White Mountains – New Hampshire

The White Mountains are home to some of the longest rock climbs in the East and to some of the best winter ice. There are more good routes here than I could do justice to, so I will just present a few and hope that it inspires you to find the others on your own.

For more information, pick up the guidebook The White Mountains and An Ice Climber’s Guide to Northern New England.

Moby Grape – 5.8 Cannon Cliff

Moby Grape is 10 pitches of climbing up one of the easts highest and most impressive cliffs. Most pitches are 5.8, so this is definately not a route for a beginning 5.8 leader. Get up early and move quickly. It took me 12 hours to do the route, car to car, and I was moving faster than most other parties on the cliff.

Start the route with Reppy’s Crack – 5.8, and you won’t miss the best 5.8 hand crack in New Hampshire. It is a full pitch of beautiful hand crack splitting a smooth face, exhilirating.

The Whitney-Gilman Ridge – 5.7 Cannon Cliff

When this route was first put up, it was considered the hardest rock climb in the world. One had to be impressed with the first ascent done nearly solo, long before the age of sticky rubber and modern gear.

With the advances in technology the route has become a reasonable undertaking for the intermediate leader. Be prepare for some wild exposure overlooking the Black Dike on the higher pitches though. The original start is a bit loose, so it is recommended to start down and around the ridge to the left for a more enjoyable outing.

Dropline NEI 5 Frankenstien

FrankenstienThis is the long vertical to overhanging pillar of ice between Standard Route and Dracula and has been the scene of some huge falls in the past. I found my way to it late in the year and hoped to find some hero ice for a nice finish to the season. I misjudged badly.

I was on the route at least a day too late. It had turned into a rope length of vertical snowcone. I knew I was in trouble when I set out on the second pitch and had to clear through six inches of slush before I could get at strong enough ice to hold an axe. I place a couple of useless screws before I gave up on protection and decided to go for the top. I climbed with a degree of concentration that I have never obtained before or since, I could not afford to make even the smallest mistake. The ice shards tore a hole in my gloves, then into my hands and I left a trail of blood for my second to follow. When I pulled over the top, I barely had the strength left in my hands to open the gate of a biner to clip in. I lay down in the snow at the top, stared up to the sky and thanked the world that I was still alive.