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July 8, 2004
We've been in this cycle of several days of gorgeous weather followed
by some rain. It's really not a bad place to be when it comes down
to it, mind you. I get to do a lot of things outside, and I don't
have to water the lawn or garden. Not a bad tradeoff, in my humble
estimation. I was all fired up to go climbing today when, imagine
to my surprise, I woke up and it was raining cats & dogs.
I should have known something was up when I came home from Delaney's
at about 12:30 last night & shut the car lights off in the
driveway. Since we don't have much in the way of light pollution
out here, I can usually see the stars really brightly. Last night
it was obvious that it had clouded up and there was this light
smell of humidity in the air. Funny how that works, isn't it? So,
when I woke up at 5:30 to the sound of rain drumming on the upstairs
deck, it shouldn't have been that much of a surprise. Maybe it
wasn't all that surprising, but it sure was a drag. Between the
rain on Monday and work (yes Virginia, even I have to actually
work for a living) I've only got in one afternoon's bouldering
this week. Now that's a bummer! At least I've been out on the bike
a couple of times to keep the juices flowing.
It was a really nice 4th of July weekend - not too hot, no rain,
minimal bugs - just about perfect. On Friday Brad White (partner
and senior guide at IMCS) and I got out for the afternoon to that
new little crag below the Barber Wall. I'd been down there several
times earlier in the season and it's a nice place to play around
for an afternoon. All the routes are short, but they offer a number
of entertaining problems. Brad led a nice 5.9 crack climb (No Guts,
No Glory) put up by Mona L'Heurx and George Hurley. I did it in
the early spring and found it delightful, and it was no less so
this time. The crux is a thin finger crack and short headwall below
the final slab, finishing on a easy, but often pinestraw covered
slab to a rappel tree.
Brad made short work of it, but I have to confess to making one
of the classic "second's mistakes" on this one. Brad
had placed gear in the crack both low and high. He also placed
a bomber red Camelot up high to protect the move over the top.
What I hadn't realized was that he'd moved up to place that piece,
backed down to rest for a minute and then fired over the top. I
removed the 2 lower pieces and figured that he had placed the upper
Camelot from some kind of stance. Unfortunately when I pulled up
there I wasn't able to hang on and remove the piece so I pulled
on over top of it, figuring I could squat down and remove it from
above. NOT... Of course it was just out of reach, the rope was
running down through the draw doing me absolutely no good - protection
wise - and I was left standing there in a very humiliating position. <sigh> Of
course the obvious solution was to tie into a bite on the rope
to protect myself and then downclimb back to where I could reach
the piece...and that's what I did. It's just so annoying that I
didn't scope it out more clearly before I made the move. Of course
that it shows how rarely I am a second!
After that I led George's route, Morning Glory. The description
I was given rates it 5.9. Both Brad and I could take issue with
that one. A tricky boulder move, thankfully protected by a bolt
down low (and that's another story), leads to a slightly flaring
crack and on to a tree. I agree that this one is in the 5.9/9+
range. Left of the tree you step up onto a slab and head up to
a bolt. It's a bit run-out and you don't want to fall down over
the overlap, but the moves are about 7+ friction, no biggie. There
are two cruxes getting past the next 2 bolts to a slightly overhanging
crack above. I would say that these are in the 5.10 range. The
second of the two, using a knob on the right, seems to me to be
on a par with the crux step-through on the second pitch of Lost
Souls - around 10a. Move up and right, using the crack, beneath
a headwall and pull up to a featureless slab and thank-god bolt.
Now here's the real conundrum... I see absolutely no way, for me,
to pull up and get situated on the slab from directly below the
bolt. It seems much harder than getting over the overlap in the
middle of Ego Trip, with even less in the way of holds! You can,
however, step around to the right past a small bush/tree and swing
over at about 5.9. It's your choice! Of course once on the ever-so-slighty-mossy
slab you will need to pad up about 35' to a very small pro placement
and then another 35' to the rappel tree. If anyone else has done
the route I'd be interested in your perception of the grade. Your
milage may vary!
We finished off on Decrescendo, George Hurley's very nice 5.6
route all the way to the right by a small gully. This one lives
up to its name: solid and well protected 5.6 moves up a gently
overhang face to a bolt, stepping slightly right and pulling over
onto a very easy slab & up to a 2-bolt anchor. This one is
well worth doing.
On Sunday I went out with Alyssa and ran up Funhouse. It was another
beautiful day, tho a bit hotter than Friday. There were other folks
all around and I was surprised we could even get on the climb.
The party of 3 above us was another bunch of locals out on one
of the most popular climbs on the cliff on one of the busiest times
of the year. What were we all thinking of? <grin> To keep
out of their way I decided to do the original line of the climb.
It goes to the left of the crack that most people climb, which
happens to be the line of Pooh. I think that it's a bit harder,
but more fun - especially the final face moves past an old ring-piton
to the belay trees at the top. First acensionist Joe Cote remarks
about the first ascent:
"I felt like we were inside a Funhouse at an amusement
park. We also were very surprised that it went at only 5.7. We
certainly didn't think that there were any routes left that would
go so easily."
Needless to say we are all happy that he and Larry Poorman put
this one together back in 1969.
One thing else to be aware of... I saw more loose rock on the ledges
on Sunday than I've ever seen before. I don't know why it's more
this year, but there is a lot. Alyssa knocked off one substantial
chunk off the second small tree ledge, fortunately missing everyone
below and clearing the Riley dog by a mere 6-10 feet. Up higher
there were some very large pieces, one which was just resting
on a slab, poised to cause someone a world of hurt. I moved that
one, but there is a lot more where it came from. This whole area
always has a lot of loose stuff around and it's surprising to
me how often I see folks climbing without helmets. There are
always folks moving around up on the big ledge and I've seen
stuff knocked off many times. I feel as uncomfortable hanging
around at the base of any of those climbs without a helmet as
I do driving without a seat belt. In New Hampshire of course
the latter is YOUR CHOICE!
Access to portions of Arizona's Queen Creek/Oak Flat area - home
to the Phoenix BoulderBlast (formerly, the Phoenix Bouldering
Contest) - may be lost forever if a mining proposal to extract
billions of dollars worth of high-grade copper is approved. Resolution
Copper's proposed mine - believed to be the largest copper ore
body in North America, and located thousands of feet beneath
the US Forest Service- managed Oak Flat area - could cause substantial
ground subsidence requiring the area to be closed to public entry.
The mine could affect hundreds of bouldering problems and roped
routes, resulting in the largest ever loss of climbing resources
in the US.
I lowered the Instant Bug Report to a three last week. Someone
asked why it wasn't a 2 or less, as they had been out with no
bug dope all day on Saturday and never gotten bit. I did the
same on Sunday and it is a real temptation to do so. we've even
been eating dinner out on the back deck again with no problems.
However, that works fine until the sun goes down behind the cliff.
Once that happens we're into black flies, gnats and mosquitoes.
The later you stay out and the deeper in the woods you are, the
more likely you'll be carried away, or fall down from blood loss.
So I'll stick with my current rating. <grin>
Can you believe it? Apparently Alex and Thomas, those amazing Huber
brothers, have climbed the 16-pitch Zodiac route on the right
side of El Capitan in under two hours! They systematically worked
the route, finally coming in well under their previous record
of 2 hours 10 minutes. A large crowd of climbers gathered in
El Cap Meadow cheered them on. Their new record is 1 hour, 51
minutes, 34 seconds. The Zodiac goes free at 5.13+. (Thanks to
Chris Lemay for forwarding me an article about this by Dougald
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:
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Have fun and climb safe,
The White Mountain Report
North Conway, New Hampshire
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