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December 11, 2003
So I keep wondering... is this just another tease,
or what? The ice starts coming in and then it gets blown away and
we go back to rock climbing for a week or so. Then it gets cold
again and we get a serious load of snow. (When I say serious I
mean multiple feet of snow folks!) Now the current weather is for
rain and warmish today. I just gotta feel as if there is somebody
up there playing tricks on us. <grin>
To answer my own question, no I don't think
it's a tease. Just to be clear, in fact I think that this is
going to be a great ice season. Yes it's started out a bit slow,
but ice is happening now. I went to Frankenstein Wednesday morning
for my mid-week look-see and workout. There were no tracks going
up to Arethusla Falls so I asked Bill King if he knew anything
and he said that no one had been up there since before the big
snow. Apparently no one has been into the Amphitheater as there
are no tracks on either side. Not surprising as the ice is still
forming in there. I slogged on down to Standard and there was
a party from Massachusetts with the leader in the cave and the
second getting ready to start up. I suited up quickly and tagged
the second on his left side. When he went into the cave, I kept
on going. The ice kept going back and forth between plastic and
brittle. At the small ledge before the main upper ledge, there
was a giant opening in the ice with water gushing underneath.
I gingerly traversed around it to the right & went up and right through some really wet sections.
I had a look at Penguin and Dropline and then headed on up. It
was hollow again in the middle bulges so I moved all the way to
the left & up the final slab. There was a couple of huge daggers
in the middle and some fragmented and partially formed curtains
on the left. I guess it wasn't as good as it looked! Still it was
a great outing.
I was using a pair of the new Fusions that
BD gave me to test. I had played with them last Thursday and
not really enjoyed working with them. After a couple of mornings
at the North End playing around they felt a lot better. You don't
actually "swing" these
tools. You more stab and pull down with them. It takes a while
to get it happening, but once you do they definitely work. I'll
be looking at the Petzl Ergos, Trango Madame Hook and some new
tools from a small French Canadian company over the next few weeks.
Believe me, it is a lot of fun to play with these tools and well
worth the effort to learn how to take advantage of what they have
When I went over to the North End on Monday to
play around I ran into Dave Lottman on his way out. He mentioned
that he saw a bear up in the woods above the Practice Slab. After
I topped out on Thresher I was looking up in the woods and saw
a motion behind a tree and there he/she was! Big, brown and slow.
I moved around to get a bit of a view and took this picture.
It was pretty surprising to see a bear awake at this time of year
but I figure it's because we had a warm early winter. Fortunately
the Riley-dog wasn't interested in messing with him! <grin>
Right down the street, the ice at the North End of Cathedral is
not bad at all - at least through yesterday afternoon! The pillars
are forming up nicely and Thresher is fine. It looks as if Repentance
may go, tho I think Remission isn't ready yet. Check out the
pictures of Diagonal and the ice coming down off the Mordor.
If this stuff hangs in it will be truly amazing. I've been keeping
my eyes on Black Pudding, but it's not touching down yet. There
doesn't seem to be enough ice in the Texaco area to warrant hiking
in there yet, but it could happen any day now.
Frankenstein is still a mixed bag. Some climbs in the Amphitheater
look OK from the trestle, but most aren't in yet. Regardless, based
on the lack of tracks no one has tramped in there to do any climbing,
so I guess it doesn't matter. Someone tried Fang on Tuesday, but
when it started falling down around them, they backed off. If we
get some more cold weather tho there's a good chance it and possibly
Bragg-Pheasant will be happening. Some of the Trestle climbs are
OK and the Trestle slab is thin at the bottom, but certainly doable.
I didn't personally check on Walk in the Forest and Lost In The
Forest, but I hear that they are getting close. Waterfall has some
bare spots and the top is very thin. Standard Left looks as if
it will go and Standard itself isn't too bad. Be careful of a large
hole in the upper section. The upper part of Penguin is in and
been done, and there is a good pillar forming around the right
side of it that looks like it will go. I think that the Hanging
gardens are in reasonable shape. Doug Madera did something there
a couple of days ago. There is a huge pillar just left of Scratching
Post that I've never seen as big. Dracula is in good shape and
getting done. The lower left side is good, and the upper right
is fine. Dropline is in pretty good shape and Welcome To The machine
is forming as well and I think that it will go for someone who
feels good scratching their way up the first 40 feet!
I rode up into the Notch and it looked as if Willey's is OK, but
a bit on the snowbound side. Cinema is very thin, Great Madness
isn't fully formed and the numbered gullies look thin as well.
The upper part of Hitchcock and the East Face Slabs look pretty
good. I would imagine that Lower Hitchcock would be a bit of a
thrash. Elephant Head has been getting done, but looks thin to
According to Mark Givens, as of Tuesday Omega was in poor shape.
The Dike was thin as was Fafnir. Our correspondent David Powers
says that Lake Willoughby is in good condition with many climbs
in already. Apparently there is also good climbing to be had in
All of this Report MAY be moot if we get the rain event and warm
temps that have been predicted. Of course the current predictions
are for cold temps fairly quickly thereafter. Based on that I think
that we could be in for some superb ice. I'd plan on getting your
tail up here for the weekend. It's my guess that everything will
be fat and sassy by Saturday morning!
Here are a couple of pictures from yesterday:
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
|Just a reminder — a guidebook is no substitute for skill, experience, judgement and lots of tension.|