Climbing Through the Seasons

Ted Teegarden
Ted Teegarden, Director of Outdoor Education, writes about climbing at WMS throughout the North Country’s varied seasons.
by Ted Teegarden, Director of Outdoor Education

Thumbing through the latest issue of Rock and Ice, I read the title “Dark Shadows & White Ghosts”. I couldn’t help but dive in; the usual reader might have shivered at the title, but this was our back yard – comfortable, familiar, home. It reminded me of why I moved to the White Mountains and of why I love teaching at The White Mountain School.

For The White Mountain School, climbing is more than physical exercise, although it makes us fit. It is more than a social activity, although trust and teamwork flourish on the cliffs. It is also more than a way to challenge ourselves. Climbing is a lifelong pursuit where climbers can learn about themselves, challenge themselves both mentally and physically and commit themselves fully to the natural world. Ultimately, it is a way of life, where each change of the season offers us a new opportunity to follow our passion.

Here in New Hampshire, above the Notch, we climb with the seasons. In the fall, we bask in the afternoon sun on our warm local granite crags like Cannon Cliff and Echo Crag. These two climbing areas in Franconia Notch see crowds of visitors each year. Cannon, the biggest sheer cliff in the Northeast at 1000 ft tall, keeps watch over the Notch. We make weekly pilgrimages, like so many other New England climbers, to Rumney for its world class sport climbing. With winter comes some of the best ice climbing in the United States. We stay warm chasing the best of New Hampshire ice, from classic alpine routes like Pinnacle Gully on Mount Washington and the “training grounds” of Frankenstein in Crawford Notch to Omega (First ascent – in 1976 by John Bouchard and WMS alumnus Rainsford Rouner ‘74) and The Black Dike  on Cannon Cliff (Feature Story in the March 2013 issue of Rock And Ice highlighting a photo of former WMS Director of Outdoor Education, Jaime Pollitte and a nod to climbing legend, Rainsford Rouner ‘74).

After the spring rains wash the cliffs clean, we head back out to our local favorites like Artists Bluff or to Cathedral and the Whitehorse ledges in North Conway, NH. After graduation in May our students leave, but our Summer Climbing Camp participants gather on campus and climb every day for three weeks on the beautiful New Hampshire crags we consider homes away from home. And it is not unusual for us to run into WMS alumnae/i and former faculty there as well as they, too, are drawn back home to some of the best four season climbing in the U.S.

Learn more about the WMS Outdoor Education Program.

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