct climbs into the base of the big brown corner via the ice smear to my right. Photo by Bayard Russell

P3 Cannonade Direct. Cannonade Direct Direct climbs into the base of the big brown corner via the ice smear to my right. Photo by Bayard Russell

Everything had felt pretty safe up to this point. Despite the repeated whips and long fall followed by a heat seeking deluge of frozen water missiles, I was climbing very well and felt invincible. Obviously mixed climbing is dangerous. Nothing about climbing Mean Streak, Prozac, or Daedalus is “safe.” In fact these climbs provide one with many opportunities to get hurt. I firmly believe that in these situations our safety hinges upon our mental state. There will always be objective hazard, but when I’m climbing well, I’m not climbing scared. Surviving one of these climbs by the skin of my teeth does not seem sustainable. No route is worth a broken ankle, face, or spinal cord. With that in mind, I pulled off the ledge and soon found myself with a couple cams a few feet beneath my boots. Cannon does in fact have pockets of very steep terrain. Trust me. I look for it. I was getting pumped and I almost bailed. Casually, I told Michael I might fall as I began to ponder my exit strategy. He didn’t argue but we both knew this wasnt gonna be pretty. Looking down, I saw a small edge. Still in control, I reminded myself that someday I wanted to be a bold climber. I looked up. In what felt like the boldest moment of my career, I forged upward. Now, too far above my gear to not hurt myself, perched on an overhanging arete above the talus, on a pitch I’ve lusted over for 3 seasons. I made one more move to a solid hook and a serendipitous cam placement. The climbing eased up slightly as steep snow filled cracks and an arete composed of gravity defying loose nonsense made me feel at home. Or was it that I wished I was at home? Either way, leaving my last gear behind and pulling around the corner onto featureless slabs covered in ½ inch snice kept my attention for the last 40 feet to the trees. Seriously, do not blow it here…

Cannonade Direct (red) and second to last pitch of Cannonade Direct Direct (yellow) in much leaner conditions.

Cannonade Direct (red) and second to last pitch of Cannonade Direct Direct (yellow) in much leaner conditions.

 

(Click on images to enlarge)

More on Matt

A Dose of Prozac and Some Positive Thinking

Matt Ritter Joins the MWV Ice Fest Team


An Early Christmas!

The holiday came early for Matt Ritter this year.  He and partner Jim Shimberg established a new route on Cannon Cliff this past Monday! And that’s not all. Hungry for more, Matt returned yesterday with Michael Wejchert and put up a new variation to that route!

Stay tuned for an NEice exclusive story and details after the holiday from the man himself.  Nice work, Matt!

mattritter

Matt Ritter starts the third Pitch of his new route, Cannonade Direct, with Jim Shimberg belaying.  Photograph taken by Bayard Russell.

Wow, what a day…. [  ].., I got a front row seat to watch this… although I can’t figure out how Matt did the crux to the ledge…. after hanging for 30 mins, getting pumped most would call it a day, especially with the last bit of pro was 10m below..[ ].. somehow he found a way up to a tiny ledge. Then collapsed on the ledge… then discover maybe it wasn’t the crux !! Amazing, well done.”  – Damon Clark, climbing with Bayard Russell on the Black Dike.

 

~Courtney Ley

CryoKinesis

Ray Rice logging some air time on CryoKinesis: Photos by Jim Surette, GraniteFilms.com

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The First Ascent of Cryokinesis

Peter Doucette shakes out and searches for the next edge, divot or dimple towards progress on this year’s first attempt of Cryokinesis. Photo: Ray Rice

Ray Rice’s airborne antics folded him nearly in half and brought him to a halt not so far above Cathedral Ledge’s Blueberry Terrace in January 2010. “Walking”, or “climbing it off”, as was the case, Ray leaned into a no hands rest 30+ feet below his highpoint. He collected himself and prepared for his second go before the adrenaline and whatever else was coursing through his veins dissipated. Later, Ray described the upper reaches of Cryokinesis as, “climbing blacked out.” He shed his gloves late in the lead as desperation returned.  He torqued, clung, quivered and willed his way upward, narrowly avoiding a second dangerous mistake. Either due to acute focus, or the pain his body was suppressing, his memory of the pitch was as sparse as the turf shots between him and topping out.

Ray’s belayer that day was Bayard Russell. Bayard simply laughed when I asked him recently what it was like belaying and watching Ray so unabashedly go for it.  As his laughter stopped, he said, “When Ray got back on, (and I had to send him my tools first, cause his had sailed to the ground) I was talking to the rope, trying to push it, and Ray, to the top from below. It was terrifying to think he could take that same fall again. He was just going for it.  At the end of the day, when we’d all reached the ground, we had to look for Ray’s tools. In the search, we found both, one having left a perfect tool silhouette punched in the snow further from the base of the cliff than you’d expect.”

The reality reinforced by the unfortunate fact that Ray’s back still bothers him

Jimmy Surette was also up there that day and took the sequence of photos above. Jimmy, recounting the fall, notes, “It was all of 35 feet. Could‘ve easily been forty.” These images were shown at the Mount Washington Valley Ice Festival that year, generating groans and expletives from the crowd. The pictures left the screen, but stayed fixed in everyone’s memory. Having documented the fall that no climber ever wants to imagine, added to its almost legendary quality. The reality reinforced by the unfortunate fact that Ray’s back still bothers him.

Ray Rice using all the ice he was given and maxing out the stem on the first ascent of Cryokinesis. Photo: Peter Doucette

As climbers, the top is only part of the goal. How we feel climbing, the style with which we approach objectives, choose partners, remember the stories and record ascents hold high priority, too. The “First Ascent” with the no hands rest and little memory of its upper reaches still seemed, for Ray, like a job unfinished, until last Sunday, January 6th, when we climbed Cryokinesis, from the ground via Karen’s Variation. We took turns successfully leading the (crux) last pitch, Ray first. It was my second time attempting the route and Ray’s third.

While the approach pitch of Karen’s Variation offers its own brand of delicate, awkward climbing: it’s never wildly difficult – Some ice, some turf, and a well executed hex placement get you through the bulging cruxes and lead you to more secure climbing – But upon reaching the terrace, the route’s character changes and very clean granite rises above. Powerful stemming on micro features and plenty of gear on Kinesis get you started. Cryokinesis diverges 25’ up (about 6’ below the existing bolt) with a necky pull to a good stance (Ray’s earlier no hands rest point).  Higher, the fascinating pillar spouts from a crack in the middle of the otherwise blank face. Beyond the ice, the wall steepens to gently overhanging with clutch thin cracks, a lone pin, suitably techy feet and just enough turf to keep your security in question to the last swing. This is a classy and ephemeral route. Check it out, but don’t stare too much at the fall sequence before you go.

Ray Rice moving above his gear and into the ice on the first ascent. Photo Peter Doucette

Ray Rice moving above his gear and into the ice on the first ascent. Photo Peter Doucette

We rated Cryokinesis M7+ NEI 5

Pitch One (Climbs Karen’s Variation) at M6 180′

Pitch 2 is M7+ NEI 5 85’

First Ascent: Ray Rice and Peter Doucette January 6th 2013


Photos of Cryokinesis

Click photos to enlarge

 

*Thanks to Jim Surette and Granite Films for sharing his images for this publication.

 

Peter Doucette

IFMGA/AMGA Licensed Mountain Guide
Phone:  603  616-7455

Address: 84 Skyline Drive
Intervale, NH. 03845

Mixed Climbing in the Green Chasm

Silas Rossi about to get into the business. “Look at that CRACK! It overhangs, has few feet, and the hooking is in obvious. The top few feet were glazed with ice, making it extra hard. It felt like full on M8 on top rope; harder while trying to fiddle in gear.” – Erik Eisele + Click to Enlarge

Mount Webster, Crawford Notch NH

Click to + Enlarge

“The line runs right up the obvious overhanging face, although it isn’t the diagonaling crack. On the right side of the face is a straight-up-and-down crack. The ice at the start is obscured as well. The corner above is the obvious finish” – Erik Eisele

click + to Enlarge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Silas on the ice

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Source: Erik Eisele, facebook, NEClimbs – Photos by Erik Eisele. Silas Rossi of Alpine Logic climbing

Astro Turf

Lake Willoughby Vermont

Astro Turf (IV M9, WI 4+ R) – Matt McCormick and Josh Hurst

Josh Hurst at the roof of "Astro Turf" – Photo by Matt McCormic – +click to enlarge

On Saturday Jan 7, 2005, Josh Hurst and I climbed a new route in the central section of Mt. Pisgah. “Astro Turf” start as for Aurora about 150’ right of Super-Nova in the right facing ice/turf gully on the left side of the Star man buttress. The first 2 pitches follow Aurora.

1. Climb the 40’ right facing ice/turf gully to the big snow ledge and belay below the left facing turf and rock corner capped by a chockstone.

2. M5 – Dry tool into and up the left facing groove past one fixed pin and tunnel under the chockstone capping the groove. Belay immediately after the chockstone at the fixed nut/pin anchor.

3. M6/WI 4+R – Standing on the chockstone, dry tool left until established on the ice. There is a fixed angle and nut that can be found at the stance at the end of the traverse. The pin is reachable after stepping up immediately after the traverse. This pin may be covered in ice depending on the conditions but can be dug out against the main black wall. Once across the traverse, climb 80-90 degree thin ice for a 30-40 ft run out on to thicker ice. Climb thicker ice to the top of the ice smear and belay

4. M9 – Dry tool up into the shallow groove past 2 bolts and small cam placements. At the end of the groove, reach up and clip the bolt in the 6’ roof then pull strenuously out the roof past 2 more bolts and up the 90 degree thin ice to the ledge above.

5-6. WI 5 – Climb the center of three flows to the top as for (Starman?).

Standard rack needed plus ice screws.

Topo map of the climb

– Matt McCormick

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