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People have always told me that in order to get better at anything,
you need to hook up with people who are better than you are. In
the beginning of my climbing career that was easy. As I've gotten
older and climbed longer, that has been harder to do. My initial
partners were all good climbers, who basically needed someone to
do a lot of belaying and who could manage to get up the climbs
they were leading, even with a few falls. I could usually manage
that, was moderately easy to get along with, had a little spare
cash, plus I had a car and was usually willing to drive. All of
these attributes certainly make for a good belay-slave (err - second)
don't you think?
So the longer I've been climbing, the harder it's been to find
people who are better than me to climb with. Not that I climb all
that hard you understand, but let's just be frank here. Nowadays
I want to lead as much as possible myself. <wry grin> Still,
I keep coming back to the fact that some things I want to do are
things that I probably wouldn't/couldn't do on my own. So when
I've been asked to go out with someone good lately, I've responded
with an enthusiastic YES.
Last week I went over to do the Crack In The Woods with Maury
McKinney from IMCS. It is the classic 10d hand crack OF DOOM! Needless
to say, this climb is way above my head in terms of leading, but
since I've publicly acknowledged that I need work on cracks, what
could be better? Just getting there is an adventure. While you
can hike all the way down the trail from the Covered Bridge, it's
much more entertaining to wade the Swift River. And doing it with
the Riley-dog in tow certainly made for an even more interesting
Finding the cliff is always an event. I stumbled on it 2 winter's
ago trying to get to Way In The Wilderness. Joe Coty first came
across it when looking for Rainbow Slabs over 30 years ago. Just
think about that... Jim Dunn did the first ascent in 1973 with
the gear of the day. Now THAT is some accomplishment. Believe me
when I say that this is a strenuous climb. Maury did OK, giving
me a tutorial on hand jamming. This is something that I need LOT
of work on, as you all know from last week's Report. How do you
say...I basically fell up the climb? I guess that says it all.
Still, I didn't give up, so some good did come out of it. Here
are a couple of fun pix. Note the bird nest that is on the ledge
below the roof. I have to wonder how long that will last once the
climbers start making the CITW pilgrimage this summer.
On Wednesday my old friend Jay Conway came up to climb for the
afternoon. Jay is a great person and a great climber. He's been
traveling since graduating form college and we haven't seen each
other all that much recently. My loss. I've watched him grow over
the past several years, and this young man is climbing great. We
had thought about going over to Whitehorse and me trying to lead
Tranquility crack - it's one that's on my short list. However,
as it had poured down rain twice in the past 24 hours, we decided
to opt for something on Cathedral. Jay hadn't done Dawn Patrol
he did it up and I led the second pitch of the Saigon's. That is
a really nice link-up if you haven't done it BTW. Those were nice
warms-ups for the real business to come - Camber.
I'd always wanted to do Camber, but it is certainly intimidating.
If you do the easy start it's 5.8R, and I do mean R. You climb
straight up off the Saigon belay on good hands & feet to a
bolt, and then traverse ~30' left to another bolt. It's generally
good holds, but you are in for a serious fall if you come off before
the bolt so you better be very solid at 5.8! Needless to say Jay
is very solid, and he made it look easy. The face climbing above
this is hard but he made short work of it. Jay blasted through
the crux moves over the roof, all the while providing me with a
running description of what to do. he was off-belay in no time.
Now it was my turn. Of course using double ropes is pretty mandatory
for this route, just like on The Book. I managed all the moves
to the left hand bolt well, to even with one of the doubles acting
as a toprope, it was spooky. Now we get into beautiful 10+ and
probably 11a face moves from bolt to bolt. All in all it was wonderful
and I didn't have any problems. There were a couple of places where
I had to think about it, but all in a it was brilliant climbing.
In the corner below the roof things got really interesting. I've
watched others do the crux moves over the roof and intellectually
understand what to do, and I still had Jay's comments in my head.
However when it came time to, "Use the left hand in the pocket,
reach up onto the arete with your right, work your feet up and
reach out with your left hand for the upper sidepull and stand
up." - of course it was far easier said than done. <sigh> I
tried it a number of times, but even with Jay right there coaching
I just didn't have the strength and flexibility to pull it off.
So, I pulled on the draw and made the next set of moves over the
roof and to the belay. I still wasn't too bummed as I'd managed
everything else in reasonable style with no falls. The last pitch
I'd done many times on toprope and while having a tricky start
off the belay, isn't all that hard. That rock is so great and I
love the climbing to the top.
Down at the packs I still wasn't toast, so I suggested that we
run over to Ego Trip. I wanted to lead the wonderful first pitch.
That went as well as I've ever done it, even making the little
crux move totally statically and I felt pretty good. Jay came up & wanted
to give the second pitch a try. I wasn't expecting to do that,
but was game. I'd worked that pitch a lot a year ago and was really
happy to see someone else give it a shot. This was an onsight
for Jay and to make a long story short, he managed the whole climb
with only a couple of falls. It was an impressive exhibition. When
it was my turn I did well on the lower stuff and still had trouble
getting over the overlay. I pulled over that and was amazed at
how sustained the rest of the climbing was. It just doesn't let
up anywhere. By this time my feet were killing me from all the
edging and I was very happy to head off home for dinner & some
Oh yeah, of course all this goes for things other than climbing
- a Presi-Traverse, riding the road bike the 100 miles around Mt.
Washington, or playing music with some better musicians. Doing
anything with someone who is better than you & who pushes you
along will do wonders to improve your skills. ESPECIALLY if they
are understanding of your limitations and supportive. In my case
this week it really helped to put things in perspective. Now I
see how I stack up and have a better picture of where I need to
put more work. I know that I have a lot to work on, but that's
what all this is about, isn't it? Learning and growing... Hopefully
I can keep doing that for a loooong time.
Swiss on-sight phenom Elie Chevieux NOT dead - Climbing magazine:
According to several news sources, Swiss on-sight phenom Elie Chevieux
is NOT one of the two Europeans that were stoned to death in
Kabul, Afghanistan. Due to an apparent miscommunication with
the Swiss Department of Foreign Affairs, one of the individuals
was misidentified as Chevieux. According to reports, Chevieux
has since been contacted in Pakistan and has telephoned his mother.
Maine Climber Dies On Rainier:
This has been extensively chronicled in the press, so I won't go
over it here. It's a sad thing when there is an accident on a
mountain, but even sadder when the victim dies in the act of
being rescued. You can read more about it here.
Big Everest Season In Progress:
In the first three days of this year's climbing season, more than
70 mountaineers have scaled Mt Everest, including New England
climber Dan Barder. Nepalise On Monday Appa Sherpa broke his
own record by climbing Everest for the 14th time. The 43-year-old
summitted the southeast ridge on with the Dream Everest Expedition
Peregrine Update - Chris Martin - NH Audubon:
This spring we have had more than the usual amount of difficulty
confirming presence of pairs and/or incubation at several sites,
and as a result the current numbers for confirmed breeding pairs
and incubating pairs appear somewhat lower than 2003 totals.
We are currently entering the peak period for hatching and visits
that occur in the next 1-2 weeks should clarify much about the
status of various sites in NH and will likely result in higher
totals for breeding pairs and incubating pairs that is posted
below. I will be contacting a number of climbers soon to make
planns to access nest ledges.
NH totals so far in 2004 are as follows:
Occupied territories confirmed = 15 (establishes new post-DDT era high)
Breeding pairs confirmed = 13 (14 in 2003)
Incubating pairs confirmed = 10 (14 in 2003)
Hatch of eggs confirmed = 2 (10 in 2003)
Cathedral Ledge (Bartlett) - incubation continues on 5/6 on ledge
near "Retaliation" climbing route last used in 2002 (CM),
hatch due 5/18-5/27; temporary climbing closure of portion of Upper
Left Wall posted 4/23 (thanks to Maury McKinney for assistance);
adult male banded silver right leg, black/red left leg, adult female
not banded, third falcon seen on 4/23 (CM) and 5/1(PC)
Eaglet Spire (Franconia) - behavior indicating hatch at mid-Spire
ledge on 5/14 (RV); temporary climbing closure of Spire and adjacent
walls posted 4/27; banding status of both adults undetermined
Frankenstein (Harts Location) - status uncertain, pair seen copulating
on 4/12 (CM), 5.5 hr obs period on 5/12 produced no sightings (RV);
adult female banded silver right leg, banded left leg, adult male
banding status undetermined
Owls Head (Benton) - status uncertain, two falcon seen on 4/20,
one seen on 4/21 and 5/5 (RV), but no further sightings or evidence
of nesting attempt
Painted Walls (Albany) - failure suspected, incubation underway
on grassy mid-cliff ledge on 4/12 (CM), hatch due after 5/14, but
on 5/6 both adult falcons were seen flying, perched and feeding
away from eyrie for extended period (CM); adult female not banded,
adult male banding status undetermined; US Forest Service planned
to place temporary climbing closure of Painted Walls on 4/22 (thanks
Kori Marchowsky and Kathy Starke)
Rattlesnake Mtn (Rumney) - incubation continues on large ledge
with birch sapling on 4/25 (BT), hatch due 5/16-5/18; adult male
not banded, 7-yr old adult female banded dark right, black/red
L/Y left raised at Travelers Tower in Hartford CT in 1997; temporary
climbing closure of Main Cliff posted 3/16
Square Ledge (Albany) - incubation confirmed on 5/2 on cave-like
ledge on left side of cliff used last year (CM, CKM, GM, PM), hatch
due before 6/6; temporary climbing closure of Square Ledge posted
Willard (Harts Location) - incubation confirmed on 5/12 at new
nest ledge located on upper left portion of cliff (west of overlook)
While the ice is going through a bit of a change, what with the weather being so cold, it's still very good in most places. With the longer days and more intense sunlight we should start to see some refreshing going on, as soon as the temps moderate. Most climbs in the direct sun are starting to see a little water during the day, in spite of the cold. The stuff in the shade that's looking a bit beat up and that in the direct sun is a little pinky. That said, it looks as if this weekend things are going to moderate, so it should be a good one.
BTW I am aware that some of today's pix are of a decidedly poorer quality than we all are used to. This is because my main camera's battery pack died and I had to use my cell phone camera - sorry about that.
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
My once-keen analytical mind has become so dulled by endless hours of baking in the hot sun, thrashing about in tight chimneys, pulling at impossibly heavy loads, freezing my ass off.... so that now my mental state is comparable to that of a Peruvian Indian, well stoked on coca leaves..
Climbing is a very dangerous sport. You can get hurt or even kill yourself. When you go climbing, you do so of your own free will. Everything on this site is to be taken with a grain of salt. Don't blame us if you get up some totally heinous route, in over your head and fall and hurt yourself.