Classic New Hampshire Climbing by Al Rubin 1978

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Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Original Post - Jan 1, 2008 - 09:05pm PT
Happy New Year All! From Mountain 62 July/August 1978, this definitive bit of northeastern climbing history. Enjoy.

















TrundleBum

Trad climber
Las Vegas
Jan 1, 2008 - 10:53pm PT
Wow --
Thanks Steve
I was a kid learning to lead just just a few years before that article came out, your post is awesome memorabilia for me.
The names mentioned were my early Gods:
Jimmy Dunn
Mark Ritchie
Doug Madara
...and on and on

good 'ole Al Rubin, he used to be proud of his nick name:
"Al rubin, America's leading second"

I still have my Paul Ross and Chris Ellms guide book
(the maroon hard cover version)
Chiloe

Trad climber
Lee, NH
Jan 2, 2008 - 08:01am PT
I still have my Paul Ross and Chris Ellms guide book
(the maroon hard cover version)


Yep, that's on the bookshelf. Also Webster's first edition, which seemed to borrow some ideas of what a guidebook could be from Erickson's excellent Rocky Heights, and improve on them in Ed's own way. I loved those old guidebooks that you could actually read, and form some impression of the personality of each route -- the good, the bad, the obscure.
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Jan 2, 2008 - 11:52am PT
"Mike Peloquin reads the Bagavad Ghita to John Bragg"...

I guess that caption speaks for itself; but at the time I found it rather enigmatic that a leader would recieve support in the form of an erudite and spiritually enriched dispatch from his belayer.

Oh well, coming from the more pedestrian left coast, it went just a bit over my head, but I was intrigued none the less.

This brings to mind some of the comments we get here on the forum concerning the myopic tendencies of the Cali climbers over the years. While I have observed this notion to be in many cases accurate, I will say that during the mid-late 70's, when the international force of Mountain magazine was in full swing, we all were perhaps, by sense of proportion as enabled by Mountain, a little more nationally aware than we became in later years, after the demise of Mountain and perhaps due in part to the reign of the more regionally centered Climbing and Rock & Ice publications. (No particular offense to Michael Kennedy & George Bracksiek).

I surely was aware of Gran, Stannard, Bragg, Wunsch, Barber and knew that places like The Gunks, Cathedral, Whitehorse, Cannon, Looking Glass, even Poko Moonshine were essential stops on the national tour.

In those years Mountain, & if you look back, probably Climbing, yielded appropriate coverage to both coasts and any aspirant was clued in to the big picture well enough to set designs on travel and cast a wider net.

Chiloe’s reference to Webster’s 80’s guidebook:

Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 2, 2008 - 11:02pm PT
Lots of tasty stone all over our fair land! The quality historical feature articles were the hallmark of Mountain and Climbing in their heyday and helped inform and inspire my whole generation.

How about that classic shot of lean Henry in the knickers on Alpha Corner?
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 3, 2008 - 10:46pm PT
And moving forward a few years.....The amazing Hugh Herr on Stage Fright 5.12c X at Cathedral Ledge. Still unrepeated in its original ground up style?

slobmonster

Trad climber
berkeley, ca
Jan 3, 2008 - 10:57pm PT
A set of friends and counterparts were working "Stage Fright" when I was living in No Conway a few years ago; their names may (or may not) be familiar. If I was a betting man, I'd bet that someone has freed it, ground up, no TR or pre-inspection, yadda yadda.

Semi-related note: dragged my brother up Thin Air one afternoon, and then Airation. Hugh and his friend were Horsing around on Stage Fright, and generously offered both a patient belay and beaucoup encouragement. I'm 5'10"+ and man, that route stretched me out like a rack.
Chiloe

Trad climber
Lee, NH
Jan 3, 2008 - 11:06pm PT
Classic New Hampshire climbing on Cathedral's "Barber Wall":
Bev Boynton onsights Nomad Crack (5.10b) with small wires for pro, 1978.

healyje

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Jan 3, 2008 - 11:54pm PT
For two years from '85 to '87, I lived in Southern NH about 18 miles NW of Joe English Hill in Francestown. Quite an place, though it was heading into a four-year, near complete cessation of climbing as I had just transferred back to DECs R&D labs in Nashua after two years in Chicago and was getting my ass kicked getting up to speed on things there. I did eventually get a grip and a bit of climbing in late '86 and early '87 before bailing for PDX.

To just get back into the feel of it I soloed regularly at Joe English chasing blueberries. Lovely place, and I never did see another soul the entire time I lived there. Shortly after picking it back up I ran to Ken Nichol's young protege Marco Fedrizzi at the Gunks and was treated to a session or two in CT getting to see some of their more extravagant, and quite impressive, hook escapades. And as another Southern Illinois friend, Clay Erickson, lived right by Crow Hill we'd meet up there regularly, but also made excursions around to the Gunks, Cannon, and Cathedral / White Horse.

Overall I was and am thoroughly impressed by climbing in the NE and have nothing but respect for the whole lot of the old bastards one and all. But, probably because of the time I spent at Crow Hill, I've ever since held Ed Webster in special regard even though I've never met him and only been on a couple of his lines. What I saw of him there and heard of him later in the Black all sounded stout and durable.

Anyway, Steve, thanks for posting that up so I get a chance to read a bit more about the history of the place.

Marco Fedrizzi in '86 about about to turn turtle on an FA attempt of 'The Wizard' (as in help me Mr. Wizard) at Crow Hill...



Chiloe

Trad climber
Lee, NH
Jan 4, 2008 - 08:56am PT
I've ever since held Ed Webster in special regard even though I've never met him and only been on a couple of his lines. What I saw of him there and heard of him later in the Black all sounded stout and durable.

Ed and other stout NH-based climbers established quite a legacy of 5.10 to hard 5.11 (and sometimes harder) routes in the White Mountains, back in the days of EBs and wired stoppers, that rarely get repeated today.

Back when I used to read rockclimbing.com, I thought it must be only a matter of time before all those old routes got retrobolted so the masses could climb them. Fortunately that hasn't happened yet, and away from the sport crags and trad trade routes you can still have some solitude.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 4, 2008 - 11:39am PT
Just say no to needless retrobolting...........
Chiloe

Trad climber
Lee, NH
Jan 4, 2008 - 11:54am PT
Just say no to needless retrobolting...........

So far, that seems to be the answer at most Granite State trad crags. Although back on rc.com, I saw so many "it's elitist not to add bolts" and "if you don't like the new bolts, just don't clip them" posts from gymbies that it seemed like sport-ification might be the irresistible wave of the future. Maybe that's still going on over there, I don't know.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 4, 2008 - 12:37pm PT
Add to the list, "if you don't like the runouts, set up a toprope first and then reconsider."
cowpoke

climber
Jan 4, 2008 - 01:17pm PT
A short excerpt exemplifying what I love about Webster's route desciptions (taken from p.85 of the 3rd edition of the "east volume"):

"Sticks & Stones I 5.11b R (5.10a X)

Will break my bones, but names will never hurt me. This is a short, dangerous face climb with groundfall potential, so rig a top-rope -- or bring an alert belayer with running shoes!

1. Hard face climbing leads past an RP placement to a minimal stance (bolt), then move up and left (5.11b R) to easier moves (5.10a X) in the death zone. Run to the trees!

History: Chris Gill, Peter Lewis & Tom Callaghan made the first ascent on September 10, 1984. Earlier, Callaghan injured his ankle and nearly hit the deck after falling off the crux."


Guidebooks that list only routes and ratings just can't compete with bedside reading like that.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 5, 2008 - 07:20pm PT
In 1977, Ed and Bryan nabbed the second and first free ascent of The Humungous Woosey on Baboquivari Peak. A long, bold and remote line, the route was originally climbed by Dave Baker and Mike McEwen in 1973 with one lone pendulum.
The andescite plug features some mighty funky stone but Ed wrote gleefully in the Summit Hut guidebook margins "don't forget to bring the #1 Stopper for the crux!" 5.10+ you say?
Chiloe

Trad climber
Lee, NH
Jan 5, 2008 - 07:57pm PT
Ed's guidebook describes The Burning Bridge (5.11d, 5.9 R) thus:

The route was named for the climb's first 20 feet, the right-facing, crumbly flake which involves some of the worst rock on Cathedral.
The first ascent party broke off so many holds they thought this section might become unclimbable.... Modern rack.


Supertopo exclusive: on the 1988 first ascent, Rich Baker grips a sloper on better rock at the 5.11c crux of pitch one.

Pennsylenvy

Gym climber
Fannie's Crack
Jan 6, 2008 - 02:28am PT
Am a westerner through and through, but have opportunity in a nice place a little south of Cannon and White horse Ledge. Family ties pull there but oh do I love the west. Have met some hard core climbers from the NH area. Signed Apprehensive.
Chiloe

Trad climber
Lee, NH
Jan 6, 2008 - 07:31am PT
Signed Apprehensive.

Well if a westerner is going to move east, New Hampshire's not a bad place to end up. Where I live it's about half an hour to the beach, an hour and a half to crags, ski areas & hiking (bouldering is closer)... we're out in the woods, but just an 8 minute commute from my office.

Real winters though, while they last.
healyje

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Jan 6, 2008 - 07:45am PT
And...

Four months from world class black flies
Six months from Alaska class mosquitoes
Eight months from Midwest class deer and horse flies

Then it's beautiful for three weeks before you're ass deep in snow again. But damn, if it still isn't visually about the prettiest place you can live.
Chiloe

Trad climber
Lee, NH
Jan 6, 2008 - 08:18am PT
Ah yes the bugs, I forgot about the bugs. They are real too.
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