Astro Turf

Astro Turf (IV M9, WI 4+ R)

Lake Willoughby Vermont

FA: Matt McCormick and Josh Hurst

Josh Hurst at the roof of “Astro Turf” – Photo by Matt McCormic – +click to enlarge

On Saturday Jan 7, 2005, Josh Hurst and I climbed a new route in the central section of Mt. Pisgah. “Astro Turf” start as for Aurora about 150’ right of Super-Nova in the right facing ice/turf gully on the left side of the Star man buttress. The first 2 pitches follow Aurora.

1. Climb the 40’ right facing ice/turf gully to the big snow ledge and belay below the left facing turf and rock corner capped by a chockstone.

2. M5 – Dry tool into and up the left facing groove past one fixed pin and tunnel under the chockstone capping the groove. Belay immediately after the chockstone at the fixed nut/pin anchor.

3. M6/WI 4+R – Standing on the chockstone, dry tool left until established on the ice. There is a fixed angle and nut that can be found at the stance at the end of the traverse. The pin is reachable after stepping up immediately after the traverse. This pin may be covered in ice depending on the conditions but can be dug out against the main black wall. Once across the traverse, climb 80-90 degree thin ice for a 30-40 ft run out on to thicker ice. Climb thicker ice to the top of the ice smear and belay

4. M9 – Dry tool up into the shallow groove past 2 bolts and small cam placements. At the end of the groove, reach up and clip the bolt in the 6’ roof then pull strenuously out the roof past 2 more bolts and up the 90 degree thin ice to the ledge above.

5-6. WI 5 – Climb the center of three flows to the top as for (Starman?).

Standard rack needed plus ice screws.

Topo map of the climb

– Matt McCormick

Of Slaying the Minotaur and The Rise of Daedalus

New Epic Lines on Cannon

Among the ancient Greek legends, it is impossible to separate the tales of Icarus, Daedalus, and the Minotaur.   The same is true of their namesakes on Cannon.  The legacy of these bold lines on Cannon and those who put them up is far greater than the sum of its parts.  Each line tells a compelling story of its own, but the web these stories weave propels them from mere tales to legends.

In 1974, Rick Wilcox and John Bouchard pioneered a bold new line on Cannon.   Dubbed “Icarus,” after the legendary son of the Greek craftsman Daedalus, the two of whom having fashioned their own wings of feathers and wax to escape imprisonment by King Minos of Crete, the line was the first new route on Cannon to be put up in winter.  Just as Icarus and Daedalus saw unbridled freedom in the skies above their cell in Crete, Bouchard and Wilcox saw possibility in the unclimbed slabs and corners of Cannon’s upper reaches.

“Icarus” was a fitting name for Bouchard and Wilcox’s new line: not only did the line rise into uncharted territory, it also saw an epic fall.  Whereas Icarus flew too close to the sun, thereby melting this homemade wings and falling to his death, Bouchard’s fall was arrested by Wilcox’s belay, but not before Bouchard broke his ankle.  Fitting of the New England hardman ethos, however, Bouchard and Wilcox pushed their line to the top and self-rescued – a precedent of daring, skill, and resourcefulness we all can take something away from.

Cannon Topo - Minotaur & Daedalus

Topo Map of the Wall

 The Minotaur – NEI 4+ M6+

Matt McCormick & Bayard Russell
February 1, 2012

The Minotaur was part man and part bull.  Locked in the Labyrinth of Crete, the Minotaur fed upon the human sacrifices of Athenian children every ninth year as part of the Athenians’ quest to end the plagues that afflicted their city.  At the time of the third sacrifice, Theseus, son of the Athenian King, entered the Labyrinth and slayed the Minotaur.

Although the Minotaur of Cannon did not have quite the fearsome reputation as that which Theseus slayed, Matt and Bayard nonetheless had to rely on similar traits: prowess, strength, and cunning.  Below are some of their thoughts on the climb, but we’ll leave it to them to spin the tale of slaying the Minotaur:

 

minotaur“This year, just back from a week steeped in Scotish mixed climbing, I was super keen, and a day guiding the Black Dike gave me a glimpse of the great conditions that had settled in while I was away. One smear of thin ice particularly caught my attention.” – Bayard
“The forecast called for heavy rain throughout the day and temperatures nearing the the low 40’s. Bayard Russell and I made plans to meet at 7:30 in the Cannon Cliff parking lot, reasoning that the temps would stay at least near freezing. As I woke up early and drove to toward Cannon the temperature was around 35F and it slowly began to rain the close I got to Franconia Notch. I have to admit I was NOT optimistic!” – Matt
Minotaur

Looking down on the 2nd pitch of ” The Minotaur”

“Topping out the middle of Cannon in winter is not something you get to do very often. The setting is amazing with all the scrub pines and granite blocks covered in hoar frost. Bayard nailed the descent and we were back at the car by 7:30pm. We called our new variation The Minotaur NEI 4+ M6+.” – Matt
Read more about the climb  on Matt’s Blog mattmccormickclimbing.blogspot.com

Daedalus – M7+

Bayard Russell & Elliot Gaddy
February 7, 2012

When King Minos of Crete needed to cage the Minotaur, it was Daedalus he turned to; in fact, it was Daedalus who revealed the Labyrinth’s secrets to Theseus so he could slay the Minotaur.  In response to this treachery, King Minos imprisoned Daedalus and his son, Icarus, within the Labyrinth itself.  Their only escape – upward, towards the heavens.

With this chronology in mind, perhaps it is fitting that Cannon’s Daedalus rose after the Minotaur was slayed.  Bayard Russell returned to Cannon not even a week after climbing the The Minotaur and pushed Daedalus to the top.  He thought he had just re-climbed Icarus, but looking at Wilcox’s and Bouchard’s photos, came t realize it was actually a different line.  Regardless, the ambiguity of these lines and their history adds to the mystery and overall mythical nature of them as the line between fact and legend becomes blurred.

Great Protection on Daedalus. NOT!

Email from Bayard:
Both really good routes, but I’ve been wanting to send the second pitch of Icarus for quite some time, really psyched to have done it! Just kept saying to Elliot, “this is the best pitch I’ve done all season!” Iced up cracks pretty much were the defining feature of both routes, with the obvious exception of Minotaur’s 2nd pitch. Two totally different days; for the Minotaur we casually strolled up to the cliff at about 10:30, not having any plan until that gorgeous smear came into view. For Daedalus, I was on a mission knowing what good shape the cliff was in; all the right facing corners were just plastered in ice, pretty much a mixed climbers dream. Over the weekend one of my buddies had to tell me to shut-up ’cause i just kept rambling on about how good the conditions were.. see, there I go again.

When I first tried the 2nd pitch of Icarus a few years ago I thought it was M8, this time around I’m not so sure. All that ice made the cracks pretty secure, but the gear was a little tricky. I’m figuring M7+?, who knows. It was a blast!

Read the whole story on Bayards web site  www.whitemountainrockandice.com

 *****

Ultimately, these new routes on Cannon are only the tip of the iceberg.  Last winter, Kevin Mahoney and Elliot Gaddy climbed the Ghost and repeated (or perhaps created a new variation to) Icarus.  This winter, Matt McCormick and Freddie Wilkinson completed the winter girdle traverse of Cannon.  With  ever-changing conditions, Cannon has countless lines still to be explored, and Bayard, Matt, Kevin, Elliot, and Freddie represent only a small handful of the climbers up to the task of adding to Cannon’s mythology.

Sources: Bayard Russell, Matt McCormick, Wikipedia, whitemountainrockandice.com, mattmccormickclimbing.blogspot.com, Ice Climbers Guide to Northern New England by Lewis & Wilcox

Road Warrior – M8

Lake Willoughby, VT

FA: 01-25-12  Ryan Brooks and Josh Hurst

 “Road Warrior is hands down the best mixed route I’ve been on at Lake Willoughby” – Josh

Rack: Standard rock rack including two #3 Camalots and three ½” cams, no pins, 5 screws: including 2x 10cm and 3x 13 cm.

The Route ascends a large corner 200 meters to the north of Twenty Below Zero Gully.

P1: NEI 4 50m Climb the left most ice flow, pull the overlap onto thin ice and a good stance. Foot traverse left and up easy mixed to the base of the big corner.

P2: M6 25m Up the big corner. Do not rap off the tree, your ropes will get stuck.

P3: M8 35m Traverse up and right following flakes to the ice. When the ice ends at the big roof, traverse right around the roof to a belay back left. If the ice smear extends to the overlap midpitch, the second crux can be avoided, lowering the grade half a notch.

P4: NEI 4- 20m Climb thickening ice to the trees.

Descent: Walk off or rap the route from anchors at the top of P3 and P1.

Josh’s notes:

Road Warrior is hands down the best mixed route I’ve been on at Lake Willoughby. It’s a modern mixed route with a very traditional feel requiring a full rack. The name comes from the absurd amount of driving it took to complete this route, 50+ hours over 6 days, and the apocalyptic setting at the base of the large rock fall. (Who doesn’t have a crush on Mel Gibson anyway?) It should be noted that the route is clean and is on some of the best rock at Willoughby. The route forms every year, this year being the smallest I’ve seen it.

The Back Story by Josh Hurst

Source: Josh Hurst

Note: This pair also put up “TINY DANCER” at The Lake last year.

 

Seams Thin

New mixed climb at Trollville

“Seams Thin” – M6

Location: Trollville (Duck’s Head), Jackson NH

FA: Peter Doucette & Erik Eisele

Date: January 2012

Seams Thin

Gear: No bolts but five pins. And the rack is pretty specific — doubles on small cams, offset nuts and a number four Camalot.

Descent: Rappel the route.

“Kind of a sad season thus far, but we’re making things happen” – Erik

 

Photos by Erik Eisele  –  Peter Doucette climbing.

Source: Erik Eisele, Facebook, Mountain Sense Guides

 

Pole Dance

Frankenstein Cliff, Crawford Notch NH

Matt McCormick following the business part of the climb – Bayard Russell

Pole Dance- NEI 5

FA: December 17, 2010
Kevin Mahoney, Bayard Russell & Matt McCormick

“After an exciting afternoon on the ground dodging missiles in the south facing sun, “Pole Dance” went down. This new route at Frankenstein is right of the Bragg-Pheasant in a spot I had never seen any real ice before. The oblique afternoon sun cooled things off and we went for it. We all had a chance to lead the easy first pitch, but it was Kevin Mahoney’s turn when we finally had a chance to do the pitch that mattered.” – Bayard Russell Jr.

More at…
MattMccormickClimbing.blogspot.com

Source: Matt McCormick & Bayard Russell


BOLD New Ice Route

Simian

Poko-O-Moonshine, NY

NEI 5+R/X, M-fun, 450-500 ft

FA 3/9/11 – Ian Osteyee & Bill Simes

“Basically no gear on the first pitch until the topout ledge, then just a 10cm screw. Similar to Stingray but no anchor to clip halfway up. They went up the face where summer rock routes Cooney-Norton, 10b and Cosmopolitan Wall,10c are located. I think the upper pitches are all original” – Alden PellettSi

By Ian Osteyee

simian topo

Topo

Bill and I had a great time doing this route. You couldn’t have a more perfect time out. It was sunny and warm, and two old friends were alone at the cliff for most of the route. A couple of Canadians showed up to do PT as I was belaying Bill up the second pitch, other than that it was quiet. Really just a perfect session. Having done the second ascent of “Stingray” years earlier it allowed me to ponder and compare the two fine lines. This new line was similar in some ways. The first pitch a little longer, and began and stayed steep the entire length of the pitch. They both have a side-foot rest a third of the way up, but “Stingray” has a bolted rappel anchor to clip at that point. The upper pitch of “Stingray” is more mellow without the exciting moves over rock and on to steep thin, hanging ice. This is a fine line, one of the best routes I’ve climbed, anywhere.

I’ve seen this thing try to come down on several occasions, but never saw it get to the ground. Bill Simes and I headed over and went in for a closer look. It seemed almost too good to be true, it even looked like it might take some stubbies. I headed up with a light rock rack and a few screws. The ice was good, a little soft, but good climbing. There was a spot about a third of the way up to get a foot sideways, and try to fish for some gear in a seam. The seam didn’t pan out, but I left a TCU there anyway, it was about as useful as a Christmas ornament, but I lightened my load by a fraction. The last two thirds of the long first pitch were steep. The ice still climbed well, but would thin out in spots putting forward progress in doubt here and there. Roughly 5-10 feet from the end of the pitch I was able to place a 10cm screw, though the ice was a little soft for it to inspire. Once on the ledge a short,15 foot, insecure, snowy traverse right brought me to a rock corner system. A four piece, less than perfect anchor and Bill was on his way up. Pitch 2 starts with thinly ice rock at a roughly 3+ angle. Forty feet of that and I reached the over hang and got some good rock gear. An M fun rock traverse right and the most eligible hanger becomes obvious. Some thinly ice/mixed moves allow a committing launch onto the thin, but stable ice. Ten more feet of steep climbing leads to casual, beautifully exposed grade 4- ice that gets less steep as you climb higher. 70 meters isn’t enough, and an ice screw anchor is necessary. One more grade 3+ pitch, which lessens as it goes, gets you to the top.

Photos by Bill Simes & Ian Osteyee

Ian Osteyee
Adirondack Mountain Guides
www.adirondackmountainguides.com

The only AMGA certified guide in the Adirondacks with more than 20 years of local experience

More from Adirondack Mountain Guides

Simian

Simian

Fluffy

Go back Mountain, NH

Fluffy – NEI 6 X 60m – FA: Josh Hurst, Ian Austin

 

Start: Immediately left of Valhalla in the Valhalla Amphitheater

Protection: Stubbies, Screws, .5-3 Camalots

Descent: Rap route

Extenuating Circumstances: Ice was 1/2″-2″ thick at start for the first ascent, first good protection was a Camelot behind an excavated flake at 80′.

Fluffy
Notes: Incredible, sustained, scary, incomparable; longer than Valhalla by 25′, finish to the trees on top.
Photos by Ian Austin

New M8 at “The Lake”

Tiny Dancer

Lake Willoughby, VT

FA: 01-21-11 Ryan Brooks and Josh Hurst

“Tiny Dancer, It’s between Plug and Chug and Call of the Wild.  It’s a modern mixed route that deserves to see a lot of traffic due to it’s accessibility, reliability and rock quality” -Josh Hurst

tiny-dancer-3a

tiny-dancer-1aP1: M7  Climb 20′ of Plug and Chug than diagnal right on ice blobs to the center of the overhanging rock.  Take the weakness up and right to more ice blobs on the mid-cliff ledge.  Belay on left in the ice.  It is possible to take ice blobs directly up to the rock in some years.

tiny-dancer-2aP2: M8  Start up the flake system to a small roof.  Trend right, crux, to a shallow corner system.  Once behind the icicles take the line of least resistance to the top.

Rack: 5-8 ice screws, standard rack to 2″, no pins needed, 12 quickdraws

Photo’s by Ryan Brooks.

Endangered Species

Poko-O-Moonshine – Adirondacks,  NY

01/14/2011
Adirondack Mountainfest 2011

Story Up-Date 1/20/11 from Bayard Russell

True to Mountainfest tradition of establishing new climbs, Bayard Russell, Matt Horner & Matt McCormick established – “Endangered SpeciesM6+ NEI5+ R. The climb is just to the right of Jeff Lowes legendary line “Gorillas in the Mist”.

“It’s so cool that, after all these years, the Northeast continues to generate some of the most exciting winter climbing in the country” – Dougald MacDonald

The 2 Matts having a go on Gorillas In The Mist. No tools left this time. Photo by Smike

The 2 Matts having a go at Gorillas / Endangered Species earlier that week. No tools left this time. Photo by Smike

We were treated with photos and a video of the ascent Sunday night at Matt McCormick’s slide show.  A very impressive climb by some very motivated and committed climbers. Well done.  See the video..

Matt Hornor,s tools on Gorillas in the Mist. - Photo by Jessew

Matt Horner’s tools on Gorillas in the Mist, 2008. – Photo by Jessew

Many attempts over the years have been made on this section of cliff . Lack of good ice has always blocked the way. Back in 2008,  Matt Horner tried the climb in an after-work ascent where he ended up lowering off his tools in the dark, that was the best anchor he could build in the thin, candled ice (see photo).

See Fifty favorite climbs: the ultimate North American tick list By Mark Kroese  for information on Gorillas in the Mist

The Big Wall section of Poke-O. The thin strip of ice is the new route "Endangered Species" (Horner/McCormick/Russel). Photo by Jim Lawyer

The Big Wall section of Poke-O. The thin strip of ice is the new route “Endangered Species”. Photo by Jim Lawyer

More on the NEice Forum

Source: Matt McCormick, Matt Horner, Bayard Russell, NEice Forum, Facebook & Climbing.com

Story Up-Date 1/20/11

 

“There are a couple of things that we did do, and a couple of things that we didn’t do; here’s the deal” – Bayard Russell


Hydropower M9 WI5-

 

Possibly the hardest mixed route in the Catskills

FA Matt McCormick 2/22/10

“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” – Matt McCormick.
Read all about the FA and more Catskills action on Matt McCormick’s Blog
StandardLine

Video by Ryan Stefiuk of Bigfoot Mountain Guides

Read more about “Hydropower” and the Catskills Ice Fest 2010