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June 17, 2004
This week was the annual peregrine banding on Cathedral Ledge.
It was a week later than normal for a variety of reasons, making
for a significantly larger and more aggressive chick this time.
I'm always excited to be able to be a part of this process, and
believe me, it's an unforgettable experience to watch a 6-week
old peregrine chick attack a glove that has been laid on the ledge
next to them!
Sometimes it's hard to for me believe, but I've been helping with
this process for 4 years now. As the climber in the group it's
my job to manage all the aspects of the climbing and rappelling
portion of the exercise. I set up the ropes on top, rap down to
wherever the nest is located and set up a safe and secure belay
for the biologist, Chris Martin from NH Audubon in this case, and
anyone else who is involved. In some cases this is an easy task,
in others more difficult. Last year on the Painted Walls the rock
was so bad and the position so precarious I couldn't allow anyone
else down to the nest. So I ended up putting the birds in a rutsack
and having Chris raise them to his more secure location.
This year on Cathedral it was much more reasonable. The birds
nested on a small ledge located above a birch tree next to the
niche at the end of the crack/flake on Retaliation. We met volunteer
Ross Heald at the road and with his help and spotting scope determined
exactly where the chick was and where the best place to rappel
would be. We drove to the top of the cliff and walked around to
the correct spot. Our other support person and friend, Toby Savage,
set up the anchors using some of my 11mm climbing rope and I lowered
the rappel rope and headed down. While we could do this with just
Chris and myself, it's really nice to have another person involved
in case there is a problem. And of course it's always helpful to
have someone along to help schlep the gear. (Thanks Toby!)
The ledge above the birch looked good for Chris, and there was
a nice crack with a small stance above to anchor me into. I got
Chris' setup organized with a sling on the birch and had him rap
to the ledge. Once he was secured to the tree and to a cordalette
attached to my bomber 4-point anchor, he went to work. Meanwhile
Toby rapped down to a position on a ledge above me where he could
observe what we were doing as well as keep an eye on the very agitated
The weather started looking like it was gong to close in, so Chris
hustled a bit to get the bird banded and gather up any debris he
could from the ledge. While he was working, I was taking pictures
while keeping an eye on the parents who were agitatedly flying
around nearby. Chris had been raked by a bird the week before so
I was a bit nervous. Fortunately they didn't dive-bomb us as I
was in a very exposed position. Instead of jugging the 30' back
to the top, we decided to rap straight down to the Upper Refuse
ledge and walk off. 20 minutes later we were back at our packs,
all done for this year.
Here are a few pictures of the morning's fun. The first is of
me taking a picture of Chris and the chick. The others are of the
chick and/or Chris.
Al shooting Chris
I'm always honored to be able to be a part of the peregrine preservation
project. It is a special thing that I look forward to being involved
with every year. It makes me really appreciate these birds and
the work that NH Audubon and Chris have been doing. The next time
you are up on Cathedral, or the Eaglet, or over at Rumney and you
see or hear one of these spectacular birds, remember that they
are there through the efforts of Chris Martin and a bunch of volunteers.
The minimal inconvenience of the closing of just a few climbs is
well worth what we are gaining.
Here's Chris Martin's report on the process and progress -
On Monday, 6/14/2004, one 26-day old peregrine falcon chick was
banded at its nest on the "Retaliation" climbing route
at Cathedral Ledge in Bartlett, NH. If all goes well, this chick
should be making its first flight around 6/30.
Volunteer climber Al Hospers of Conway, NH, led the rappel down
to the nest ledge. Chris Martin from the Audubon Society of New
Hampshire examined and banded an unusually aggressive chick, and
recovered prey remains for later analyses. Volunteer Toby Savage
accompanied Al and Chris to the nest ledge and provided climbing
support. Volunteer Ross Heald provided radio assistance in setting
up for the climb.
On June 4, volunteer observer Peggy Connolly last saw two chicks
being fed on the nest ledge. On June 6, local climber Erik Eisele
reported "a softball-sized bird covered with white fur" laying
dead at the base of the cliff below the nest ledge. There was no
sign of these remains on 6/14, but from the climber's description
and the disappearance after 6/4 of at least one chick from the
nest ledge, it seems likely that one of the chicks fell from the
nest between 6/4 and 6/6.
This was the sixth New Hampshire peregrine falcon nest site that
we have visited in 2004 to band chicks and/or recover unhatched
eggs. So far this season, we have banded a total of 12 falcon chicks
and obtained 5 unhatched eggs for future shell thickness and contaminant
analyses and 2 feather samples for future mercury analysis by the
US Fish & Wildlife Service. Additional site visits in the planning
stages include Russell Crag (6/16, or 6/17), and Mt. Webster (6/22
or 6/23). We also have confirmed falcon pairs incubating eggs or
brooding young at Devils Slide and Holts Ledge. Other New Hampshire
sites with confirmed peregrine falcon activity this season include
Abeniki Mtn, Frankenstein Cliff, Osceola, Owls Head, and Painted
Peregrine falcon monitoring and management in New Hampshire is
coordinated and carried out by ASNH with financial support and
professional guidance of the NH Fish & Game Department and
the US Fish & Wildlife Service, the cooperation of other federal,
state, and private land owners and managers, additional support
from individual donors, and with the extraordinarily important
help of many volunteer climbers and birders. Thanks to all who
participate in this effort!
AIGUILLE DU MIDI CABLE CAR CLOSED - The heavily used Aiguille du
Midi cable car above Chamonix, France, will be closed for much
of the summer, following an accident in May. The two-stage tramway
to the summit of 12,605-foot Aiguille du Midi is used to access
dozens of world-class alpine routes in the Mont Blanc area, as
well as the famed Vallée Blanche ski route. Workers were
doing routine maintenance on the first stage of the lift when
a huge length of cable dropped to the ground. The 2 million euro
repair job is expected to take at least until the middle of July.
Climbers and skiers now must approach this side of the Mont Blanc
massif via the Montenvers or St. Gervais railways or the cable
car from Italy — and they’ll have to walk quite a
YOUNGEST TO TICK SEVEN SUMMITS - On May 24, Britton Keeshan, an
AAC member from the New York Section, succeeded on Mount Everest
from the south to complete his quest to be the youngest person
to climb the Seven Summits. Britton, a Middlebury College student
from Cos Cob, Conn., was 22 years, 5 months and 23 days old when
he reached the top — about six months younger than a Japanese
climber who was previously the youngest to collect the Seven Summits.
Britton is the grandson of the late “Capt. Bob” Keeshan,
the originator of the “Captain Kangaroo” TV series,
according to New York Section Chair Phil Erard. Britton faced some
competition for the age record from New York Section member Dan
Lochner, a University of Richmond student from New Canaan, Conn.
Lochner summited Everest from the north on May 19. He now has six
of the Seven Summits, and he’s five months
younger than Britton. But to break the record he has to climb Vinson
in Antarctica by early November — an unlikely prospect.
AAJ HEADED YOUR WAY SOON
The 2004 editions of the American Alpine Journal and Accidents
in North American Mountaineering are headed to the printers and
will be mailed to AAC members who are current as of Aug. 1. To
ensure that you receive your copies on time, make sure your membership
dues have been paid for 2004! To join or renew your membership,
International Mountain Equipment
Summer Boot Sale Happening NOW
Store Hours - Sun-Thurs 8:30 am - 6:00 pm / Fri, Sat 8:00 – 9:00
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We have tons of last-year's models of mountaineering boots ON
If you've been thinking about getting a new pair of winter boots, now's the
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USED Koflach Degre (rental) - $155 to $175 ea. based on condition
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NEW LaSportiva Trango Ice - $185 ea.
1 - Euro 39
2 - Euro 40 1/2
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NEW LaSportiva Lhotse - $162.50
1 - Euro 38
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Quantities are subject to change.
Limited to In-Stock items only no rainchecks
Brad White & I went over to Humphrey's for the morning a couple
of days ago. I wanted to show him a new route I had put up last
fall with George Hurley and Mike Khan, Hidden In Plain View. I
had thought of it is a way to avoid the stacked blocks finish to
Cakewalk. When we did it originally I asked George and several
others if they had heard of anyone doing it. All said no. However
Brad pointed out that it appeared to go right next to the last
pitch of Let Them Eat Cake. From what I read in Webster's guide
the LTEC finish goes straight up the small right-facing dihedral
from where I am in this
picture. However, what I'm proposing is to continue the exposed
traverse to the left and then head straight up, staying right on
the arete, and going left of the small pine tree to the top.
If you've done any of these, let me know what you think. Brad
thinks that it's the same climb, I think it's somewhat different.
If you haven't done them yourself, check them both out. They are
much more interesting than the blocks & corner that everyone
has been doing - and a whole lot safer! Oh yes, one other note.
When you rap, be sure to rap to the right of the large blocks,
not left of the gargoyle. Believe it or not with 2 - 60 meter ropes
you can get all the way to the ground and there's little chance
of getting your ropes stuck. Enjoy...
When I posted the pictures last week of the rockfall on White's
Ledge I forgot to post this
one. It was taken from a small ledge
up and left of the main area where the ledge came down. It just
shows you how much debris was deposited at the base of the cliff!
Check out our review of the Mountain
Hardware Vertex jacket. If you're in the market for a lightweight
jacket that's good for in least 3 1/2 seasons it might be a good
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
|In 1961 I led this chimney in a state of metabolic uproar. At the base of the pitch I smoked several cigarettes (the first and last ones of my life). This was to calm me. Then I spooned half a jar of honey. This was to ensure superhuman strength. Mort Hempel, my partner, watched this silly ritual with mouth agape and eyes exploding with fear.|