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climberism MARCH | APRIL 2012

BLACK DIKE New Hampshire’s legendary ice

PATAGONIA Québécois climbers take on steep South American rock

THE NORTHEAST CLIMBING M A G A Z I N E

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Looking for “A Nice Screw?” Girdle Traverse on Cannon Cliff Meet the Assholes


MARCH | APRIL

INSIDE THE MAG //

Contents

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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Keese Lane digging for the ice.

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CANNON CLIFF // Girdle Traverse Freddy Wilkinson and Matt McCormick

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INTERVIEW // Jason Hurwitz Ice climber and screw refurbisher

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THE LIBRARY // Reading material for cold nights

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BLACK DIKE // Ice of Legend By Erick Eisele

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FOOD FOR CLIMBERS // Teddy Peanut Butter Stuff to stick to the roof of your mouth

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GORETTA PILLAR // Quebec climbers in Patagonia By Yannick Girard

ON THE COVER: Melissa McNell floating the moves onto the first log during the 2012 Smuggler’s Notch Drytooling event at Petra Cliffs in Burlington, Vermont.

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CONTRIBUTORS //

climberism THE NORTHEAST CLIMB ING

MAGAZINE

MARCH | APRIL ISSUE EDITORIAL DIRECTOR

WORDS FROM THE LOCALS...

David Crothers ASSISTANT EDITOR

Jarred Cobb GRAPHIC DESIGN

Ray Kania & Dick Ritchie ADVERTISE

advertise@climberism.com CONTRIBUTE

submissions@climberism.com

Yannick Girard Yannick is a true Northeast Barbarian at heart, who recently returned from a trip of a lifetime with climbing partner Martin Lajoie. The duo trained their butts off for a year and a half in harsh northern Canada conditions preparing for the trip. In a thick French Canadian accent Yannick tells the epic adventure.

SUBSCRIBE

climberism.com/new-subscribers/ CORPORATE CRIB

Climberism Magazine P. O. Box 4563 Burlington, VT 05406 CONTACT US

info@Climberism.com Contributions are welcome. Climberism is published bimonthly and we welcome contributions in the form of photography, features, short articles, news, reviews, comments and letters. Please get in touch if you’d like to submit some materials - we are always keen to hear from potential contributors. Contact us for rates.

Erik Eisele Erik has no interest being scared, uncomfortable or on 40-degree snow, but he still hasn’t figured out how to give up climbing. He works as a reporter in northern New Hampshire, where he’s an ice climbing guide and regional coordinator for the Access Fund.

Zach Herman Most of the activities depicted in this magazine carry significant amounts of risk with the potential for serious injury or death. We do not recommend you try or participate in any of the activities depicted within this publication. Seek professional guidance or help from someone of expertise. You assume all risks associated with your decision. Copyright Climberism. All Rights Reserved. No material in this publication may be reproduced without prior written consent.

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Zach “The Intern” Herman is a sophomore at the University of Vermont and originally from New York City. He only started climbing a year ago but has been hooked ever since then. His first day out on ice was this year, he didn’t leave any of it for the other climbers, he’s got some learning to do...

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EDITOR’S NOTE // January and February are the best and busiest months of the year for me. There are a ton of exciting events going on throughout the region: Catskills, Adirondack, Smuggs, and Mount Washington ice festivals; bouldering events, including the infamous Dark Horse Bouldering Series hosted by MetroRock--those guys do a killer job at bringing in the best talent the Northeast and the nation has to offer. But once it is over, I kind of feel relieved because when March and April roll around they signify a change in season. Pretty soon the ice will be gone. Ambitious rock climbers have already been getting after it in some places; especially with the weather we’ve had this winter. For the most part the change is welcome. This time of year, I am ready for the warmth but also saddened by another passing ice season. I can never help but feel like I get robbed; there is always a climb I wanted to get on but didn’t make

it. With so much stuff going on and an ever-expanding demand for this digital magazine, I find myself tied up more and more every year. Though it’s not entirely all that bad, I still have my weekends that I take full advantage of and I have been able to connect and climb with people I never thought I would. That makes it all worth it. In this issue, we close out the 2011/2012 ice climbing season full of events and festivities with some very cool French-Canadian climbers who took on Patagonia’s cold windy environment; we celebrate the 40th anniversary of the first ascent of New Hampshire’s Black Dike; and congratulate Freddie Wilkinson and Matt McCormick for a job well done on Cannon’s Girdle Traverse.

// Photo by: David Crothers 4

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JEAN-PIERRE

OUELLET

Jean-Pierre “Peewee” Ouellet making it look easy on Le Toit de Ben, 5.13a, while getting a belay from Sonnie Trotter, in Val-David, Quebec. Andrew Burr photo

fusion

The Sterling Fusion Ion2 is my favorite rope. It's easy to clip, handles well and is very lightweight. Sterling = Performance without sacrifice on durability.

ion2

size weight impact force falls 9.4mm 57g/M 8.1kN 5

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w w w| .MAGAZINE s t e r l i n g r o p e . c5 o m climberism


LETTERS TO THE EDITOR // Dear Climberism, Your most recent Climberism magazine issue was not only the best yet, but the articles were written with such wit and finesse that they make Hemmingway look like an illiterate Hobo, and not to lay it on too thick, but truly the most recent contributors were amongst the most literary warrior poets of our days. Well done indeed. However!  I would like to address some recent libel and wildly inaccurate claims that were made in your most recent edition.  The quote in question goes as follows: “Currently on the road trip of a life time, Fage and his girlfriend (who climbs harder than he) has settled into the dirtsquirrel lifestyle nicely.  Fage is seeking sponsorship for just about anything” I’ve written out a list falsehoods in these claims, and of alternative descriptions that might be more appriopriate for your next magazine. 1.  “Currently on the road trip of a life time.”  Perhaps you could use.   “Currently handsomer than James Bond at his finest, Fage is on a rock crushing sabbatical, and what would be, for the common man, a trip of a life time, is for Fage and his warrior princess, merely a meek sojour to peruse what American stone has to offer.” 2. “Fage and his girlfriend (who climbs harder than he)”.  You’re killing me!  This claim is wildly inaccurate (Of course, I guess it depends on your use of the term “climbs harder”).  Let me explain, yes she may get to the top of a difficultly graded climb, but it is with ease.  Where as, for myself, I have to try it again and again, trying real hard to pull my fat/lazy/hungover/weak ass up, thus making the “climbs harder”  for myself.  Therefore, the route is indeed harder for myself, and consequently I would argue that it is indeed I, who “climbs harder”.  That and she’s been lording this over me, calling me her “lapin de grigri” and “belay bunny” and other such derogative comments…. bah! 3. “has settled into the dirtsquirrel lifestyle nicely”.  Perhaps you could use.  “Rules over his dirtbag fiefdom with Machiavellian grace and ruthlessness.” 4. “seeking sponsorship for just about anything”.  Perhaps you could use.  “seeking sponsorship for preferably cash/ money/bills, and/or just about anything that fits in a ’98 Chevrolet Cavalier (at this point, we have had to turn down our sponsorship opportunity from Maytag (fitting a free washer and dryer in the car was just not practical), though we do thank them for their support).” I hope you will list these corrections in your next issue, if not, I will be forced to take legal action… or at the very least begin some online slander of epic/typical proportions. Yours truly, Roger Fage sponsormeow.wordpress.com

Dear Concerned Party, We received your letter dated January 8, 2012 with your accusations of “libel and wildly inaccurate claims” concerning the following sentence: “Currently on the road trip of a life time, Fage and his girlfriend (who climbs harder than he) has settled into the dirtsquirrel lifestyle nicely. Fage is seeking sponsorship for just about anything.” We have consulted with our team of experienced and high-priced lawyers (askalawyer.com), and after a lengthy discussion have come back to you like a dog who just pissed on the carpet. We accept your edits (it’s not like we spend every waking hour working on our magazine and mind making changes after we publish the fucking thing) and do hereby decree that the sentence should read: “Currently handsomer than James Bond at his finest, Fage is on a rock crushing sabbatical, and what would be, for the common man, a trip of a life time, is for Fage and his warrior princess, merely a meek sojour to peruse what American stone has to offer.”

Should you seek further compensation for our transgression, we recommend you contact Judge Judy.

Yours in perpetuity, Climberism 6

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FUNNY SCHIST Climbers take themselves way too seriously most of the time. And that’s why we need people to remind us every now and again to quit being such a douche bag! The crew at AssholeClimbers does an expert job bringing us all down a notch or two. Their blog, “conceived in an unholy union of 2 dudes lubricated with a bottle of scotch,” has been putting up regular content since December, flipping traditional climbing media on its head. Here’s our favorite article to date:

No, I won’t pass your girlfriend’s belay test. . . . . . and if you don’t shut the fuck up, I’m gonna fail yours too. I’m talking to you, the asshat wearing underarmour and basketball shorts with the girl who just painted her 3 inch nails. Yeah brah, Imma fail the shit out of her, and it’s totes your fault. I know she “did this once in high school,” and you gave her a “refresher” in the parking lot. She doesn’t know what she’s doing, and neither do you. The couple of times you’ve top-roped in the gym and once at Quincy Quarries with your university’s outdoors club doesn’t qualify you to teach anyone anything. You’re trying to impress her with your macho 5.8 rock-climbing skillz, she’s trying to pretend she gets it to make you happy. It’s the blind leading the blonde. No, I’m not going to take my entire working night teaching her how to belay. I’m busy keeping people safe and happy, you’re busy making yourself look like a jackass. Stop being a dick, go boulder for the evening. To the girl: ditch the dude. He’ll never really be a real climber anyway, and I’m way better looking.

Photos by Pat Bagley Go to www.assholeclimbers.com for a dose of humor, sarcasm and straight-up debauchery. And stay tuned for Issue 11, which will feature an original and brand new piece from these funny bastards.

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FIRST ANNUAL NORTHEAST CLIMBING

VIDEO CONTEST

PRESENTED BY: SPONSORED BY:

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submission deadline - OCT 9TH, 2012 • send entries to SUBMISSIONS@CLIMBERISM.COM • for more information and rules - WWW.CLIMBERISM.COM/VIDEO-CONTEST


LOCAL LEGEND // JASON HURWITZ

R

IN THE SHOP // NEW PALTZ, NEW YORK

enaissance man Jason Hurwitz lives in the New Paltz area and runs “A Nice Screw,” a service in which he receives dulled and thrashed screws from climbers, sharpens them and sends them back in basically new, if not better, condition (for a minimal fee). In addition to screws, Jason also sharpens picks, makes custom length screws and cuts, adds speed knobs to hangers and much more. Recently, he’s even been making custom length screws you may know as super stubbies (extra short screws from 6.5 to 7cm). When not sharpening screws, Jason works as a guide at the local Eastern Mountain Sports and has been an avid climber for close to twenty years. We had a great chat about his work and climbing in general. Be sure to check out www. anicescrew.com for more information regarding pricing and the procedure.

INTERVIEW BY ZACH HERMAN

YOU’RE BASED OUT OF THE NEW PALTZ AREA. ARE YOU FROM THERE ORIGINALLY?

Ehh… Kind of, New York and New Jersey. I’ve lived in every borough besides the Bronx. I guess raised in Staten Island and Northern Jersey would be the best description. I lived out in California for about six years, climbing whatever I could. I moved back here about nine years ago. I’ve always said if I’m moving back to the east coast there’s pretty much only one place I could think of moving to, and that would be the Gunks.

DO YOU GET TO DO A LOT OF CLIMBING AROUND THE AREA, AND THE NORTHEAST IN GENERAL?

Oh yeah, I moved to the Gunks for a reason. This place is amazing, there’s so much rock and ice here it’s beautiful. The Adirondacks are fun; I kind of got introduced to New Hampshire within the last couple of years. Right before hurricane Irene I was up in New Hampshire to renew my AMGA (American Mountain Guide Association) certification and I went to Whitehorse Ledge. I spent about 45 minutes soloing something and that granite, oh man, it just took me back 10

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to those long routes in California. It actually probably took me longer to find out which road to get to the hotel then it did for me to climb.

BESIDES BEING AN AVID CLIMBER YOU’VE ALSO DONE WORK AS A JEWELER. HOW HAS THAT HELPED YOU IN YOUR WORK REPAIRING SCREWS?

I’m a third generation jeweler: my grandfather, my dad and now myself. I’ve been working as a jeweler for over 20 years on and off. My background is in rings, engagement rings and wedding rings. I also was trained in a bit of polishing and then setting, so I have a strong foundation in those. Ultimately, I became a model maker, which sort of incorporates all of that. As a jeweler most of my finished models were within .02 millimeters accuracy, it allows me to get a finer touch. As far as sharpening screws goes, I’ve been doing that ever since I started ice climbing about 18 years ago.

SO WHEN DID THE IDEA FOR A NICE SCREW DEVELOP?

Hmm, that’s a good question. You know living up here in the mountains work can be fickle and weird. My wife, Christa, is a chiropractor and while she was finishing up school I sort of promised to do whatever it takes to keep us afloat. I was guiding part time, working various jobs and even roofing for a short time; I’m a pretty small guy it wasn’t easy. After she was finished with school, we kind of switched roles and I had the ability to take on different work. I started working full time as a guide at EMS, but I like side jobs, I like to stay busy so I started sharpening tools for my friends and noticed myself getting really good at it. I started being able to notice the intricacies and I guess it developed from there. You know how things just flow from one step to another? This felt like the right next step for me.

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MOORE’S BRIDGE // CATSKILLS, NEW YORK SO HAVE YOU THOUGHT ABOUT OPENING YOUR OWN SHOP?

PHOTO CREDIT // MIKE RAWDON

Three or four years ago, when work was a bit more scarce for me, I was like ‘hey, I can just start a business, open up a shop and pay someone to run machines’; so, I looked into the cost of one of those Grivel sharpening machines that they made. But it’s like 2,000 dollars, and you couldn’t buy it in the states anywhere. You know, I have even heard first hand accounts of the machine burning screws and ruining the temper of the steel. That whole way of doing business never felt right, so I didn’t pursue it at all. I eventually increased the amount of screws I was doing for friends and got great feedback on my work. I had the time in my work schedule at the beginning of last ice season, so I made some business cards and started sharpening screws as an actual business. I’m very tactile and I dig working at my bench.

SO, IT SEEMS LIKE YOU’RE NOT THE BIGGEST FAN OF MACHINE SHARPENING?

I don’t want to put something into a machine, put oil in the machine, plug it in, pay for the electricity and walk away. I mean, don’t get me wrong it’d be easy, but I need to get inside of it. I need to feel it in my hands, I’m an artist, and I’m a climber. It might sound stupid, but I have a bond with whatever I’m doing. When I’m climbing I have a bond with rock, ice, nature and myself. With ice screws, I’m sitting at my bench and it feels good, it feels right to me. Sometimes, it feels like work (usually when I’m in a time crunch due to my guiding schedule), and I’m like ‘shit I need to get this stuff out,’ but I never rush it to the point where I’m going to heat something up or mess with the temper. Every screw I touch is kind of a work of art to me. I don’t just get all of the teeth the same height and then file a basic shape, I follow the proper curves and bring the surfaces down to a fine emery and polish to facilitate the cutting of the ice and minimize fracturing. I also clean the threads where necessary. To me, it’s more the art of doing it well and I’m very meticulous.

BLACK CHASM FALLS (W3) // BLACK CHASM, CATSKILLS, NEW YORK PHOTO CREDIT // HARRY YOUNG

I NOTICED THAT YOU SHIP PRETTY MUCH ANYWHERE, IS MOST OF YOUR BUSINESS LOCAL?

Well I started out shipping out to my friend in Utah and a friend in Montana, but that was when it was more of a hobby. I would have to say that it’s mostly local, definitely mostly within the Northeast.

WHAT WOULD BE YOUR IDEAL CLIMB?

Long moderates. Long moderates with nobody around. This would be ideal for me, wake up and I’m feeling good- I only solo when I feeling it, I’m not stupid enough to go out and try to get my head straight on a solo- and solo a nice long route. That Whitehorse ledge route was great; it had a lot of pitches and was an amazing workout.

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NORTHEAST NEWSWIRE // Nathan Kutcher Takes Ouray’s Ice Climbing Comp by Storm Nathan Kutcher took the ice climbing world by storm in January, winning the Ouray Ice Festival in his first competitive event. The Southern Ontario native works 40-plus hours a week as an estimator at a lumber yard, and first came to our attention with his FA of Centipede (M9/10) in 2011. Kutcher received an invitation to Ouray only a month before the comp, and trained hard on his home woodie. Saying, “I wanted to go and swim with the big fish and see how I stacked up,” Kutcher didn’t mess around.

The Bull-Headed Minotaur Winter in the Northeast this year was a challenge for ice climbers. The cold came late, but once it settled in the ice was fat (until it rained the next day). Matt McCormick and Bayard Russell braved wet conditions and the dark to establish Minotaur M6+ NEI 4+ on Cannon Cliff. A variation of the classic Wilcox/ Bouchard route called Icarus, McCormick and Russell found a newly formed smear near Moby Grape and tackled it without hesitation. 12

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New Big Route at Lake Willoughby, Vermont The Lake got its newest route this winter with Road Warrior, a four pitch M8 NEI 4-, put up by Josh Hurst and Ryan Brooks. It ascends the large corner 200 meters north of Twenty Below Zero Gully. Hurst says of it, “Road Warrior is hands down the best mixed route I’ve been on at Lake Willoughby. It also should be noted that the route is clean and is on some of the best rock at Willoughby.”

2012 Dark Horse Series Recap The Dark Horse Bouldering Series sent shock waves through the Northeast this year. Two preliminary rounds led to the finals at MetroRock in Everett, MA where Daniel Woods and Francesca Metcalf took down top honors. We attended the finals, and it lived up to all the hype: huge crowd, lots of noise and mind-puzzling problems. Expect next years Dark Horse to be even bigger and better than this one!

Northeast Climbers nominated in 2012 Piolets d’Or The jury for the Piolets d’Or has announced the nominees for their 20th annual award, and among them are Freddie Wilkinson (NH) and Mark Richey (MA). They, along with teammate Steve Swenson, completed the first ascent of Saser Kangri II in the Indian Karakoram. At 7581 meters, it was the second highest unclimbed peak in the world. Wilkinson, Richey and Swenson went up the southwest face, a route that gains 1700 meters and is graded at M3 W14. Powerlinz Closure Update Climbers in NYC looking for more varied terrain than Central Park usually head up to the Powerlinez area in the town of Ramapo. That was, until February 4, when the Palisades Interstate Park Commission closed the area to climbing. We talked to Gabe Miani, who is spearheading efforts to reopen Powerlinez. Says Miani, “It’s a huge resource available to greater New York City climbers. It’s about as big of a deal as it can get in this modern day.”

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GEAR TALK // SLEEPING BAGS Feathered Friends Ibis 0 Degree Feathered Friends may fly under the radar in terms of flashy marketing campaigns, but that’s alright with us because it’s clear those extra resources are devoted to creating high-quality and durable sleeping bags. The Ibis 0 degree bag is wrapped in a lightweight and waterproof Pertex Shield EX shell and contains 850+ fill down. With a snug fit, this bag works for fall temperatures but is burly enough for a winter night. The hood is warm, but was a bit tight for our tester. Weighing 46 ounces and with a price tag of $589, the Ibis is a solid bag, but definitely on the pricier side. www.featheredfriends.com Mountain Hardwear Phantom 0 If you’re in the market for a lightweight and packable sleeping bag, you can’t go wrong with Mountain Hardwear’s Phantom 0. The outer shell is made of Superlight 15 denier fabric, waterproof to 300mm, and has 800 fill down. We used the Phantom at 4000ft on a brisk 5 degree night and it kept our little piggies nice and warm. The hood and draft collar are put together well, and the bigger footbox fits boots if you’re in those types of conditions. We do prefer our sleeping bag zippers to go all the way to the bottom, whereas the Phantom’s only goes about ¾ of the way. The sleeping bag packs really small, and at 42 ounces is one of the lightest that we tested. It retails at $500 and meets our seal of approval. www.mountainhardwear.com/ Lafuma GR 20 Degree For those with thinner wallets who don’t necessarily use a bag for any cold winter nights (sleeping in the cold ain’t always fun!), Lafuma’s GR 20 is a great option. The synthetic fill--J6D Maxi Loft Fiber--is lightweight and soft, and retains its insulating properties even when wet. The shell is put together with ripstop nylon and a water repellent finish. Most of our time spent with the GR 20 were warmer winter nights (30-40 degrees) and it was pretty comfortable. We needed wool socks to supplement the bag, but the hood was thick and cozy and the draft tube is really burly. The GR 20 is on the cheaper end at around $150 and is new for 2012. www.lafumausa.com MontBell Ultralight Super Spiral Down Hugger 0 The name says it all in twelve syllables. We’ve slipped into a lot of sleeping bags in our day, some not worth much more than Vermont road kill. The MontBell 0 Degree Down Hugger is probably one of the most comfortable bags we’ve ever tested. MontBell uses their Spiral technology combined with a stretchy shell material and stuff it with 800 fill down. We haven’t had any durability issue with continuous use of stuffing it in and taking it out of a pack, but with most down bags, damp wet environments are always a drawback; though we didn’t have an issue during three nights in a frosty walled tent. This bag is warm and comfortable but you’re going to have to shell out a pretty penny for the upper end version. Retail ranges from $539 for an 800 fill to $359 for 650 fill. www.montbell.us/ Big Agnes Pomer Hoit SL A mummy bag with a built in sleeping pad pocket. No-draft tube, collar and wedge. 800 fill goose down. Interior fabric loops for bag liners. Big Agnes has thought of it all with the Pomer Hoit. Our reviewer has had the bag for close to a year and tested it out in all conditions the Northeast threw their way. The durability of the Pomer Hoit really stands out, as does the warmth of the goose down. One complaint was that the sleeping pad pocket makes it so that you can’t sleep on your side; as you roll, so goes your pad. The concept of a built-in sleeve for the pad is good, so you side-sleepers should just take note before throwing down $490 for it. www.bigagnes.com

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SUPPORTING CLIMBERS LIKE NEVER BEFORE Advocacy: Fighting for Climbers' Rights Conservation: Protecting the Places We Climb $10,000 Rescue Benefits Free Guidebook Checkout: 20,000 Volumes American Alpine Journal & Accidents in North American Mountaineering Grand Teton Climbers' Ranch and Lodging around the World And heaps more...

americanalpineclub.org/join

YOU’VE NEVER SEEN THE AAC LIKE THIS

Andrew Burr

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THE ACCESS PAGE //

GEAR TALK

Ragged Mountain Foundation

C3PA Climbing Conservency of Central Pennsylvania

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40 YEARS OF THE

BLACK DIKE By Erik Eisele

THE STORY HAS BECOME A LEGEND....

ON DECEMBER 18, 1971, IN A SNOWSTORM, A YOUNG JOHN BOUCHARD SET OUT TO CLIMB THE BLACK DIKE. IT WAS THE LAST GREAT CHALLENGE OF THE EAST, THE CLIMB YVON CHOUINARD HAD BAPTIZED THE “BLACK, FILTHY, HORRENDOUS ICICLE.” BY THE TIME BOUCHARD REACHED THE TREES THE SKY WAS DARK, HE’D BROKEN A PICK, LOST A MITTEN AND ABANDONED HIS ROPE. THERE WERE DOUBTERS WHO INSISTED HE COULDN’T HAVE CLIMBED THE ROUTE, WHILE EVEN THOSE WHO BELIEVED HIM WERE BLOWN AWAY BY THE ACCOMPLISHMENT.

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Only three years earlier Pinnacle Gully was considered one of the hardest ice routes in North America. Ascents often took two days and always required hours of step chopping. Suddenly in a world where grade three was cutting edge, a new route had been slapped with a five. Ice climbing began its modern era in a day, and that day was December 18th, 1971. Since that day the Black Dike has stood fast as the most sought after prize among the classics. Every climber for a generation has cut their teeth on the rock traverse, frozen their hands on the ice runnel and pushed through the spindrift to the trees. It has become a rite of passage. “It’s a yardstick for the micro-alpine adventures we have in the White Mountains,” said Freddie Wilkinson, an accomplished alpinist with first ascents in ranges from Patagonia to the Karakoram. But that yardstick is not limited to measuring the White Mountains - Wilkinson and two partners were just nominated for the coveted Piolet d’Or mountaineering award of their ascent of Saser Kangri II (7,518m), the secondhighest unclimbed mountain in the world. In describing their route Wilkinson compared it to the Black Dike, a description that was not an accident. The Dike is just that sort of climb, he said, something by which everything else can be measured. He can still remember the first time he climbed the Dike: “Freshman year in college. It was early season. It was in good conditions.” He had only been ice climbing a handful of times at that point. “I didn’t lead it,” he said. “I followed my buddy Bart on it.” Since then, however, he’s been up it more than a dozen times. “I soloed it my senior year,” he said. “That was pretty memorable.” The allure of the route will always be tangled up with the word solo, and many elite climbers 18

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pay a sort of high-stakes tribute to Bouchard’s ascent at least once in their career, but in all honesty the first ascent wasn’t done ropeless. Bouchard made his way through the crux by tensioning his way upward in a sort of improvised reverse rappel, according Rick Wilcox, who’s guidebooks have kept the drama of that day alive for decades. By the time Bouchard reached the belay atop the crux his rope was frozen in place, Wilcox said, so he untied and started up the final ice step. “He had to do that without a rope.” Wilcox, who owns International Mountain Equipment in North Conway, is a fixture in the climbing community today, but in 1971 he, like Bouchard, was just getting started. Bouchard was a frequent climbing partner, and as people started asking questions about whether he had in fact climbed the route Wilcox had no reason to doubt him. (This was, however, shortly after Italian mountaineer Cesare Maestri put up the famed and now chopped Compressor Route on Cerro Torre in an effort to silence questions over whether he lied about climbing the mountain in the first place, Wilcox pointed out. The idea of lying about a landmark ascent was not farfetched at the time.) The next winter Wilcox and Bouchard decided to repeat the climb, in part to verify Bouchard’s story that the Black Dike had in fact been climbed. “That night John Bragg and Henry Barber just showed up to my house,” Wilcox said. The two were determined to come along. All four left for Cannon at 4 a.m. the next morning. “It was a cold, cold arctic day,” Wilcox said. “We were freezing to death.” Climbing was hot and belaying was cold. “The whole idea of the belay jacket hadn’t occurred yet.” They climbed as two sets of two through the lower section, but they joined forces when the route got steep. “We used etriers on the crux pitch,” Wilcox said, “just for a second.”

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The ascent took all day, but even through the ice one thing was clear: Bouchard had been there. “All the rope and slings were frozen in from the year before,” Wilcox said. There was no doubt the route had been done.

the thud of my tool when I reached the ice.

Even the grade 5 rating stands today, although it is softened in most guidebooks with a 4 to 5 or a 4+/5-. The mystic, however, has not ebbed. Especially not for me.

Since that day I’ve opened season after season with the dike, including ascents as early as October. But on December 18, 2011 (40 years to the day after Bouchard) I made his way through the talus to Cannon’s base with a different goal: I was there to celebrate the route’s anniversary. Or, more fittingly, it’s birthday.

My first time on the route was December 16, 2002, according to my dog-eared copy of Secrets of the Notch, almost 31 years to the day after Bouchard. I remember dusting off handholds on the infamous rock traverse, and

My climbing partner Eric started up the first pitch and then jogged right onto Fafnir, the Black Dike’s steeper cousin. I strung the next two sections together in one 70 meter pitch and set up a belay on the top of the cliff.

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As Eric followed I snapped photos, but in each one I seemed to focus more and more on the blackened icicle behind him. We were alone on the cliff, a rare thing on Cannon on Sunday, rarer still when the ice is in such prime conditions. The more photos I shot the more I couldn’t help thinking the Black Dike was smiling at us, thanking us for being the only ones who had stopped by on its birthday. It’s not every day an icon turns 40. I was just happy to be alone with a legend.

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Yannick Girard + Martin Lajoie: Waking up crusty and fully bearded.

“we run the crack system with the rage of a northern barbarian” Following the shade produced by buildings on a crowded street of Buenos Aires at 31° C (88° F), I am wearing heavy wool socks with half a size too small approach shoes and a lumber jack flannel. In the process of escaping the high winds of Patagonia and its unstable weather, I made a mistake on my improvised early departure. Now I am stuck here for three days, dreaming of my beloved winter at is best in eastern Canada. Not a big price to pay compared to the very intense emotion we experienced down south in El Chalten two weeks ago. The first time I saw a picture of the Goretta Pillar was in Alpinist Issue 6, the deal was set in my mind. “I can no longer follow my passion without climbing on that thing,” I thought. It was as clear a goal as I ever had before, simply because it was the most inspiring image of rock that I had seen in my 17 years of climbing. A year and a half later, I am on the footstep of Casarotto sleeping in an ice cave of passo superior three days after my arrival to El Chalten with old friend Martin Lajoie. My mind is all over the place preparing for our early start the next morning; it’s cold and windy, and my stomach fills with nervous but ready butterflies. We leave the 24

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cave around 3:30am to only discover that every team had already left. Starting to freak, we run onto the glacier only to be stunted by an ultra-motivated New Zealand team already on the final section of the 400m couloirs of WI4, 5.9. We know they tried the route two times before and we assume they are able to climb confidently into the night. But the feeling of urgency burns my stomach hard, so we run and encounter a third team head of us. Without talking to my partner we know the next step, pass them a soon as possible. On this improvised race we run belays on their left side of them on loose rock to get past them. The couloirs have almost no snow this year and leave us with steep gravel to climb. Finally, we reach the base of the pillars, feeling like we are inside some kind of famous picture, we run the crack system with the rage of a northern barbarian “based on my teenager imagination of Dungeons and Dragons.” The fine crack system was definitely unique with a difficulty closer to the Kevin Thaw topo that we saw 30 minutes before we left from El Chalten. We expected a 5.9 climb with some 5.10 but like Kevin writes, it is an infinite succession of 5.10 and 5.11. Thank god we have a little room for technical difficulty and we climb at a moderate to fast pace.

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Ahead of us we notice the New Zealand boys are already high on the pillar, but spent an abnormal amount of time on a single pitch. Instead of being worried, we focus on the racing spirit and keep going, short-fixing every time possible. We understand later the problem the team ahead of us has. It’s that kind of a problem that completely changes the adventure from a free climbing crack paradise to a serious alpinist fight with no rule other than to go up. We stop at that point, 6 pitches from the top off the pillar. Our bivouac was quite interesting, the two of us sharing a one foot ledge without sleeping bags. We are so squeezed that the blood doesn’t pass completely to my lower body and I can’t feel my legs dangling in the air. No sleep at all. Shivering and tired, the morning finally arrives. We have to climb with down jackets as we expected. At that point, my partner let me lead the entire tower and for the speed of the team -- it is better to pursue this way on an icy crack. The abnormally warm temperatures melted a fair amount of snow on the top of the wall that later ice chocked not only some of the crack but the entire crack. A long pendulum changed nothing, so we face the reality and climb a very large crack with marginal protection on the side of the wall, assuming a

fair amount of run out. The team below us is struggling a lot with that and decide to retreat. We finish the pillar under the rap line and do a serious face run out on bouncy flakes. The New Zealand team stays on the original line and progress with aid based on an axe placement deep inside the offwith. They are fast and they inspired us for the rest of the trip. Proud to have reached the top of the pillar and facing a strong wind coming, we decide to rappel down to experience our first Patagonian high wind rappel. Walking down, dehydrated, we have learned so much in two days that we have a more difficult psychological recovery than a physical one. Four days of rest we are all in again and even lighter with empty space in our 40 liter backpacks. Californian route is the mission and it starts with a more proper early start at 2am. Again, without knowing that much about the mountain, we navigate and reach the summit in 18 hours from passo superior. We would have been way faster if not for the final navigation of the route on spires traverse. We missed the short cut on the Supercanelata side and climbed almost every tower and had to down climb it or rappel it after. Again, hot weather produced a fair amount of ice falling on us.

Yannick Girard: Running the crack system like a barbarian.

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At the top I just can’t stop my tears. I am surprised by the intense emotion of pure joy deeply hidden in my memory. But emotions quickly change to the business of getting down. We quickly start rapping and follow the Argentinian team who are very experienced--one climbed the Afanasieff route on the West side in a day. Despite that important ascent they are the slowest rap team that I had ever seen. Adding to the fact that not one of us knows the Franco-Argentine rappel line, we were so lost that we had to do two rope length traverses to recover. To pass some time on the half-hour belay, I caught a quick dream and cold dream. We take almost the same amount of time to reach the glacier than we took getting up the entire mountain. It was a long night but quite relaxing with an unreal clear sky full of stars. We were happy and felt lucky with our 32-hour round trip passo Superior to passo. Mauled by hot temps, we definitely felt Canadian and tried to take refuge in an ice cave when the Argentinian team slept in the sun.

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Down in the valley we walk slowly on the sidewalk and bump around on irregular pavement and loose gravel in the street. In the dog free zone and Hot Chica Mecca we realize that cold northern climbing conditions allowed us to climb confidently on the wall, naked with essentialy nothing.  A long season in Yosemite probably allowed us to be faster but neither one of us can assume the cost of that choice regarding our jobs and children at home. So we focus on our month-long window of climbing at home in close to sub zero temps with rock shoes on the most unclimbable piece of rock we found. Scratching verglaced crack systems from the ground up on steep and less-than-perfect rock was our mantra. Thanks to the Northeast for having top alpinists and the young generation of ambitious alpine climbers that inspire us.

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CANNON CLIFF GIR D L E TRAV E R SE Photos: Freddie Wilkinson Thoughts: Matt McCormick

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Fruit Cup Connector: The beginning of the traverse across the center section of the cliff. | APRIL 2012 MARCH


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Matt seconding up our first technical pitch of the day. climberism | MAGAZINE 29


The

significance of a climb is always relative. In the Northeast we have very few routes on which you can cover huge amounts of technical terrain over the course of a long day. Both being drawn to this style of climbing, Freddie and I were pretty psyched to do what I think is the “biggest” alpine objective in the Northeast. Technically the climbing is never really desperate, although many of the pitches put you in a place where you really don’t want to come off. It was also cool to be a part of a real surge in activity on Cannon this winter. I noticed many more parties than usual getting after it on routes like the integral Quartet Ice Hose and scratching around on other objectives as well.    The Girdle has some cool history behind it. Mark Richey and John Bouchard did it at least once as a trainer for their ascent of Shivling in India. No one, that I know, has repeated it since. For me it was just an awesome opportunity to have an “alpine size” day in our small New England mountains with a good friend.

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5th pitch of Sam’s Swan Song.

Some

of the pitches are classic and highly recommended. The “Great Flake” pitch feels like walking the plank for 60’ facing a huge pendulum if you were to slip and there are many more memorable pitches. This year the Black Dike was in great shape and makes for a really classy finish to the day. The route really demands a wide range of tactics, too which is pretty fun. At times we were rock climbing bare handed and there are some cool pendulums and tension traverses; which is stuff you find yourself doing more in bigger mountains than around here. That is what makes the Northeast so special, there is a little bit of everything.

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AROUND TOWN //

GET SEEN HERE advertise@climberism.com 32

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rumney

Guidebook is Going Mobile Witness The Evolution of the Climbing Guidebook

Rumney Climbing app Explore the entire content with a few taps using interactive maps, topos, and wall photos. Search for your next route by custom criteria such as difficulty, stars, conditions, area, route name, etc. TickList the climbs that you want to get on. Log the climbs you send and keep track of your progress on projects. Navigate the crags and terrain in real time with embedded maps and GPS points.

Test Drive all the features with the Free edition that contains three of Rumney’s classic walls.

Check Out all of our other guide-apps.

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Things got intense at the 2012 Smugglers Notch Drytooling event at Petra Cliffs in Burlington, VT.

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Jon Manson contemplating his next move on some sticky ice in the great state of New Hampshire.

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THE LIBRARY //

Rock Climbing Guide to Rumney by Ward Smith

R

umney, ah you old girl. Thinking about you makes me stop bitching about the warm winter we got handed to us here in the Northeast. Ward Smith’s Rock Climbing Guide to Rumney is an updated and expanded version of his 2001 guidebook. With an eye to the summer crowds and not pissing off too many locals, the book starts with a “Dos and Don’ts” section in English and French (DONNEZ LA PRIORITÉ AUX AUTOMOBILISTES!!) and a pretty comprehensive history of the crag. What’s most surprising is that Rumney was pretty much untouched until the 70’s and 80’s: in 1987 there were only 48 documented routes, now there are over 500. Tell that to the group of thirteen year old screaming girls clogging up the Parking Lot Wall. Smith does an excellent job giving an overview of Rumney as a whole and each individual crag. His digitized topos are accurate, but would be better if they were actual pictures. Each route has the basics: grade, description, FA. They’ve also got protection symbols (the gun for X means don’t fall) and quality ratings. One of my favorite parts of the guidebook is the author’s description of Happy Hooker (5.10a). Rated with a bag of excrement symbol, Smith writes, “Trad gear to LO. Climb a thin crack over a low roof, then brush-bash up to the Friendship tower anchor. Better yet, keep walking.”

Rock Climbing Guide to Rumney is really close to being a solid book. Where it lets me down is that there are no headings or tabs for each area. If you’re looking for a 5.12 at the Meadows and forget the page number when you set the book down for a second to swat a mosquito, you have to go back to the table of contents at the front to figure out where you were. This is annoying. I’ve heard some complain about the high price ($30), but the book is printed on recycled paper and has held up pretty nice for me. Ward Smith is a stand-up guy who has helped with bolt and pro upgrades. He’s got a good guidebook here. The inclusion of area headings will make version 3 a winner. The crew at Alpinewerx have digitized the Rock Climbing Guide to Rumney so that you can access it on your iPhone. Get the app at www.alpinewerx.com or on iTunes next time you’re buying Rod Stewart’s Greatest Hits. NOTE: For those who googled Mitt Romney and are left scratching their heads after reading this book review, I recommend the following: eat your caviar, sip some champagne and go play in traffic. Don’t forget to put on your mink ear warmers before you go out.

Annapurna by Maurice Herzog Maurice Herzog’s Annapurna: First Conquest of an 8000-Meter Peak set the standard for adventure writing. It’s about the only book I’ve ever read more than once, and if you haven’t sat down with a glass of fine whiskey to enjoy this masterpiece, then I just made plans for your weekend. In 1950, Herzog and his team became the first to summit a 8000m peak. They used no supplemental oxygen and explored, researched and climbed all in one season. On the descent they were forced to do an emergency bivouac. Severe frostbite and gangrene ensued. Herzog writes of those darker times, “there were moments when I was able to see our situation in its true dramatic light, but the rest of the time I was plunged in an inexplicable stupor with no thought for the consequences of our victory.” The expedition doctor was forced to do amputations on the climbers without the use of anesthetic once they reached base camp. Herzog’s description of what must have been an excruciatingly painful operation is dry like a good French wine. Most of his fingers were amputated, and the exchange with the doctor is to the point: “Oudot picked up the joint between his finger and thumb and showed it to me. ‘Perhaps you’d like to have it as a souvenir? It’ll keep all right you know!’ ‘I certainly don’t want it. There’s no point in keeping a black and moldy little finger.’” A gripping account of the most groundbreaking ascent ever, Annapurna remains relevant sixty years after it was published. Next time you’re nursing your “sore” elbow, pick up a copy with your other arm and you’ll be in for a good time.

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FOOD FOR CLIMBERS //

PEANUT BUTTER // DOGS LOVE IT TOO

THERE ARE ONLY THREE REASONS TO EVER GO TO EVERETT, MASSACHUSETTS. TRUST ME. KELLY’S ROAST BEEF, METROROCK AND TEDDIE PEANUT BUTTER.

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These institutions all sit within ½ mile of each other, and one could eat a BBQ pulled beef sandwich, follow it with a jar of peanut butter and end the day pulling some plastic. Probably not in that order. Now that I think about it more, definitely not in that order. The first time I went to MetroRock I was riding my bike and started to smell something really delicious. The car exhaust and sewer stench that pervades Everett was slowly giving way to an unexpected delight: freshly roasted peanuts. Once I turned off the main highway onto the side road that leads to the gym, there it was. A dancing teddy

bear. Was I hallucinating? Had I been hit by an SUV-wielding moron? Or, had my life dream come true? Growing up in the Northeast, I was given a jar of Teddie Peanut Butter to gnaw on to keep warm when the power went out. I have yet to find something that isn’t made better with peanut butter lathered on top: carrots, celery, shrimp, bread, pizza. It’s the perfect food for climbers. Glass case is durable. Lid tightens snugly and is hard to cross thread. Can easily be put on a lanyard and clipped to your harness. Use it as a weapon if you ever boulder in New Jersey. It’s got protein, calories, fat, sodium. Mmmmm sodium. climberism | MAGAZINE

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CLIMBERISM MAGAZINE Unknown climber heading for the nicely formed but extremely sunbaked Snotcicle in Smugglers Notch, Vermont. MARCH | APRIL 2012 38 climberism | MAGAZINE

Climberism Magazine Issue 10  
Climberism Magazine Issue 10  

Climberism Magazine Issue Number 10

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