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An amazing thunderstorm blew through on Wednesday afternoon about
3PM. I had just made it back from a mountain bike ride with my
buddy Sam when the huge raindrops started coming down. Numerous
bolts of lightning hit all around and the claps of thunder echoing
off the cliffs were almost deafening. Fortunately my wife Alyssa
was home at the time and was frantically closing windows as Sam
and I streaked in. Both our dog Riley and the kiddo were completely
freaked and hid in the house! Believe me, it was violent.
As we came out of the snowmobile trail half-way up Cathedral Ledge
road we had seen a huge group of school children hiking their way
up the road. I'm sure that they were caught in the downpour and
can only imagine that they were probably totally freaked by the
storm. This was the biggest storm I've seen this summer and it
dropped almost 1/4 inch of rain in about 20 minutes. That's right,
I said 20 minutes. That's all it rained! 20 minutes after it started
it was gone, the skies behind it were blue and it was wonderfully
Fortunately the storm had no impact on the Cliff Cleanup scheduled
for later that afternoon. In fact it was nice because it cooled
the air off. We had a pretty good turnout and got a pickup-truck-bed
full of trash. Right now the cliff looks pretty good. Hopefully
it will stay that way, at least for a while. As usual the party
was great and it was super seeing all the local climbers. it was
THE place to be. Climbers and guides talking shop and avoiding
political discussions, kids running around with hot dogs and potato
chips in mouths and wives chatting and having fun. Plenty of beer
and good cheer abounded. Thanks to all who helped.
A week or so ago I posted something about the fireworks on the
top of Cathedral Ledge last July 4th causing a fire. I heard
a rumor the other day about couple of well known climbers who
threw a military-grade charge off Cathedral Ledge one afternoon/evening
in the 70's. As I understand it, the concussion was pretty darn
amazing. Kind of makes what the fireworks people are doing look
like pretty small potatoes!
The North Road:
I took a bike ride up in Gorham Wednesday with a couple of friends.
We rode the North Road from the dam to Bethel and back. This
is pretty close to a 40 mile ride on a beautiful rural road with
rolling hills and great views. With all the hardwood trees along
the road I'm sure it will be a very scenic area in the fall.
We passed right by Tumbledown Mountain on our way. I've never
been climbing there but my understanding is that it has some
very nice routes in a beautiful setting on good Maine schist.
Definitely a place I'm going to have to visit. There were several
cars parked there and we could hear folks climbing as we passed.
Halfway to Walking:
In the spring I posted the bad news that Dave Benson, an old friend
from my Boston AMC days, was seriously injured in an avalanche
while skiing in Colorado. Initial estimates were that he was
going to be a quadriplegic, and would be lucky to be able to
breathe on his own. Well, Dave always was a fighter and I was
ecstatic to read an email he sent around to friends that shows
he is proving them wrong. I'm taking the liberty of posting the
email and hopefully he won't mind. Frankly I find it inspiring...
Yesterday, in physical therapy, I took my first step, on land and on
my own. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
On the 23rd, my therapist Cathy tried something new. While in
parallel bars, she actively moved my feet in a walking motion. It
felt pretty strange, but still pretty cool. On a second attempt, I
felt like I was helping contribute. Cathy initiated a foot movement
and I could help finish it. With assistance, I got to use a
recumbent bike machine. I needed help keeping my feet from hitting
the frame, but I could turn the pedals pretty well. However, it only
took about five minutes to wear me out.
On the 30th, we pushed the boundaries some more. After being
up in a harness, I was placed into the de-weighting frame. (I
realize I really need pictures here.) The frame was placed over a
standard treadmill, and when standing up, cables from the frame were
attached to my shoulders. The best analogy I can come up with is
that of being a marionette. With a therapist helping move each leg,
I was able to walk with their assistance. At first, I felt like a
cyborg, my legs moving without my control. Eventually, I felt like I
was able control my feet and help with the process. With the
assistance of the de-waiting frame, I was able to pickup and move my
On Monday, we returned to the parallel bars. This time, I was
focusing on releasing my knees. The spasticity causes my legs to
lock solid particularly at the knee. With my left knee releasing
nicely, I lifted my left foot and took my first step. While the left
leg was working well, the right was being very uncooperative. Even
with my therapist helping, it was difficult to move the right leg. I
was able to take several steps without assistance using my left
foot. But my leg tired quickly, and on a second pass I could only
manage a few steps. But what an incredible day! Walking, here I
K2 - 50 Year Anniversary:
Teams of climbers have flocked to northern Pakistan to celebrate
the 50th anniversary of the conquest of K2. So far this season,
43 climbers have reached the 8,611 meter summit. On Monday, Spaniard
Edurne Pasaban became only the sixth woman to stand on its summit.
She is currently the only female K2 summiteer alive today.
Into Pushing The Limits, This Sounds Like Fun:
There will be an excellent 36 hour race hosted in Saint John, New
Brunswick on Sept 25/26 weekend. This is about an hour from the
Maine border in Calais. Approximate travel times are as follows:
Boston 7hrs; North Conway 6hrs; Portland 5hrs; Bangor 3hrs. Disciplines
include trekking (trail and off-trail), mountain biking, sea
kayaking, ropes (ascending and descending), caving, pack rafting,
and possibly horse back riding. Course will be approximately
100 miles and will be a true adventure race with lots of navigation.
Entry fee is around $800 CAD or $600 US. For more info see website "www.eastcreek.ns.ca" and
follow links to Saint John race.
New at NEClimbs:
Well it's not quite done yet, but keep your eye on the Routes section
of the site. I've made some really big changes and am in the
process of adding in a ton of new routes. Hopefully it will be
up and running by the end of the weekend.
Ice Conditions Report:
Selected Ice Conditions effective December 8, 2016
Tho it's been chilly at night, it hasn't really been cold enough to get things to set up. I think that the pictures tell the story. Predictions are for much colder weather starting Thursday night, so if that happens it will really help us out. Although there was more ice in Crawford Notch on Wednesday than last week, IMO there was nothing climbable. A few folks have made the hike up into the Ravines, but things are fairly thin up there as well. A few days ago I saw pictures of a friend climbing the Open Book in Tucks. I asked about gear and they said that while climbable, it was basically unprotectable! Doesn't sound like much fun to me, but of course YMMV...
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
From Everest Base Camp, you can walk four hours and you're lounging on grass, drinking beer with trekkers. K2 stands absolutely on its own. The approach is hard. The base camp feels like the moon. The mountain itself looks utterly impregnable, and there's no easy way up the thing. And all this hits you between the eyes when you see it for the first time. It's like that famous Munch painting. You know the one—The Scream? Except, of course, you're the one doing the screaming.