Had the morning & early afternoon free so I took a drive up to Crawford Notch. I was planning on doing Shoestring, but there were 3 cars there and as I drove by someone walked out of the woods. I decided to pass on that. As I drove by Frankenstein Standard looked great, but there were 2 parties there. Nobody was on Willies, but I couldn't tell how thick it was. When I got to Willard there was a party on Gully #1 and nobody on Cinema, but Cinema looked thin. There was someone finishing Lower Hitchcock, but no one else visible so I figured that was the charm!
As I walked down the tracks I saw old footprints going up toward the slab that's right below The Cleft. Since that was my ultimate destination I headed up. The slab was nice climbing and dumped me out right at the base of The Cleft. It looked pretty good, as did Read Between The Lines. Just as I started up the Cleft Mark Synnott came up with a client. We chatted a bit and I went on up. He waited a bit and followed me, getting up just as I finished the step. The ice was really great, pretty much hero ice all the way up.
Someone had beat out the path to the main trail and that was nice. I popped on my MicroSpikes and zipped down the trail and back to the car quickly. 2 1/2 hours car to car for the first time out this season, not too bad.
On the way home I checked out Frankenstein and the stuff right of the Amphitheater looks generally good. Dropline is building as is Welcome To The Machine. The latter is especially cool since it hasn't come in for 2 years!
IMO for now ice season is IN!!!! Not everything is climbable, but enough is that it's well worth getting out there.