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October 9, 2003
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.
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
Rob Adair (Mr. Moderator)
Ed Webster & Henry Barber
the group shot
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
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 NEClimbs.com. 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
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
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!
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
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
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.
helped in a variety of ways, giving their time, energy and ideas in an effort
to make it happen. Thank you all...
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
that you forget that there is life outside of climbing. For me, I need to
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
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
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.
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.
Join us and LIKE us on Facebook. I'll try and post some 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:
Have fun and climb safe,
The White Mountain Report
North Conway, New Hampshire
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