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Shear Elegance 

Shear Elegance 

WI4+ M1-2

   
Type:  Mixed, Ice, Alpine, 2 pitches, 220', Grade II
Original: WI4+ M1-2 [details]
FA: Brad White (1985)
Season: Winter
Page Views: 715
Submitted By: Ryan Barber on Jan 31, 2012

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Ryan Barber climbing through the crux of Shear Ele...

Description 

After driving west over the Kanc from North Conway early this season, I was struck by a formation on Mount Huntington which by sight alone I knew was over 200 feet. Having climbed on the slabs in the summer, I was very excited about the route and had it on my mind for a few months.

Late January, Mike C. Robinson and myself were going to make an early morning push for the Black Dike on Cannon cliff. However, we were about 5 minutes late (arriving at the parking lot just before 7:00am), and another party from Mass was already gearing up for the approach. Recalling the route up Huntington, I made the call to go for some adventure climbing and push the approach through the deep snow and pine brush.

Not being able to locate Chuck Woodman's summer trail to the mountain, we made a classic deep snow bushwhack breaking trail through snow 1 to 3 feet deep surrounded by dense pine trees. Though explicit language may have been used more than a few times during the approach, we kept reassuring ourselves that the reward would be worth the labor and slugged through for just over an hour.

The push eventually led directly to the base of the Central Column we were aiming for. The conditions were that of early spring (above freezing). And the ice was soft. The first 40 feet of the climb contain the technical crux, and with the moist conditions, the right hand side was peeling off requiring some dry pointing to move up through the crux of the column and onto the face. The route follows an 80+ degree face for another 20 feet or so and then up right to a slushy chute of alpine ice for another 35 feet (no protection). Careful stepping was required through the chute as the alpine ice was corky, collapsing at some places, and overall less stable than the water ice. At the top of the chute, the route opens up to a 25 foot wide wave of grade 2 water ice for another 70+ feet up to the trees.

PLEASE NOTE: a 70 meter rope was used, and it ran it out to the end!!! If you use anything less, you will be required to build a screw anchor above the chute. The area is south facing, and the top layers can get baked. If an anchor is required, be safe and break away any rotten ice to get to the solid stuff underneath.



I rated the route 4+ based on the ease of tool placements in the soft ice from my first climb. Two days later, I walked the approach a second time with Bradley White to recollect some equipment I had left on top the first day. With wind chills up to -10 that day, the ice was significantly more brittle, and the grade was noticeably more difficult. Overall, the route offers great alpine adventure with a variety of different styles of rock and ice.

Location 

See Topo

Look for the collumn that drops down close to the ground above a right facing corner and a short mixed scramble.

Protection 

6-10 screws
8 alpine draws (Screamers could be helpful)

Slings or Cord for tree anchors.

Small rock gear may be helpful at the beginning.

The chute is very run out (40+feet), and confidence in alpine technique mountaineering technique is important.


Photos of Shear Elegance Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Intro crux that gives access to the upper 150 feet...
Intro crux that gives access to the upper 150 feet...
Rock Climbing Photo: Topo for Shear Elegance
BETA PHOTO: Topo for Shear Elegance

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