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April 14, 2005
"Hey Al, you want to go for a walk on snow
I had nothing planned for Tuesday except work,
so it was easy for me to hang at the bar with my drummer friend
after playing music on Monday night. Getting home at 1:30 AM is
unusual for me these days, but it's a reminder of my "active" years
as a musician in Miami and New York. When I drifted off to sleep
at 2 AM I figured I could sleep-in at least until 8, so when the
phone rang at 6 AM I was not exactly a happy guy.
As subtly as I could, I tried to weasel out, but Team-Leader-Brad
was having none of it. He gave me the sparse details of a lone
hiker who was out for an overnight and not returned. I rolled over
and sat up on the side of the bed while his amazingly chipper voice
said, "I'll meet you at the Highland Center at 8, cya." At
this point my wife, who had gotten probably close to 8 hours sleep,
rolled over and said, "Rescue", more as a statement than
a question. I nodded and drug myself downstairs to the kitchen
and coffee machine. Strong was going to be the order of the day!
It only figures that after a week of balmy weather I had just
put away all my winter gear. Fleeces, Gortex jackets and pants
had all been washed and neatly put away in a plastic tub in the
back of my closet. All the ice climbing gear was carefully stacked
on shelves in the basement and even the boots brushed off and put
away. Even my rescue pack was switched over to the summer stuff.
Why was I not surprised?
The interesting thing is that Monday night had gotten colder and
the prediction for Tuesday was for possibility of freezing rain
and/or snow. I grabbed stuff from all it's stashed locations as
it was clear that I had to be prepared for anything. The further
I rode up into the Notch, the more it looked like winter. The view
north to Mt. Washington from 302 by Frankenstein was obscured by
ominous clouds and obvious snowfall. Hmmm, it didn't look like
it was going to be all that much fun. I snuck a look at Frankenstein
as I drove past and there was still a lot of ice up there. Probably
not all that climbable, but more than I expected to see after all
the 50+ days in the Valley. Obviously the Notch had a different
Most of the team members we already there and in the parking lot
suiting up. I was happy to get the word that this was just a search
at the time and we wouldn't need our technical gear. I had to borrow
a pair of snowshoes from Brad because I had just sold my old ones
at the end of this season, planning on buying a pair of the new
small MSR ones for next year. Still, this dropped about 15 pounds
off the pack and made me feel a whole lot better.
MRS VP Joe Lentini divided the participants up into a couple of
groups. One was going down to hike up the Dry River Trail, while
the other went up Crawford Path. I ended up on a team with him,
Brad, Travis and Eric. Brad I climb with occasionally work for,
I climb sometimes with Travis, ride road bikes with Eric and know
Joe. Actually not a bad bunch of guys to go for a "hike on
snow" with on a Tuesday morning.
It was cloudy, breezy and the snow was falling lightly as we started
up the trail. It wasn't all that cold and 15 minutes up the trail
we all stopped to strip off layers. The conversation ranged from
old rescues to climbing stories as we trudged up the path. Conditions
for hiking couldn't have been all that much better. The trail was
nicely beaten down and the crusted snow made for stable hiking
with no crampons or snowshoes necessary.
About 45 minutes into our walk the conversation turned back to
the lost hiker. Apparently he had left for his overnight on Saturday.
He'd spoken to his brother via cell phone on Sunday afternoon and
all was well. He was reasonably well prepared, other than the fact
that he had forgotten his tent poles. Sunday night he left a garbled
message on his brother's machine which sounded positive. When he
didn't return or get in touch on Monday, his brother called Fish & Game
and a search was initiated.
Well, there was a very happy ending to all this. About an hour
into our walk we were chatting away wen we overheard a call over
the radio stating that the hiker had been found walking down the
Dry River Trail under his own power. All of us were happy that
the hiker was OK, and even happier for ourselves that we didn't
have to go any further. The rest of the team decided to take a
hike up to the top of Crawford Cliff, but I opted to head home.
Since it was only about 10:30 I figured I could vote, do a couple
of errands and get in the better part of a day's work before I
started to crash from lack of sleep. By the time I got back to
my car the clouds were breaking up and it looked like a nice day.
Yes, it had been a nice day for a "walk on snow."
Apparently there was an accident at Shagg Crag in Main a week ago
last Saturday. I don't have a first-hand report, but here is
some information from a Eric McCallister, who knows the injured
"A climber from Dover, NH was on a climb called Tightrope
(12d). Apparently he decked from 25' to 30' up. The story is
that he called TAKE, and the belayer thought he wanted rope to
clip so let out slack. He fell from the 5th bolt and landed on
a pile of 4 rocks, very nearly on the spine of a large boulder
that would have broken him in half. Moral of the story... don't
let people belay you who you don't know, and always go over your
verbal signals. The other moral... be wary when using a 9.4 mm
rope in a Gri-Gri. Supposedly, due to the extra slack and force
generated from that, the 9.4mm rope just shot through the belay
device and was not able to be arrested."
"It took a team from the local Fire Rescue and Fish
and Game Dept. (I believe) 9 hours to get him down to a field
where he could be helicoptered to Portland Medical. I didn't
know about this until Sunday morning when I got there and was
hiking in with another friend of his who was back to collect
gear. The victim is apparently doing alright with a sprained
ankle and massive swelling which was constricting his lungs
and preventing him from breathing. "
If anyone has more details please let me know.
Friends Of Tuckerman's annual Inferno race is happening
this weekend. The race consists of Triathlon and Pentathlon competitions
for men and women. It all ends up with a ski down the bowl in Tucks.
Conditions look to be great this year, so if you are going to
be up this weekend, check it out. For more details click
Thanks to everyone who has donated money, gear and energy toward
the effort to get a series of rescue litters deployed at Lake
Willoughby. Here is a report on the efforts from Richard Doucette
who has managed the process.
The Lake Willoughby Rescue Litter Fund has reached $1,660. Donations
have been received from 44 individuals and organizations, from
all over New England and as far away as Maryland and California.
Donations ranged from 10 in cash from a local teenager, to $100
or more each from Wilderness Medical Associates Inc, AMC Boston
Mountaineering Committee, and Dartmouth Outing Club. Also donated
was one new litter acquired by Sam Morton of Sterling Rope Company
and valued at $500, and rock/ice climbing gear to be sold. The
gear has thus far raised $80. The cash will be used to buy a second
litter, build shelters for them, replace them as they break or
disappear, and to supplement the rescue caches with other first
aid supplies. Discussions are now underway with a few local Lake
Willoughby climbers who are interested in establishing a local
climbing and/or rescue organization. Once that effort is up and
running, all funds will be turned over to them. Until that time,
additional donations will be accepted to ensure the long-term viability
of the effort.
While there is still a fair amount of snow in the woods and the
ground is somewhat wet, the fire danger is generally moderate
to high. We have had breezy and dry days for the past couple
of weeks and the brush and grass is like tinder right now. There
have been several instances of brush fires in the area over the
past 2 weeks and it looks to be more of the same for the immediate
future. If you have a campfire or are smoking in the woods please
be very careful. There is a significant possibility of a fire
getting out of hand right now.
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
|Anytime the gear makes climbing too easy and success too certain, the best climbers will voluntarily limit their use of it.|