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March 4, 2004
I don't know about you, but I'm definitely NOT
ready for ice season to be over. Sure, the warm and sunny weather
makes me think about rock climbing. Of course it's really hard
to stay focused on the ice when all my buds are heading out for
a day at Rumney or Sundown, but I've got a couple of more items
to tick off the list before I hang up the tools this year. Fortunately
most of them are up in the Ravines where there actually is some
good ice left to climb, and of course the hike will work off the
On Monday my friend Toby and I zipped over to Cathedral to try
and bag a last run up the Unicorn pillar above the North End cracks.
While it was in the 30's when we started at about 8:30, we had
no problem climbing the ice and snow up to the belay tree below
the big ledge. As we climbed we did hear a huge large crash off
to our left that we later determined was the lower part of the
Mordor ice curtain. Not exactly a good omen! When I traversed left
from the belay tree to the slab I normally use to get up to the
Unicorn Ledge at the base of the climbs, I found it to be completely
detached and mushy. Though I don't get any gear in it anyway, I
wasn't too happy. Scrutiny of both pillars revealed that they were
pouring water and occasionally dropping off small pieces of ice.
Opting on the side of safety, we decided to bag it and instead
found an interesting and easy alternative that wound up to the
top through some small gullies, moderate mixed terrain and snow
covered ice. Of course we weren't the first to take this route,
as evidenced by this old
sling I found.
When we walked off there were quite a number
of people grabbing the end of the season on the right side on the
curtains, the slab
We also noticed a party of 3 rock climbing Kiddy Crack. Every year
I see people getting a jump on rock season and working on their
crack technique in this area.
While an admirable thing to do, at this time of the year you really need to be
paying attention to what's up above you, both hidden and visible. In casual conversation
I mentioned the pillars up above them and it was interesting that they hadn't
really taken notice of the conditions above and one of the party wasn't wearing
a helmut. When I climbed the Unicorn (the rightmost pillar) a week before, I
was surprised to notice that the small amount of ice I knocked off fell all the
way to the ground, and much further right that I would have thought. I can only
imagine that either of those pillars coming down would fill the area with 500
pound blocks! In addition the big ledge up there is actually a low angle slab
that will sheet-off and likely make it to the ground as well.
While this picture is from earlier in the season, you can clearly see the
Birds Nest and They Died Laughing cracks. I think that it makes the point.
The Thin air face is another popular early-season
area. I've been up there on a sunny day in late March with my wife
when Goofer's let go. The ice and snow
fell almost down to the flats and scared us both. In addition there is always
ice left inside the Standard Route chimney that continues to fall out quite
late in the season, as does stuff left up in the ledges above the
Saigons. Here is
a picture of the Thin Air taken on Wednesday.
You can see snow and ice
still on the Airation ledge, directly above Thin Air and in the Standard
chimney. It will take another week of warm temps of some
warm rain to get rid of it all. That said, there are some places that are
reasonably safe to climb in early season. Humphrey's, the South
Buttress of Whitehorse,
Rumney and Sundown all offer warm and reasonably safe places to get your
early season fix. Here is a picture of Humphrey's taken around
1 PM Wednesday.
The left side of the
cliff is totally dry. That doesn't mean that there isn't loose rock or
that you won't find some running water, but it's certainly
better bet than some others. At this time of the year it's also a pretty
to wear your helmut when you are walking along the edge of any cliff. Besides
ice, stuff has been loosened over the winter and might come down.
TO THE WISE...
There will be a fundraiser on March 27th at Petra Cliffs in Burlington
to raise money for the Bolton Quarry, and ice climbing area which is currently
to climbing. Challenge participants will each ascend Petra Cliffs' climbing
wall as many times as possible to attempt a group total of 29,035 feet,
of Mt. Everest.CRAG-VT has been working diligently with the landowner to
secure access, including the possibility of purchase. All this needs money.
raised about 12k so far, but as usual fundraising is slow going. This is
a great cause and we'll be talking about it more in the coming weeks. For
more info go here.
The following is from Chris Martin, Senior Biologist at New Hampshire
On Sunday, 2/29/2004, I went to Rumney Rocks
to look for the Rattlesnake Mountain peregrines. When I arrived,
located one adult falcon
perched at the
Main Cliff, but climbing activity on the cliff was picking up and the bird
flew away as 3 parties began ascending and the falcon did not return during
that I stayed. At one point there were 14 individuals on or at the base
of the cliff. With ice off the cliff and snow melting away, I will
be posting the temporary closure at this site within a week or
two, as we may be looking at an early
start of incubation unless winter reasserts itself soon.
Chris Martin, Senior Biologist
Audubon Society of NH
Over the past couple of weeks I have seen and
heard at least one Peregrine on Cathedral Ledge several times.
With this early
thaw we are likely to
out and it's possible that there will be an early closure at Rumney and
other cliffs. I will let you know as soon as I hear the details. Please
any closing. It is really worthwhile protecting these birds.
It's been over 7 years since Ed Webster's guidebook was done.
While there have been a couple of select books, they haven't
done much with the new
have gone up in the area. I am in the process of compiling a new guide
of the new routes in the Mt. Washington Valley, up as far a Crawford
Notch. It will
also have any new ice routes that have been put up this winter. I have
through the New Routes book that is kept at International Mountain
Equipment, If you
have done any routes around here that are not in the previous guides
or the New Routes books, please let me know immediately. I'd like to
and want you to get the credit you deserve.
Please send an email with
your description to firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to include a complete
pitch-by-pitch description, the length of each,
locations of any
fixed gear, any unusual gear required, the date of the first ascent
involved and if there are any access issues. If it is at a cliff
or area that is new or hard to find, clear directions would be
Interested in taking the next step to
learning about climbing outdoors?
Do you want to learn more about:
How to build Anchors
How to Ascend a Rope
More about Knots
Multi-pitch, traditional climbing
or just some coaching on movement over Rock?
Come join us,
the AMC Boston Chapter Mountaineering Committee, for four
weekends in April in the Blue Hills Reservation
just south of Boston. Instruction will include various
knots, belaying, rappelling, ascending, and building anchors
for top-rope climbing.
Want to know more? Come to the Informational meeting on
Wednesday, March 3, 2004, at the
AMC's Cabot Auditorium at 5 Joy Street, Boston 7:30
Details and and more information on the 2004 Rock Climbing
Program and applications will be accepted after a brief
slide show, or check it out here.
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
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