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The Climbing Club • View topic - Cannon (NH): Vertigo and Whitney-G

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 09, 2014 5:33 pm 
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Rodrigo
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Short version: We went to Cannon Cliff in New Hampshire and linked up Vertigo and Whitney-Gilman ridge. Fun was had and pitches were climbed. I found some of the climbing somewhat unnerving given that on many of the pitches the cruxes were poorly protected. Finally, I'm either really out of shape or the old school dudes weren't messing around. Well, both are true.

Long version: On Thursday a friend from Woods Hole called me and said he wanted to get out and climb in New Hampshire. I was interested. The only problem was that he had a flight out of Boston at 9 am on Sunday. We decided to drive up Friday night, camp at the trailhead and leave the car by 6 in order to have the time to link up two routes. This way, we could climb two routes, camp at the trailhead again and I could drop him off at the airport Sunday morning on the way home.

Waking up at 5 am we found the cliff to be stuff in a cloud. Determined to climb through any wetness we carried on. By 630 or so we had arrived at the base on Union Jack and Vertigo and roped up. We climbed Vertigo (5.9R A0) with the first pitch variation that climbs the first pitch of Union Jack.

Cliff in the morning. We expected some wet rock and weren't (or were?) disappointed.
Image

I led pitch 1, a lovely zig zagging 5.6 with hand and fist cracks with some face moves at the top to an uncomfortable belay stance. A fun pitch.

Pitch 1 crack is fun.
Image

Pitch 2: Valier had agreed to lead the 5.9 pitches so he took over. Pitch two starts with a few face moves up to some underclings and one traverses under a roof. It looked great but on arrival at the roof Valier confirmed that the holds were all soaking wet. Nonetheless he traversed out from under the roof up to a left facing thin flake (also soaking). The flake climbs up to a single bolt from which I lowed him 15 feet for the A0 pendulum (it goes free at 5.12 something). From the far side of the pendulum there is a relatively short corner which opens up into a lovely left-facing dihedral with a finger crack on the slab. The crack itself doesn't offer any breaks under the best circumstances. All was worse when we encounter the smearing in the corner to be all but impossible because it was soaking wet. The pitch ends with an absurdly awkward mantle up to a semi-hanging belay with pro well below the leader. The entire pitch is quite sustained and the wetness was not exactly confidence inspiring.

Steep climbing on pitch 2 just before the pendulum.
Image

The lovely finger crack with the soaking wet dihedral, which made stemming difficult.
Image

Pitch 3: Another 5.9 pitch for Valier. Climbs a slab that begins with a few face moves and transitions into a crack that starts with fingers and ends with some fist crack or tieback. Lovely. Valier combined this with next pitch - the dreaded half-moon crack. An ~8" off width that will take a small cam or two at the very beginning but ultimately requires running out the final 25 feet up an ever steepening man-eating crack. It's a beautiful crack...so beautiful that at all points it is wider than my foot is long so I couldn't find asingle reasonable jam. Did I say beautiful, I meant brutal. Nevertheless, fun was had since I wasn't leading.

The rest: With the 5.9 pitches over we started swapping leads again. The final "pitch" starts with short roof and corner. After that the climbing descends into chaos. Increasingly crappy rock, wet slabs, and vegetation, albeit on easier terrain, leads to the summit. We made it more interesting by climbing the short sections that looked fun rather than going around them. I think the adventure climbing required roughly 4 rope lengths. The difficulty of the 5.9 pitches served as an important reminder that I am not a 5.9 climber.

We descended the mountain back to the base of the climb visiting what is left of the attempts to slow Cannon's inevitable decay and maintain a New Hampshire icon - the Old Man of the Mountain, which fell down in 2003. We ate lunch and weighed our options. We were concerned about the potential for rain so we chose a relatively short second route that we would feel more comfortable on if it rained. The Whitney-Gilman Ridge.

The Whitney-Gilman Ridge is an interesting route from a historical perspective. It was first climbed in 1929 with no pitons. They climbed it in something like 18 short pitches. It is said that at the time it was the most difficult climb in the Americas. I believe it. The route itself occupies the most obvious route on the face. A large, steep, exposed ridge. I wanted to climb it. It is the most popular climb on the face, perhaps because so many of the climbs are difficult, so we arrived to a junk-show. Nonetheless we roped up. We would have to pitch it out in an odd way to avoid overtaking the parties ahead of us.

Whitney-Gilman is that striking ridge adjacent to the Black Dike, which should be obvious.
Image

I'll avoid discussing the route beyond saying that is lives up to reputation as being exposed, moderate, and loose in places. Good fun. I really enjoy leading the famous pipe pitch as it is affectionately known. It's the pipe pitch because a pipe was once pounded into a crack to provide protection below the routes psychological and, in opinion, technical crux. In short, starts with an 8 foot set of cracks (4" and 1") before turning to the exposed side of the ridge (nothing but air below you) for some face climbing. Getting off the ground around the corner involves an extremely high step into a flaring hand jam at which point there is no turning back. Some of the moves are pretty spicy for 5.6 and that airy position (see photo) doesn't make it easier. The rest of the climb was interesting but uneventful. I would do it again. I also found it quite serious for 5.7.

Although this is the view into the Black Dike from the top of the route, the cruxes of two of the pitches on the route climb out briefly onto this face. Serious exposure.
Image


Last edited by Chris Bassett on Mon Jun 09, 2014 6:07 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 09, 2014 6:05 pm 
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experienced hiker of the climbing club
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Sounds both awesome and brutal, particularly the 8" off-width!


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 09, 2014 6:57 pm 
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Rodrigo
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Also, is an awesome high resolution image of Cannon. In the picture there are two parties right at the fun airy moves (one at the belay, on about to turn the corner, and one above) of the Whitney Gilman. The image is so good you can identify tiny features (e.g., finger cracks) over the entire face. If you think you will ever climb at Cannon it is well worth looking at.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 09, 2014 10:10 pm 
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experienced hiker of the climbing club
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OK, that gigapixel resolution image of the route has, indeed, convinced me of its quality.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 18, 2014 4:09 pm 
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The Pub Czar
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Location: too far from a pint.
Good to hear your climbing fortunes have changed for the better!
That's a killer photo; a great candidate for rasturbating ( ) if ever there was one.

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 18, 2014 4:27 pm 
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How much does one of those giga-pan doohickeys cost? It would be so awesome to start documenting crags (or mountain faces) around here with one

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 18, 2014 6:10 pm 
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I suspect the camera / lens combination to achieve that level of detail is far more important and costly than the gigapan controller.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 18, 2014 6:55 pm 
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Rodrigo
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are on the order of $1k while the others get as low as $300+. The cheap part of the system. Looking at a map the most likely location of the pictures is near the base of Mt. Lafayette (south of the summit). I've heard this is a nice rock outcropping a short distance from the road that results in nice, unobstructed views and that is the right vantage point. At a minimum this is a solid 1/2 mile from the face. Zooming in you can see chalk bags and ropes. I'm not a camera/optics person so I'm not sure what that takes, but I appreciate it.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 18, 2014 11:22 pm 
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from what I can remember you can stick a whatever point and shoot cam or cheap dslr in there and it just sets it to full optical zoom, then takes a billion pics and meticulously stiches them together (I'm sure you can do it with a nice cam too, but the point being even a not that great camera can make a pretty amazing image if you stitch a boatload of them together.

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 19, 2014 1:47 pm 
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Photosynth from Microsoft is a good option for merging together photos. Downside is that you have to view everything through their site with the viewer that lets you move around the virtual recreation, so there isn't a single big image that comes out unless you do a panorama. 20GB of storage comes free and the stitcher program that is required runs on Windows.


Here's a good climbing one. Someone got creative and the system works well to track the climber moving up the wall:


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 20, 2014 8:16 pm 
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Cap'n Wingspan
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Nice climbing Rodrigo, glad to see you're finding some partners out there. I'm bummed I never took the time to go there when I spent a summer in Wentworth, NH. Looks great.


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