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June 10, 2004

Hi Folks,

Cliffs are actually far more ephemeral than we think, even the ones we know and love right here in the Valley. I used to think of Whitehorse as being totally stable, only to have that notion dashed 3 years ago when a large tree ledge right of Mistaken Identity simply let go after a week of rain and a windy night. For more proof of the frailty, check out what's over Michael Hartrich's right shoulder on page 305 of Webster's guide. That's lots of white down there in those woods!

Over the past 10 years there's been at least 2 major events on Canon. We expect that kind of thing on Canon. After all it's an "exfoliating onion." But in reality, all cliffs are works-in-progress, some just more so than others. Hey, the hike up to the base of any climb on Cathedral winds its way through huge boulders, not all of which are the product of the limited amount of quarrying done many years ago. That's why it's not all that surprising to hear about a substantial rock fall on a cliff like White's Ledge.

I got an email from an acquaintance, David Warriner, last Sunday. At White's the day before to do the increasingly popular Endeavor, he noticed a lot of fresh debris on the ground. The large belay tree ledge at the top of the second pitch had apparently suffered a significant "blow out" sometime during the week. IMCS guide Tom Burt was there at the end of the week and had noticed the same thing. As he described it, the large pine was still there, but the roots were now just hanging in mid-air. Interestingly enough this bears a strong similarity to what happened on Whitehorse. Both events involved very large trees on ledges. Hmmm... I think that the pictures tell the story. Interestingly enough this bears a very strong similarity to what happened on Whitehorse, both events involving very large trees on ledges. Hmmm...

Here's a picture of the scene of the crime. The first is from David, looking down from the left side of first pitch belay ledge. The second looks up at the big ledge. You can see the places where the rockfall hit the cliff. The third is a closeup of the remains of the right side of the ledge. The last two pictures were taken this morning when I went up to have a look-see. I was very surprised by just how much debris there was at the base of the cliff, and that apparently none of the routes suffered damage! Go figure...

Farther Afield:
A few weeks ago I was driving back down 302 from Vermont. Between Bethlehem and Twin Mountain there was an opening in the trees on the right side of the road and I spotted something I'd never seen before, quite a ways off in the distance. I turned around, shot a picture with my 400mm telephoto and scoped it out with the binoculars. When I got back I started sniffing around about it. What I saw looked to be a very large hill; one side covered with trees, the other a bare rock face. Several people knew of this outcropping, and a very few had even been there. In the old AMC guides it's listed as The Nubble. In the newer guide and recent topos, it is Haystack Mountain. Here is a telephoto of what I saw. According to some there has been some climbing done on it and there is a small trail that goes out there. It's an interesting feature that is worthy of some more investigation.

Richard Gauthier:
I was very saddened last Thursday afternoon to hear that Boston area climber Rick Gauthier had unexpectedly passed away. Rick suffered a bad fall while ice climbing Cave Route at Frankenstein Cliff several years ago. He had pretty much recovered from those injuries and was in excellent condition. An avid road cyclist, he'd clocked over 7,000 miles last year and well into beating that this year. I'd communicated with him extensively after the accident and again last winter. At that time he seemed upbeat and happy. According to a report I received on Wednesday afternoon Rick had gone out for a ride around 4 PM. That was apparently the last time he spoke with his wife Dena. When she returned home around 6 PM she found him slumped over the couch. She attempted to revive him and the hospital ER kept at it for about 45 minutes but they never got a pulse. It appears that he only rode for 8.5 miles then came home. Rick had put all of his gear back in the usual locations (bike, helmet, shoes and cell phone) as usual, so they suspect that he had a sudden heart attack well after getting home. That same afternoon there were severe thunderstorms in the area so he may have cut his ride short because of the weather. There were no reason to suspect he may have had a medical problem. Rick was only 43 years old.

You can make a donation in his memory to the Nature Conservancy (as NEClimbs has) at

The Nature Conservancy
4245 North Fairfax
Arlington, VA 22203

or via the web.

Local Growth:
In case there was any question in my mind that this area is growing, that was laid to rest on Tuesday. I needed some exercise and only had 2 hours, so I headed the road-bike out 302 towards Bartlett. When I got there I had a little extra time before I had to turn around, so I took a right at the light, rode over the Saco and headed left along the right side of the river. I've done this before and it's a beautiful quiet ride. For some reason when I got about 1/2 way to the end of the road I decided to take the right on the paved road to Stillings Grant. This was once the Stanton Slopes ski area in the late 30's.

Well, now it is a 500+ acre housing development! There are a ton of houses in progress and many already occupied. I don't know for sure, but I'll bet that a lot of them are in the $300k+ range. Plenty of growth is happening in the area in the 7 years I've lived here & it doesn't look as if it's stopping any time soon. I spoke to a woman who lived right there in an older farmhouse & she didn't sound all that happy about how the development is changing the complexion of the community, not to mention the tax base. Why am I not surprised?

NEW on NEClimbs:
We've had a lot of people buttonhole us at the crag or email us asking about how to choose a digital camera. With so many choices it's hard even for me to make a decision for myself. Over the past year the market has gone crazy and the prices have dropped substantially, so I put together an update to an article I wrote a year ago for the Climbing Magazine Photo Edition on how to purchase a digital camera. Check it out. Hopefully you'll find it useful.

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 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:

Remember - climb hard, ride the steep stuff, stay safe and above all BE NICE,

Al Hospers
The White Mountain Report
North Conway, New Hampshire

Chaos rules it all.
Mark Twight
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