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boymeetsrock


Oct 4, 2010, 9:02 AM
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The Ties that Bind Us - A Day Out on Whitehorse with my Dad
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[Please bear with me (or don't). I'm really psyched about this trip, so my TR has gotten pretty verbose. I going to try the installment tactic for this one.]



My Dad turned 70 last weekend.

He’s a pretty active guy, my Dad. He is constantly doing projects around the house. For a number of years he was painting an exterior wall of our house each year. Each day he could be found 25’ off the ground on 2 x 10’s spanned across ladder jacks. He’d be up there bouncing around and painting all day. I’ve got to admit that ladders scare the crap out of me, but he’d never bat an eye.

It’s not all that often that he and I get to do things together. We’ve both been busy with our own lives over the years. On a couple of occasions I’ve taken him out into the mountains with me and he has seemed to really enjoy those trips. A year or so back I took him “rock climbing” for the first time. I use quotes be cause we went to Den Rock in MA, which is a 30’ pile of junk. It just so happens to be where I was first exposed to rock climbing and rappelling.

Despite being a very tiny place, it was a good opportunity to teach him how to belay, show him the ropes a bit, and give him a very docile chance to climb. I showed him how I was setting up a TR on bolts and explained to him the basics of anchoring. He learned how to belay. Then I climbed the short wall slowly, keeping an eye on his technique. As I expected he took to the mechanics of it all just fine, asking only enough questions to clarify that we were on the same page.

The climb we did had a simple start with a challenging few moves towards the top. Because we had decided to take this day out on a whim, we did not rent climbing shoes for him. In his street sneakers he had no problem on the opening moves. When he got to the tougher section, though, it proved to be a little too thin and awkward for his sneakers. He tried it many times, but eventually conceded to have climbed the section he did.

He was not discouraged. We both had a great day out, and he learned the basics. I asked if he would like to try again sometime and he said yes. We talked for a long time about what we had done. I told him about the things I had climbed and about what other climbers do and have done. He showed a real interest in all of it. So, I asked if he would like to try and climb something big. Not hard, just big. As I kind of expected, he didn’t even stop to think about it before responding yes.

…I was tickled pink. Smile


boymeetsrock


Oct 4, 2010, 1:27 PM
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[A little more to whet your whistle]


Whitehorse Ledge, in No. Conway, NH offers just the experience I was looking to share with my Dad. For those who aren’t familiar, the wall is BIG (by East coast standards, at least). Most of the right hand side of the cliff is a slab with only a short head wall section. The easy climbs are fairly plumb line, and many of the anchors bolted. Protection is rather sparse, which I consider a benefit in this situation as my Dad wont have to fiddle with gear too much, and yet he wont be exposed to (many) swinging falls.

I had made the offer of a second climb on the day of our first outing. To my great pleasure, he would remind me of his interest in a second climb often. I kept promising that I would make it happen, but life (as it has a way of doing) would get in the way time and again. Finally this summer I decided I just had to make it happen as the timing would never be great. So a date was set. Whitehorse it would be.




I rallied from NJ to MA on Friday evening arriving at my parents after midnight. At 7 am Dad and I got in the car and started the 2+ hour drive to N. Conway. We stopped in at IME around 9:30 to rent shoes. I owe those guys a big thanks for their courtesy (and for breaking their own rules Wink) as they really helped to make the day what it was. Then we headed over to the parking lot.

We spent the rest of the morning in the lot. We did a belay refresher. I showed him how the gear worked, and explained his responsibilities. He took it all in smooth as ever. We clarified a few points here and there. I told him a little of what to expect on the wall. He seemed calm and ready to go. When we had been through it all (twice, hehe) we ate some lunch and let the lessons set in. I was already enjoying the day with my Dad, and he seemed to be too. The weather was perfect. Sunny, but not to hot, and just the right breeze.


[Up next... We climb]


boymeetsrock


Oct 5, 2010, 5:50 AM
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At the crack of noon, we got a regular alpine start. Laugh We geared up at the car and walked up to the cliff. I intended to take the Beginners Route, that being the easiest on the wall. But, there was a party of four on the first anchor who appeared to be a regular cluster f*@k. I changed plans to the Standard Route. Standard Route is 5.5 800’ approximately 8 pitches. The vast majority of the climbing is 5.3, with the difficulties coming at about 600’, through the head wall.

Dad immediately noticed the benefits of the climbing shoes as he put his feet to the featureless slab. In our discussions, I repeatedly referred to the low angle nature of the climb and the friction moves we would be making. I could see the look in his eyes as he realized what I had been trying to say. (He later admitted to having though, ‘why do we need ropes on such low angle climbing’)

I tied in. I tied him in. We set off.




The first pitch of climbing is very low angle. It’s forth class really, so I passed by the first belay ledge (which is essentially a stance belay) and continued on to the “toilet bowl.” The TB is an appropriately named feature (a pooper shaped and sized hole in the slab) which serves as the second belay for our climb. When the rope came tight about 50’ before the anchor, I told my Dad to start climbing behind me. He started up immediately. I made the toilet bowl, quickly put him on belay, and waited for him to arrive.

Once we were both tied in at the anchor I took a minute to ask him how he was doing. We’re about 200’+ up the slab now. Nothing intimidating yet. He says he’s comfortable, so we take a few minutes to relax and review, while the party ahead of us starts up the “Arch” pitch. Once the leader is well up the pitch I head off toward their anchor at the bottom of the arch. We share the bolted anchor, and bring my Dad up. He comes along smoothly taking out the two cams I’ve placed and joins me in no time.

We relax again, as the second of the party ahead moves off up the arch. Now, there had been a wedding forming at the hotel below the cliff as we started our climb. We had heard it, but it wasn’t until we were relaxing here that we consciously noticed the classical string music wafting up from below. It was very soothing and calming. That music not only added to the atmosphere of the moment, but through the day it would help to set our pace.




(This post was edited by boymeetsrock on Oct 5, 2010, 5:55 AM)
Attachments: Relaxing at P2 Belay - 2 - Web 2.jpg (105 KB)


Gmburns2000


Oct 5, 2010, 6:34 AM
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Nice TR so far Wyeth. Sounds as if it was a good day with your dad. That's definitely something I'd like to do with my dad, on Whitehorse I mean, so thanks for sharing this.

btw - your dad's wearing one of the good hats.


boymeetsrock


Oct 5, 2010, 7:30 AM
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Thanks Greg! Hope I'm not droning on too long here. (Well, I care really. Tongue I'm writing this for me and my Dad.)

I'll get to this, but it was a GREAT day! For a few reasons. Whitehorse really was a great venue for this too.














Yankees suck! Sly LOL


Gmburns2000


Oct 5, 2010, 7:37 AM
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cool, can't wait for the rest.


boymeetsrock


Oct 5, 2010, 10:57 AM
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When the coast is clear I set off up the arch. About half way up I set a gear anchor and bring my Dad up. He continues to do well. He’s climbing smoothly and removing the gear with relative ease. He joins me at the anchor. This is when I get the comment about the angle of the rock, as it is starting to pick up now. Hehe. He is still cool as ice though.



Off I go again. This pitch ends at a rap anchor. Dad comes up smoothly and I take this opportunity to outline our options for retreat. It’s probably @ 3:30 now. We’ve been taking our time but moving smoothly. We haven’t really hit the business yet, so I want to gauge how he is feeling and let him know when and where we will be committed to the climb. He is committed now. He wants the top!



I’m not sure if he just doesn’t want to repel (something he hasn’t done before)… Perhaps he doesn’t want to disappoint himself or me… I shrug those thoughts off quickly. I am pretty sure he just wants the success and accomplishment of the top!

The sun has moved over the top of the cliff now and we are in the shade. The temperature is still comfortable though, which I was concerned about. Down in the valley the nuptials are complete and the party has begun. Sting music has given way to the DJ. We are pushed forward now by classic rock and R&B.


(This post was edited by boymeetsrock on Oct 5, 2010, 10:59 AM)
Attachments: Dad Below Arch web.jpg (143 KB)
  Dad in the Arch web.jpg (148 KB)
  Party Ahead on Arch web.jpg (131 KB)


Partner cracklover


Oct 5, 2010, 11:50 AM
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enjoying the TR - keep it coming!

GO


boymeetsrock


Oct 5, 2010, 12:33 PM
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Thanks Gabe ! More tomorrow.


reg


Oct 5, 2010, 12:41 PM
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beautiful thing you are doing! i wish i had.........well never mind. more and more pics!


losbill


Oct 5, 2010, 6:09 PM
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Nice job Wyeth!! Your Dad looks like he is really enjoying himself. From the photos it looks as if you guys had super weather. Gud'on ya IME for whatever rule you broke.

Next adventure we will expose him to the wonders of the MUA and get him on more vertical terrain at the Gunks!


gblauer
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Oct 5, 2010, 6:34 PM
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Jealous...I have asked my 80 year old Dad to climb. "No Thank you" he says emphatically. He is in great shape, but, he has no interest in climbing or sky diving or anything with an "x" factor.

Nice TR


Gmburns2000


Oct 5, 2010, 7:18 PM
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I actually talked to my Dad about it tonight and he said he'd do it. he grew up on the water, so this is a change for him, but I'm happy. we're going to do one of the easy routes on whitehorse, too.


boymeetsrock


Oct 6, 2010, 7:01 AM
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Nice Greg !! That's awesome. Hope you two have a great time. Whitehorse is kinda like a sea of granite! Wink


Two things I learned from my trip:
- A slightly later start may be advantageous to avoid traffic on the wall, thus not feeling rushed by others.
- It takes a long time to get to the top, and the walk off is steep. Bring a head lamp or two.


Gmburns2000


Oct 6, 2010, 7:10 AM
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boymeetsrock wrote:
Nice Greg !! That's awesome. Hope you two have a great time. Whitehorse is kinda like a sea of granite! Wink


Two things I learned from my trip:
- A slightly later start may be advantageous to avoid traffic on the wall, thus not feeling rushed by others.
- It takes a long time to get to the top, and the walk off is steep. Bring a head lamp or two.

Yeah, I'm debating Beginner's or Standard Route. I forget which one is which, but I've done the one in the middle before and thought the hike out was OK. he'd be fine with that.

I'm thinking of doing it mid-week to avoid the crowds. but that's for next year. there's no time this year unfortunately.


boymeetsrock


Oct 6, 2010, 7:16 AM
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The next pitch brings us up into position below the head wall, and the business of the climb. We see out first vertical moves here, but climbing continues to be easy so far. Dad comes up with continued grace, moving through these vertical sections without problem. When he joins me I reaffirm that he is enjoying himself and that he wants to continue on. The next pitch will be through the headwall proper and will entail a couple of committing moves.


Dad in the lower section of the headwall


With the option to retreat at the top of this pitch I have little concern about continuing. Dad lets me know that he is not having any issues with the height or trusting the rope. We are over 400’ feet off the ground now and the exposure is starting to show despite the low angle of the rock. He says he is feeling comfortable with he in the lead… We’ll see how long that lasts. SlyBlush



Dad leaving the Belay below the head wall.


Having reassessed our position, again, I set of into the crux of the climb. I decide to move straight up at first, following a small corner which provides gear. I then traverse right onto steep slab to a bolt. After I pass the bolt I decide that those moves felt a lot more like 5.7 than 5.5. I continue up until I can place some gear, then I lower off and remove the couple of pieces. I don’t want to make my Dad climb that so, I move off to the right this time. The climbing in this direction was closer to 5.5. There is one section with a couple of balancy moves in succession. What concerned me here was that there was the pendulum potential but, this was the way through.

Above the technical crux, a traversing ramp leads to the physical crux. This consists of a vertical corner that takes four or six strong moves to get through. I was less concerned for my Dad here as the fall potential on a TR was nearly non existent. By far this was the most difficult pitch of the climb. I knew if we made it through this section we would make the top (time permitting). I made the anchor and called off belay.


This is a crappy pic of the part on Beginner's Route going through the head wall. It serves to show the undulating topography up there. (Pics are clicky for larger image.)


(This post was edited by boymeetsrock on Oct 6, 2010, 7:22 AM)
Attachments: Dad Starting Headwall web.jpg (121 KB)
  Other Party on Headwall web.jpg (117 KB)
  Dad Headwall Anchor Far web.jpg (135 KB)


boymeetsrock


Oct 6, 2010, 7:27 AM
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Gmburns2000 wrote:
boymeetsrock wrote:
Nice Greg !! That's awesome. Hope you two have a great time. Whitehorse is kinda like a sea of granite! Wink


Two things I learned from my trip:
- A slightly later start may be advantageous to avoid traffic on the wall, thus not feeling rushed by others.
- It takes a long time to get to the top, and the walk off is steep. Bring a head lamp or two.

Yeah, I'm debating Beginner's or Standard Route. I forget which one is which, but I've done the one in the middle before and thought the hike out was OK. he'd be fine with that.

I'm thinking of doing it mid-week to avoid the crowds. but that's for next year. there's no time this year unfortunately.

Beginner's follows the right hand side of the slab. Standard route is what I ended up doing with my Dad and follows the major arch up through the center of the slab.

I think Beginner's looks to be easier through the headwall, but you are out of sight and perhaps sound of your second for a short spell there.


boymeetsrock


Oct 6, 2010, 7:30 AM
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Thanks Reg !

I'm sorry if you missed your opportunity for this... Perhaps you can pay it forward instead.


boymeetsrock


Oct 6, 2010, 7:33 AM
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Bill, thanks for chiding me into posting. Wink

And a HUGE thanks to IME for sure. The day would have been very tough on me had they not accommodated. Those guys are great !

I was debating between Whitehorse and Beginner's Delight in the Traps. I'm happy the way it turned out. Perhaps we will get him to the 'Gunks one day though. Although, the MUA.... Pirate


boymeetsrock


Oct 6, 2010, 7:35 AM
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Gail, I think if I were your dad I might pass too. You climb HARD! Tongue Just Kidding.

It's not for everyone. We just have to enjoy all the moments we have for what they are. Truly special.

Thanks for reading.


Gmburns2000


Oct 6, 2010, 7:38 AM
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boymeetsrock wrote:
Gmburns2000 wrote:
boymeetsrock wrote:
Nice Greg !! That's awesome. Hope you two have a great time. Whitehorse is kinda like a sea of granite! Wink


Two things I learned from my trip:
- A slightly later start may be advantageous to avoid traffic on the wall, thus not feeling rushed by others.
- It takes a long time to get to the top, and the walk off is steep. Bring a head lamp or two.

Yeah, I'm debating Beginner's or Standard Route. I forget which one is which, but I've done the one in the middle before and thought the hike out was OK. he'd be fine with that.

I'm thinking of doing it mid-week to avoid the crowds. but that's for next year. there's no time this year unfortunately.

Beginner's follows the right hand side of the slab. Standard route is what I ended up doing with my Dad and follows the major arch up through the center of the slab.

I think Beginner's looks to be easier through the headwall, but you are out of sight and perhaps sound of your second for a short spell there.

I'd probably want to do it with a third person who he knows and trusts. there isn't enough time or interest on his part to get him into climbing. for each of us, all that matters is the experience. that's just how we operate.


Partner j_ung


Oct 6, 2010, 7:51 AM
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boymeetsrock wrote:
The first pitch of climbing is very low angle. It’s forth class really, so I passed by the first belay ledge (which is essentially a stance belay) and continued on to the “toilet bowl.” The TB is an appropriately named feature (a pooper shaped and sized hole in the slab) which serves as the second belay for our climb. When the rope came tight about 50’ before the anchor, I told my Dad to start climbing behind me. He started up immediately. I made the toilet bowl, quickly put him on belay, and waited for him to arrive.

This is a great TR on several levels. It makes me think of my first trip to the Whites, back in 1989, I think, when I and a friend climbed the same route. Your pics are especially fun for me.

Funny story... I'm in the Toilet Bowl, belaying my partner, when two guys walk -- yes, walk -- past me and wave. I felt like such a gumby doosh bag. Oh, well. Years later, I would return in winter, hike up it in the snow and sled down those very same pitches I climbed on rope before.

The other level is the dad thing. I've always been very close with my father. A couple years ago, we went sailing together with a few friends of his for two weeks in the BVI, just bouncing around from key to key on a 42' single hull. I think it was the longest single stretch of time we've ever spent together and I learned a lot about my old man as he and his oldest friend told story after story about growing up in Harlem in the 50s.

One night when we were moored in Little Harbor on Jost van Dyke, my dad and I saved the boat. (It wasn't actually all that dramatic, but I'll remember it for the rest of my life for sure.) Sometime during the night a squall came through and -- I guess we f-ed something up earlier -- we came un-moored while we were all asleep and drifted toward shore until we ran aground.

No amount of engine gunning, forward or back, could get us out. Our keel was firmly in the sand. The wind was coming in gusts, and every time it blew hard, the boat would list a bit, the keel would come up some, and we would become grounded even worse. We weren't in danger or anything, but it still sucked. We needed a plan fast, or it would be dinghy to shore and call for a very embarrassing tow come morning. I had the bright idea to wait for a strong gust to gun the engine when the boat listed and the keel came up. Dad added his idea to put everybody, except the man on the wheel, at the leeward side of the boat to weight her in favor of the wind.

It was risky. If it didn't work, we'd be stuck even worse. But, we went with it. The wind blew and we all leaned as far out as we safely could. The boat listed hard and my dad's friend gunned the engine. She budged a little, stopped, budged some more, and then, all sudden-like, we came off the sand and shot forward.

There was another tense moment trying to re-moor in the dark, but we got it first try, hoisted a couple beers and went back to bed.

Sorry to encroach on your thread, BMR, but you're doing such a great job bringing out my own memories. How can I not write it down?


reg


Oct 6, 2010, 8:32 AM
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boymeetsrock wrote:
Thanks Reg !

I'm sorry if you missed your opportunity for this... Perhaps you can pay it forward instead.

i did. introduced my daughter when she was 10 or so. did a couple trips with different boyfriends over the years. now in her mid 20's, she talks about that and other outdoor stuff we've done. good feeling.


boymeetsrock


Oct 6, 2010, 9:38 AM
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Not at all Jay. I laughed, I cried... great stories! Thanks for sharing.

I can just picture you sitting in the toilet bowl, belaying all serious like, as they walk by... Kinda like http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9U0tDU37q2M



Btw, back in '89... I was nine. Tongue How you like me now? Sly

(sorry, that's all I can ever think of when people talk about the '80's.)


boymeetsrock


Oct 6, 2010, 9:47 AM
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reg wrote:
boymeetsrock wrote:
Thanks Reg !

I'm sorry if you missed your opportunity for this... Perhaps you can pay it forward instead.

i did. introduced my daughter when she was 10 or so. did a couple trips with different boyfriends over the years. now in her mid 20's, she talks about that and other outdoor stuff we've done. good feeling.

Well see, now I jealous of you and your daughter. IMO the introduction to the outdoors is perhaps the best gift one can give a child. I hope to be able to do the same one day.

Cheers!

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