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[TR] Franconia Notch, New Hampshire - The Black Dike 2/11/2008

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Trip: Franconia Notch, New Hampshire - The Black Dike


Date: 2/11/2008


Trip Report:

After spending most of the winter backcountry skiing, I headed back east in the beginning of the month to ice climb with a good friend of mine from New Hampshire. It was a great week of climbing, drinking great beer (Long Trail and Shed Mountain Ale are two of my favorites) and eating good food.


I spent time doing many of the popular routes in Willougby, Smuggler’s Notch and Franconia Notch in addition to a few I hadn’t done before. Somehow, while I lived in Vermont, I never got a chance to climb the Black Dike at Cannon, so Jordan and I headed out early on the 11th to climb it.


We were the first to arrive in the lot at 7 am. After about 90 minutes of post holing through the previous night’s snow, we arrived at the base of the climb.





The second pitch started out with about 40 feet of 5.7 rock climbing (M4) to traverse left to the ice runnel. The traverse was interesting, even to follow, and involved a combination of dry-tooling and gloved climbing on poorly protected rock. After the traverse I reached good ice and headed up an amazing flow in the corner system that the dike follows up cannon cliffs for another 100 feet to the next belay. This was one of best pitches I had climbed all week as the ice was exposed and challenging but protectable with a combination of short screws and rock pro. This pitch has been rated M5/WI5-. I would say it was more like M4/WI 4 when we climbed it.


Looking up pitch 2. The climb heads across the rock to the left.






The third pitch was more WI3+ climbing for another 150 feet or so to the top of the cliff. It was another great pitch of climbing. It took 16 and 19 cm screws in places and allowed for solid pick placements.



Heading up the start of the third pitch.




We descended via the path to the (climber’s) left. Another hour of glissading and sliding got us back to the car.


Overall, this is one of the best ice climbs I’ve done in New England. The combination of exposure, length, ice quality and scenery made for a great day of climbing. I wouldn’t recommend climbing the route if there is any one else on it above you, given the issues with icefall, but if you wake up early enough it will be all yours, and you won’t be disappointed.


We did a bunch of other climbs while I was in New England. If you are headed out east and need recommendations I can give you plenty. Willoughby was fat (and cold) as usual and Smugs was the usual blizzard conditions.






Gear Notes:

2 x 10 cm, 2 x 13 cm, 5 x 16 cm, 2 x 19 cm, Purple, green and red camalot, slings, 2 60 m 1/2 ropes.

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Ditto, I used to love going up there and go climbing. I remember fondly all of us ice junkies waiting to see who would get the Dike first for the year. I almost made it up it in Oct. but got a little sketched and retreated.


Also to as stated the ice does funnel done the route, so the other option to a rediculus a.m. start is go mid-week or go late. If you go late and parties are still on it, climb some of the other not as popular winter climbs up there and finish with the Dike.


Thanks for the TR and blast to the past.



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I lived in NH for the first 22 years of my life and never went ice climbing once. Then I moved to OR, and have tried to take up the sport after getting a taste of it on some of the volcanoes out here. Seems pretty hard to do out here unless you've got a flexible schedule, and don't mind driving hours to get the the frozen stuff. If only I had the money, desire, or intelligence to try it back when I was there! Great work and nice report arentz! :tup:

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