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Submitted by southernmtguide on 2004-09-09

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Lakeview It is appropriate that the name of a route that I almost drowned on is named after a water feature. It was 1979, and I was spending time in Franconia Notch with a few of my friends that later in life would be likened “Team Tough”. The name was appropriate then, as it is now.

The Smith brothers were Yankees, tough as nails, as nice as nice could be, and devoted climbers. We made frequent forays away from the day today drudgery known as high school, and headed to the hills for relief. The Gunks, Cathedral, Whitehorse, Cannon and Ragged had all felt our presence.

This day though we were going for a mid-summer romp up one of the great classics on Cannon Cliff, high above Franconia Notch. Chris and I were going to do Lakeview, and Ward and Jimmy were going to do something a bit harder off to the left.

The day was hot, New England muggy hot, and as we climbed the first few pitches and rose above the talus, the flies and mosquitoes finally left us. We were climbing very light, cotton t-shirts, Chouinard stand up shorts, and light racks. EB’s were the shoes of choice, and I think we each had a PBJ sandwich and a bottle of water for the day.

By the heat of the day, we were a couple pitches from the top. We could see the Old Man of The Mountain features looming above, holding the exit corner. Every now and then Chris and I would see Ward or Jimmy on their route, and would exchange obscenities with them.

Chris and I arrived at the beginning of the last pitch, and marveled in the view, a long way up, while hanging out on the fixed pin anchor. We felt lucky to be above the traffic on RT 93 and joked about the people in the cars below, and how ordinary their day was compared to ours.

A small lip guarded the final corner, which lead to a very smooth slab. I don’t remember whose turn it was to lead at that point, not that it mattered. As we were looking down at the valley floor, dark clouds came over the top of Cannon. Next came a buzzing, and our hair stood on edge.

Tremendous booms followed flashes of lightening, and we knew we were in deep shit. The rain started slowly, but within a few minutes was a torrential downpour. The slab above us turned into a raging waterfall, and the force of the waterfall was pushing Chris and myself out into air, hanging off of the fixed pin. We tried to move, but the force of the water would not allow us to even attempt the moves. Things were grim. We hung their like soaked rats, being pummeled by the water, and wondering how long this was going to go on.

Little did we know, Ward and Jimmy had topped out, as their last pitch was a crack, which Ward led in fine alpine style in full on conditions. After topping out, they found the top of our route, and to our surprise, managed to lower a cord down to Chris and myself.

Chris and I finished up Lakeview with the assistance of Ward and Jimmy, and we all had a pretty good laugh at the days adventure. We have all gone on to many more adventures, together and separately, but I will always remember those carefree days of summer, and almost drowning on a vertical wall.


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