Route Guide - iPhone / Android - Partners - Forum - Photos - Deals - What's New - School of Rock
Login with Facebook
 ADVANCED
Cannon Ice Climbs
Select Route:
Black Dike 
Fafnir 
Omega 

Black Dike 

YDS: 5.6 French: 4c Ewbanks: 14 UIAA: V ZA: 12 British: S 4b WI4-5 M3

   
Type:  Mixed, Ice, 3 pitches, 400', Grade IV
Consensus:  YDS: 5.6 French: 4c Ewbanks: 14 UIAA: V ZA: 12 British: S 4b WI4-5 M3 [details]
FA: John Bouchard, solo 12/18/71
Season: Winter
Page Views: 14,915
Submitted By: Jay Knower on Nov 25, 2006

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (40)
Your todo list:
Your stars:
Your rating: -none- [change]
Your ticklist: [add new tick]
Your opinion of this PAGE:    [0 people like this page.]
Traverse into crux at the beginning of the second ...

Description 

The Black Dike is perhaps New England's most famous ice climb. For many a winter climber, an ascent of the Dike is a highlight of a season. From the parking lot, locate the obvious, sinuous line of ice up the deep cleft to the right of the Whitney Gilman Ridge. The Black Dike climbs this ice for three long pitches to the top of the cliff.

The approach is the same as for the WG Ridge, though expect it to take much longer if the talus is snow covered. At the WG Ridge, ascend the snowfield to the base of the ice. Belay here. Take your packs with you because the descent does not go back to the base.

Pitch one: This pitch is long, low angled, and sometimes lacking in protection. Climb thin ice, interspersed with snow patches, to a belay off of screws to the right of the famous (or infamous?) rock traverse.

Pitch two: The crux pitch. From the belay, climb up, place a screw, and head directly across the rock traverse. This traverse would be trivial without snow covering the ledges. However, the insecure dry tooling and snow-covered ledges make this traverse exciting. Sometimes, it's possible to bypass the traverse when ice forms straight down the runnel. This would require a lower belay station after pitch one, however.

After the traverse, head up on the ice runnel, past a fixed pin. Though it looks steep and ominous from the ground, this section offers pretty friendly climbing as it is possible to climb the ice, stem off the rock, chimney, or do a combination of the three. Belay off screws at a comfortable stance.

Pitch three: Climb up much thicker ice to the top of the cliff. This pitch tends to be much more moderate than the previous two.

At the top of the cliff, head up and left into the woods along a well traveled trail. This is the same descent for the WG Ridge.


Protection 

Short screws, nuts, midsized cams, and maybe some pins.



Photos of Black Dike Slideshow Add Photo
Black Dike. Incredible, wind-swept ice fomations on the last pitch (WI2-3). 01 March '09.
Black Dike. Incredible, wind-swept ice fomations o...
black dike/fafnir area
BETA PHOTO: black dike/fafnir area
Mid February, 2012
Mid February, 2012
Pitch 2. Mixed traverse towards the ice fall.
Pitch 2. Mixed traverse towards the ice fall.
Overexcited
Overexcited
the Black Dike in great condition with a party at the first belay.
the Black Dike in great condition with a party at ...
Finish of the steep ice on the second pitch.
Finish of the steep ice on the second pitch.
someone on the dike
someone on the dike
Pat emerging from the end of Pitch 2.
Pat emerging from the end of Pitch 2.
Black Dike in marginal conditions, March, 2005.
Black Dike in marginal conditions, March, 2005.
Looking down while on the second pitch.
Looking down while on the second pitch.
Black Dike, March, 2005. The lower part of the ice section was "out". Pat McCarthy and I climbed the lower section to the right and traversed left into the ice fall. We found some pitons on the first pitch.
BETA PHOTO: Black Dike, March, 2005. The lower part of the ice...
Ryan Barber at belay on top of second pitch.
Ryan Barber at belay on top of second pitch.
Saturday, February 11, 2012
Saturday, February 11, 2012
Bradley White ready for pitch 3.
Bradley White ready for pitch 3.
Comments on Black Dike Add Comment
Show which comments
Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Mar 27, 2013
By Zach Allen
Jan 5, 2007

Maybe this route should be resubmitted by someone interested in actually describing the route.

By lee hansche
Administrator
From: goffstown, nh
Jan 22, 2007

I second that...I would love to hear what the route is like.... I have written much more about 50ft sport routes... please do tell....

By Rusty Reno
Feb 9, 2007

Although rates WI 5, the Black Dike is a moderate ice climb over interesting and technically varied terrain. The first pitch is an easy, snowy slope that does not protect well. The second pitch involves a traverse up and left into the main tongue of ice that forms the upper section of the climb. In fat years, the ice comes down and the traverse is trivial. In thin condition, the traverse is more challenging. Once the ice is gained, the route moves up to ever thicker and broader flows. The third and final pitch ascends a couple of short vertical tiers.

By Jay Knower
Administrator
From: Campton, NH
Feb 11, 2007

Zach and Lee, I resubmitted the route description. I climbed it the other day. Freezing cold. Bitter wind. Brittle ice. It was awesome.

By lee hansche
Administrator
From: goffstown, nh
Feb 11, 2007

Thanks Jay, much better.... Now I gotta get up there sometime....

By Artem Lebedev
From: Santa Monica, CA
Mar 2, 2009
rating: 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b WI3-4 M1-2 PG13

In fat conditions, like we encountered, it's barely WI4. There were two really vertical sections, both about 15 feet long (one right after rock traverse, and one on the second pitch). The rest of the climb is not more then 80 degrees - scary looking, but you put pro from good stances. It might be more demanding in thinner conditions, but what we saw was not “sustained WI4-5”.

By Kris Gorny
Administrator
Mar 4, 2009
rating: 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b WI4-5 M3

Agree with Artem. We did it the day after you guys and the first pitch felt like WI2, second WI4-, third WI3. Very short rock traverse. Climbing Dike can really change depending on conditions. Four years ago it was much thinner and half of the second pitch was climbing on rock.

By bradley white
From: Plymouth
Aug 26, 2009

I think you should understand why the WI5 rating was regarded. I placed a few of the pins on it in 83 on a really thin to no ice day with the temperature nearly at zero. The dike was rated WI5 because matured ice climbers didn't want the inexperienced WI3-4 climbers risking their lives on this climb. The weather can change in a 1/2 an hour from nice to severe. I do understand your rating I have climbed this route in three different forms but to let it go as a causal climb is a joke. A rattle snake is a casual snake until you come to close to it. What you might hear rattling on Cannon is your bones when things begin to go wrong. It might be casual on as particular day but in reality doing any climb on Cannon in the winter isn't casual and never will be. Casual approach to climbing on Cannon is asking for it to change your mind and quite possibly frostbite your toes and hands. my opinion or from the peanut gallery a peanut for you elephants to chew on.

By Jay Knower
Administrator
From: Campton, NH
Aug 27, 2009

bradley white wrote:
A rattle snake is a casual snake until you come to close to it.


This is a such a good way to describe the Black Dike.

By john strand
From: southern colo
Oct 28, 2009

A good description and by the way-Bouchard almost died on it sooooo...............

By Jeffrey Dunn
Administrator
Jan 25, 2012

Thanks for the historical perspective Bradley.

By Ryan Barber
From: Rumney, NH
Feb 13, 2012

Finally got on this classic last weekend. We were the first ones on route and arrived at the parking lot at 6:00 am (about a half an hour before the arrival from some Bostonian blokes). Perfect conditions. The chute on the second pitch I found very nice, and the final pitch beautiful. I hope to do it again soon.

By bradley white
From: Plymouth
Dec 1, 2012

I would if I could (arthritis). I didn't intend on coming off as being scared of the dike. Pinning the second pitch was unethical to everyone in North Conway then. I kept it private. I would repeat the process today. I played it safe to my rules. That is how I related my fear that day to falling onto the rope. I didn't have much fear of falling. Pinning was just my discipline to security. I got to control my fall. They were hard to put in. Climbing without a rope I am expert but I have not done the dike.

By bradley white
From: Plymouth
Dec 14, 2012

I was the little train that could today as I belayed Ryan Barber up it. The pins I placed, remarkably are okay. I put them in 28 years ago including the pins at third pitch belay. The third pitch was the crux today up a twelve foot chandelier. I fell off of the top of it seconding. Don't know why my left foot peeled off. Possibly weak ice because of previous dinner plating. No injury and I actually like it. It was my first fall up high and my second fall so far and the other fall I was seconding starting ice climbing, in 1981-2 winter.
now I am prepared for falling on the lead. I don't let my ailments get me down or keep me down. Whoever you are, you can do more than you think you can if your willing too do it. Yeah everywhere I hurt some now. So what? Go for it!

By jim.dangle
Mar 27, 2013

Cool vid.