Cragging at Whitehorse Ledge, NH

October 2008 / Atlantis (5.9+, 4p) & Hotter than Hell (5.9+, 2p) to Tranquility (10b, 1p)

Whitehorse Ledge, NHWhitehorse Ledge is Cathedral Ledge smaller brother. It is mostly known for moderate and runout multipitch slab routes (up to 8 pitches long) on its northern flank (right side of picture).

The South Buttress is home to steep face climbs and a few crack lines. We climbed two lines on the South Buttress: "Atlantis", and "Hotter than Hell" linked with "Tranquility".

Atlantis (5.9+, 4p):

Atlantis starts underneath the striking slanted roof/dihedral on the left hand side of the main cliff. We end up climbing this line after an aborted trip to Cannon Mountain. That early morning, cloudy skies and a wet road halfway across the mountains on the Kancamagus convince us that Cannon will not be climbable. It obviously rained here overnight. We drive back to North Conway and go back to bed for a couple hours.

The weather improves later that morning. We decide to go check out the climbs at Whitehorse Ledge. We're thinking of linking "Hotter than Hell" with "Tranquility" or the upper pitches of "Atlantis", but end up doing "Atlantis" in its entirety.

We're the only party around when we arrive at the base. We start gearing up, unknowingly too far to the right. Before we finish getting ready, another party shows up and heads straight to the start of "Hotter than Hell"... we weren't quite sure where it was. Not willing to wait, we decide to climb "Atlantis" from the ground up. We start with an utterly forgettable approach pitch.

The second pitch of Atlantis (the first pitch up the slanted roof/dihedral) is a bit scruffy. Slim, but just adequate pro. Mostly moderate climbing to a slabby move to the corner proper, just above a wet section, and at the start of a splitter thin hands section. An old bolt with a steel wire for hanger (frayed and rusted) protects the last move to reach the crack... This really could use a decent hangerů (bring a 3/8" nut, wrench for same and SS hanger if you ever head up there). As it is, I clip the frayed cable, and do my best to thread a small nut over the very short exposed section of the boltů

Once in the dihedral, the thin crack is tricky (green and red Camalots). A mix of thin jams, underclings, and small edges for the feet lead to a long move onto better slopy footholds far right. I actually slip off on the first try when my undercling pops. I do fine on the second try. I turn the right edge of the slanted corner, and then follow unremarkable rounded corners and cracks to the treed ledge. I exit left on the ledge, but should have belayed in the cracks to stay more in line. I end up going left some distance on a ramp, then make some slippery (pine needles!), unprotected face moves to the upper ledge, then back right along the ledge to belay from trees near the base of the crux flake pitch. Huge rope drag at the end. This pitch is a rope stretcher even with a 60m rope. I have not taken the time to check the topo, as I am rushing to keep up with the party on "Hotter than Hell", who I think is also aiming for the upper portion of Atlantis. I should apparently have belayed in the cracks some distance above the dihedral and below the ramp, then done a short, direct pitch to the base of the flake.

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Climbing the long pitch underneath the slanted roof/dihedral.
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Eric starting the crux pitch (5.9+, p3), a thin flake.
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Looking back at Lucie following the pitch.
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At the belay atop the crux pitch.
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Starting pitch 4 (5.9+).

Next is the crux flake pitch (5.9+, p3). Striking thin flake with tricky (but adequate) pro. Steep and sustained. I have to hang once to relax while placing a tricky nut below a committing move onto a small ledge. Good pitch! I belay around to the right, at the base of the obvious final dihedral below the huge roof, from a fixed anchor (nuts and one high bolt).

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An enjoyable pitch underneath the huge roof with good chimneying...
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...and cool moves.
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Eric at the end of the traverse.
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Views from top of pitch 3.
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Looking back at Lucie still in the belay niche.

Last comes the traverse pitch, an enjoyable pitch underneath the huge roof with good chimneying up the corner (on rather slippery rock), then horizontally across and to the right. The pro is good and most of the pitch is 5.7 with a couple of harder moves. As I traverse right, I look at the 10b exit, a short finger crack which does not appear very protectable. I continue past it to a chain anchor just right of two small trees.

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Lucie following pitch 4.
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Washington Valley from high on Whitehorse Ledge.
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Two long raps bring us down.
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Colorful leaves cover the ground on the hike back.
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Back at the car.

We don't bother doing the dirty 5.6 pitch to the very top and instead rap from the top of pitch 4 (there is no anchor higher up). Two long raps (about 150, then 190 feet) from chain anchors bring us back to the base.

Hotter than Hell to Tranquility (5.10b, 3p):

On our second visit to Whitehorse, we climb: "Hotter than Hell" (5.9+, 2p) to "Tranquility" (5.10b, 1p). Pretty good climbing.

"Hotter than Hell" is thin and requires a mix of face and slab technique. Kind of fun. Slightly runout but nothing serious.

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Eric leading pitch 1 (5.7) of "Hotter than Hell".
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Lucie following the pitch.
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Flamboyant trees on the belay ledge.
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Pitch 2 (5.9+) is a good mix of face and slab.
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It zigzags quite a bit.

Above the treed ledge, "Tranquility", follows a steep finger crack to the left. Good fun. I take the 5.8 (ha!) exit at the endů more like 5.9+ and very slippery. Overall a good combination. We have lunch in the sun at the top. Good views. Two long raps back to the base.

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Following pitch 2.
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Views of the ski area from the top of pitch 2.
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Eric leading "Tranquility" (5.10b).
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Lucie getting to the belay.
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Views from the top of Whitehorse Ledge.

Guidebook: "Selected Climbs in The Northeast" by Peter Lewis and Dave Horowitz has a good selection of the best routes in the area. "Rock Climbing New England" by Stewart Green has info on all the routes.