Thursday, October 22, 2009

Granite Hugger

I day doesn’t go by when I don’t think about being on the trails in the White Mountains especially in fall when the leaves turn golden and that harvest moon creeps out on the horizon. As fall quietly slips away my brother Craig and I rustled up one last escape for some good ol’ fashion granite hugging.

Standard Route 5.7 Variation Whitehorse Ledge
Armed with good rock guide a few skills from various indoor gyms and local Boston crags we decided to make the leap to multi-pitch climbing. Two cliffs located in North Conway, NH Cathedral Ledge and Whitehorse Ledge present the classic New England multi-pitch setting. Whitehorse Ledge is an incredible 800' granite cliff that features every kind of traditional climbing imaginable. The day’s expedition had us heading up Standard Route on Whitehorse Ledge with some class 5 climbing ranging from 5.4 to 5.7 and a mix of class 4 which involve short steep slab sections of granite.

Sensory Overload
Our day started at the crux: getting out of bed at 5AM for the 3 hour drive to North Conway. Once we reach the mountains like a shot of caffeine my pulse begins to rise as I anticipate a beautiful day ahead. We rack up and tie in at the launch pad then it’s up and away. A big part of Whitehorse Ledge is it encompasses a lot of slab climbing and this is a tricky technique to master especially when there’s nothing for the hands to grab onto it becomes a mental game. Lean into a slab pitch and the outcome will have you sliding down quicker than you can yell shit. When climbing I've learned it best to ignore the darting impulses from the sensory systems and focus on rock when you can do this it becomes TOTALY sense-sational.

The day moves along smoothly and we relax at a few hanging belay stations of which one we managed a small snag and tangled the double ropes but at 600 feet it takes some presence of mind to work out. What’s that witty quote “When you come to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hold on”

We enjoy a short break and fall skyline view at Lunch Ledge then it’s on to the Crux a blocky 5.7 granite section with our first real exposure making it a committing route. After sweating it out on the Crux we simul-climb the last few pitches about 300 feet on an easy dike (Sliding Board) to the top.

"The law of gravity is strictly enforced."

Hang from a cliff for a day and you’ll quickly realize gravity is a real drag but as you adapt to the environment you’ll discover your full potential.

"Climbing," I yell
"Climb on," Craig yells