NEClimbs - information for New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont rock and ice climbers
Current conditions in North Conway, NH at 11:58a on 10/24/14 - Temperature: 59.8 F - Wind speed: 0.0 mph - Wind chill: 59.8 F - Barometric pressure: 29.158 in - 3 Hour Barometer Trend: Steady - Humidity: 100 %
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November 18, 2004

Hi Folks,

It was still dark at 5:30 as I headed up the road on my early morning run to Cannon. As I rode past Attitash my headlights lit up fine snowflakes and the road had a dusting on it for at least 100 yards! I slowed down and opened the truck window and the sound of the snow machines was almost louder than the U2 blasting on my iPOD!

Alden Pellett and I had been emailing back and forth about getting out on Wednesday. At first we were going to try & hit Mt. Washington to get in a couple of gullies in a day. The predicted temps didn't really seem all that conducive for that kind of thing so we decided to go for Cannon instead. He'd done the Dike the week before and had noticed that Hassig Direct looked "in". Hassig goes straight up off the first pitch belay on the Dike, climbing rock up to an obvious steep runnel. After Alden talked with some friends who had done it the day before, we agreed it sounded like a good plan. If it wasn't good we could fallback to Fafnir and always do the Dike. A 7AM meet at the parking lot was set.

When I got there Alden was sharpening his tools. Another car pulled up just before we left containing John Mallory. He was meeting someone and planning on the Dike, so no problem. We headed down the bike path and about 45 minutes later, yes folks I'm a slow hiker, we were at the Whitney Gilman toe. As we were getting suited up Mallory and his partner, Jon Sykes, came up. I haven't seen Jon for some time.

Alden took off up the first pitch and Jon and I decided that we would climb together up to the belay. Jon was in a great mood and we chatted away, carefully picking our way up, neither wanting to knock anything off. The ice was in great shape, fat and plastic. It was amazing conditions for the this time of year. Alden had told me it was going to be that way, but I was still surprised. I headed up to the normal belay and Jon belayed down and right, hopefully out of the way.

About this time another party of three appeared in the talus field. Wisely they hung out down there for quite a while. Jon brought Mallory up to his belay and swapped their gear as Alden racked and I restacked. Mallory led off underneath us and onto the second pitch of the Dike as Alden took off up the crux pitch of Hassig.

Now I have to insert here that I'm actually not totally sure that what we climbed was actually Hassig Direct. Jon said he thought it was called Dark Star. I couldn't find anything with that name but a climb called Dark Crystal used to be in that area. This is the one that had the infamous cave that tunneled INSIDE Cannon, but apparently it fell down! As best I can tell from the description in the new edition of the Ice Guidebook what we did matches the description of Hassig Direct. If you know differently, please let me know.

Anyway, Alden started up the crux pitch. It looked pretty moderate up to the place where the ice ran out. Don't you just hate that, the ice running out I mean. He carried a moderate rock rack and is a master at the mixed genera so that wasn't really a problem for him, especially since the gear was pretty good. Several moves later he got to a spot of snow and then to a stance with a yellow sling and 2-pin fixed anchor. Well it is more-or-less a fixed anchor and certainly not a place he was planning on hanging out and bringing me up to, so he clipped it and moved on. Moving up onto the ice I could hear sounds of pleasure and see occasional smiles. He cruised up the overhanging ice, managing to place three screws as he went, commenting on the highly interesting move pulling over the top.

Unlike the Dike, our ice wasn't at all wet which was a blessing because our hands never got damp and therefore stayed warm. It was mostly cloudy, but occasionally the sun would come out. When that happened ice fell off over on Litha and sometimes from the top of Fafnir. We were extremely happy that we weren't over that way! A few minutes later Alden called off-belay. While he had been climbing 2 members of the other party came up and started up climbing. It turned out to be Valley guide Marc Chauvin and his associate Dave Burns. Jay Philbrick had hiked up with them, but had decided not to climb.

I got the on-belay and headed up. It was difficult, but not nearly as bad as I thought. There were plenty of slots for picks where you wanted them, small ledges for your front-points and the gear he placed was surprisingly good. When I got to the runnel I could see that it was overhanging, but looked great. You could get stems out left on the rock and there were occasional pockets to hook in the ice. I was psyched!

Of course the same lessons I've learned over the years in hard face climbing applied here. Move up 1 inch and it opens up a whole other world of pick and crampon placements. There was only one place where I had to do a strength move and expend any significant energy. That made me feel good. The top of the runnel was definitely tricky and entertaining as Alden had pointed out. You would certainly not want to smash up the curtain, it was more a place for finesse.

Alden fired the last pitch up to the final belay. It wasn't all that interesting past the initial ice curtain, so he made it more fun by stepping out right and going up a very exposed arete. It was very "airy" and made the finish highly entertaining. We'd left our packs at the base and there was no one else on the climb so we did 3 quick raps back to the base. The hike down through the talus was it's usual drag, but we were back at the car just after 1. All in all a darn good morning's effort.

Oh yeah... Back at Attitash at 2:15 after checking out Frankenstein and Crawford Notch, the snow they had blown in the morning was all gone and temps were in the mid to upper 40's in the Valley. <sigh> Hopefully all they were doing was testing the guns.

Fire In The Moats, Update:
On Sunday (13th) a forest fire broke out up in the Lucy Brook area on the side of the Moats behind Cathedral Ledge. It was obvious something was going on as wood smoke filled the Valley and you could plainly see where it was taking place from anywhere in downtown. Firefighters had a hard time digging trenches to contain the blaze due to the fact that it was a difficult place to get into. For the next several days the community was very concerned, especially those of us on the West Side, as the ground is quite dry and there was no immediate precipitation in sight. The Forest Service kept at it and by Wednesday were able to complete a perimeter containment and the fire seemed to have died down.

With any luck we'll have some precip (snow would be fine) over the weekend and that will take care of it. This was the first major forest fire in that area in remembrance. The Forest Service believes that it was started by a hunter's cigarette or campfire. We have had no thunderstorms or anything that would have logically triggered a fire. We're all glad it happened now and not in the early fall when it was even drier that it is now.

AMC "Introduction To Ice" Climbing Program:
The AMC Boston Chapter Mountaineering Committee is proud to announce the
2004/5 Ice Climbing Program. Please check their web site for details. If you are a prospective student or a returning leader make sure to set aside the following dates:

Lecture #1
Monday, December 6, 2004 Cabot Auditorium, AMC, 5 Joy Street, Boston 7:30 pm
You must attend this to take the program Meet instructors, learn about
the course, fill out an application, and take a belay test.

Lecture #2
Monday, January 10, 2005 Cabot Auditorium, AMC, 5 Joy Street, Boston 7:30 pm

Weekend #1
Saturday & Sunday, January 22 & 23 Harvard Cabin, Jackson, NH

Weekend #2
Saturday & Sunday February 5 & 6 Harvard Cabin, Jackson, NH

I've been helping out with this course for 8 years and can attest that it's very well done. The information is up to date and well presented and the people running it are competent and very well motivated.

Instant Ice Report:
The ice hasn't built much if any over the past week and in some places things have even gotten worse. We need snow and cold weather, neither of which we are likely to get in the next several days. Better get out the rock gear for the weekend. A few places like Mt. Washington or the Dike are still building because they are in upper elevations or well shaded. That said, daytime temps have been in the the mid-40's so be aware that the ice may not be as well bonded as it was.

Some people have been climbing the first pitch of Standard Route at Frankenstein. I DO NOT RECOMMEND this as the water is flowing too much and the route is mostly in the sun! Be patient and remember, this is only the 18th of November. The cold and snow will come, and we will get ice.



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:

http://www.neclimbs.com/mobile

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:

http://www.facebook.com/NEClimbs/

Have fun and climb safe,


Al Hospers
The White Mountain Report
North Conway, New Hampshire


I climb as hard as anyone on earth. I just do it on easier routes.
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