Katahdin

Keith texted me asking if I would be interested in climbing Katahdin in two weeks. He's taking his Alpine Guide Exam in September and needed practice short roping clients up thousands of feet of terrain. Katahdin is the obvious choice of venue in the northeast. It was difficult to find a reason not to go. 

I met Keith and his friend Brenden in Augusta, Maine, about 2.5 hours south of the park. We hopped into Keith's car and made good time on I-95, passing thick Maine pine trees on our way north. We got to Roaring Brook Campground at noon and were on the trail for our approach at 12:20; far later than most parties would consider starting such a climb. 

We cruised up to Chimney Pond, took a short break and then skirted along the pond hopping on rocks until we came to a small river drainage. After following the drainage for a minute Keith stopped short immediately in front of me. 

"There's a moose." 

"Where?"

"Right in front of us."

Indeed, one of Katahdin's permanent residents was staring intently at us from only 20 feet away. So we backed up and skirted around her on the other side of the drainage. 

Eventually the drainage opened up and we could see all of the South Basin, including our intended route up Pamola IV. 

It was early July but there were still patches of snow in the basin, including at the base of our route. It's always fun to find mini glaciers in New England during the summer. 

Pamola ridge rises through the center-left of the photo. 

Pamola ridge rises through the center-left of the photo. 

A small amount of scrambling brought us to the base of Pamola IV. Keith roped us up and we climbed a short section of 4th class and lower 5th class rock and then ran into some bushes. About 40 yards of thick Maine alpine shubbery ran straight uphill and separated us from the rest of the ridge line. 

After some vertical bushwhacking we were able to start the real climbing. Over 1000' of beautifully exposed 4th and 5th class rock in one of the most spectacular locations on the east coast. Keith kept the pitches short and we moved quickly. 

About 1/3rd of the way up the ridge we came to our crux pitch. About 40 feet or so of a dihedral split down the middle by a fist-sized crack. I would guess it was 5.6/5.7ish. There were plenty of other variations to the route that would have upped the challenge but our goal was to move quickly and efficiently. 

There are several variations you can take up Pamola IV and each has their own difficulty. We tried to keep things as mellow as possible and this was our crux pitch: the only pitch Keith took a real belay. It’s a super clean corner with a hand sized crack that goes at about 5.6ish.

There are several variations you can take up Pamola IV and each has their own difficulty. We tried to keep things as mellow as possible and this was our crux pitch: the only pitch Keith took a real belay. It’s a super clean corner with a hand sized crack that goes at about 5.6ish.

The rest of the route went smoothly. Mostly 4th class interspersed with some easy 5th class moves. All the while Keith kept the momentum up and we were able to top out Pamola with plenty of light to spare. 

We made a quick jaunt down the Helon Taylor trail back to Roaring Brook campground and decided on what the next day's mission was going to be while refueling on Good To-Go food. 

Downing some Good To-Go meals while we planned out the following day

Downing some Good To-Go meals while we planned out the following day

We had already made one trip up to the Katahdin ridgeline. Would we have the legs to make another? Keith wanted to get home to his wife and kids in New Hampshire before 5 p.m. and I was keen to not drive the 4.5 sleepy hours home in the dark. To complete our preferred objective, the Armadillo route, we needed to get on the trail no later than 4 a.m. Which meant we would get about 4-5 hours of sleep in a noisy bunkhouse before we put another 4000' of elevation gain on our legs. "Let's do it!"

The alarm on my watch went off way too early and were on the trail well before twilight. The trail to Chimney pond was familiar now, even under headlamps, and we made good time. At the pond the sun had started to peak over the mountains and we took the same route around to the drainage. Our friendly moose hadn't left and Keith wasn't thrilled to have stumbled upon her again. But all was well and we kept moving. 

I wouldn’t say Keith was “scared” of the moose we encountered near Chimney Pond both days of our climbing. But he was definitely concerned about being right next to a wild animal weighing several hundred pounds. 

I wouldn’t say Keith was “scared” of the moose we encountered near Chimney Pond both days of our climbing. But he was definitely concerned about being right next to a wild animal weighing several hundred pounds. 

After breaking out of the drainage above the pond we met our first real obstacle: 1000+ feet of broken, wet rock slab intertwined with dense alpine brush. It was brutal. Whenever we thought we found a weakness in the wall above us some new patch of slimy wet rock with no chance of protection had us traverse through the bushes. But we moved upwards. We had plenty of daylight and the thought of rappelling through that mess to bail was even less appealing than continuing up through it. 

The Armadillo climbs the prominent peak in the center of the photo.

The Armadillo climbs the prominent peak in the center of the photo.

Finally we found our way to the objective: a narrow grass ledge that traverses the base of a huge rock face that leads to a massive, broken flake that just touches the face. Keith led us up the flake to an ominous fist crack that went on for 2 pitches.

A narrow grass ledge brings you to the start of the real 5th class climbing from the vertical bushwack approach. Keith peaks around the corner to assess the upcoming terrain

A narrow grass ledge brings you to the start of the real 5th class climbing from the vertical bushwack approach. Keith peaks around the corner to assess the upcoming terrain

All of the beta said that at least one #4 camalot was needed to protect the crack. If you only bring one you can bump the piece up as you go. Keith struggled to move the #4 smoothly as he went up. They were such tight placements that they fought him every time he tried to bump it. Not ideal when you're trying to move the only piece of gear that's keeping you from a huge whipper and potentially smacking a ledge. But he moved onwards and upwards and we otherwise made quick work of the crux pitches. 

The rest of the climb moved along the ridge on a knife edge that dropped into the Katahdin abyss. Awesome exposure and easy scrambling. We topped out just south of Baxter peak into the clouds and got to watch the crowds of hikers milling around on the summit. We packed up, moved up and over Baxter peak and then descended the Cathedral trail. Traditionally an uphill route only, the Cathedral trail has some steep boulders and rock scrambling. But after what we had done the past few days it was easy. 

All smiles after we got to the top. We were left with only a short hike to the top of Baxter peak and then a long slog down the Cathedral trail to get back to Chimney Pond.

All smiles after we got to the top. We were left with only a short hike to the top of Baxter peak and then a long slog down the Cathedral trail to get back to Chimney Pond.

We had climbed Katahdin via 5th class routes twice in a span of about 26 hours. We got it all: rock, snow, moose, inquisitive hikers and tons of vertical!

 

Tucks After Dark

Sometimes you get asked to do something a little out of your comfort zone. Skiing on Mt Washington at night is way out of my comfort zone. But when Andrew Drummond asked me to shoot photos of him skiing in the bowl after dark I jumped on the idea. 

We had some equipment issues. Andrew dropped a headlamp down the headwall and still managed to find it. He then broke part of his ski binding and still managed to ski an icy run in the dark with the broken binding. He eventually took my boots and skis for his final run. 

We didn't end up capturing exactly what I had hoped for because of equipment issues but it made for a memorable night in the mountains and a great learning experience. 

Backcountry Touring on Mt Washington

Between extreme avalanche risk, illness and poor snow conditions, Andy Elliott and I have gotten skunked on quite a few backcountry ski trips this year. 

But last week made it all worth it. The snow wasn't perfect; heavy and wet down low, icy in the middle and super firm wind slab up top. But with some gorgeous blue skies and an empty ravine it made for a spectacular day in the backcountry. 

Andy and I climbed and skied Right Gully and Sluice in Tuckerman Ravine. These are some of the images I captured. 

Fatty Fest 2017-Frostbite Alert

I love shooting for Loco Cycling. They put on some of the finest cycling events I've ever been to. This year's Fatty Fest was no exception. The finely groomed trails at Waterville Valley's Nordic Center were fast and grippy. But these were definitely the coldest conditions In which I've ever had to operate a camera. 

Negative 6 degrees with a nice does of windchill on top. A wild contrast from only two weeks before when the had to be postponed because of 60+ degree weather making the trails unridable. This was the first time I've ever had a camera stick to my face from being so cold. 

But as always, happy to be out there with great people. 

 

2016 Jingle Bell Half

Had another day of seasonal (think cold) but beautiful weather at this year's Jingle Bell Half Marathon at the Atkinson Country Club. Presented by Loco Running

I've been having so much fun shooting with my Sony A7II and Zeiss Lenses. 

Kremples King of The Road Challenge 2016

Another awesome event put on by Loco Cycling. Unfortunately, Ted King was unable to ride in the event this year. Apparently, he crashed a biked. Doh! But he was a great host for the event as he has always been.

Tons of happy riders, good roads, great foliage and beer! 

2016 Raid Lamoille

It's always a treat to be able to travel up to Stowe, Vermont and photograph on an awesome course. Unfortunately, the weather didn't cooperate with bluebird skies and crisp dry roads again this year. Instead we had a lot of rain and mud. 

Raid Rockingham 2016

My second favorite event to shoot every year. Hard, gritty and local. The ride starts only a short way from my home in Newmarket and finishes at The Stone Church. I get to see a bunch of the local riders crushing it on the best gravel and tarmac in the area. 

This year gave us a nice little rain storm that started just before the first riders took off and held steady until just before I left for the day.

I made all of the wide shots with my Sony A7II. It was an experiment to see how it would perform for the type of sports photography that I often shoot. While it worked it wasn't perfect. I plan to write a review about my experience with the camera (someday). 

Vermont-Memorial Day

Vermont has grown on me in the past few years. I used to dismiss it as inferior to New Hampshire. It didn't have Cannon cliff, Cathedral, ocean, the 4,000 footers. 

While it doesn't have those things it does have exceptional mountain biking and extensive views. Everywhere you turn you're confronted with spectacular scenery. 

The mountain top landscapes in some of these photos were taken on Mount Mansfield. It was a holiday-weekend-saturday and consequently we had to squeeze our way past some crowds. But the farms and fields you see in the other photos were found in Plainfield, past the reach of the crowds, only a couple minutes from RT 2. I shot some of them in the morning while walking my dog, Mose. Not a single car passed us in the 40 minutes we were on the road. 

Try finding that kind of quiet in southern New Hampshire. 

Gunks, April 2016

I spent a couple days in the Gunks with Ian Wauchope and Adam Bidwell. They can both climb way harder than I can and graciously dragged me around the cliff. 

Fattyfest 2016

Originally meant to run at Stratham Hill Park, this year's event was postponed a week and finally done at Gunstock Nordic Center in Gilford, NH. Exceptionally groomed trails made for a fast course with some cyclocross style turnarounds and slaloms thrown in for fun. 

Hosted by LOCO Cycling and Acidotic Racing.

Jingle Bell Half Marathon

Shot a half Marathon by Loco Sports in mid-December. Almost everybody was in T-shirts! Super-fun event with a lot of happy runners and dry roads!

Vermont 2015

This year I was lucky enough to head up to Stowe, Vermont to shoot two events: Raid Lamoille and the Stowe 8 Miler. Awesome events in an amazing setting. Hot air balloons made an appearance!

Wild River

Had a fun day out at Wild River Crag in Evans Notch. Got to see some of the local crushers at their finest.

Raid Rockingham 2015!

I had a blast shooting another Raid Rockingham this year. Biggest turnout yet. Hundreds of riders enjoying the dirt roads, rail trails and amazing scenery that Rockingham county has to offer. Even a few fat bikes out there! http://lococycling.com/