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House Solos Two New Hampshire Classics
Posted on: February 12, 2010
Steve House free soloing Remission (IV WI5+ 5.7, 3 pitches) Cathedral Ledge, New Hampshire. On Wednesday, House climbed Repentence (III WI5, 3 pitches) and Remission back-to-back and ropeless with Jim Surette filming video from above. [Photo] Jim Surette / www.GraniteFilms.com
Steve House made back-to-back ropeless ascents of two Cathedral Ledge ice testpieces—Repentence and Remission—on Wednesday.
An Ice Climber's Guide by Rick Wilcox describes Repentence (III WI5, 3 pitches) as "the classic hard ice line in the East" and Remission (IV WI5+ 5.7, 3 pitches) as "the most difficult route at Cathedral Ledge."
House's take on free soloing the pair? "Way inspiring."
Both routes climb chimney systems and involve thin ice with a few awkward mixed or rock moves. House had climbed Remission the day before, Repentence earlier in the week.
Remission has a reputation for being more difficult than Repentence—but not for House. At the base of his first solo, Repentence, photographer and videographer Jim Surette mentioned that there was a handcrack on the left side of the chimney's crux chockstone. House had always climbed to the right before, but when he soloed up to the chockstone, "he actually ended up on-sighting the crux of the day," Surette said. "Steve took off his gloves for the final rock moves over the chockstone. Ironically enough, this meant that the good hand jam, with gloves on, was actually kind of a rattly fist jam." House pulled through and finished the climb.
He descended, filed his picks and sipped some tea before starting up Remission. "I was thinking that the chockstone had been really scary and knew that Remission would feel easy after that," House recalled. "And I was right."
The solo ascent of Remission may be the climb's first. Wilcox called the back-to-back solos an incredible, dangerous accomplishment that he classified as "the real deal."
But House saw the climbs less as an objective and more as an introspection. "I wanted to climb them without a rope to experience these incredibly classic lines as purely as possible," he said. "But more importantly to me, I wanted to experience the internal dialogue that occurs for me when I decide upon, and then execute, a solo climb. If you want to find out what's important to you, decide to do a hard solo and see what you think about and dream about in the hours before you go."
Sources: Steve House, Jim Surette, Rick Wilcox, neice.com
House on Repentence. Higher on the climb he degloved to hand jam but instead found a cruxy "rattly fist jam," said Jim Surette, who was filming the solos. [Photo] Jim Surette / www.GraniteFilms.com