2011-06-04 thru 05 Late Spring Climbing in New Hampshire

Panoramic of Franconia Notch

Finally after about two and a half-three weeks of rain Mother Nature decided to string together a few sunny and dry days.  Boris and I took advantage of this to head up to New Hampshire for some climbing.  I’ve done a little bit of rock climbing in NH but not too much, even though I am from there.

We headed up Friday evening to D Acres farm & hostel.  This place is pretty interesting.  The farm specializes in eduction and demonstration of sustainable organic methods.  On top of that they run a hostel.  During one of my ice trips we stayed here.  Nothing like hanging out with a bunch of hippies to give you a new perspective. …


Saturday morning welcomed us with bright sunshine, perfect temperatures, and some squealing pigs.  After some breakfast of eggs, pancakes, and strange pickled veggies, we headed over to one of the most iconic cliffs in the East, Cannon Cliff.  This granite mountain has ski area on one half.  The other half of the mountain was sloughed off probably back during the last few ice ages.  This has produced one of the largest cliffs in the East.  The cliff is home to numerous classic alpine routes.  


The plan was to start on Vertigo (5.9 A0) but we had a little trouble with another team getting started at the same time.  Determined not to get discouraged by some rude climbers we decided to back off the first pitch, which involved me down climbing, so that we could start on another climb.  

Reppy's Crack (5.8)To warm up Boris and I climbed Reppy’s Crack (5.8).  This would be my first Yosemite style granite crack.  Earlier this year I had some time on granite cracks in Joshua Tree.  These cracks however are flary, rounded, and the granite is much larger grained.  New Hampshire granite on the otherhand, and this climb in particular was absolutely splitter, the term used to decribe a crack seemingly freshly split into the rock.  Reppy’s Crack is about 90 ft of spectacular #2 and #3 Camalot all the way up.  This size makes for some great hand and tow jams, though a bit painful.  I finished the pitch and cleaned my gear so Boris could lead it as well.

Next up was a right leaning finger crack called Sticky Fingers (5.10).  The crack splits a steep smooth granite slab.  The crack is very small, tips at best in most spots.  Boris did a great job leading it.  I had a little trouble at the crux and had to hang a little bit.  

Finishing up Sticky Fingers we headed back to Vertigo which was clear now.  Boris headed up the first pitch this time and decided to string the two first pitches together.  After the normal first pitch I got my first taste of aid climbing, even if it was only A0.  The second pitch of Vertigo has a pendulum swing off a bolt.  This bypasses a completely blank section of rock.  The swing is only about 20 feet or so but it is fun.  As a second I got to the bolt an then used my cordelette looped through the bolt to lower myself across the swing.  Fun stuff.

The top of our first pitch (usually P2) is a spectacular finger crack system.  A small stance for a belay ledge in a left facing corner got us started on an exciting exposed set of moves.  About 30 feet up from the belay the route hops over the left facing corner in an lightly protected exposed move.  Once on the other side of the corner another crack appears and leads up to the top of our second pitch which is usually the top of P4.  These two pitches were the most fun I’ve ever climbed.  The moves are fun, exposed and the finger to hand cracks are spectacular.

P5 or our P3 would be the infamous half-moon crack.  This crack is again splitter but widens to an off-width.  There is no protection,Vertigo's half-moon crack. perhaps only Big Bros, for 30-35 ft.  The plan was to opt for a 5.9+ variation in a finger crack and then top rope the off-width.  Unfortunately the time was a bit later than we would have liked and we couldn’t seem to spot the line for the variation.  With this situation on our hands we decided to rap off.  But before we headed home we ran up Reppy’s Crack again to collect a lost cam.  The team who cut in front of us on Vertigo in the morning was climbing Moby Grape (5.8), which starts on Reppy’s Crack.  From our position on Vertigo we could see and hear them get a cam stuck.  On our way down another team also got a cam stuck on the climb but were able to get their’s out.  They weren’t able to get the first cam out.  As such Boris was happy to trot up the climb and booty the lost gear in about 10 minutes.

Sunday we headed to Rumney which is the most notable sport climbing area in the East.  The cliffs are only about 1-2 pitches high and all bolted.  Most of the climbs start in the 5.10s and go up from there.  For whatever reason I was not feeling quite right and didn’t lead anything.  Boris did let me TR the stuff he lead.  A few 5.10s and 5.11s were all I did.  The rock is generally grippy and very 3D.  No face climbing here, all overhanging and lots of features.  On top of that there were tons of people.  Completely the opposite of Cannon.  Perhaps the gym like atmosphere put me off.

The weekend turned out great despite my poor showing on Sunday.  I’m looking forward to heading back up to NH soon and redeeming myself at Rumney.


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