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Sink or swim, that's what all us kids did. I still remember my
grandfather tossing me into the middle of the pool at the YMCA
in Macon, Georgia. This was when I was probably 4. There were several
of his friends right there so I wouldn't have stayed under very
long, and I most certainly wasn't going to drown. Of course I knew
it was coming, but still it was a shock. Fortunately, like most
of us, I popped up to the surface like a cork and dog-paddled my
sputtering way to the side of the pool to echoing applause. From
then on the water and I were inseparable.
So, once again, what does all this have to do with climbing? I
got an email recently from an acquaintance containing several pictures
of his 7 year old grandson leading his first climb over at Lost
Ledge. Obviously the kid had climbed before. He knew how to clip
bolts, tie into anchors, and even how to belay his second up the
climb. In fact he seemed to have all the techniques reasonably
well in hand, adults were supervising everything and the climb
was very moderate by any standard (we're talking 5.3 here). I've
seen first-time adult leaders who didn't look as relaxed.
Still, you certainly have to admit it was not without risk. In
this day and age it's rare for people to take risks with their
children. The government and other "interested parties" try
so hard to protect people from themselves that something like this
could easily be labeled as child-endangerment. (You'll notice I'm
not naming any names here either!) You know my parents would probably
have been arrested by today's standards for allowing me to ride
my 1-speed Huffy 15 miles to the beach and back by myself on many
summer days when I was about 10 years old. Heck, my grandfather
hauled me all over the North Georgia mountains up to about a 5.5
grade starting when I was 6. All we had was an old hemp rope tied
around our waists. Who knows what the climbs were like really,
but the exposure was prodigious to me at the time. And god forbid
the authorities find out who took their 8-year old up Pinnacle
gully in the winter! Are we getting just a bit too, over the top
with this kind of thing?
The proud grandfather of our fledgling leader says;
"No matter what you do someone will complain. Well
let them. I was right there with him the whole time. He was
so proud of what he did and I was too. I look at this and see
other Fathers getting their sons and daughters out and spending
more time with them."
The young climber had this to say;
"I am proud to have done my first lead climb today on a Mr.
Joe Cote, Mr. Bob Fraser, Mr. Jeff Fraser, & Mr. Al Lapadde
route, 'Carpet Slabber' a 5.3 climb at Lost Ledge. Thank you guys
for doing a nice climb for beginners like me. I did have some trouble
getting the carabiner in that funny bolt Mr. Cote. I also did Gawking
at the Broad Squad just last week (5.5), but I top roped that one.
Oh yea my sister followed me up both climbs she's only 5, I'm 7."
Here are a few pix you may, or may not, appreciate - I certainly
In this day and age I'm sure that there are those that will say
it's terrible to put a kid that age in any kind of dangerous situation.
But, hey...I certainly did many things at least that dangerous
when I was that age, and probably you did too. Maybe it was luck
that we all survived, but I think not. Just think about all those
7 year olds doing back flips on the balance beam in gymnastics
or jumps on their skateboard. Hmmm... If you don't think you can
get seriously hurt anywhere you are sadly mistaken!
In any event, congrats to the young man, his parents and grandparents
on a job well done. It's obvious that he is enjoying himself. Hopefully
he'll still be climbing when he's on the parent side of the fence
and will be able to infuse his children with the enjoyment of this
Mt. Washington Hillclimb:
I was fortunate to be able to help out a couple of friends who
rode the Mt. Washington Hillclimb last Saturday. It's a very
special event and one not to be missed if you have the opportunity
to see the finish at the summit. My hat's completely off to anyone
who can complete this ride. It's the equivalent of a 5.13 testpiece.
As usual I am completely blown-away by what spectators were wearing
on the top of Mt. Washington for last weekend's bike race. As
usual, so many people completely underestimate the conditions
up there. I saw folks in shorts, t-shirts, blue-jeans, sweatshirts...you
name it. This was on a day when the temps were in the low to
mid 40's, 45 mph winds, blowing rain and visibility at about
50'! The most disturbing thing was the people who brought small
children dressed the same. I don't know if anyone got hypothermic,
but it was perfect weather for it. I was in full rain gear & polypro
clothing and just barely felt comfortable standing around outside
for a couple of hours. Go figure... Here's a coupe of picture,
one of the winning rider, which will give you an idea of the
Access Fund Adopt-a-Crag:
It's that time of year again. September 4 & 5, 2004 here at
Cathedral Ledges and Whitehorse Ledge Climbing. It's the Access
Trail Reconstruction. For more info, click
Quincy Quarries Climbfest - September 18, 2004:
After a five-year hiatus, the Quincy Quarries Climbfest is BACK! Everyone
is welcome, seasoned climbers, friends, and anyone curious about
rock climbing. The historic Quincy Quarries, once over 200 feet
deep and filled with water, have recently been drained and filled
with 710,000 tons of "Big Dig" dirt. Gates open at 9
AM and there will be a Speed Climbing Competition starting at 1
PM. For more information and directions check out the website.
Ice Conditions Report:
Selected Ice Conditions effective December 15, 2014
While the Valley ice is taking its sweet time, other places are starting to fill out nicely. Unless we have another rain/warmup event, my bet is for some fairly reasonable ice for Xmas. That would be a nice holiday gift, don't you think? ;-)
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
The thrashing movements gave me the shuddering thought that if the stitching came apart, I would burst through the bottom and plunge two thousand feet. My life was hanging on the threads of an Oldham seamstress.