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Buzz, chirp, thwack, boom, drip, crash, roar,
splash. It's like going from inside an anechoic chamber, into a
city. Noises I haven't heard in quite a while have started to work
their way into my consciousness. I was out playing music at the
Wildcat Tavern on Tuesday night. When I left at around 11:30 I
heard this roaring sound. At first I thought it was my ears ringing
from the volume, then I realized it was the sound of the river.
Let me tell you, it was LOUD!
I've been leaving my windows office open in the afternoons when
it's warmest and they face Cathedral Ledge. I have been hearing
some crashes and booms from the ice falling off the cliff and it
all sounds pretty big to me. Chris MArtin, the NH Audubon biologist,
was over on Wednesday morning scoping out the peregrines. He heard
some very big crashes and some climbers calling out up near the
Prow area. It's probably not a very safe place to be right now
One of the more popular places this time of year is the North
End cracks. Everyone wants to get an early start on the season
and that's a happening area. Unfortunately it's also a place with
some very large ice directly above that can and will come down
at any time. I've been waiting for a serious accident to happen.
Don't let it be you!
Wednesday was an absolutely beautiful day, about 55 degrees, so
I decided to combine my last trip up to Frankenstein with my other
love, riding the bike. I've been out a bunch, but this was the
longest ride of the season so far. It was fun riding up 302 past
the skiers at Attitash and Bear Peak and all the snowbanks along
the road. As I got to the Mt. Washington scenic pulloff near Frankenstein
the wind picked up a bit from the North. I saw a car pulled over
by the Dry River Campground and noticed that there were a couple
of spotting scopes on tripods alongside. Turns out it was Chris
Martin and his assistant Robert checking out the birds on the upper
cliffband. Small world...
We chatted for a bit and I had a look at the ice in the Amphitheater.
It didn't look good and he commented that he had seen stuff falling
down earlier. I rode on up to the viewing place for Standard
For almost the first time since December there was nobody up there.
It was amazing that Dropline was
still hanging on. A little further I got the look into Dracula,
which still seemed to be fine. If I were going to climb anything
up there I think that Dracula would be the choice.
I went out with George Hurley on Saturday and we climbed Dracula.
He had decided that he wanted to do the direct line right up the
center. There were several parties up there when we arrived, including
one very strong Canadian couple that was doing laps. Their method
was: climb one side, walk around, climb the other. Rinse, repeat...
George started up and as usual it looked steep, but not all that
steep. Just before the final difficulties about 2./3 of the way
up he detoured just a bit to the right to set a good screw. Then
he stepped back left and motored straight
up to the top. It was
a very impressive display of mental and physical control, something
he has always had in spades. When I followed I was surprised that
the line he took was totally in your face right from the start,
clearly the steepest variation. As I got very near the top George
leaned down and urged me to take the absolutely steepest line that
was just a bit to the right of his finish. A he put it "it
will build character!" Boy was he right.
BTW - the climber to his left in the picture was the Canadian.
His partner had just called up to tell him that George was 70.
He was in complete awe and told George that George was his new
idol!!! Mine too.
We did get some rain earlier in the week and even more is predicted
over the next several days. Basically I wouldn't take bets on how
that might affect the ice down here, much less that in the upper
Ice Conditions Report:
Selected Ice Conditions effective November 26, 2015
While there certainly have been folks climbing early season ice in the upper elevations, and on occasion in places like the Black Dike, even that is barely IN - if you would call it that. The best ice Iíve seen has peen the pix my friend Matty send me of Tucks on the 24th. Everything in the lower elevations isnít really close at all. With temps up to 50 in Crawford Notch this morning, and fluctuating all over the place this weekend, including some rain on Friday, Iím not too confident in the idea that much in the way of ice making will be taking place. If you want to take a hike up on the Mountain with the idea that a hike is possibly all it may be, then thatís a great idea. Otherwise Iíd give it another week or so.
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
In 1961 I led this chimney in a state of metabolic uproar. At the base of the pitch I smoked several cigarettes (the first and last ones of my life). This was to calm me. Then I spooned half a jar of honey. This was to ensure superhuman strength. Mort Hempel, my partner, watched this silly ritual with mouth agape and eyes exploding with fear.