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March 17, 2005
If you're out climbing right now you should be
aware of the very real possibility of an avalanche, even in places
where it would not normally be an issue. I was guiding over at
the North End of Cathedral on Saturday during the storm and experienced
a small slough avalanche that came down from the area right of
Thresher. Trust me, this was a LOT of snow. It had a massive amount
of energy and dumped snow up to my crotch. Had I been up on the
ledge when it released, as I had been an hour earlier, it would
have almost assuredly blown me down over the headwall and into
According to more than one source, there were at least 2 avalanches
on Standard Route at Frankenstein on Saturday. These were not trivial
releases and had anyone been in the direct path they likely would
have been blown off the climb. Additional reports indicate that
there were releases that covered the tracks north of Dracula as
well as smaller ones that slid down through the woods near Dropline.
I have seen obvious small avalanche debris paths as I have been
walking around in the woods. Places normally considered safe, like
Goofer's or Willie's, may not be safe at all. The top of Dracula
and the 1st pitch of Penguin are often loaded and waiting to let
go. Even today at Cinema, the snow build-up on the climb as well
as on the ledge above it is significant. Frankly I don't think
the climb in its state is safe. Check the picture below if you
don't believe me.
It is YOUR responsibility to check the situation carefully before
you start. The snow really built up from the storm on Tuesday and
the weekend storm really added to the problem. In many places there
is a ton of wind slab just sitting there ready to release. You
simply DON'T want to be in the way when it does!
It's hard to believe that Spring is almost here. The winter has
just been hanging on for so long. It's hard for me to let go,
but in many ways I'm ready for it to be over. On the warmer days
I'm starting to look pretty darn longingly at the South Buttress
and Humphrey's, not to mention thinking about Peregrine banding
and hauling the road bike out of the garage!
That said, there still is a gracious plenty of ice out there that's
good to climb. Brad White and I managed to get a good workout Wednesday
morning breaking trail uphill to Black Pudding. Brad led the main
climb and then we followed up by TR'ing the mixed variation to
the left, a chossy smear about 20' to the right, and 2 very thin
and fun runnels over to the left. It was a great morning/afternoon
and it certainly gave me a pump! Ray Rice & buddy Zack dropped
by for a run up B/P while we were working over the right hand smear.
From all the whoops and hollers on their way down I assume that
they had a lot of fun on the luge run to the bottom. <grin> Now
that was exciting! Here's a couple of pix of Brad on the Pudding,
making it look very easy.
Bayard Russell and Tim Martel were also looking for something
different last week and found it on Refusal on Cathedral Ledge.
From what Bayard says he took a few falls to clinch the ascent,
but he managed it in good style. Check it out the next time you're
doing Upper Refuse! The corner is Black Crack, the winter FA was
done by George Hurley. Thanks to Tim for the nice shots. Amazing
what you can do with a 3 MP camera IF you're in the right place
at the right time!
The following are from a page on Will Gadd's web site, www.gravsports.com.
I agree with most, not so sure about 1. I'll leave it as an exercise
for you to figure which is which. It's pretty obvious really. <wry
grin> In any event Will is a very astute observer of climbing & I
totally dig reading whatever he has to say. These are 4 of 16
paragraphs of thoughts jotted down after his recent climbing
trip to Norway.
6. I’m done with leashes for technical ice climbing. I
can lead wet, scary WI6 in the dark, the Viper Fangs are good
enough. The harder and weirder the ice is the more I prefer leashless
tools. I put my leashes back on for one hard day and was lost,
especially on ice where there are limited placements. The freedom
to match and switch is worth it, you can move your body into
the best position for the tool rather than either using awkward
body position or having to make new placements--difficult to
do when there aren't any. I'll still use leashes on big cruiser
routes, they add security, but for any sort of technical climbing
I'm staying leashless.
10. Most packs are far too heavy. Carrying 5 pounds of pack is
just crazy unless it's filled with bricks or somehthing requiring
heavy fabric. I'm going to work harder on packs.
13. I’m done with vertical mono-points for hard ice climbing.
They are a junk show for climbing really fresh ice. Ice on mixed
routes often forms slowly and has good density, fresh ice is just
too hollow for mono-points, Sabretooths work far better. I’m
going evangelical on this, I just had my vertical monos rip too
many times to ever want to use them again.
16. I still really, really like ice climbing, even after 20 years
of it. Every year I learn something new, refine my systems and
discover a facet of the ice jewels we're prvileged to climb.
Here's the URL to
the full article. Thanks to Chris LeMay for pointing it out to
I hear this every once in a while. Usually I just say, "Bugger
Off!" There is so much other stuff, like car and water pollution,
that just seems so much more important. However, this
from Science Daily, is pretty well done and it certainly made me
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
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