Mean Streak and Omega: Two Routes, Six People

I am still getting my head around this new era we live in where someone can get out climbing, come home and.. bam! we all have pictures and a report on conditions. It is so well suited for winter climbing. An intrepid friend and reporter for the Conway Daily Sun, Eric Eisele, got out to Cannon last weekend, he posted some pictures on Facebook, made a phone call or two and next thing you know half my friends are independently arriving at the Cannon parking parking lot, before sunrise, on a Tuesday morning. What a treat!

The kind of winter climbing I get excited about tends to be slow and cold, so the more good friends around the better. I often choose to climb in a team of three despite the difficulties. You always end up following a pitch right behind  your partner, dodging missiles, or, if your seconding first, you’re nervous because you don’t want to brain your wife’s-best-friend’s-husband. Somehow that is all manageable, and forgettable, though. The things I often remember clearly about a good day of climbing tend to involve brief flashes of climbing and a lot of hanging around at belays laughing with a friend. The truth of it is our cliffs are pretty small and winter climbing is really about 70% standing around shivering – so why not plan for what you are really doing and spend that time strapped into a belay catching up with someone, who, after many other similar afternoons, should be one of your best friends?

Here are a couple of shots from some Cannon three-way action yesterday.

The Catskill's ringer, Ryan Stefiuk, leading a second pitch to a lean and mean early season Omega, with Elliot Gaddy and Micheal Wejchert. These guys aren't afraid of a little hecklin'! (Prozac is trying to come in; just to the right of Omega.)


"Hey, there are some loose flakes, watch out.." Freddy Wilkinson and Matt McCormick folowing a little variaiton to the top of the first pitch of Mean Streak.


Freddy going straight through the puckerbush.

And check out this timelapse of the start of Mean Streak by Freddy Wilkinson:

The Mean Streak from Freddie Wilkinson on Vimeo.

The Richey Project

The Richey Project from Bayard Russell on Vimeo.

Mark Richey is one of the country’s most accomplished Himalayan alpinists, a business owner who grew a basement wood shop into a hugely successful architectural woodworking company and an all around pleasure to spend a day cragging with. Ray Rice, him and I skied out to Western Maine’s Shell Pond in mid-March for a good day of heckling on some steep, dry spring rock.

To the Top!

Kevin Mahoney’s blog is up and running again with a post about a memorable couple of days during a winter season I look back fondly on, 2001-2002. There was nothing to climb anywhere but Cannon, I had just gotten dumped, moved to the MWV and my good friend Josh Hurst and I had been climbing up there all season without seeing another person – until we met Kevin and Ben Gilmore one morning, before sunrise, in the parking lot.

I remember those two trying to get up to this out-of-this-world looking smear of ice on the “Big Wall” section of the cliff, and not quite getting there. They blew our minds with the speed they were climbing, the runnouts and their audacity; if they had gotten to it they would have had to try and climb it! My approach was different, I just looked away and wandered off to a turf filled corner with a good Lost Arrow crack in the back.

At some point in the afternoon Josh and I were scratching up Sams Swan Song’s crusty first pitch when those two came running, and I mean running, by. Turns out they were calling it quits with the “Big Wall Smear” and headed south to the Omega amphitheater, but they stopped for a few minutes anyway to see what we were up to. Seeing the scrappy mixed pitch we had picked for ourselves they advised us we should go to Alaska – so we did (we figured these guys knew). A year later Josh and I landed on the Kahiltna Glacier, set up camp just like we saw in a Climbing magazine “Tech Tip”, and I layed down for my first night, ever, of snow camping. I didn’t manage to climb much during my first four weeks of snow camping, but eventually got up Mt. Hunter’s West Ridge with a just graduated Freddie Wilkinson and our great friend, and total ringer, Dana “Maddog” Drummond.

Back in the predawn Cannon parking lot, the next day, Kevin and Ben told us how they had tried this awesome new route over by Omega, but had run out of time – it must have been 1 pm when they started climbing – and they were on their way back up to try it again. They did the FA of the still unrepeated Prozac that day. I have no recollection of what Josh and I climbed, I just remember him saying at some point when Kevin and Ben were out of earshot, “Those boys can dance…”.

Still can to – check out this video Freddie W put together. That time lapse is Kevin Mahoney doing the first two pitches of Endangered Species in one, long go!

Surf’s Up! from Freddie Wilkinson on Vimeo.

The ice swell was ON at Poko-Moonshine cliff this season, the winter of 2010- 2011. My friends Matt Horner, Matt McCormick, and Bayard Russell pioneered an amazing new mixed line just right of the Jeff Lowe test-piece, Gorillas in the Mist. Only one pitch remained to finish Endangered Species to the top of the cliff… and Kevin Mahoney was psyched…