Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Pump and Dump

The ice conditions here in the northeast continue to be off the hook! Today I jumped on the ferry from Burlington and crossed Lake Champlain to meet my good friend Will Roth at Poko-Moonshine. Poko is conveniently located a short 10 minute walk from the road which also facilitates a nice drive-by to scope the conditions. When I pulled up to the cliff today I was blown away by the amount of ice plastered to Poko's dark anorthasite walls.

Will rapping off...

My eye was immediately drawn to to a subtle strip of ice that I had never seen before. This line turned out to be "Pump and Dump" a route that Kevin Mahoney had put up with Matt Horner a few years ago. The route has a reputation of being severely runout and Horner had told me that Kevin had more or less soloed some hard drytooling to access a barely usable amount of ice.

The route still had not seen a second ascent...

With all these images swirling in my head I decided to go and have a look. Will led a deceptively tricky first pitch where the ice was much thinner than it appeared which brought us up to the business. The crux pitch started off with a fun drytooling traverse which landed me at a stance below the crux seam. The ice just left of the seam was fully unusable and pretty much all came off with a tap of my hammer. In fact the first 30-40' of ice on the route was incredibly detached and flexed and shifted with the slightest pressure!

About to get going on the traverse...

Across the traverse...

After getting established below the seam, I was able to fiddle in a small red C3 and a small off-set nut. With this adequate gear luring me on, I launched up the thin seam, getting hooks in the constrictions and then swinging into verglas as the crack bottomed out. Close to the top with my monopoint torqued in the crack I fought for a hook in the thin verglas when suddenly I was off!
About to launch up the crack next to the unusable ice...

It seems that all mixed climbing falls are violent and mostly upside down and this one was no different as I slammed ass first into the slab below. With the confidence that the nut was good I jumped back on and fired the crack to the next stance and then continued past more wobbly ice and drytooling which led to a wonderful strip of body-width vertical ice and the top.
Through the crack and on to more drytooling around sketchy ice...

It was super cool to repeat this line. Here in the northeast there are a handful of those ephemeral routes which seldom come in and are must do's when they do appear. Pump and Dump is for sure one of them. The gear was where you needed it and the climbing challenging and exciting. Despite not getting it totally clean I am psyched to have had the opportunity to get up such a rare line!

I hope everyone is having a great season so far! Conditions are sick right now!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Shenanigans and a New Route!

Recently I had an interesting conversation with my friend Bayard Russell about getting "shut down". It was our second day out after spending all of the previous day on Cannon scratching around in vain to try and get up a hopelessly out of shape Omega. "Why do we always go after these type of lines," I wondered aloud. "These type of lines..." You know, the ones that seem barely there; that lure us in with tantalizing hangers, steep drytooling, and a low probability of success. These are the lines that get us psyched though and part of the deal is that many times things just don't click.

The South Face of Frankenstein with the arrow pointing to "Pole Dance"

This past Sunday after our frustrating fiasco on Cannon, Bayard, Kevin Mahoney and I found ourselves gearing up beneath another one of those tantalizing lines on the south facing upper tier of Frankenstein Cliffs. Kevin had a short chunk of time for the day and suggested a formula which had led us to this prospective line.

1. Difficulty (Is is gnarly enough?)
2. What is the probability of success?
3. Does it form often?
4. Sketchiness

The line...

As we racked up the sun beat down unnervingly hard on the ice above. Kevin walked away for a moment to shoot a few photos and suddenly yelled "watch out!" as a huge hanger cut loose above. Bayard jumped clear and I tucked behind a large maple tree. Our gear, including Kevin's wife Claire's $800 camera, took a beating and was strewn down into the talus below us. After picking up our gear and moving to a safer spot we considered our options.

Kevin and his broken glasses after the ice fall...

Kevin soloed up the short ice pitch and found a safe belay on the far right side of the ledge. Once Bayard and I got to the belay we peered up at the inspiring yellow torpedo of ice hanging from the roof above us. A steady stream of water dripped from the icicle as the sun continued to beat down. Frightened by our earlier experience we rapped to the ground. In the course of that the rope got stuck necessitating Bayard to solo up and free it.

Bayard following the steep ice above the roof...

For the next hour and a half we hemmed and hawed for the as line we had come to climb moved slightly more into the shade. After taking a short walk to verify that everything else was getting just as sun beaten we convinced ourselves to give the line another shot. I grabbed the rack and ropes and soloed up to the belay before we changed our minds.

Myself following the crux

Kevin took the lead and fired the rest of the pitch past super fun climbing on thin smears to an iced up crack with tricky gear and then onto a free hanging icicle which led to a steep finish on plastic WI 5.

Bayard following the crux...

It felt good to get something done and especially good to put up a new line at Frankenstein. Kevin decided on Pole Dance (NEI 5) for the name and grade after the delicate climbing on the narrow ice pillar and the other similarly themed route names on the upper tier.

We had broke through the shenanigans!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Fall and the new Dacks Project

Wow! It's been waaay to long since I last posted on here. Pakistan was absolutely incredible despite lots of heavy rain which made it pretty difficult to get much. Look for my film about the trip soon on Outdoor Research's Verticulture site. Upon returning back to Vermont it was quickly apparent that expedition travel does little for keeping you in top rock climbing shape. I've been spending extra hours in the gym trying to get back in shape for my projects here in New England and for our upcoming trip to the Red!

Moss Cliff

Most of my weekends this fall have been spent at the inspirational Moss Cliff in the Adirondacks. Moss Cliff is literally covered in amazing splitters from barely-there tips seams to one of the raddest off-width routes in the northeast. The cliff forms an enormous right angle and the right side is one of the most impressive single walls that I've seen anywhere.

Referred to as the "Aid Wall" in the guidebook, my friend and fellow Vermonter Peter Kamitses has ticked off the first free ascents of two of the 3 aid lines on this sweeping overhang of a wall. The third and as of yet unfreed line is named Pan Am and may just be the hardest of them all!

The route starts off with a beautiful 35' spitter 5.10 corner which leads to a nice pedestal belay ledge. From there the route gets a whole lot nastier. An extremely technical V6/7 boulder problem complete with thin and hard to place gear leads to sustained 5.12+ climbing up the increasingly steep wall until you encounter the heartbreaking crux. This is a Red River Gorge'esque route with additional Rumney style boulder problems at the start and finish. I've been logging big hours building up my fitness for this beast!

I'm headed over this weekend with Naomi and Peter Kamitses who is also working the line. Hopefully the conditions hold out a little for us!

Here's a video I put together with my friend and fellow Outdoor Research athlete Tim Keenan. We went up to Moss to spend some time on the route several weeks ago.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

In Pakistan!

Right now I'm in Islamabad Pakistan along with my good friend Timmy DeRoehn. We're on our way to the Charakusa Valley. This valley is an alpine wonderland filled with infinite granite spires and alpine objectives. We have our sights set on the southwest pillar of K7 west, a 6,200m unclimbed granite spire capped with snow and ice. Tomorrow we catch a plane to Skardu along with our luggage and then it's onto Hushe and then a 2 day trek into the mountains. Our journey here has been pretty insane with us shelling out over $500 in overweight charges flying for almost 2 days!

We'll be posting updates on the Outdoor Research Verticulture site here:

Friday, April 16, 2010

Team America

Among the plethora of scattered crags to be found in the Green Mountain State, a few in particular stand out far above all others. The 82 crag is one such outstanding crag and ranks among one of my favorite sport climbing hangs anywhere. The routes start off a large ledge accessed by a fixed rope making the crag feel exposed for Vermont and offering amazing views of the Bolton valley. Despite it's relatively small size, the crag boasts several 5 star 5.12's and now 2 5.13 pitches with the addition of Team America .13a.

At the rest on a previous attempt (Steve Potter photo)

About 4 years ago my friend Dave Vuono had bolted the right most arete of the wall and had never gotten around to trying it. The route remained un-attempted until recently when myself, Parker Weber, and John Tomb began checking it out. I quickly realized that the route would need some adjustments and began by moving the anchor to a more logical spot and than moving a couple other bolts as well. The new-routing process is by far my favorite thing to do in climbing. Figuring out beta, dealing with broken holds, equipping, and all the other work that goes into a new route makes the experience incredibly rewarding.

Last Thursday I headed up to the 82 with my friend Chris for an after work mission. After a quick warm-up, I jumped on the route and dogged up it to re-figure a couple of parts. I had taped a split on my left index finger from a previous go and on my second go I fell off the last hard move of the route, slicing the pad of my right middle finger wide open! With the light fading fast and a bleeding tip I lowered and was pretty sure I was done for the day. Chris took a top-rope burn real quick and suddenly the psyche hit me and I was re-taped and climbing through the first crux of the route in the dark with my headlamp.

Many small crimps!

Initially the new split on my right hand stung with every one of the many tiny crimps in this route but that pain quickly subsided as I got into the flow of the route and found myself at my previous high point. Pumped and greasing off the left hand sloper, I latched a small right hand edge and pasted my right foot on the dubious smear. With a quick breath to focus in on the hold I threw for the two finger side-pull and caught it. Breathing hard, I flew through the following good holds to the anchor.

Pretty awesome positioning!

I decided to call this route Team America after the team effort that went into it with Dave initially equipping it and then Park, John, and I figuring out the beta for it. This route is totally unique in comparison to others around New England. For the 82 it's relatively long with 11 bolts and is super technical with sustained crimping through a large portion of the route. I'm psyched to have made an addition to this already amazing crag.

Mummy hands

Monday, April 12, 2010

Slideshow Wednesday Night!

Wednesday night I'll be giving a slideshow at Plymouth State University in Plymouth NH. Come on down if your in the area! Show starts at 8pm in Boyd Hall on the PSU campus.

The show will give a glimpse of some of the northeast's strongest climbers getting after it on mixed, ice and rock terrain. There will be a amazing raffle with tons of cool swag including a 60m Sterling rope and other gear! All proceeds benefit the Kismet Rock Foundation. This is an awesome non-profit that several of my friends are involved with. Kismet creates opportunities for economically-disadvantaged children to experience all the amazing experiences rock climbing has to offer in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.

Thursday, April 1, 2010


Brian Bittner is a super strong climber from Burlington Vermont who, as a member of the 5.10 Athlete Team, has for many years focused solely on bouldering and indoor competition. This fall with a trip to the Red River Gorge to get him psyched, Brian started diversifying his climbing with some sport climbing and expressed an interest in started to train with me. Six months later Brian sent his V11 project and his hardest sport route yet Dodge the Lemons (.13c) both in the span of 3 days. He is crushing!

Brian wrote a short piece below on his thoughts about the training we've been doing and his recent sends. Check it out!

"Over the past few months I have been training closely under Matt McCormick's supervision. I have been cycling in and out of strength, power, power endurance and endurance training. I have seen improvements in all aspects of my climbing, not just in how I feel, but also in tangible results, in the past two months I climbed my hardest boulder problems (Diesel Dreams V11 and Fred's Roof V11) and also my hardest redpoint (Dodge the Lemons 5.13c), not to mention flash and redpoint bests. These results are especially refreshing as I have been climbing for close to 12 years. During the past few years I felt I had reached a plateau, I am now confident I have broken through that plateau. With my new training plan I have no doubt I will continue to improve to levels I had once dreamed of. If Matt's own climbing successes are not enough, his ever growing wealth of knowledge, his openness to disucss new ideas, and his willingness to hear your wishes and concerns make it an easy choice only few would not benefit from."

Monday, March 29, 2010


I regularly read a variety of training blogs to gather new ideas and learn what others are doing to get more fit for climbing. One of my favorite sites in Steve Bechtel's Climb Strong blog. Along with being a well accomplished climber, Steve is a American Strength and Conditioning Certified coach and runs the Elemental Gym in Lander Wyoming. Steve combines his education and deep understanding of exercise science with an intimate knowledge of climbing to write some thoughtful and effective pieces on training. Check out his site here

In his latest column, Steve talks about the concept of "Tolerance." For many years since training texts had referred to "power endurance." Recently myself and others have used the term anaerobic endurance which seems more accurate to me but still not clear. "Power Endurance" to me, is an oxymoron. Power and endurance couldn't be more of a dichtomy. I like to use the analogy of the marathon runner and the sprinter to frame this idea. The marathon runner is training for a extremely long and sustained performance effort while the sprinter is training for seconds of maximal intensity performance.

Steve says that he was turned onto the term tolerance by a spanish trainer/coach who used the term to define the ability to climb through fatigue for sustained periods on a climb. To me this terms sums it up perfectly. Most routes that are difficult for us come down to being able to sustain a high level of strength and power for several moves through crux or multiple cruxes on a route.

Lately I've dealt with this on a long term nemesis in Rumney. The crux of this route is only about 12 moves long but by the 7th move I'm feeling gassed and mentally I find it challenging to push through that. Training tolerance will not only physically prepare yourself for that sustained crux climbing, it will also prepare you mentally to climb through the fatigue. Check out some of the exercises we've been doing lately here.

I'd be psyched to hear what others are doing to train tolerance and what they think about this concept!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Spring Has Arrived!

New England received some amazing weather last week and I took advantage, heading over to Rumney for some sport climbing. Even after a winter of training hard in the gym it takes a day or so to get back into the swing of climbing on real rock. It was a beautiful weekend and people were sending left and right! I was psyched to send Suburban .13a on Sunday and am now psyched to work on the extension, Urban Surfer .13d. Probably heading back this weekend.

Here are some pics from the weekend!

Alex at the top of Concrete Jungle .13b

Brian shoeing up for a 2nd try send of Venus in a Halfshell .12c

Janet, Freddie, and Tagger!

Brian and Leah
Michael Penn sending China Beach .14b

Training Tolerance

For the past few months I've been cycling between Strength/Power and Anaerobic-Endurance components. One thing that has kept this training dynamic and interesting is constantly switching up the exercises from day to day. I'll talk more about the strength/power components in the near future but for now I wanted to share some of the anaerobic endurance workouts that myself and my friend Brian Bittner have been doing. For me it's been awesome switching up the workouts both on a physical and mental level.

Physically, keeping your workouts new and dynamic forces your body to adapt to more variable stimulus and keeps overloading the body in new and challenging ways. Mentally I have definitely avoided burnout by keeping things new.

As the spring season is upon us, training anaerobic endurance is a great way to transform that strength and power gained bouldering during the winter into route climbing fitness!

Here are some exercises to try out that are outside the usual 4X4 circuit:

Boulder Pyramids:
Select around 5 problems (has to be an odd number) in ascending difficulty. The 5th problem should be somewhere near your limit but should be a problem you have sent. Complete the 5 problems and then repeat them in reverse. Example V4,V4+,V5,V6,V7,V6,V5,V4+,V4

Repeat this pyramid at least 3 times resting between each set for the same length of time it took you to complete it.

Traverse into Problems:
Most routes have one or two main cruxes to be dealt with and a bunch of other climbing in between of variable difficulty. This exercise is an excellent way of simulating a route climbing experience without having to rope up. Select a problem at or slightly under your limit (This may take some experimenting to find out what you can do). Using existing holds in the bouldering area at your gym, pick out a traverse (30+ moves) which ends at the starting holds of your problem. Climb the traverse into the problem building in at least one rest hold prior to the "crux" boulder problem. This exercise is really fun and simulates route climbing as best as you can get without a rope!

30 Problems in an Hour
This exercise is a great stamina exercise and depending on how many problems you do (can be any number. Doesn't have to be 30) can be absolutely devastating! Pick a grade range such as V3-V7 and do as many problems within that range as possible over the course of an hour. Repeating problems is allowed. Give yourself points for each problem completed based on the difficulty of the problem. This keeps you honest and can be fun if you're doing this with a partner.

Alpinist Article!

I'm really psyched about my first published article that just ran on the Alpinist website. The article is about the modern era of climbing development in the Adirondacks and features some amazing photos from my friend Dave Vuono. Check it out here!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Catskills Action!

This past weekend Naomi and I traveled down to the Catskills to attend the Catskills Ice Festival sponsored by Alpine Endeavors. I was scheduled to give my multi-media show in Saturday night and was excited to check out the ice and mixed climbing in the Catskills. We got down to New Paltz late Friday night and stayed with our friend Ryan Stefiuk of Bigfoot Mountain Guides. Ryan has been getting after it in the Catskills this season and has put up several first ascents. Saturday morning we tagged along with a clinic Ryan was teaching at a crag called the Black Chasm.

Ryan Stefiuk on a mixed line in the Black Chasm

Myself on "Instant Karma"

The Black Chasm and the rest of the Catskills ice climbing destinations are located high up in the mountains above the sun belt of New Paltz. We followed a mile long trail which eventually dropped 400' or so down to the crag. Ryan pointed out the different lines to us including an uncompleted mixed line straight up the tallest and steepest section of cliff. After warming up on an awesome mixed line called Instant Karma I rapped into the unfinished line and placed several bolts to complete the work that previous climbers had done to establish the line about halfway up the cliff. The route required cleaning some enormous blocks which came out frighteningly easy!

Naomi leading in the Chasm!

On the FA of Hydropower M9 WI 5-

In the thick of it on Hydropower

Sunday morning found us taking a Spanish tranquilo start and not getting out the crag until around 10am. This time our friend Lucho Romero joined us for the day. Lucho is one of the most well rounded climbers I know and is one of those people who just plain inspire confidence when you're around them. It was great to be out with him this weekend!

I got on the new line and flashed to the previous high point until I fell and then dogged my way up the rest to figure out the moves. The climbing was engaging from the start with solid M7 moves to a no hands rest at the start and then ever-steepening climbing to the massive free-hanging curtain above. After a rest I went back up and nearly made it to the curtain before unexpectedly popping off a slopey hook. With darkness pretty much having arrived, I packed it in and we hiked out.

Alden after headbutting the ice!

I decided to call into work and take Monday off and we headed back to the Chasm on Monday with Ryan and Vermont climber Alden Pellet who had received 3 stitches in his forehead the day before. Naomi led her second ice pitch ever and styled it and I followed for a warm-up. On my first attempt of the day on the new route I made it all the way to the ice before elbowing my ice tool out of a hook while clipping! AAAHHHH! I couldn't believe it. I had the route in the bag only to knock my own tool off the route!

After climbing 90+ feet of drytooling to get there it was hard to motivate to get back on but I rallied and sent on the next try. After pulling onto the icicle I moved above the attachment point and fired in a screw about 3/4 of the way when a high powered stream of water cam shooting out the back of the screw! I had never had this happen to me and was startling to say the least. I moved quickly to avoid being totally drenched and climbed to the trees to top out the line.

Check out the video clip shot by Ryan Stefiuk of Bigfoot Mountain Guides!

I named the new route Hydropower M9 WI 5-. According to Ryan this is currently the hardest mixed route in the Catskills and after seeing some of the potential that this area holds I'm sure it won't be the hardest for long. With some work and motivation, this area could house some of the raddest mixed climbing in the northeast! Get down there and get after it!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Catskills Ice Fest this weekend!

I'm extremely excited to be heading down to the Catskills this weekend for the Catskills Ice Fest. Check here for more information! I'll be presenting my multi-media show on Saturday night at Rock and Snow in New Paltz. I've actually never climbed down in the Catskills and am psyched to check out what I've heard is some amazing new route potential!

A sampling of Catskills Ice. photo by Ryan Stefiuk

Here's the slideshow line-up!

Friday: Ryan Stefiuk of Big Foot Mountain GuidesJoin Ryan as he talks about his ice climbing trip to Newfoundland, From classic lines to first ascents, see what awaits your next trip. Held at Rock & Snow, 8pm

Saturday: Northern Revival by Matt McCormickMatt presents a multi-media look at the next generation of New England climbers pushing the limits year round on ice, rock, and mixed terrain. Held at Rock & Snow, 8pm

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Black Diamond Fusion! A review...

I remember getting my first pair of ice tools in the mail back when I was in High School. They were a pair of Grivel Rambos with just a slight bend in the lower shaft. I could barely wait to get out that weekend and use them. Getting new ice tools, like getting new toys as a kid, increases my motivation. I want to get out on the ice as soon as possible to try them out and see where they can take me.

I recently received the latest in Black Diamonds esteemed line of ice tools. The new Fusion takes the place of the "old" orange Fusion that had been around for a while. The older Fusion had made it's mark as the best drytooling tool on the market if not the most popular ice climbing tool.

The latest Fusion closes that divide between drytooling and ice performance with an almost completely redesigned tool. The shaft is twisted ninety degrees as most of the BD tools are to increase clearance and distribute weight more evenly when swinging. The head of the tool includes a small integrated hammer which appears unlikely to be of much use but actually performs well banging pins, spectres, and other desperate pieces of winter pro. Using the hammer requires the climber to choke up on the shaft a bit and I've had great success placing all sorts of bang in protection with these tools so far. The Handle includes a reinforced upper pommel which is a nice improvement on the last Fusion. The last model's upper grip got torn up quickly and BD has solved this problem by reinforcing it with metal. The lower grip features a wide and comfortable pinky rest and can be adjusted in size using removable spacers.

The tool comes with a spike on the bottom of the shaft for plunging and walking which I removing for fear of lobotomizing. I would recommend that people do this unless you're headed into the alpine.

I've had the opportunity to use this tool on a variety of terrain from upside-down sport mixed climbing to traditional Scottish style mixed to straight up ice and I've been blown away by the all-around performance of the tool. There are ample opportunities to give them a try in the coming weeks at this weekend's Mount Washington Valley Ice Fest and at the Catskills Ice Fest the weekend of Feb. 20th. I would highly recommend checking them out!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Ice Fests and Slideshows!

I'm proud to be giving slideshows at two upcoming northeast ice festivals. The first is this weekend at the Smuggs Ice Bash in Smugglers Notch, VT and the second is Feb. 20, at the Catskills Ice Fest in New Paltz, NY.

Both events offer great clinics for people interested in the learning more about ice and mixed climbing as well as a good party and chance to mingle with other climbers! There will be demos to try out from a variety of companies including sponsors of mine Black Diamond and
La Sportiva.

Come check it out!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Mountainfest and "Bossman"

Last weekend I had the privilege to take part in the 14th annual Mountainfest in the Adirondacks of New York. This event has a long and storied history featuring visits from many prolific climbers over the years. Some of the fathers of modern mixed climbing, Jeff Lowe and Alex Lowe frequented the event and blew the locals away with a slew of first ascents including the once repeated Gorillas in the Mist and the burly Ice Storm. Naomi and I stayed at the Rock and River guides lodge along with the other visiting climbers and guides. We felt like V.I.P.s with the generosity of the staff who provided us with breakfast, lunch, and dinner each day and a wonderful room to stay in.

I drove over on Thursday morning and met Steve House at Rock and River. I had never met or climbed with Steve before and was psyched to have the opportunity to get out with someone who I have always looked up to. My friend Matt Horner had climbed two pitches of an oft-attempted line at the High Falls Crag in Wilmington Notch and had rapped off 100' from the top. I was psyched to check it out and Steve and I headed over there.

From the road we immediately saw that the Crag was littered with drips. We racked up below our intended line after a rocks-papers-scissors, I headed up the first pitch. The climbing was fun but never desperate and deposited me at a 2 pin anchor. The line Horner took headed out right into a corner with a thin smear of ice. My eye was drawn to a seam just left off the belay though and I pointed it out to Steve. The seam was barely there and slightly overhanging and as he headed up to try it it became clear that the gear was going to be hard earned.

The High Falls Crag
Steve got a questionable pin and two brass wires in and then down climbed to the ledge for breather. After a few minutes Steve went back up on the pitch. It was an amazing display of confidence and control as he searched for thin hooks and made his way to where the angle kicked back. With his tools hooked at the lip, he got in another nut and began to move up. Then, as always with mixed climbing, he was off. The top nut ripped and the first pin and nut zippered with the middle piece holding his fall. I probably would have cashed in and headed up the easier way to the left but Steve went back up 3 more times, each time blowing off at his high point and whipping onto the brass rp. After his third attempt he decided to head out right and we climbed two more pitches to the top completing a new as-of-yet unnamed M6 line.

Steve heading up on the second pitch of what will become the Bossman

Over the next few days I climbed with my friends Bayard Russell and Jim Shimberg, both visiting from New Hampshire and also my local friend Matt Horner. Horner gave us the tour and we enjoyed a slew of beautiful, dacks style mixed pitches over the next few days. On Saturday I also taught a clinic with Horner which was fun. I really enjoy helping people to learn to climb and had fun with our great group of climbers. Naomi and Bayard's fiance Anne also climbed the historical Chouinard's Gully with Naomi firing her first lead on ice! Yeeeaah!

Naomi on her first ice lead. Chouinard's Gully

The prolific Matt Horner

Leading H14 on Friday with Horner, Russell, and Shimberg

Horner giving Bayard and I the tour


On Monday I met Bayard in Keene Valley for a alpine 10:30am start. We were psyched to go back to the High Falls crag to check out the pitch that Steve and I had tried the previous Thursday. Bayard got the ball rolling by leading a new and more direct first pitch that check in at about M7 and had some tricky gear but at least a lot of it. He took the whip when a small chunk of turf blew and then finished it up.

I went up on the next pitch and spent some time figuring out the tiny hooks and thin gear, placing a bomber micro stopper up high. After getting the gear in, I spent some time trying to hit the enormous crux move which involved choking up to the head of the lower tool off some high feet. I hit the move after a couple of tries and got up even with the ice but pumped out trying to find more hooks in the seam higher up rather than swinging out right onto the ice. I came down and offered the lead to Bayard who fired it on the pre-placed gear, swinging out onto the dripping icicle. This was one of the coolest mixed pitches I've climbed. Erik Lambert from alpinist.com wrote a cool piece here.

Following the first pitch (M7) of Bossman

Bossman in red and the unnamed M6 in green

I led another short pitch to the top by climbing up behind a hanging icicle and corkscrewing through a small gap onto the front. We topped out just as it was getting dark so psyched to have completed such a fun and amazing route. It was a super fun day where we rarely stopped laughing and just generally had a really good time on one of the coolest lines I've had the opportunity to climb on. We named the route Bossman M9. It was the perfect end to a great 5 days in the Adirondacks climbing with great friends.