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The Cormier-Magness Route

5.6, Trad, 1150 ft, 8 pitches,  Avg: 3.2 from 91 votes
FA: FRA: Paul Cormier, Chris Magness. 8/31/12 ground-up, swapping leads
New Hampshire > Whitehorse Ledge > 7. The Slabs


A good deal of variety for the slabs with fun climbing on every pitch.

1) scramble to the pine tree at the end of the first pitch of Beginner’s Route.

2) “The Wheat Thin Arete” 5.6, 190’. Step right of the tree 10’ and head up toward a bolt. Climb past a horizontal to join a thin flake. Follow the flake to an arête on the right, passing 3 more bolts to a two bolt anchor.

3) “The Cajun Washboard” 5.6, 170’. Straight up off the belay through some bulgy areas passing one bolt to a steeper wall. Move up and right passing 2 more bolts to a two bolt anchor.

4) “The Open Book” 5.6, 200’. Climb a bulge off the belay into an open book. Pass one bolt before reaching the top of the book. Protect and climb rightward through a green licheny area. Climb a short flake and hand crack up to a tree with a blue tat anchor.

5) “The Northwest Passage” 5.5, 60’. Step up and left off the belay into a giant, steep flake. Trend up back right above the flake passing a small tree to a larger tree below a bulge with a horizontal.

6) “The Low Beer Light Pitch” 5.4, 180’. Use the horizontal to clear the bulge. Trend slightly rightward avoiding a dirty water groove to the left. Step back left to a tree belay.

7) “The Platinum Slab” 5.5, 190’. Follow a bulgy groove to an old ¼ bolt bolt and a new 3/8 bolt. Trend up and left passing a faint dike aiming for a white slab and another bolt. Belay at pine tree.

8) “The Top Out Pitch” 5.3, 60’. Climb easy rock straight up to the top.

NOTE the bold text, some climbers climb off route in these areas. If you head straight up from the Open Book, you'll find jungle land. Likewise, if you head straight up from the belay at the end of that pitch, you'll also find jungle land (and an easier variation). If you veer off route in these areas, climbing is feasible at a moderate grade, expect some shwacking!

Pitches 1-4 have fixed rappel stations and are set for rappel with two 60 M ropes. The upper pitches wander through Beginner's Easy terrain and there are trees with tat but it's best to top out after the 4th pitch. Lead with a 60, anything shorter and you’re hosed.

A two pitch, 5.10 variation now exists to pitches 6 and 7. See description in the route index:…
Climbing the first pitch of this variation does not necessitate climbing the second pitch and will add another pitch more concurrent with those below, albeit a bit more runout.


This route follows a line between Beginner’s Route and Beginner’s Easy and is a straight shot up to the head wall area before it veers to the right. An obvious arete 30' right of Beginner's marks the line.


The protection is generally good although there are a few typical Whitehorse runouts. Carry a standard Whitehorse rack to a #2 Camalot.

Photos [Hide ALL Photos]

Start of pitch 5.
[Hide Photo] Start of pitch 5.
A little beta on where to go for P4.
[Hide Photo] A little beta on where to go for P4.
RW enjoys the fabulous P2 ("Wheat Thin Pitch" ?)  Put this pitch at any climbing area in the world and it would get 3-4 stars.  At J-Tree, folk would start lining up at 5am and by 9am there would be 6 parties (not 6 climbers!) waiting in line.
[Hide Photo] RW enjoys the fabulous P2 ("Wheat Thin Pitch" ?) Put this pitch at any climbing area in the world and it would get 3-4 stars. At J-Tree, folk would start lining up at 5am and by 9am there would b…
history lesson
[Hide Photo] history lesson
Pitch 3
[Hide Photo] Pitch 3
Tom (16 yrs old) on lead up the Platinum Slab
[Hide Photo] Tom (16 yrs old) on lead up the Platinum Slab
Low Beer Light Pitch
[Hide Photo] Low Beer Light Pitch
Wheat Thin Arete
[Hide Photo] Wheat Thin Arete
Looking down at the Cajun Washboard pitch, 5.6
[Hide Photo] Looking down at the Cajun Washboard pitch, 5.6
Tom (16 yrs old) on lead up the Top Out pitch
[Hide Photo] Tom (16 yrs old) on lead up the Top Out pitch
Upper 3 pitch's as seen from the Guides Wall
[Hide Photo] Upper 3 pitch's as seen from the Guides Wall
The Wheat Thin Arete.  Dave Lottman photo.
[Hide Photo] The Wheat Thin Arete. Dave Lottman photo.

Comments [Hide ALL Comments]

joshua corbett
Wolfeboro NH
[Hide Comment] Sweet deal Chris I'm excited to get on this. Sep 2, 2012
Newmarket, NH
[Hide Comment] You named every pitch...really...

jk, great job buddy. Sep 4, 2012
john strand
southern colo
[Hide Comment] Just like El Cap Sep 4, 2012
Newmarket, NH
[Hide Comment] ha, exactly john. My comment to him last night, was i thought most el cap routes had less named pitches. Still, great job guys finding a nearly indpendent line on the slabs put up in great style. Had a few repeats and sounds great. Sep 6, 2012
john strand
southern colo
[Hide Comment] if you look in the new guide, the P2 arete shows perfect. Base and I looked one time and he thought that you could die fallinginto the gulley Sep 6, 2012
chris magness
[Hide Comment] It is an awesome feature.. Sep 7, 2012
[Hide Comment] That second pitch (Wheat Thin Arete) was my favorite.The third is great too.Really fun! Sep 16, 2012
jimmi jazz
Denver co
[Hide Comment] Did it today, well worth it. Nice job guys. Sep 16, 2012
joshua corbett
Wolfeboro NH
[Hide Comment] I have to agree with Bob the second pitch is phenomenal. its the best route for a beginner's on the slabs. Sep 16, 2012
[Hide Comment] A great addition to the slabs. Thanks for adding it guys! Sep 18, 2012
Reading, VT
[Hide Comment] Just did this also and really think it is of good quality. Nicely bolted to keep it safe but still in keeping with Whitehorse slab runouts. The Wheat Thin Arete pitch is stellar.

The Sea of Green lichen on Pitch 4 was completely wet so I downclimbed and went up and around it to the left. Never finished the upper pitches, (believe the 1st 4 pitches are really the best climbing). Met Chris Magness enroute - he says they still want to get that lichen cleaned up a bit more to make it better. Nice job though! Sep 24, 2012
North Conway
[Hide Comment] Finally got back on this. Its a toss up which pitch i liked better, either the flake or the washboard. Leading the washboard pitch as awesome; We got lost on the 4th pitch, as we didnt know where it went. We went left after the bolt then up a little head wall. Then saw the anchor and traversed into it. Awesome fun. Also, that little traverse across the dirty spot on pitch 3 got my attention. May 8, 2013
Nick Grant
Natick, MA & Tamworth, NH
[Hide Comment] How long a rope do you need to do this route? (I see that pitch four is 200' long.) The bolts on this route are sweet! Very un-Whitehorse (not rusted, the bolt hangers don't spin). Aug 29, 2013
chris magness
[Hide Comment] One 60 to top out, two to rap. Sep 1, 2013
Benjaminadk Brooke
San Pedro, California
[Hide Comment] did this route by accident mainly because it looked good. especially liked leading the cajun washboard pitch. the corner up higher to the right is fun also. first time climbing the slab at whitehorse and it did not disappoint. Sep 21, 2013
T. Moon
[Hide Comment] Wow - what a fun climb. I finally had the opportunity to climb it today. A very nice addition to the Slabs. The Wheat Thin Arete was my favorite pitch. Oct 12, 2013
Robert Hall
North Conway, NH
  5.6 PG13
[Hide Comment] I did this a couple of times last year (2013) and it is very nice.
Pitch 4 can easily be broken up by establishing a belay in the trees right of the green lichen and then doing the crack pitch as a short pitch.
The top pitches we didn't find the exact line described ( and hence didn't find the bolts either) but we were doing it without the route description.
May 27, 2014
Milford, MA
[Hide Comment] what a fantastic route! fun climbing on every pitch and some good run-outs. if you have no one behind you, great weather, and are in no rush, the belay ledge atop the "open book" pitch is a nice spot to relax and have lunch. the "low beer light pitch" and the "platinum slab" were probably my favorite 2 pitches. Jun 2, 2014
Cambridge, MA
[Hide Comment] this is a true classic. Aug 19, 2014
[Hide Comment] the rock quality on the last two pitches are as good as it gets! makes you wonder what the rock was like 50+ years ago(perhaps not as polished). not too keen on the "northwest passage" pitch or its pin, but it gets you where you want to be. Sep 16, 2014
Peter Lewis
Bridgton, ME
[Hide Comment] A new full-length route on the slabs? Seriously? No doubt...awesome job! Love that hunk of stone. Jan 19, 2015
chris magness
[Hide Comment] There is a loose block toward the top of the Wheat Thin Arete that has been of concern to me; a small horizontal at it's base is a point of protection for many climbers. The block is stable. Not to the point, however, where it can provide reliable gear, and not wanting to create an unsightly (read: nasty!) scar by trundling said block, or change the route character by creating a small ledge, I chose the lesser of evils and added a bolt (on lead).

While I don't feel particularly good about this effort, it seemed like the best solution to preserve the rock.

I have adjusted the route description. Jun 15, 2015
Travis Dustin
Hollis, NH
[Hide Comment] Very fun route. All the pitches had fun interesting climbing. It rained hard on us at the top of pitch 4 but we sat it out and continued up the wet rock to the top. We did the 5.6 variation for pitch 6. It was a great pitch to keep the climbing at a consistent grade. Cant name a favorite pitch. The nortwest passage was my least favorite but the start of it was still fun. Jul 21, 2015
[Hide Comment] Loved this route all the way up. Sep 16, 2015
John Gassel
Somerville, MA
[Hide Comment] Great route Chris! Finally got on it this weekend.

Added a few photos to show where the route goes on P3 and P4. If you'd rather leave some adventure and just have the hand drawn topo (awesome btw), just let me know and I'll pull 'em down. Sep 19, 2016
chris magness
[Hide Comment] Glad you had fun dude!

The photos are helpful, people tend to get lost in those areas. Sep 22, 2016
Dhane Knakkergaard
Intervale, NH
[Hide Comment] This has gotta be one of my favorite climbs around the slabs. Good for a quick cruise, or introducing someone to slab if all the other routes are clogged. Wheat Thin Arete is just wonderful. May 9, 2017
Jay Morse
Hooksett, New Hampshire
[Hide Comment] Very fun and beautiful route.

Although this is definitely well-protected by Whitehorse standards, I can imagine climbers that have never done Whitehorse before stumbling on this route that might get the idea that as a 5.6 without a safety rating that this would make for the perfect beginner multipitch lead.

Just to be clear, you will often be facing 20-40' slab falls while climbing 5.5-5.6, and you will be facing very serious runouts (100-200' falls) while climbing the more moderate 5.2-5.4 sections of this climb. Totally fine if you're confident - I was perfectly happy with the protection. But you need to bring a cool head to Whitehorse, this route included. It would be R-rated on any other cliff in New Hampshire without any question. May 22, 2017
Hobo Greg
My Van
[Hide Comment] Done this a few times, most memorably as two parties of two at night, rip roaring good time that was! Aug 31, 2017
Milford, MA
[Hide Comment] The tree belay at the top of the "low beer light" pitch is seeing quite a bit of erosion as more and more people climb this route. Instead of using the tree, I recommended going right to a horizontal crack below a small bulge (down and right of the tree) near the start of the 5.10 variation. I'm realizing as i write this that stopping early to build a belay would make the Platinum Slab pitch long enough that a 70m rope might not reach. (I usually do this route with a 60m so im only guessing that a 70m wont reach). Simul-climbing the Low Beer Light and Platinum Slab would be a way to avoid this all together but obviously Simuling is not an option for everyone. Anyone have any ideas on how to minimize climbers' impact on that tree? (Ideally not bolting it). It's position on the slab makes it very hard to not add to the erosion when getting over to it. Oct 6, 2017
M Sprague
New England
[Hide Comment] Ideally, it gets a bolted anchor that gets people away from the tree. Popular routes should not be using trees this day and age. Sometimes you even have to bolt an anchor if there is gear available if human nature is going to cause people to still use the tree instead, which will just end up killing it and causing erosion. Oct 6, 2017
Northeast Alpine Start
Conway, New Hampshire
[Hide Comment] Guided this yesterday and I still am confused about P5... basically: 5) “The Northwest Passage” 5.5, 60’. Step up and left off the belay into a giant, steep flake. Trend up back right above the flake passing a small tree to a larger tree below a bulge with a horizontal.

I explored the almost overhanging flake directly above and left of the tree belay at the end of P4 and it did not appear to be 5.5 in nature... I went slightly up and "right" from the belay tree, squeezed between a tree and some awesome flakes, then stepped back left above what I think is the "small tree" before finishing up to the obvious large tree below the horizontal... that felt 5.5 or easier... did I miss some key features on that move more directly up and left of the belay tree that keep it at 5.5?

Also, I agree from the "Platinum" slab belay tree it would be ideal if this line could actually stay right out on all the quality rock rather than dipping back into a forested island and new erosion... I plan on looking closer at the options up there next time I'm not trying to beat incoming rain... my TR from the day is here:… Oct 8, 2017
[Hide Comment] Very nice stone and fun climbing, but falling isn’t really an option here... the run outs are way NH. Good line. Jun 22, 2018
Robert Hall
North Conway, NH
  5.6 PG13
[Hide Comment] Re' P5 - The "tat" Chris mentions in the route description is now (Oct 2018) gone and nice, new webbing festoons the big pine tree, the 1st tree you get to on the ledge, and directly below a "big bulging flake". I've gone up this bulging flake and agree with "NE Alpine Start" it's a bit awkward; BUT if you move up the ledge 8-10 ft to two other trees and climb up there (a squeeze behind the larger of the two trees) it's really easy...maybe only 5.3 -5.4 or so and easily protectable. Oct 21, 2018
Ron Birk
Boston, MA
[Hide Comment] There are two options for the start of pitch 5. The leftmost (and "official" way) is a little awkward and 5.5. Then the right variation is more straight forward and at 5.3 maybe.

May 24, 2019
Etha Williams
Somerville, MA
[Hide Comment] What a stellar route! P4 (the open book) may have been my favorite, but there's fun climbing on every pitch.

For some reason I can only access the hand-drawn topo on the app, and not via the website. Was it taken down? My partner and I found it pretty useful--and we had a lot of fun discussing what the "some gear" note for P6 meant ;) Jul 4, 2019
Ron Birk
Boston, MA
[Hide Comment] Did the topo get deleted? I cannot see the image any more. I loved it! Jul 6, 2019
chris magness
[Hide Comment] Seems to be an act of God. Perhaps an Admin could lend some insight, where'd the topo go?? Jul 6, 2019