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March 18, 2004
So, you tell me... Has this last couple of weeks
been a "faux spring", or is this now a "faux winter"?
Just when we've all pretty much given up on ice for the season,
Mother Nature deals us a new hand. In fact it turns out that the
ice is not quite as done-for as we all had thought.
I hadn't been over to Frankenstein for over
a week so I decided to run up there on Tuesday morning to have
a look. I'd heard that
while many climbs were down for the count, a number were hanging
in quite well. As I shot a few pix on the drive-by I wasn't disappointed.
As usual Dracula looked in quite reasonable shape, at least on
the right side, and both Standard and Standard Left looked very
When I pulled into the parking lot I was very
surprised to see not a single other car. On top of that Bill King
at home, no dogs were barking, nothing. I walked down the tracks
to the Amphitheater and it was empty. Now that was kind of spooky.
I'd been thinking about running up Standard, but when I looked
over and saw Pegasus so big and fat and blue, I just had to check
it out. When I got up to the base I was amazed to see that it looked
in very good conditions. I walked around and looked up the Hobbit
gully and that looked good as well. So I tooled up and ran. As
I should have expected the ice wasn't quite as good as it looked.
There were plenty of places to hook, but it had a tendency to dinner
plate, there was some crusting and you could hear places where
it was hollow underneath. At the base of the pillars the traverse
to the rock finish belay was pretty well crusted over, but the
pillars themselves were pretty good, the right side being shorter & easier.
Even the top out was all right, I've certainly seen it worse at
this time of year.
There's nothing like a little solo to make you
aware of everything that's going on. Going up the pillar I hear
every nuance of water
running, birds chirping,
and creaking in the ice as the sun warms it up. Colors become more vibrant and
the air crisper. No question but it definitely has your attention!
I rapped back down to the rock belay with my single 9 mm rope and then down the
gully. Hobbit looked
as good as it's been all season. The trick would be getting past the very thin
ice and rock from the gully to the base. I was glad I hadn't
gone up the gully as getting left over to the rock belay would have been a real
I walked around past Chia and
it looked pretty beat. I would be concerned with climbing it since
it is in the
sun a lot longer every day than Pegasus. There
was a soft white crust over everything. It's clear that the only reason it's
still there is because it's been cloudy pretty much all week. The Bubbles were
still standing, but looked funky. Cave Route looked OK from a distance,
but up close I thought it was beat. Note the huge cracks in Widow's
Cave in the picture. Buyer beware!
I didn't walk all the way down the tracks to
Standard, but you can check out the telephoto picture taken from
the road on NEClimbs. It is in reasonable
conditions. Apparently Wednesday was a big day at Frankenstein and there
were many parties
on all the available routes. I believe that if we continue with the moderate
temps and cloudy weather things could hang in for another week. You just
have to be careful what you pick and be prepared to change your
plans if your desired
route doesn't look good. That said, if it gets sunny all bets are OFF!
I've mentioned this a lot but I think it's worth repeating... There
is a lot of ice in hidden places that looks safe. Someone told me that there
some ice still left up on the top of Humphrey's that came down the other
day, almost clocking some climbers. There is definitely a lot up on the top
right side of Whitehorse and almost all of Cathedral. If you're out there
be sure to wear a helmet and look up before you climb up. Here is a very
picture of the Unicorn area
on the right of Cathedral just above the North End cracks. Believe me when
I say that there are TONS of ice still to come
there. Be safe...
As of March 9th the conditions were apparently still quite good.
Local guide Art Mooney (www.mooneymountainguides.com)
and partner did it on the 3rd and
Brian McGillicuddy soloed it within a week later. Apparently the snowmobile
service is not
in operation this year, so it's even more of a commitment than usual.
in Art's picture is Mark Pezzati, with the awesome Direct Route behind. Thanks
to them both
for the inspiring images.
of the climb (Art)
This week Chris Thomas and Will Mayo finished up their latest project at
Exit 30 Crag in the Daks. The first pitch, first freed by Ian Boyer, starts
at the "shark's
mouth" of ice between "Cassowary" and "The Fecalator",
climbs a steep corner past five fixed pins, several medium cams and a large
nut, makes a steep traverse right on thin and insecure holds past three
continues right across a slab to a two bolt belay (M8+, 25M). The second
pitch scratches up and left on a thin slab and heads leftward up the slightly
wall above on thin, somewhat widely-spaced holds to the left-most of the
three icicles that hang over this section of the wall (M8+, 25M, five bolts).
WM each freed both pitches. (Will Mayo and Chris Thomas, 03/16/2004).
Will, we're all anxiously
awaiting the action shot! <grin>
The Seven Summits quest may have a new twist following a February ascent
of Argentina's 22,834-foot Aconcagua by Rubia, a two-year-old golden
retriever. Though dogs
are not normally permitted on the mountain, Rubia was authorized to climb
peak as part of a scientific study to determine how rescue dogs function
at high altitude. She was outfitted with boots, goggles and a snowsuit,
to her human partners, Carlos Valverde and Marc Ortega of Spain, for
the duration of the ascent.
As with first ascents by humans, some controversy exists
as to whether Rubia actually was the first canine to summit Aconcagua.
More than a
a Chilean newspaper reported that a stray dog accompanied a German
and Austrian party to
the summit. Dog owners interested in seeing their pooch follow in the
footsteps of Dick Bass by summiting the Seven Summits (or Pat Morrow if
should keep in mind that several dogs already have ascended Denali
back to 1979, when a dog team summited via the West Buttress. Currently
dogs" are allowed in the Denali wilderness, and dogs must be authorized
by the NPS before venturing onto the mountain.
The AAC New England Section will hold their eighth annual Section
Dinner on Saturday, March 20 featuring a slide show by Henry Barber
titled "Influential Climbs
of the '70s." For event information, contact Nancy Savickas
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
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
|How do you distinguish between being off-route and putting up a first ascent?|