The climbing is always interesting this time of year. In a five day span, I got to climb ice, alpine, mixed, sport, and trad, all within an hour-and-a-half of North Conway!
Ice is always here before you know it. It’s chilly in town, but places like Cannon Cliff and Huntington Ravine get early season ice overnight. IMCS guide Erik Eisele and AMGA guide Ryan Stefiuk cruised up the Black Dike on Election Day, kicking off the ice season! Check out a report of the climb at Ryan’s awesome website and an article by Erik about chasing early season ice.
On the 7th, I soloed the Dike and climbed Damnation Gully in Huntington Ravine in one long, tiring day. It was great fun, and always nice to take the tools out this early.
The climb was exciting, replete with a stuck rope and scratchy topout. Read a full report of the day at www.neice.com, New England’s home for ice and mixed conditions. After a run up the awesome alpine terrain of Damnation, I needed a rest day. While I was feeling sorry for myself, Ryan called, hungry for more early-season action on Cannon. We bailed on an incredibly thin Fafnir. Erik Eisele, Ryan and I tried this climb in November two seasons ago, with similar results. The snowy, slabby, poorly bonded climbing on cannon is exponentially harder at the start of the season.
We got my stuck rope off the Black Dike and wandered around, looking for something engaging. Cannon excels as a training venue because of its endless potential for traditionally protected winter mixed climbing. We settled on Sam’s Swan Song, supposedly one of the best mixed climbs on the cliff. I got into the crux section just as the sun came out and the ice above began to drop down. We bailed, again, but we’ll be back.
On the 10th, I teamed up with Erik for some sport climbing action. Taking whippers at Shagg Crag seemed a pleasant antidote to Cannon’s no-fall ethic. Joining us were Scott Bubnis and IMCS guide Elliot Gaddy. We soaked up the rays and heckled.
Local crusher and Atlantic Climbing School guide Alexa Siegel was keen for one more day of trad climbing. She’s a terrific all around climber, and with a half-day at our disposal on monday, we headed up to Whitehorse. The Last Unicorn, the cliff’s classic 5.10, was dry! After an interesting stick-clip-tension-traverse (don’t ask) over a wet slab on the approach pitch, we enjoyed awesome positioning and great climbing. What a week! It’s a great reminder that we live in an area that allows us to doeverything, regardless of the weather, and regardless of the season. Come on up and get after it!!!