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October 9, 2003

Hi Folks,

Saturday night's historic slideshow by 6 climbers who put up many of the classic routes in the area, followed by an energetic discussion on the future of the existing climbs in the Mount Washington Valley, got people stirred up. Obviously inspired by the meeting, one of the more "purist" of the young climbers took it upon himself to chop the bolts on the traverse on Thin Air and the anchors atop the pedestal on the 3rd pitch. My oh my, what hath we wrought?

On a blustery and rainy night in October, over 150 climbers and interested parties from all over New England came out. For those of you who were there, and people came from as far away as Connecticut, you certainly were treated to a evening of wonderful entertainment and engaging discussion. On top of that, a significant majority stayed around after the entertainment was over to participate in a community discussion. That's a real tribute to people's interest and desire to be involved in this area.

Joe Lentini (VP of the local Mountain Rescue Service) was the MC setting the tone for the evening and introducing the presenters. Kurt Winkler did an excellent job describing how we got to the position of deciding to have the meeting in the first place, accurately describing the angst the local community went through in meeting after meeting all summer, trying to get a handle on how best to preserve our resources. He also presented the one-sentence mantra we all were finally able to agree on:
" It is the consensus of this group that an established routes’ original character and integrity be maintained."

While seemingly bland and innocuous, it means different things to different people. Believe me when I say that getting to this most basic consensus was not a trivial process!
The presentations were historic, but how else could it be with Joe Cote, Steve Arsenault, Henry Barber, Ed Webster, Jim Surette and Tim Kemple, Jr. all bringing their great love of climbing and of the Mount Washington Valley experience. This wasn't simply a matter of great performances, but rather one of getting a greater respect for the history and for the people who came before us. It's one thing to read the story of a climb in Ed Webster's guide, and believe me I have read his books as if they were stories, it's quite another to actually hear Joe Cote talk about a time when there were only 9 routes on Cathedral Ledge. Or, how he and a series of partners went up week after week to put in The Book of Solemnity in 1971. Joe, Ed, Steve, Henry, Jimmy and Tim all brought their love of climbing and respect for the rock that we all enjoy. It was an inspiring series, and one that is not likely to be repeated. Here are a few pictures of the participants:

a little pre-show conversation with Joe Lentini, Steve Larson, Steve Arsenault, Ed Webster, and Alain Comeau
Kurt Winkler's introduction
Joe Cote
Steve Arsenault
Henry Barber
Ed Webster
Jim Surette
Tim Kemple
Rob Adair (Mr. Moderator)
Ed Webster & Henry Barber
the group shot

Following the slides, Rob Adair moderated a discussion on the future of existing routes in the Mount Washington Valley. In my opinion it was a fairly reasonable, tho occasionally one-sided, discussion. I am confident that it was difficult for anyone with an opinion differing from the majority to stand up in front of their peers and possibly take the heat for their position. Henry Barber pushed a conservative and somewhat purist viewpoint, which interestingly enough was reinforced by a number of younger climbers. Moderate voices were also heard, generally advocating restraint. By a voice vote, the majority apparently adopted the committee's consensus statement from the summer. However, it was clear that night, as was the case in the summer, many read that statement differently.

Everyone that I spoke to that night and the next day, felt that the meeting served to air the opinions of the local community. While it is probably impossible to obtain a broader consensus on anything, at least we all got together and conversed. That is something that was well worth the time and effort to put this together.

The morning following the meeting, one of the young local climbers decided to implement what they thought was the will of the majority, going over and chopping the bolts on the traverse on Thin Air and the anchors at the top of the pedestal on the 3rd pitch. If you want to get into the issues and discussion surrounding that action, I suggest that you go to the Rock Climbing section in the Forum at The person who did it posted a message regarding his actions and his rationalization, and you can read it for yourselves. On Monday Brad White and I went over and climbed the traverse just to see how it felt. Frankly I didn't think that there was much of a problem on the traverse, and as you can well imagine, the crack ate up gear. In fact it was probably safer for the second. Here is a picture of Brad following the pitch.

We both felt the only problem was that the wet spot is trickier to step across when you go lower than it would be if your feet were in the crack. Due to time constraints, we didn't climb the entire route, and thus didn't check out the missing belay on the pedestal. That said, I am very concerned with removing the belay for a variety of reasons, all of which I have mentioned in the Forum. The biggest fear I have with this action is that it could possibly incite another "bolt war" in the community. Hopefully that won't take place, because if it does, it is really the rock that pays the price!

BE AWARE - if you climb Thin Air, there are no anchors atop the 3rd pitch, and therefore no way to get off from that location without leaving gear! In addition, directly rapping the route from the last pitch is no longer possible.

Lots of people were involved in making the meeting happen. The time put in by all of the climbers who went to bi-weekly meeting all summer to hash and rehash these issues is greatly appreciated. Peg Immel created the poster and helped make sure it got out where it would be seen. Kurt Winkler, Steve Larson, Chris Noonan, Jim Surrete and I met as a committee several times and discussed how the meeting would be structured and the issues to be discussed. Joe Lentini did a great job as MC and Rob Adair once again acted as a great moderator. Many others helped in a variety of ways, giving their time, energy and ideas in an effort to make it happen. Thank you all...

Goals Outside Of Climbing:
Yes Virginia, there is life outside of climbing... It's easy to get so involved in all the hot issues that are going on in the area's climbing community that you forget that there is life outside of climbing. For me, I need to do things other than climb, just to keep my life in balance. The bike has provided that for me over the last several years, and of course I have my goals on the bike, just as I have them in climbing. Wednesday morning I managed to tick one of those off. I hooked up with friends Jim and Michelle for a ride over the Kancamagus Highway from the Covered Bridge Campground, to Lincoln. A 28+ mile ride, it's a very long uphill to the top of the notch, and an absolutely amazing downhill into town. Interestingly enough most of the road on that side of the Kanc has been repaved, making for a beautiful spin down into town. In spite of my old & slow ways, we managed it in 2 hours and 4 minutes. Thanks to Jim for sticking with me.

Mobile Version Of NEClimbs:
Up on one of the Mount Washington Valley's finest crags and want to know what that climb you're looking at is? Or maybe you're on your way up from Boston and want to check out the Ice Report for your upcoming weekend plans. Or more likely, you're at work just want to daydream about your next adventure. Well if you have a smart phone handy, you can get to NEClimbs from anywhere you have cell service. While it doesn't offer every single feature of the site and it's not an "app", in mobile form, it does do a whole lot and is very useful. Here is the live link to the mobile version of NEClimbs:

Check it out and if you have issues on your specific phone, please feel free to let me know.

NEClimbs & White Mountain Report On Facebook:
Join us and LIKE us on Facebook. I'll try and post interesting pix every Thursday and the latest Ice Report in the season, tho certainly not the whole Report. Here's where you can check it out:

Remember - climb hard, ride the steep stuff, stay safe and above all BE NICE,

Al Hospers
The White Mountain Report
North Conway, New Hampshire

Layback /n./ what a climber looks forward to at the end of a day.
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