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Yes I know, it's officially been winter already,
but with the weird weather we've been having you wouldn't have
known it. When I went out for the paper this morning it was different.
There was that hard edge in the air that you don't get unless the
temperature is way below freezing, and right now it's a chilly
-2! The wind chill is fluctuating between -12 and -29 and it almost
hurts to suck the air in your lungs. It's a tangible thing, and
the crunch of the snow under your boots has a completely different
timbre. I knew someone who claimed that he could tell the temperature
within a few degrees, just from the sound of that crunch. Mornings
like this you can believe it.
Yesterday I went out with Maury McKinney (IMCS)
to check out Embargo, a gully climb in the Texaco Slab area. After
a bit of a thrash
in the woods we found our way to the start of the second pitch
of the climb, a very nice 3+ pillar. I took this one up to a large
comfortable tree ledge and Maury did P3, a thin but adequate slab
to another ledge. A short hike up through trees led us to a small
amphitheater where there was a small gully on the right and a still-forming
curtain on the left. Maury ran up the gully and then we again hiked
up and right through the trees to the final main gully. This is
left of an obscure rock climb, Sweet New Hampshire, put up by Jerry
Handren quite a few years ago. It was obvious that there had been
a ton of water flowing through that gully recently. The ice was
significantly undermined in places and there was dirt embedded
in the surface. Many rocks were also sitting on top, so although
the climbing was pretty easy, you had to really pay attention.
I knocked off one really large piece of ice that came way to close
to Maury at the base. YEOW! From the top we easily rapped from
a resident sling, retraced our steps and rapped directly back to
our packs. Here are a few pix of a great day's adventure -
what we could see through the trees on the walk out, Texaco Slab
looked thin and the Amphitheater had some ice, but not all
that much. There were no tracks into there on that day.
climbs on the Unicorn ledge above They Died Laughing, Cathedral
Ledge North End, are getting done. Brad White and I did
the large pillar on the left last Saturday morning. I led it from
the ground up, starting in a small corner right of Child's Play.
On Monday Maury McKinney and Eric Seifer went back and did Unicorn,
the line on the right. Both would probably go at WI 4. Unicorn
is more technical, with brittle candled ice and more difficult
protection, but the left pillar (unnamed) that Brad and I did has
some very large and neat mushrooms at the bottom. Both are highly
The morning that Maury and Eric were out I saw
a Canadian party on Repentance. I was surprised because the second
pitch was almost
devoid of ice. I got a picture of the leader considering moving
into the chimney. He was there for 20 minutes when I was watching,
and another 30 minutes when someone else walked by. I have no idea
if they completed the climb. I call the following picture "Party
of 2, your Repentance awaits".
New Routes in the DAKS:
These reports just in from our intrepid correspondent and amazing
climber, Will Mayo...
Exceptionally talented 20-year-old from MD, Chris Thomas, climbed "The
Fecalator" at Exit 30 Crag in the ADK on New Year's Day (01/01/04).
It was the most impressive lead I have ever seen of what is probably
the hardest mixed climb in the NE USA. The second pitch of "The
Fecalator" climbs a 120 degree handcrack for 40' to a slender
dagger of ice. The gear remains fixed for the ADK Mountainfestivities
over Dr. MLK Jr. Weekend, so please have at it but leave the
gear where it is, thanks!
On 12/31/03, Tom Yandon, Fred Bieber and I climbed a short mixed
route to the right of "Hanging Spoons" at Pitchoff
Northface. "Willpower" (20M)
climbs the 80M WI2 approach ice as for "Hanging Spoons" to
an ice belay right of the base of the pillar of "Hanging Spoons". "Willpower" moves
out right past a cedar and over loose blocks and up into an overhanging,
right-facing corner which leads up and out right to a small ice
hanger. Pins and rp's have been left on this pitch for the ADK
Mountainfest as well.
On, 01/02/04, Todd Mazolla and I made the second ascent of " Artificial
Gravity" (90M, WI6) at Chapel Pond. Tom Yandon and Joe
Szot first climbed "Artificial Gravity" in 03/98, during
a season not unlike this one. We climbed it directly in one 90M
" Midlife Crisis Direct"
Finally, "Midlife Crisis" has been
climbed directly! ADK local visionaries, hardmen, and guides
Ian Osteyee and Mark
Meschinelli climbed this fine coveted line on 12/21/03 (see photo, "Midlife
Crisis" takes the left-hand finish). Inspired, Tom Yandon,
Matt Horner and I arrived on 12/22/03 and climbed the same direct
start and finished up the free-standing chandeliered candlestick
on the right. Tom Yandon and Ian Boyer had reached the upper icicle
by rappel last year and climbed it when it was even thinner than
it is now; they had named it "After Birth". We climbed
the entire route from the ground in one long rope-stretching 70M
pitch climbing the thin ice of "Midlife Crisis Direct" and
then directly up the free-standing curtain and the magnificent
free-standing pillar above. "After Birth Direct" (70M,
Mount Washington Valley Ice Festival
International Mountain Equipment ( IME
) and International Mountain Climbing School ( IMCS ) are
delighted to organize and host the Eleventh Annual Mount
Washington Valley Ice Festival - February 19-22, 2004. Since
its inception this event is eagerly anticipated by ice climbers
in the eastern United States and considered one of the premier
climbing events in the country. A celebration of ice climbing & mountaineering
and the people that make it a part of their lives, the Ice
Festival provides a superb opportunity to network, socialize,
try new gear and participate in technical clinics and private
climbs. The Mt. Washington Valley is one of the finest waterfall
ice climbing destinations in North America.
Each year we offer
a variety of skills-based clinics and guided climbs at
all skill levels and ability. After each day's climbing
we offer a series of exciting slide shows presented by accomplished
climbers and guides from the New England area and around
Clinics and private climbs fill early, so if you want
to take part in this year's event please call us to check
Tell us what you want to accomplish by climbing with us and
we'll make sure we find the right clinic and the right guide.
FLASH - I rode by Frankenstein this morning on my way up to ride my FT bike into Zealand. The ice still looks surprisingly good. Hopefully it will make it through the week, in spite of the warming trend. Stay tuned...
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 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:
The White Mountain Report
North Conway, New Hampshire
The thrashing movements gave me the shuddering thought that if the stitching came apart, I would burst through the bottom and plunge two thousand feet. My life was hanging on the threads of an Oldham seamstress.