NEClimbs - information for New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont rock and ice climbers
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Mount Washington Valley Climbers CooperativeThe Cranmore Mountain LodgeThe ACCESS Fund, Protect America's ClimbingFriends Of The LedgesInternational Mountain Equipment
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November 27, 2003

Hi Folks,

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!

Leashless In The Whites:
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 the pinky-rest 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!

The only 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.

This winter 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!

Access Fund Awards for 2003:
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 recipients:

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 Fund brochure series.
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 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 We appreciate your help since unfortunately we can't be everywhere.

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

The vias normales had perfect lines but new rock was the essence of climbing for us; throwing loose holds over the shoulder, feeling the exposed grains crush like sugar on footholes....
Paul Pritchard
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