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December 4, 2003
Man, some mornings are harder to get up before
dawn than others. Hearing the wind howl, and the knowledge that
it's bitter cold outside, I really hated to crawl out from beneath
my down blanket at quarter of 6, but I knew it would be better
if I got up before the alarm actually went off and I woke the wife
up too. I think that winter is really and truly here now.
I left from Pinkham at 7:15 and was very surprised
that there were no tracks in front of me. I'm not used to being
the first one up
on the hill! I've hiked up twice before this season, and still
not climbed up there. The first was very early and there was no
snow yet and no chance of there being ice. this was before Alden
and friend did Pinacle. Everything was all pure waterfalls. The
second time was just a hike with friends and the conditions were
the same. this time I had hopes of actually swinging tools so I
actually packed axes and crampons.
It was cold in the Notch and
the ravines and summit were totally obscured by blowing snow. The
summit weather report was saying
60+ mph winds and -13 temps.It got significantly colder and windier
the higher I went. Certainly not surprising, but not encouraging
for a solo outing. With no one to talk with I just put in my ear-buds
(headphones) and cranked some tunes on my iPod. A mix of Earth
Wind and Fire, Tower Of Power and Third Eye Blind kept my pace
up through the fresh snow. It was nice to finally hike on snow
for a change, instead of the normally rocky trail. The only drag
was getting sore toes from accidentally kicking rocks hidden under
the fresh powder.
I got to the Hermit Lake hut sometime right around
8:30/quarter to 9 and I ducked into the cabin & chatted with
the hut keeper for a few minutes. He told me that he hadn't seen
into the ravine
in almost 3 days! THat wasn't all that encouraging, but since I
really wanted a couple of pictures, I decided to go ahead & see
how far I could get. I put on my jacket and headed up the trail.
By now it was really windy now. My guess is 30-40 gusts were coming
every 3-4 minutes with consistent 20+ the rest of the time. I managed
to get up alongside the cascade and still couldn't see anything.
I hung out for about 10 minutes hoping that it would die down & clear
for a minute so I could get off a shot. Finally I got tired of
being that cold so I turned around & went back down to the
Just as I got to the toilets the wind died and
it cleared for all of 15-20 seconds. Of course there was no time
to get the
out & powered up so there is no picture. From what I could
see in that brief period, there is definitely ice on Diagonal and
to the left and right. it also looked like there was ice above
that on the headwall. It did look as if there was water running
in the center right of the headwall.
I was disappointed, but bagging
it felt like the right decision. I had planned on going across
to Huntington but decided that visibility
wasn't going to be any better there, so I called it a morning.
On the hike down I saw a set of tracks going up into Huntington.
I also ran into ranger/climber Brian Johnson. He said that he had
been in Huntington on Tuesday and that there was definitely ice
up there to be had. There is still not enough snow to pack in the
bowl, so apparently it is still somewhat of a thrash though.
a ride up to Frankenstein to have a look-see at those climbs. It
was obvious that there has been a ton of ice formation over
the past several days. There was even ice forming on Fang! I saw
someone rapping out of the cave on Standard. Of course now my camera
battery has died, so I didn't get any shots of there either. But
then that's a perfect excuse for having to go climbing this morning!
And of course I got a call from my old friend Jay Conway who's
finally back in town after a long road trip. we made plans to meet
at the Frankenstein lot at 8 AM.
I met Jay and his friend Eric Wednesday
morning and we did Standard Route. It was wet and cold, but super
fun. Man does it feel good
to swing the axes. <grin> I have a set of the new BD Fusion
ice tools to play with and I led the first 2 pitches with them.
They definitely swing differently and will take some getting used
to, but they are nice. I can't wait to try them on the rock. I'm
going to do a full review of the Fusion and a roundup of leashless
tools over the next couple of weeks. Iused the Trango Madame Hook
tool last winter and really liked it. Once you get used to it,
going leashless isn't all that big a deal.
Harvard High Cabin Closed:
Currently the Harvard Cabin at Huntington Ravine is closed. It
won't be open again until they find a caretaker. If you, or anyone
you know, are interested in managing the HMC cabin for the winter,
please email Jeremy Hutton at email@example.com
Of course you've noticed the house at the top of the road at
Frankenstein. Just in case you didn't know who it belonged
to, that's Bill King's
house. If you look carefully under his deck on the right side
you will see a nice shiny yellow rescue litter as well. In
event that you have a serious problem while climbing in the area,
this is the place to go. Besides the litter, he also has a phone
and is happy to let you use it to call for help, since in the
majority of cases your cell phone won't work up there! If you
see him in
his yard, be sure to say hi. He's a really nice guy.
one other request... There is a nice toilet in the bottom parking
lot. Stop there on the way up and use it. Please don't
use the woods by the top parking area as your toilet. It's
kind of like if someone took a dump on your front lawn. Yuck! Thanks...
I got back from Frankenstein at 1:30 & wanted to get this out,
so pictures won't be up until in the morning. Sorry, but here's
the skinny... I climbed Standard Route. It's wet but IN, be careful
on the route when the upper tier is in the sun. We had 2 large
icefalls while we were on the route and the second one was quite
large! The Amphitheater is coming, but not there yet. The only
thing that looked doable was Hobbit. There was a party toproping
Dropline in the afternoon. The left side of Dracula looked as if
it would go and the upper section of The Penguin is in good shape.
Welcome to the Machine and Last Exit are well on their way to being
doable and there is ice down in the Hanging Garden. Up in Crawford
Notch, Willey's looks as if it will be OK to climb, Cinema Gully
was melting out by the afternoon and the climbs on the left look
I hear from a reliable source that the Dike and
other climbs on Canon are back in. There is ice in Tucks (my view
from Wednesday) and I spoke to someone this morning who was in
Huntington yesterday (Wednesday) and they said that Pinnacle was
great. It's clear that there is stuff to climb all over the place.
If we just stay cold and get some snow this could easily be a banner
ice year. I predict that it's going to be a good weekend. Now just
get out there & have some fun. <grin>
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 how they die, I thought. They pass out or freeze without caring. They die as spectators, believing it's all happening to someone else. I'd rather be fully alive and awake when I die, I want to be terrified. The last place I want to snuff it is on a slope no steeper than a beginner's ski hill.|