Ghost Busters in New Hampshire

Cannon Cliff's "big wall" section, with the long runnel of The Ghost in the center. Photo by Mahoney Alpine Adventures

Elliot Gaddy starting up the first pitch of The Ghost on Cannon Cliff, New Hampshire. Photo by Mahoney Alpine Adventures

3/9/11 - Seizing the day after a March downpour followed by single-digit lows, Kevin Mahoney and Elliot Gaddy climbed The Ghost on Cannon Cliff in New Hampshire as a pure ice route—likely the first time this has been done, as well as the first free ascent of the route. The Ghost (IV 5.7 A3) is a seven- or eight-pitch aid climb on the left side of Cannon's "big wall" section. The route was first climbed in winter back in 1973, but it had never been climbed entirely on ice. "I have been watching it for over 10 years, and tried it once before with [Ben] Gilmore, but the ice was delaminated," Mahoney said. However, rain streaked the mile-wide, 1,000-foot-high cliff with ice runnels earlier this week, and Mahoney and Gaddy were on the spot the next day.

"We sent the whole thing to the top, 99 percent ice," Mahoney said. "We thought it was NEI 6–." The two men climbed the route in four long pitches, with Gaddy leading the first and last, and Mahoney leading the middle pitches. They climbed a hanging ice curtain to breach the large roof on the summer route's seventh pitch, and then simul-climbed a final 100-meter pitch to the summit. "It was a race against the sun, as it was flowing with water," Mahoney said. "We topped out at 12 noon, and not a minute too soon."

Date of Ascent: March 8, 2011

Sources: Kevin Mahoney, Rock Climbs in the White Mountains of New Hampshire


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