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January 27, 2005
I was really surprised that there weren't more
folks out over the weekend. I guess part of it was that we'd just
had the 3-day Martin Luther King holiday, and also the fact it
was pretty cold. Thursday was actually pretty balmy - sunny and
about 17 all day - but the weekend prediction was for highs of
about 7! On top of that there was a snowstorm predicted for Saturday
night and Sunday.
I got a call Friday morning from my friend & EMS guide Travis.
We talked about trying the Myth, but after he observed another
party backing off the first pitch, we decided it probably wasn't
prudent. We wandered around Cathedral a bit, finally settling on
trying Super Goofer's. In case you don't know, it's a very cool
runnel that comes down in the corner of the Big Flush, just left
of the Airation Buttress. It doesn't always come in, but when it
does it is a really neat climb. It's been on my tick-list for a
while. It was cold, but as long as we kept moving it wasn't all
that bad. as we hiked up the hill past Standard we ran into the
party that had backed off the Myth. It turned out to be Jim Shimberg
and his partner Matt. Shim was on his way up Diagonal. The pillar
looked really good and I had been surprised that no one had attempted
it previously. That said I've done the dike pitch up to the headwall
several times and I can imagine how committing it can be in the
winter in crampons. Later he told me that the pillar was detached
from its base. I can imagine that the upper offwidth was entertaining
at the least.
It never got above 7 degrees, but out of the wind it was tolerable.
Fortunately I had on my new Wild Things EP jacket and pants. They
are quite warm and surprisingly lightweight. The jacket fits me
great, but the pants are a bit on the loose side in the legs. It
would be nice if they had a bit of elastic in the bottom. Still,
they were great In conditions like that.
Goofer's itself looked really fat and good but we decided to go
up the Flush gully on the far left instead. Travis did it up with
a few rock moves into a corner and up some dribbly ice to the ledge,
where we belayed from the big tree on the right side. Tho it is
dead, there is a live one directly behind it and it was obvious
that neither is going anywhere. That location provides the belayer
with a good view and excellent protection from falling ice, and
I was happy to have it.
Travis headed up to the runnel. He had brought a pretty reasonable
rock rack as well as a reasonable complement of screws. As this
was a George Hurley route, I thought that bringing the rock gear
was a promising idea. This was immediately reinforced by his placement
of a #2 Camelot and green Alien right off the ground! He was able
to find some foot placements out on the rock on the right of the
runnel, allowing him to stem a bit. Just underneath
the umbrella at about 2/3 height he knocked off a really big chunk of ice, making
me really happy to have been behind the tree. <grin> He got
in a couple more screws and made the pull over the umbrella in
to a niche at a stance. Tho it was solid, it was also obvious that
it wasn't over yet. Fortunately he was able to get in another screw
and a great red Alien. Now he was cooking. A couple of more awkward
moves and he pulled over onto some great New England turf and onto
He put me on belay and I started up. I was leashless as usual
and it was interesting to be seconding. I hooked the tools over
my shoulders as I removed screws and gear. It was a bit on the
insecure side to be doing that in such brittle conditions. Getting
over the umbrella was definitely the crux and a very neat move.
I was very surprised to see water slowly dripping out of a crack
just below the top. It dripped on my tool and ran down my glove,
freezing before it made it to my jacket. As I have about 6 inches
on Travis, I was able to hook a sapling at the top-out, making
the final move somewhat easier. With very limited room at the belay,
he lowered me back down and followed quickly. One more rap and
we were down, but definitely not out. As we hiked out we commented
on how the temps had obviously dropped over the past hour, but
we hadn't really noticed. It was a great time, with an excellent
companion and another great climb off our lists.
In the report on the ski-mountineering accident in Huntington Ravine
last week I stated that the 2 individuals attempted to ski down
Central Gully. This was not correct. They were skiing in the
area below the gullies. One of the individuals was successful,
but apparently the other got off their line and got into the
ice, sliding down and into the rocks and causing himself severe
injury. The first skier came back and stabilized his friend.
He then took off for help and decided it was quicker to ski down
to Pinkham than to hike back up to Ho Jo's at Tucks. They reported
the incident and a rescue proceeded from that point. I am sorry
for any confusion.
Tuesday morning two ice climbers from Connecticut (Damian McDonald
and Susanna Saarkangas) were rescued from the Alpine Garden above
Damnation Gully on Mt Washington. They spent a night out in sub-zero
temperatures and high winds. According to their own comments,
they spent the night at the Harvard Cabin on Sunday night. They
left the cabin at around 11 AM Monday to climb Damnation. The
leader had done the climb before, but this was to be his partner's
first climb. They were unprepared to spend a night out and according
to one report had neglected to check the weather prediction for
They were moving extremely slow and the cabin caretaker saw them
on the second pitch of the gully at around 4 PM! As they got to
the top the conditions had deteriorated significantly and it was
dark. They did not descend the gully because the second had never
rappelled before. Unable to traverse to the Escape Hatch, they
huddled by a cairn near the Nelson Crag, eventually building a
small snow cave and stomping around to keep warm.
The caretaker notified the authorities that they 2 had not returned
and the Snow Rangers got notification at about 10 PM. Conditions
at this time were -6 and 70 mph gusts. A team of approximately
20 searchers went out at 6 AM, some up Lions Head, some into Huntington
and some on the Auto Road. At this time temps were -17 and wind
gusts were 80 mph with fog and blowing snow. About 9 AM the climbers
were spotted above Central Gully and were found by members of the
MRS and AVSAR. They were led to the Auto Road where a snowcat took
them to a waiting ambulance and the hospital in Berlin where they
were treated for hypothermia and frostbite. They are expected to
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According to Brad White from IMCS a party went up to climb Black
Pudding on Wednesday. When they came back their car was gone.
After some inquiries it was determined that it had been towed
by the Bartlett Police after a complaint by the snowplow driver.
Apparently they were parked on side of the road opposite Black
Pudding, near a driveway north of the climb. They thought they
were far enough off the road, but apparently the plow driver
and the police didn't think so. This is the first time that this
has taken place to my knowledge. It might be a good idea to consider
parking up nearer Humphrey's or down by the Saco Crag. IMCS called
the police department and they said that it likely would not
have been a problem if it hadn't been snowing that day. Besides
the inconvenience, the cost of this incident was a cool $140!!!!!
Word to the wise...
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
|Mountains have a way of dealing with overconfidence.|