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March 25, 2004
Well, there's only a handful of reasons that
the phone rings after 9 pm, and when I hear MRS President Rick
Wilcox's voice on the other end I know exactly what the reason
is. Monday night's call definitely wasn't one that I wanted to
hear. The official word was that 2 hikers had failed to return
from a trip up Mt. Lafayette on Sunday. Their car had been found
at the trailhead, a crew had been unable to locate them on Monday
due to weather conditions and the local Mountain Rescue Service
was one of several groups being mobilized to help in the search.
This would be the second day's search for them,
which meant that they had been out for two nights! We met at the
trailhead at 8 AM the next morning. There were lots of folks from
a variety of rescue groups, including a significant contingent
from our local MRS. All were under the expert direction of Lt.
Todd Bogardis of NH Fish & Game. Shortly before 9 AM the National
Guard started ferrying teams up in their Blackhawk helicopter.
Paired with Rick, I was a member of the first two teams to be dropped
off on the Mt. Flume ridge. Rick and I were to head southwest across
the ridge and down, connecting with the Wilderness Trail out to
the Kanc, while the other team was to follow the ridge line northeast
across to Lafayette and back down the normal trail. Other groups
were to be deposited in a variety of locations. This was a great
idea since it got us up there quickly and we would be fresh for
The flight took all of about 5 minutes and was very smooth. Unable
to set down on the ridge,the copter hovered while we jumped out.
The rotor wash was quite something and it was an epic experience.
Here are some pictures:
Alain Comeau looking at the Blackhawk
our superb copilot
swinging past Canon
inside the cargo area
getting ready for the search
Interestingly enough there were moderately fresh tracks on the
ridge and down the trail that Rick and I were searching. We kept
an eye down the various gullies as we went across. I will say that
this is not a place to be in a whiteout or on a very windy day!
Eventually we moved down below treeline and there was quite a lot
of snow in the woods. No matter what it looks like in Massachusetts,
or even along the road, it is STILL winter up in the mountains!
Around 10 AM we heard a transmission stating
that the missing hikers had been found. We heard one more stating
that they were lifting one person and that they were being assessed.
By this time we were well down in treeline and we made the decision
to hike off. The ridge line kept us from hearing any more radio
traffic, so we didn't know the status of the victims. The trail
was steep in places but reasonably well packed so we made good
time. At the junction with the Wilderness trail we were able
to make contact with 2 members of Fish & Game. They met us
at the Visitor Center and gave us a ride back to the trailhead.
We heard from them that the woman had not survived.
I was very energized all morning. The whole way
down Rick and I were happy that the people had been found and hopeful
that both were OK. It was very depressing to me to hear that we
were only partially successful in our endeavor. From what I hear,
the details of the incident have been well reported in the news
media. Here is a link to a story on the Boston
I do want to make a few observations... I went climbing at Frankenstein
on Sunday morning. When we walked in down the tracks the sun was
out and the temps had to have been in the upper 30's. There was
almost no wind. We did one climb and when we got to the car at
11:45 it started to rain, which quickly turned to sleet, snow and
back to sleet. By the time I got home here in the Valley it was
raining and it rained off and on all afternoon. By dinner time
the wind was blowing and the ambient temperature had dropped from
above 40 to below freezing. Continuous wind speed was around 16
MPH with gusts to 25. By midnight the wind chill was around 10.
The winds continued all day Monday and the ambient temperature
continued to fall, finally bottoming out early Tuesday morning
at about 5 F. When I got up at 5:30 am it was only 7 F. All in
all the outside conditions here in the Valley were brutal. I can
only imagine what it was like on the top of Mt. Lafayette at over
Word has it that the victims were experienced
hikers. That said, the weather reports up here were for deteriorating
conditions. I know because I had read them Sunday morning. They
went up above tree line without full gear, got caught and paid
the price. It is a very unfortunate situation and I am very sad
that it turned out this way. I can assure you that the members
of Fish & Game,
the National Guard and the various rescue teams involved did their
absolute best in a difficult situation over 2 days. Everyone I
saw was highly motivated and very professional. I am proud to have
been a part of this effort.
The Access Fund is giving $250 to the Friends of Auburn Ice Canyon.
Access to one of the only ice climbing venues in eastern MA is
threatened by conflicts with adjacent private landowner. Funds
will help defray the cost of producing informational signs and
brochures directing climbers to parking and access routes.
Live streaming video from the peregrine falcon nest box located
on the 13th floor of the NH Tower building in downtown Manchester,
NH is now available again for the 2004 falcon breeding season.
Visit the Audubon Society of New Hampshire's web site, www.nhaudubon.org <http://www.nhaudubon.org> ,
to learn more. A direct link to the falcon cam page is http://www.nhaudubon.org/research/pcam.htm
If you are not familiar with how to activate and operate the
viewer software, please take the time to read the instructions
that are available on this page. Thanks again to our great partners
in this project, Spectra Access, Inc., Tower Realty Group, and
the New Hampshire Fish & Game Department.
International Mountain Equipment Rental Gear Sale
Friday March 26th – Mon 29th
Store Hours - Sun-Thurs 8:30 am - 6:00 pm / Fri, Sat 8:00 – 9:00
2733 Main North Conway NH 03860 (603) 356-7013
Huge Deals on Rental Gear ==> 35% -
All Rental Gear is in Excellent Condition
TENTS and SLEEPING BAGS
===> PLUS <===
All Winter Clothing 40%off !!!!!
All Ski Gear 35%off !!!!!!!!!!!!!!
All Ice Climbing Gear 25%off !!
And Selected Other Gear 25%-40%off
Please no phone orders, or holds. In Stock items only no rainchecks
We need your help in identifying the most endangered climbing area
in your region.
Please respond to this request no later than April 16, 2004. Send
your response to Shawn Tierney at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 303/545-6772
What is needed from YOU:
1. The name and location of the *most endangered climbing area;
2. The reason(s) that the area is endangered, based on one or more
of the following criteria:
An area that is facing unreasonable restrictions or closures due
- Land use planning and policy changes
- Presence of cultural/historic resources and/or endangered species
- Overuse and impacts to natural resources
- Development pressure
For more information, please read the posting in the General Climbing
section in the NEClimbs.com Forum.
Saturday, March 27 at Petra Cliffs in Burlington, Vermont!
Check-in at 4pm; climbing from 5pm 'til 9pm; prizes, raffle & party
Win great gear while supporting rock and
ice climbing access in Vermont! Challenge participants will each
ascend Petra Cliffs' climbing wall as many times as possible
to attempt a group total of 29,035 feet, the height of Mt. Everest.
The Challenge benefits CRAG-VT’s goal of opening the Bolton
Quarry to rock and ice climbing.
This will be the last "State-O-The-Ice" ice report of
the season. I've had a great time climbing ice this year and I
hope that you have as well. It's been great fun getting out there
every week, shooting the pictures for the Report and sometimes
running into you folks. In fact it's been the ultimate excuse for
going climbing: "But honey, it's Wednesday.
I HAVE to go out and shoot pictures for the Report."
Hopefully you all have had as much fun
as I have. After all, why else would we do this absolute craziness
of clawing our way up a frozen icicle with sharp pointy objects
on our appendages? <grin> Have
a great rock season.
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
|The vias normales had perfect lines but new rock was the essence of climbing for us; throwing loose holds over the shoulder, feeling the exposed grains crush like sugar on footholes....|
|Paul Pritchard |