Winter always seems to sneak up on me and then fade to spring as quickly as it came. An early December spent on warm sandstone in the Red River Gorge fades to chilly return to Vermont. A seemingly annual vow to spend more winter days in Rumney ends after one freezing day bouldering on a rope at a windy Waimea. Soon snow is flying and I'm packing late at night for an early start, pulling out the dusty ice tools, still dulled from last year's last day out along crampons, specter hooks, and the other arsenal of gear that comes out for mixed adventures.
Despite my late fall/early winter yearnings for more rock climbing, my winter psyche inevitably surfaces and then I can't get enough. I've had some awesome days out this winter with some great friends both old and new alike. I hope the winter is going great for everyone. Enjoy the photos and a quick video below of some of my days out so far this winter!
Kevin Mahoney on an early season day in Smuggler's Notch. Check out those icicles on the left wall!!!
Matt McCormick on Jeremy Dowdy's "Ghost Wars" M9 at Snake Mtn. Vermont. This route, like most at the crag, is amazing and there is tons more potential up there! I kicked off the Snake Mtn season with a great day out with Josh Worley where he sent a new M10 "The Choss Cave" and I somehow managed to flash the 2nd ascent! (Photo Naomi Risch)
Ben Gilmore following a local Bolton Vermont mixed route. Kevin gave it solid, and bold, lead attempt before sanity took over and we through a top rope on it.
Visiting Brit Nick Bullock showing us how it's done on Remission Direct (WI 6++ in these conditions!) at Cathedral Ledge, NH. Shortly after this picture was taken Nick took a 30 footer, nearly hitting the ground. I headed up for a look but it was all a bit to bold for me on that day. Nick then jumped back on and sent! This was an impressive lead and following it felt like drytooling M7+ except you were hooking tiny, hollow bubbles of ice instead of rock edges!
Matt McCormick prior to quickly tucking tail and retreating off Remission Direct. (photo B. Russell)
Matt McCormick leading off on the 2nd pitch of Remission Direct. (photo N. Bullock)
Matt again on the upper column of pitch 2 of Remission Direct (photo N. Bullock)
Drying gear at Bayard Russell and Anne Skidmore-Russell's house! Thanks for letting me crash on the house guys! (photo N. Bullock)
Bayard and me on the approach to "Astro Turf" at Lake Willoughby Vermont. My friend Josh Hurst and I put this route up back in 2005. It was really cool to return to it last week with Bayard and Nnick Bullock for what I think was the 5th ascent of this amazing mixed line! (photo N. Bullock)
Lake Willougby from the lake. Strangely devoid of ice! Astro Turf takes lowest-reaching smear in the middle of the face. (N. Bullock)
Matt McCormick leading the scrappy first pitch of Astro Turf. (photo N. Bullock)
Bayard Russell at the top of pitch one about to squeeze behind the chockstone. Good thing the three of us are kinda skinny! (photo N. Bullock)
Bayard leading off on pitch 2 of Astro Turf. This is a really amazing pitch that starts out with a short drytooling traverse and then goes straight up a thin ice smear that is always un-protectable for the first 50-60 ft.
Bayard about to get some well-deserved gear on the smear of pitch 2.
Nick Bullock atop pitch 2 with Matt following in the background. (photo B. Russell)
Nick starting up the drytooling toward the ice roof.
Nick Tucked in behind the ice curtain on the crux 3rd pitch of Astro Turf. When Josh and I first did this pitch we dry-tooled up and over the center of the roof to reach thin ice. On this day the thick ice roof and curtain forced Nick out right on awesome hooks and steinpulls to pull out and around this thin ice umbrella!
A quick video of Nick pulling the roof!
A quick video of Nick pulling the roof!
Matt leading the 70m ice pitch to finish Astro Turf. (photo N. Bullock)
Nick Bullock rapping off Omega on Cannon Cliff after 2 amazing and engaging pitches. This route rarely forms top to bottom with ice as seen here. It was great that Nick could catch the route in this condition during his visit. After a ro-sham-bo I drew the 1st pitch which was completely detached after a couple sunny but cold days. Fortunately it's low angle so you could stand on your feet. The second pitch was really cool climbing on big blobs of ice with the occasional solid drytooling placement here and there.
Matt leading the thin, brittle and detached first pitch. I won the ro-sham-bo but definitely lost on which pitch I got!
Nick topping out on the first pitch of Omega.
The view from Omega looking at the Franconia Ridge.
Nick starting up the second pitch of Omega.
Nick above the roof on the second pitch of Omega.