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November 27, 2003
The plants have been really confused over the
past couple of weeks, and for that matter so have I. Is the glass
half full, or half empty? Well, I for one think it's more than
half full, maybe even as much as 3/4 full. For me, grabbing these
last few week's sunny offerings has been a priority. Hopefully
it's been the same for you. It certainly has made for something
to be thankful for. And imagine how thankful you'd feel if you
were a farmer, scratching out a living off the land 150 years ago!
Of course the one thing that isn't happening
right now is the ice. One of our correspondents says that there
is still ice high up
on Mt. Webster. As desperate as we all are, I certainly can't recommend
that kind of a thrash of a hike-in to do a couple of pitches of
grade 3 ice. <sigh> As my wife pointed out this morning,
when I was groussing about the lack of ice, once we hit a stretch
of seasonal temps, it will be back like gangbusters. There is a
ton of water in the system and the ground is still cool, so ice
should form very quickly. I predict that within 3-4 days of temps
in the low 30's and cold nights we'll have good ice once again.
And if we get some snow soon after we'll have a superb ice season.
Now that will be something to really be thankful for!
Last winter I reviewed the Trango Madame Hook ice axe. It
was my first experiment with leashless climbing and in an interesting
way I found it liberating. While it was one thing to lead a climb
with it, it was quite another to use it on my normal solo up Standard
Route. But once I actually relaxed, I found that there was really
nothing all that different between leashed and leashless. Some
people have asked if I wasn't worried about dropping a tool. Interestingly
enough I've never dropped a tool in all the years I've been ice
climbing. If I was worried about it, I'd carry a spare tool just
in case. But I'm not, so I don't. Even with leashes, when I'm placing
an ice screw I set my tool, unclip the leash and deal with the
pro. Lately I've been hooking the tool over my shoulder and that
feels just as good to me.
Several times last season I used my Cobra and
Viper without the leashes. With sticky rubber on their shafts and
on the Viper, they weren't bad, and in fact the Viper was just
fine. I think that a lot of fear that people have about leashless
climbing comes from the days of straight-shaft wooden tools and
wool gloves. Heck, with that kind of setup nobody but a carpenter,
bricklayer or steel worker could hold on without a leash!
negative thing I can see about going completely leashless is the
alpine thing. There just is no way that you can deal with
climbing in snow, powder or neve, with one of these babies. The
handle on the end of shaft keeps you from being able to plunge
the shaft in to the snow. It means that those of us who do mountaineering
as well as vertical ice need to have 2 sets of tools. I suppose
that's one of the main reasons that these tools haven't taken the
general ice climbing world by storm. Investing $1,000 in ice axes
isn't something that most people I know can manage.
I'm planning on doing a roundup on the available leashless tools.
I have a set of the new BD Fusions, a Madame Hook and I've
been promised a set of Charlet Moser Ergo's to test. Keep an eye
out for me on the ice. I'm the guy carrying a veritable mix & match
collection of axes!
At the October Access Fund board meeting, the following awards
were given to volunteers who have devoted countless hours to preserving
climbing access in
America. Whether digging trails, attending meetings or rallying support, they
were helping to keep climbing areas open and conserve the climbing environment
during the past year. The Access Fund extends its highest praise to the following
Sharp End Award - For leadership and activism in preserving climbing access and
the climbing environment.
Individual: - Jeff Sargeant (Connecticut) for his support of stewardship and
his service on the board of the Ragged Mountain Foundation.
Petzl (Utah) for supporting outreach and educational programs during the "Roc
Trip" events, backing the Castleton Tower initiative land acquisition,
working on Utah Wilderness issues, and its financial support of the Access
REI (Washington) for financial, volunteer and management support of Adopt-A-Crag
and the Access Fund Grassroots Program. Also for assisting national policy initiatives
such as lobbying work in Washington D.C., climbing management plan development
and for co-signing a letter to the U.S. Forest Service regarding fixed anchors.
Land Manager of the Year: Given to a professional resource manager who has demonstrated
a progressive approach to public land management and has been committed to preserving
climbing opportunities. - Gary Hartley, (West Virginia) Chief Ranger at the New
River Gorge for his outreach and cooperative negotiations in creating a balanced
Climbing Management Plan.
Regional Coordinator of the Year: For leadership and activism in preserving climbing
access and the climbing environment and specifically for volunteer work as an
Access Fund representative - Frank Harvey (Tennessee).
The Bebie Leadership Award: Presented to America's outstanding activists for
the cause of preserving climbing access and the climbing environment. - Kurt
Smith and Elaina Arenz Smith ("The Road").
Menocal Lifetime Achievement Award: Periodically given to individuals who have
demonstrated remarkable commitment to the cause of preserving climbing access
and the climbing environment and contributed substantially to the Access Fund
over many years.
Paul Minault (California) for his 14+ years of service to the climbing community
as a great leader and strong advocate for climbers.
Marion Hutchison (Okalahoma) for his 12+ years of service to the climbing community
as a great leader and strong advocate for climbers.
Board Service Award: To exiting members of the Access Fund Board of Directors
for their distinguished service:
Andy Fitz (1997-2003)
Chris McNamara (2000-2003)
Shannon Stuart-Smith (2000-2003).
Michael Kennedy Award: For outstanding leadership and commitment to our mission
as Access Fund Board Member - Andy Fitz (Washington) for work on the State of
Washington Recreation Use Statue, stewardship at Frenchman's Coulee and Little
Si and his commitment of time, expertise and leadership.
Well there really hasn't been any ice for the past 7-10 days, so
there isn't anything to report yet. Of course we'll post it as
soon as we see or hear of anything, so stay tuned. Remember,
you can always get to the latest updated Ice Conditions Report on-line by simply
clicking on the Instant Ice animation on the home page at NEClimbs.com.
As usual, we're always looking for digital pictures that illustrate the current
state of the climbs. So, if you're out there and get a good shot, especially
if it's on a Wednesday or Thursday, please email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We appreciate your help since unfortunately we can't be everywhere.
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
|This is a group of people I used to go walking with. (long pause) That's me on the left. (even longer pause) On the right is the woman I married, Audrey. (very long pause, speaker looks at shoes) Which just goes to show that danger lurks where you least expect it.|
|Don Whillans commenting on a B&W slide showing a group of smiling hikers|