My Favorite Pitches of 2018 (So Far)

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Ive been thinking a lot recently about my favorite pitches that I’ve lead in 2018 (so far). There were a bunch of candidates and it was a fun process to whittle down the list. Here’s my top 5, with a few honorable mentions for good measure.

Honorable Mentions: While a bunch of climbs were in consideration, most were easy to knock out. The several that follow took a bit longer.

Rona’s Roof (5.9) at Longstack Precipice, which has a tricky move over a roof, was one contender until I remembered all the ticks I pulled off of me that day. So too were The Saigons, Bombardment, and Turner Flake, except for the fact that I happened to be following when I climbed them. A couple Rumney multi-pitch sport routes–especially Tipping Point—were in the mix too, but just didn’t make the final cut.

White Knight at Quincy Quarries and White Face at Rattlesnake Rocks are annual top 5 contenders; I probably led these local classics 20+ times each this year. And if they went on another 1,000 feet, they both would have made it.

The hardest, and final, cut was The Arete, a fun single pitch 5.8 at Echo Crag. A rope-stretcher, there’s a crux right off the ground, then another 3/4 of the way up. Great climbing that’s mostly well protected. I’m looking forward to climbing it again, hopefully before winter sets in up north.

On to the top 5, in reverse order, with location and rating info plus the month I climbed it.

5. Short Order Pitch 2, Whitehorse (5.9), August 2018. Although the whole route is climbable as a single pitch with a 70m rope, it’s typically done as two pitches. And while the first pitch is pretty dirty and essentially a one-move wonder, the second is fantastic climbing on great holds…once you get past a slabbier-than-you’d-expect crux move that’s a bit above the bolt. Once through the heady sequence, it’s a romp up a flake to a tree anchor at the top.

4. Red Sea Pedestrian, Rumney (5.10b), August 2018. Smack in between two long-standing favorites on the Parking Lot Wall, I’d been eyeing this route for a few years between burns on Dead Sea Equestrian and Squeeze My Lemon. But between finding it dry and feeling confident enough to send comfortably, it took awhile to decide to jump on it. It’s too bad I waited so long. It’s one of the best routes on the Wall, with great climbing movement and a tricky, fun crux halfway up.

3. Inferno Pitch 3, South Buttress of Whitehorse (5.8), September 2018. As my climbing partners that day know, I was really not psyched to lead this. The sun was beating down, it was super humid, and my shoes felt like they were melting off my feet on the preceding pitch of the aptly named Hotter Than Hell. I was so not psyched that tried every excuse in the playbook to get out of it—pointing out the group on the route above us and suggesting bailing for parking lot beers and/or swimming in the river would be way more fun—but nobody bit. Then I tried to delay the inevitable, suggesting that the ledge was a great place to eat lunch. But eventually, I ran out of food and had lead out. Turns out, I loved the pitch that the late John Strand touted on mountainproject.com as the “best 5.8” in New Hampshire. I’d only add one proviso—don’t climb it on a hot day!

2. Direct Pitch 2, Mt. Webster Slabs, September 2018. Somewhere on this pitch I found a flow-state that lasted for the next several pitches of cruiser climbing. I always enjoy climbing on the Lost in the Sun Slab on Mt. Webster, but this is the most fun climbing I’ve done all year. Easy movement, bone-dry rock (a rarity for the route), and good protection made it a blast. To top it all off, we had a surprise birthday celebration for our friend Nick at the top. He loved it.

1. The Fairy Tale Traverse on the Northeast Ridge of the Pinnacle (5.5), August 2018. Hands down my favorite pitch of climbing this year. Maybe even ever. The location is awesome and the exposure and more-comfortable-than-it-looks movement make this pitch a must do. Put it on your “to-do” list for next season.

So there’s my list for 2018 so far. If you have a favorite climb we should be checking out before the year is out, tell us in the comments.

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