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February 23, 2006
That's right folks. if it's Thursday, it must be the Ice Report. Well joy, joy, joy. I can't believe it. The weather pundits predicted snow, and we've actually got it. Maybe I'll believe in them again, or at least till they blow it the next time. It's New Hampshire school vacation week this week and the Valley is really hopping. Lots of folks out climbing, skiing, hiking, shopping and generally out and about. It's supposed to snow off and on all through the weekend and get colder and that's just what the economy up here needed. Yee Ha...
I happen to love Thresher, a 2+ or 3- climb, located between Child's Play and the Slab at the North End. The actual climb starts left of a medium sized tree on a snow covered ledge about 50' off the ground. You get there by first either climbing a small corner on the left, up a Grade 2 bulge or by traversing left across a very easy snowy ledge from the Slab. It's a climb that I know intimately, as it's practically in my back yard. I run laps on it once or twice a week pretty much all season whenever I need to get out of the house and get some exercise. I usually use the little mixed corner to the left, walk up the snowy ledge to the base of the climb & just head on up. I'll bet I've soloed it 100 times in the past 3 years, in all kinds of conditions.
On Sunday there was a tragic accident on the climb. From what I have read and heard, tho I have not directly spoken to the parties involved, a party of 2 had completed the climb and elected to rap the route rather than walk off. There is a climber's trail that will take you across the top of the Slab and back around past the North End pillars. The 2 climbers had rapped the main flow and were apparently unroped on the large ledge at the base of the climb when one of them fell. Due to Friday's rain & extreme cold on the following days, what would normally be a snowy ledge, was a sliding board. Due to the conditions, it had become a place where one slip could, and did, put you right to the ground.
Along the same lines, I had a 2 day private guide session on Sunday and Monday. Sunday was cold so we hung out of the wind and mostly in the sun at a small local crag near Black Pudding Gully. For obvious reasons I'm glad that we choose not to go to the North End. Monday morning we headed to Frankenstein to do Standard Route, the client's first multi-pitch ice climb. The climbing went well in spite of a crampon bail problem that we were fortunately able to resolve with some judicious whacks with the axe hammer and a little elbow-grease. The ice was a bit brittle but the climbing was great. However, the descent down the normal trail was surprisingly treacherous. It took over an hour to hike back to our packs at the base of Standard!
As you may have noticed, there has been precious little snow in the woods and there are many exposed roots and rocks. Unless you really concentrate on how you walk, it's easy to catch a crampon. In addition many places on the trail are frozen dirt or bare rock. You have to always be looking at where you are placing your feet. The steep section of the trail that goes down between the Hanging Garden and the easy slab is almost totally bare of snow and is a mix of dirt and ice. It feels whacky, but perhaps it isn't a bad place to rope up for a bit. The usual snowy walk across from the Garden to the base of Standard was rife with little tricky sections, the worst of which was directly below Dracula. While this often has some ice, right now it is a full sheet of ice that follows a straight shot all the way to the tracks. Even I felt uncomfortable enough to have to front-point my way across. Again, with a tired partner or client it's another place to consider roping up for a bit.
I know all this sounds a bit like overkill, roping up for what is effectively wandering around in the woods, but this season it may be the prudent thing to do. I mean I have taken to wearing my old crampons to go out to the woodpile in my back yard! It's that slippery out there. And it's worse with a layer of snow over top of the ice. When you are standing or hiking around seriously consider the consequences of something like slipping at the belay tree at the base of Standard Route and rocketing down to the tracks, taking that unexpected luge run from the base of Dracula, or slipping on the Thresher ledge and ending up in the rocks 50' below!
Yup, that's right, it's my new band In House that's been jamming at the Parka on Monday nights for the past month or so. If you haven't seen this group, you really should.
In House will be playing at the Common Man in Ashland Friday, March 3rd, 8:30 - 11pm
For more info call 968-7030
Randy Roos – guitar
Jimmy Alba – guitar
Al Hospers – bass
Carl Iacozili -- drums
groove, jam, dub, and ambient, with occasional leanings toward jazz and hip-hop
Folks this ain't your daddy's pop music!
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
|Tick marks abound, so even the stupid can climb.
In his preface for the original Rifle guide.