NEClimbs - information for New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont rock and ice climbers
Current conditions in North Conway, NH at 9:29a on 07/01/22 - Temperature: 67.9 °F - Wind speed: 0.0 mph - Wind chill: 67.9 °F - Barometric pressure: 29.881 in - 3 Hour Barometer Trend: Falling Slowly - Humidity: 31 %
BugCON 4: almost too intense for climbing, DEET required
4 out of a possible 5
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November 4, 2015

Hi Folks,

This past Tuesday was my 68th birthday. Sometimes I find it hard to believe that I’m actually that old, but sometimes I feel every day of it. My buddy Phil, who’s 6 months younger, says that we have 25 year old brains trapped in 60+ year old bodies. I think that’s about right. [wry grin] I know that’s true when I push myself too much and feel all the aches and pains of a 68 year old. That said, at the risk of quoting a TV commercial that’s paraphrasing Newton’s first law; “A body in motion, tends to stay in motion…”. And I do my best to keep moving as much as possible.

Joe and Judy Perez and I plus some other friends like to find fun places to climb, other than the same old same old. We’ve spent several days this summer playing around in Berlin at Mt Forist. I was first introduced to Mt Forist when Brad White started talking about the routs he had been working on out there. Then a couple of summers ago Paul Cormier took me up there and gave me the grand tour, climbing a series of routes that took us from somewhere near the middle, all the way to the top right. I was impressed by the quality of the rock and ease of access and wanted to get back there, but it took a year before I could manage it. I went a couple of times last fall and then 4 more times this summer, with a variety of partners. Between all of those visits I’ve climbed all but one or two of the available routes. It’s a bit confusing to describe because surprisingly none of the routes apparently are named. Still, since most are in the 5.5 to 5.8 range, it’s not a problem. While tehre isn’t an official topi of the cliff, Brad has something that will get by if you feel a need for one and I will try to get something together later this fall.

A few weeks ago Joe, Judy and I were up there poking around for a new line. We walked down along the cliff and near the right end, about 100’ left of the low angle toe on the far right side of the cliff I spotted a fairly clean steep blank slab. While the start looked difficult, there seemed to be some interesting features starting at about 30’ and we thought it might go. So Joe and I walked around right to the easy slab and traversed up and left until we got to a small bushy ledge just a few feet right of the direct line. We had the drill with us, so I traversed to a stance right over the climb and put in an anchor that we could use to toprope and clean the line. As we rapped off we could see a few places for trad protection here and there on the upper 2/3 of the route. The start was covered with that tiny white moss/lichen that you often see on granite cliffs. We all took a try at the start, but it took quite a bit of wire-brushing to get things clean enough so we could get up in one push. At first we all were trending toward a line that took a slight right angle, but after a couple of tries I found a couple of very small crimpers that allowed me to use slightly easier line that went mostly straight up. We all managed to get that line and we marked where we thought the bolts should go. It was getting late, so we decided to come back in a couple of days and drill the bolts.

2 days later we headed back. This time the cliff was even drier than before and a reddish wet streak up higher was completely dry. I soloed the easy slab, trailing the rope and only using it for a belay when I had to step off the bushy ledge to the anchor. I brought Judy up and we rapped down, checking things out. We all tr’ed it a couple of times to check out bolt placements and gear. Then I carried the drill up, climbing a much easier line over left, drilled all the holes and put in the upper studs. It was obvious we weren’t going to have time to lead it that day, so I didn’t put in the studs on the lower section - just in case anyone spotted it. I was going to be away at the Gunks the next week, so we made plans to get together the following week.

Since it rained on Sunday, Monday didn’t seem like a good day to climb up there so we decided Tuesday was the day. Temps looked like we were gong to have an Indian Summer day on Tuesday, so we headed up in the morning. It was bright and sunny in North Conway, but as we got to the top of Pinkham things looked pretty gray and it got windy, making us feel that this might not happen. We stopped by the White Mountain Cafe in Gorham to see if my friend Matty Bowman was interested in joining us, but he was working on a new deck for the cafe and couldn’t. Oh well… It was still cloudy, but there were some signs of breaks here & there in the south, so we were hopeful and by the time we got to the route there was sun and a fair amount of blue sky to be seen. Unfortunately there was also a lot of seepage to be seen on and around our route. We could even see drips out of one of the overlaps and Joe said he could see that the anchor was in the wet! [sigh] After all the efforts to get there I wanted to give it a shot anyway, so I had Judy belay me up the easy slab. When I got near the bushy ledge I could see water where I had to make the step-across. I had spotted a bolt anchor on the easy slab about 30’ to my right, so I traversed back there and threaded my rope through the anchor as a bit of protection and padded to our anchor. So far so good. I pulled the rope through the other anchor, set ours up and rapped down. I was very happy to find that the line of our route was totally dry, with the exception of the very last move to the anchor, and I actually found one dry foothold that we could use to stand up and make the clip. I took a run on the route right away while I had it in my head what to do, marking the gear placements with chalk. I was able to nail it the first time so I came down and Joe took a couple of passes. As he came down from the top on his last run he added the hangers and put in the studs and hangers and we were good to go! Woo WOO!

You have to start the climb up on a little leave covered rise and there was wetness under the leaves. This was not a climb you can do with wet shoes, so we had a small piece of carpet to stand on where we could change from approach to climbing shoes. It was a bit slippery so I clipped a sling on a small tree on the right just in case I came off on the first move or while I was standing on the carpet. I popped a Cliff Power Blok and stood upon the first move. As I have a pretty long wing-span I can clip the first bolt from the second move. There is a small crimper for my left hand and as I moved up the lower part of it pealed away and I slipped back down to the ground. SHEESH! I picked at it for a minute, cleaned it off to make sure it was not going to peal away any more and stepped up again. This time it was all good and I moved up to just below the second bolt. Not being on a TR it was a lot more committing than I had realized, but one more small move and I made the second clip. Two more moves and I was able to reach the ledge and make the mantle to stand up. WHEW… A couple of moves to the next bolt and a few more took me to the first cam placement. That was nice. The next moves took me to the small left facing corner where I popped in my second cam, stepped right over a wet streak and padded up on great rock to the last bolt. 20’ of easy climbing took me to my last piece, the step up on the one dry foot and I was at the anchor. WEE!!!! What a great birthday present it was.

I was lowered off and pulled all the gear on the way down for Joe to do it. He floated it and we all were very happy. Judy didn’t want to lead it, but she took a run and brought down the gear. We talked about the grade for a bit and really don’t know what to call it. We all feel that it’s at least 5.9, but not sure if it’s more. If anyone has some time we’d appreciate a second opinion. Judy suggested calling it Birthday Boy, and I agree. We all hope that you like it as much as we do.

Birthday Boy: 5.9?

Directions: Mt Forist is the large cliff that is clearly visible behind Berlin. Park below the white house at the top of Madigan Street. Please do not block any of the driveways. Follow the trail that starts on the left side of the white house up to the cliff, and then continue all the way to the right side of the cliff. Look for a steep clean white slab/face about 100’ from the very low angle slab. There is a tree with 4 trunks at the base of the climb.

Description: Climb the steep slab/face on the left side of 2 bolts to a small ledge/stance. Continue up and slightly right on good rock past another bolt staying just left of an overlap (medium cam). Climb just right of a small left facing corner (small cam) to another bolt and continue to the 2-bolt anchor at the top. 60 meters

Gear: 3 medium/small cams & draws, while you can do it with a single 60 meter rope, a 7o allows the belayer to stand back by the 4 trunk tree.

Descent: rappel from 2 bolt anchor.

Here are some pictures of the climbing.


Temps have been fluctuating a lot lately, and while it seems like winter just won’t come, believe me it will. There is some chance of light snow later in the week and I’ll bet dollars to doughnuts there will be ice on Mt Washington and probably the Dike again very soon.

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Regular firearm deer season is from November 11-December 6. If you’re poking around in the woods hiking or biking, wearing Hunter Orange would be a good idea. I was in the woods in Alton and there were hunters in the vicinity, so be aware!. Here is a link to the full listing of dates for New Hampshire and Maine:

The riding has been fantastic lately. All of the trails are in good shape right now. Just be aware that there are hunters out there & wear your orange vest!

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Have fun and climb safe,

Al Hospers
The White Mountain Report
North Conway, New Hampshire

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