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Guiding the Baldfaces

Dana and Doug. Ready to rock and roll.

While the Baldfaces lack the stature and notoriety of Mt Washington and the Presidentials, the South and North peaks, 3570-feet and 3610-feet, respectively — located in Evan’s Notch just east of the Wild River Wilderness and tantalizingly close to Maine — are nonetheless stunning. And stunning sounded about right as it concerned the wants and needs of Dana and Doug from New Jersey.

Dana approached us wanting a half day mountaineering skills course followed by a guided tour someplace not Mt Washington but where some steep, rugged terrain might exist. A little alpine — some mountaineering-lite — though something different. Knowing places is what we are all about at Redline Guiding, so we decided the Baldfaces might work. (Spoiler alert: they totally did.) Mike suggested they proceed clockwise on the loop trail so as to encounter the steepest sections on their ascent, then divert to the gorgeous Bicknell Ridge Trail for a more mellow, safer descent, avoiding some tricky downclimbs on that part of the loop. Redline Guide Jeffrey Shutak agreed fully with the plan and brought them up leading them on this tour.

The skills afternoon took place at a new location in North Conway, something we were trying out. It worked well, in part, but we ended up visiting a regular haunt for the self-arrest training module. Our guests relished this training. Dana took to the fancy footwork quickly, appreciative of the nuances of the craft, and Doug showed exemplary arrest form. Upon completion we awarded them with certificates for their hard work.

Scenes from the training: Doug, Dana, self arrest practice, on scene with Jeffrey.

The following day started early with an hour drive just to the trailhead. It was going to be a big day; around ten miles. Fortunately Dana and Doug had hiking experience and were quite fit. These attributes we considered when pairing them with these two “52 With A View” peaks and this particular hike. Dana, especially, was incredibly enthusiastic. That also helps. The enthusiasm lasted the entire day, in fact. Jeffrey commented that the superlatives were many and exclaimed often. Dana stated that Redline Guiding was like a custom boutique in that we had completely focused on them and the experience they wanted them to have. This is exectly the sort of reaction we love. Jeffrey said he was also invigorated by this, their enthusiasm uplifting. It made for a rather enjoyable tour. We love this reaction, too, because we really want our guides to love what they do for us and our guests.

Back to talk of the hike, the party encountered varied snow and ice on broken trails requiring light traction on flatter sections and full mountaineering crampons on the rest. They brought snowshoes anticipating a soft monorail might be present but ground conditions stayed firm so they ended up being training weight. They also used their ice axes (a lot as is evident in the photos). Speaking of which, please enjoy these photos of their hike.

Making upward progress on a steep, slide-worthy slope.

A mix of rock, ice, and snow. Challenging.

Note the emerging views.

Summit shenanigans.

Let the superlatives fly.

The contrived ice axe photo? Surely not. Photo by Dana.

Jeffrey out there slaving away for Redline Guiding. Photo by Dana.

This is an amazing area.

Please repeat the last caption. It applies to this photo, too.

Dana at the crossing toward day’s end. Tired and happy.

Congratulations on your successful summits, Dana and Doug. Great leadership, Jeffrey.

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