December 15, 2016
This winter we will be checking in with a few guides to hear their personal insights on why they love winter climbing here in New Hampshire. Our hope is to share beautiful imagery and inspiring tales to help feed your psyche this winter. Our main goal being, to feed the winter psyche! To kick off this new series we have Peter Doucette, guest guide and Outdoor Research Athlete. We asked him a pretty simple question, “what’s your favorite ice climbing in New Hampshire?” Sounds simple right? Well, read this awesome writeup on why it is a little more complicated than that for Peter.
Omega: A Favorite Among Many – Peter Doucette
First, let me say, choosing, “a favorite” doesn’t fit well with my personality. I need variety in my climbing and New Hampshire winters are perfect for that. There are a few qualities I’m always searching for though, and Omega, on Cannon, is a standout route that combines them all. Unique movement, position, exposure, and the headspace to match, are qualities that make the climb as a whole, and climbing on the route, phenomenal. Timing is paramount in catching this beauty in shape.
Omega’s temperamental nature exemplifies the underlying mania and magic of each new season, and each trip to Cannon. It also underscores the importance of just showing up to see what you might find. Over time, I’ve been surprised both for better and for worse. Nothing brings in obscure, beautiful ice lines like a little rain in the winter, followed by plummeting mercury. When that forecast materializes, I’m always ready to get out of bed early to go see what’s happening.
I’ve climbed Omega to the top 5 times, and bailed from the half way ledge once. I’ve walked to its base at least 15 other times and opted for different adventures. But, you see, I had to check. Looking from the car, (if its just nearly formed), usually isn’t conclusive. I’ve climbed it from the ground, on ice, twice— That’s truly special. Other times I’ve mixed climbed as far as necessary to meet its yellow reaches. I appreciate that Omega is no “give me.”
The route combines the mental and physical aspects of ice climbing, well. The first pitch is always thin and run out, even when it is in condition. The second pitch is steep, but more importantly, it’s technical and airy. The climbing movement on pitch two is superb and delivers you to the top of the cliff. Topping out on Cannon in the winter is always awesome.
Next time conditions are favorable, go have a look. If you do find yourself in the right place at the right time, count yourself lucky. If you find, like me, you hike as much as you climb on Cannon… Know you’re not alone:-).