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Winter Ascent of Whitehorse
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By Aaron L.
Jan 19, 2012
Hiking in the Adirondacks

I was fortunate enough to go climbing out in Joshua Tree a few weeks ago, but unfortunately that rekindled my ever-burning desire to get outdoors and stop pulling on plastic in the gym. Then I had the (kind of crazy) idea of climbing Standard Route on Whitehorse with my buddy either this weekend or in the near future and wanted to get people's opinions and maybe hear from anyone who has done a winter ascent of something comparable.

My idea was to simul-climb the route so that we spent as little time as possible exposed to the elements. There was one report of a team simul-climbing the route and doing it in under 20 minutes, so I figured it shouldn't take more than an hour and a half to get up and rappel back down. Both of us climb at the 5.10- level and I can lead trad up to 5.9 so the difficulty is not really an issue.

So I guess my concerns are:
1) Weather: I live outside of Boston and don't venture up to NH except for skiing. I know its going to be cold and that people handle cold differently, but am I crazy for thinking about doing this?
2) Protection for simul-climbing: I have not done this route before and was wondering if there is enough protection to simul-climb, given the R rating of the climb. And if so, how long should we keep our rope. (I have done a bunch of climbing on Cathedral and Whitehorse including Sea of Holes twice so I'm not new to the slabs)
3) Conditions: Since the slabs are, well...slabs, is there going to be ice and snow on every nub that I am going to want to put my foot? And are all of pockets and cracks for placing gear going to be snowed/iced in?
4) Overall safety: I have done a lot of winter camping and summer climbing, but never winter climbing. Am I getting in over my head? Or am I over thinking this and should just do it?

Thanks in advance for your help! (and sorry about the novel, just wanted to get my thoughts out haha)


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By Jake D.
From Northeast
Jan 19, 2012

Aaron L. wrote:
I was fortunate enough to go climbing out in Joshua Tree a few weeks ago, but unfortunately that rekindled my ever-burning desire to get outdoors and stop pulling on plastic in the gym. Then I had the (kind of crazy) idea of climbing Standard Route on Whitehorse with my buddy either this weekend or in the near future and wanted to get people's opinions and maybe hear from anyone who has done a winter ascent of something comparable. My idea was to simul-climb the route so that we spent as little time as possible exposed to the elements. There was one report of a team simul-climbing the route and doing it in under 20 minutes, so I figured it shouldn't take more than an hour and a half to get up and rappel back down. Both of us climb at the 5.10- level and I can lead trad up to 5.9 so the difficulty is not really an issue. So I guess my concerns are: 1) Weather: I live outside of Boston and don't venture up to NH except for skiing. I know its going to be cold and that people handle cold differently, but am I crazy for thinking about doing this? 2) Protection for simul-climbing: I have not done this route before and was wondering if there is enough protection to simul-climb, given the R rating of the climb. And if so, how long should we keep our rope. (I have done a bunch of climbing on Cathedral and Whitehorse including Sea of Holes twice so I'm not new to the slabs) 3) Conditions: Since the slabs are, well...slabs, is there going to be ice and snow on every nub that I am going to want to put my foot? And are all of pockets and cracks for placing gear going to be snowed/iced in? 4) Overall safety: I have done a lot of winter camping and summer climbing, but never winter climbing. Am I getting in over my head? Or am I over thinking this and should just do it? Thanks in advance for your help! (and sorry about the novel, just wanted to get my thoughts out haha)


unlikely and i'm guessing simulclimbing would be sketchy as hell.
Plus watching your video of Squall, your foot pops like 5 times on jugs. if that was on slab simulclimbs you're both fucked.

20 minutes sound unrealistic but was probably in optimal conditions by people who had done the route dozens of times.
the route is 9 pitches, 1200'

this is what cathedral looks like (live so you gotta wait till daylight)
neclimbs.com/index.php?PageName=webcam

stick to the plastic.


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By Mark E Dixon
From Sprezzatura, Someday
Jan 19, 2012
At the BRC

Why don't you head up the next nice weekend, do some short routes on Saturday, then look at Standard on Sunday, if it still seems reasonable. I'm sure Standard would go to the right party, in the right conditions, with no trouble. But my dim recollection is that it is super run out near the top, just when the likelihood of verglas and snow would be highest. I kind of think you'll find short routes pretty cold and challenging, and maybe think twice about trying Standard, but even one pitch climbs will be a great adventure- you should do it!
Mark


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By Auto-X Fil
From NEPA and Upper Jay, NY
Jan 19, 2012

Aaron L. wrote:
4) Overall safety: I have done a lot of winter camping and summer climbing, but never winter climbing. Am I getting in over my head?


It's a whole 'nother ball of wax, climbing in the winter.

I agree with Mark- do some single-pitch stuff with similar conditions. It'll be an adventure and get you some practice in those conditions, without the risks.


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By Ladd Raine
Administrator
From Plymouth, NH
Jan 20, 2012
Waiting for lift-off, Thin Air(5.6) Cathedral Ledge, NH

Please do not attempt this.

Standard is tricky at best to protect and climb when wet due to big wet streaks that never go away. There will be giant iced over portions of this climb that are unprotectable until march.

the top 3 pitches of the climb offer no protection and depending on snowfall that would also be nearly unclimbable.


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By Chris Mak
Jan 20, 2012

Maybe ski it first and then see how you feel about climbing back up?

anneskidmore.blogspot.com/2008/01/new-england-style.html



Hah, no, seriously, that shot was from a bigger snow year (2008), but it is still pretty wintery up here, guaranteed there will be at least some ice and snow on the rock.


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By Aaron L.
Jan 20, 2012
Hiking in the Adirondacks

Chris Mak wrote:
Maybe ski it first and then see how you feel about climbing back up? anneskidmore.blogspot.com/2008/01/new-england-style.html Hah, no, seriously, that shot was from a bigger snow year (2008), but it is still pretty wintery up here, guaranteed there will be at least some ice and snow on the rock.


That is so cool! Props to the guys who skied that line.

As for all the other comments, I think you guys have talked me down from attempting this. As soon spring comes around, I'm definitely going to be up there!


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By Jake D.
From Northeast
Jan 20, 2012

good choice. near boston hit up Quincy quarries if you need a dose of real-ish rock. fairly easy to set up top ropes if you have a good supply of webbing


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By Leo Paik
Administrator
From Westminster, Colorado
Jan 20, 2012

Consider some of the bouldering in Lynn Woods. There's tons of exploration going on there. Also, Cape Ann has some good climbing. Some energetic folks are working on getting some of the rocks around Redrock, Down Under, Oz, etc. re-discovered. It's lots closer, and you might find some gems.


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By john strand
From southern colo
Jan 21, 2012

There's lots of POTENTIAL rock climbing in NH during winter. Whitehorse Slabs is not the best place, it tends to get glassy.

The south buttress can have good climbing on sunny days. Also-
Sundown
Albany Slabs
Humphreys

Rumney

the Quarries and Lincoln Woods as already suggested are WAY better though


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