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This week we've moved from IceCON 3 to 4. It's
been a slow process this season with things swinging wildly back
and forth with the vagaries of this years New England weather.
It certainly has given new meaning to the old adage, "If you
don't like the weather, wait a minute." It seemed for a while
as if every time the ice came IN, a warm snap and torrential-like
rain would knock it OUT again. Hey, I was starting to think that
we should be the poster child for the global warming contingent.
Someone asked me how I made the decision as
to what the iceCON rating is each week, and what it actually means.
Well for one thing
it's totally my arbitrary ranking of the the state-o-the-ice for
the current week. I go out, I climb, I look around and I talk with
a variety of folks about how things are looking that week. Then,
I rate the week's conditions, loosely based on the following numbered
system that I have evolved over the past 4 years:
IceCON 0 - Minimal
ice available for the hard core and mixed afficianados! Ravines
and higher elevations probably hold more possibilities.
1 - Climbs are coming in, but generally sporadically.
Higher elevations are generally better. Bring some rock gear.
2 - The trade routes are generally climbable. There
is plenty of ice out
there to be enjoyed.
IceCON 3 - Ice available in
many of the usual places and the climbing is good.
IceCON 4 - Climbs are IN in
all the usual places and at the consensus ratings. Climbs are
IceCON 5 - Superb New England
ice climbing... Everywhere you look there's ice, even in places
we don't usually
see it. Get it while you can!
So why is this week
a 4 and not 5? Although the ice climbs are generally fat, there's
finally ice in all the
usual places and
ice is in many unusual places,
the severe cold and dry weather has made for brittle ice and desiccation on
climbs that aren't in the sun. The climbing is very good, but not superb. There
very few climbs, and not too many days, where you are going to be out there
climbing 4+ on hero-ice.
Needless to say, check the detailed Report for
the current state of any climbs you're thinking about heading for.
If you're making a long drive, call around
to the local stores or guide services and pick their brains about the climbs
you are considering. Everyone I know up here is happy to answer any questions
you might have. Obviously the guide services have people out there almost
every day and often have even a better idea of what's up that I
do. Of course you
should always remember that none of this is a promise that a given climb
or area is
in the stated conditions, or that you can climb it.
Off the Kanc:
Over the past week or so several people have asked if I knew anything
about Way In The Wilderness so I took a ride out that way on
Tuesday to have a
look-see. From what I could tell via my binoculars, the climb looked in reasonable
I took a couple of telephoto shots from the road and went on. When I got
home I looked closely at the pics I
was surprised to see that there were climbers
on the route!
It looked so nice & warm in that amphitheater
in the sun that I immediately called up Maury McKinney and talked
him into taking a ride out there the very
next day. When we got there around 10:30, with fellow guide Tom Hargis
in tow, none of us were very enthused about what
we saw. The ice was pretty beat up and
in even more difficult shape that normal. So, we decided to leave it to
the younger & more bold, and retreated to some
interesting drips, drools & runnels that we had seen earlier. As
I have said, if you just keep your eyes open there is stuff to climb
everywhere! Here are
a couple of pics from a mystery crag that you may find entertaining...
"There's more out there in them there
Jamie Cunningham, 2004
From what I saw from the road on Tuesday, Rainbow
Slabs is fantastic with a ton of moderate lines that could
keep you occupied. Unfortunately the
river is definitely
not frozen yet, so it's a bit of a hike/ski to get in there, but
you certainly aren't going to run into any crowds there. Tho I
haven't been there myself, I've also heard that Champney Falls
is finally frozen and in good shape. That's an easy hike-in for
of quality entertainment.
Jamie Cunningham has been kind enough to keep me up on what he,
Jon Sykes and company have been up of late. Word has it that
there is even more to come beyond even this offering so stay
Willoughby Area -
Cold Hearted Hor, WI 3, 340'
Done in two long pitches with long streaches of WI 2 ice. A recommended
moderate route if it ever comes in again! Climb the face to the
the right of Woober Goober Gully. Descend off to the left of climb
by rapelling through scub trees to base of Woober Goober Gully.
FA Jon Sykes, Larry Beohmler, & Jamie Cunningham on 12-20-03 Pitch 1 Pitch 2
Gully. WI 2 with several finishes possible up to grade 4, 200'.
From Power of Ethan Pond hike down and right around a
long slab leading up to the prominent Raven's Gully.
FA Jon Sykes, Kevin Delany, & Dave Leahy
WI 4, 100'.
From bottom of Raven's Gully turn left and climb for 100' moderate
to steep ice to a tree anchor.
FA Larry Boehmler & Jon Sykes
Gully. WI 4, 180'.
Starts 25' right of Glass Bottom Boots. Grade 3 ice leads to an
unprotected runnel in a shallow right facing corner.
FA Jon Sykes & Larry Boehmler
on Haley's Pillar. WI 4,
Hike 100' right from base of Raven's around slab to hidden ice
FA Larry Boehmler & Jon Sykes
Thanks to Jamie Cunningham, Larry Boehmler and
Jon Sykes for the photos.
Ice Conditions Report:
Selected Ice Conditions effective October 27, 2016
Both the Black Dike and Pinnacle Gully have been done this week. This is probably as early as they have ever been climbed! Is that a good thing, I suppose so. [wry grin] Pinnacle was a solo. Unfortunately there is nothing climbable in the lower elevations, and based on the lack of ground-water in the system right now, I’m not sure when there will be. Let’s hope for some more rain and early snow in the Notches. Couple that with some consistent cold weather and that would at least give us something reasonable to play on. Special thanks to Peter Doucette from Mountain Sense guides for the great picture of the Black Dike.
NOTE - as of the middle of the week, the Tuckerman Ravine Trail above the Huntington intersection is closed for construction. Stay tuned for more info.
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.
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