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April 20, 2006
So do you remember your "first time"? How you felt, how the person you were with felt? The warmth, the sights, the sounds, the smells? The whoops & cheers that you both let out when you got to the top? Were you an adult, a teenager, still in elementary school?
Today was such an incredibly beautiful day up here in the Valley. Totally bluebird skies, light breeze and temps in the mid-70's. Another day when it was almost impossible to stay inside. Alyssa didn't have to work today and Daz was off from school in the afternoon, a perfect excuse for me to play hooky for the afternoon. I stopped by the climbing school in the morning & borrowed a helmet, shoes and harness for Daz. It's a nice perk of being a guide there. Alyssa picked the kiddo up from school, we grabbed a bite of lunch and headed over to Whitehorse.
We pulled into the lot about 12:30. Although there were a few cars I only saw one other party up on the Lunch Ledge and no one on the right side of the slabs. Perfect! We decided to put up a rope on the tree on the first pitch of Beginner's Route. Getting everyone suited-up was a trip. My wife, Alyssa, hadn't worn rock shoes in 4 years and all of her shoes were killing her feet. An energetic 6, Daz was a hard one to get to stay still long enough to fit his harness and helmet. Finally we were all ready to go. I had also borrowed a 70 meter rope so I was confident that we could set things up with only the single rope. With anything less you will need two ropes for a TR.
I had also forgotten that Alyssa had never used a Grigri before. How long HAD it been since we used to climb together all the time? Too long I thought! I quickly showed it to her and quickly ran up to the tree. I rapped off and set them up together. I tied a figure eight on a bite abut 10' up and clipped Daz into that with 2 opposed locking biners. The Alyssa tied into the end of the rope as usual. I put them on belay and off they went.
Daz had done a lot of bouldering over the past several years and climbed on the rope once last summer at Lost Ledge. Unfortunately I could only coerce him to go up about half a rope length at that time. However, this winter he had really gotten into skiing and had become comfortable riding the ski lifts at Cranmore all by himself. He and Alyssa just walked up Beginner's route for the first 30' when I heard Daz say "I want to go down." I couldn't hear what Alyssa said to him but he kept on going. So quickly that I had to haul in the rope as fast as I could. They paused for a minute at this hump but were quickly on their way again and the next thing I knew they were at the top. He didn't say a lot but Alyssa and I whopped and hollered, showering him with all the praise we could give him. Lowering them down he was understandably nervous, but with his mother encouraging him he managed reasonably well.
I asked him if he wanted to go again and he seemed unsure. I asked if he would like to do a little without his mother & he said yes. However he wanted her to belay. I took him off the upper knot and tied him in at the end of the rope while ALyssa went over & got into the belay. With no further ado he headed right up. About 1/3 of the way up he paused & started talking about coming down. I asked if he could get up to the hump where he had sat down before He said OK and just chugged on up to that point and sat down. His mom asked if he was afraid and he said he was. She responded that there were times in life when we are all afraid, that getting past them required courage and that this was one of those times. I started to say that if he was really afraid that he could come down, but just as the words came out of my mouth he was heading on up. He didn't pause until he was at the base of the tree. I had no choice but to whoop and holler again. I was so proud of him that I simply couldn't keep it in. Then he leaned back against the rope and Alyssa lowered him to the ground.
I'll always remember that little guy getting all the way up there at the top of the rope by himself. I have no idea if he will remember his "first time" 20 years from now, but I am sure that Alyssa and I will.
Weather over the past week has been nothing short of great. Most days have been on the order of beautiful, with only the occasional cloudy one. I've been out bouldering up a storm, riding my bike at every opportunity and it's been wonderful. Essentially all of the lurking ice and snow around the top of the cliffs is gone and it's a great time to be out climbing, or doing anything outdoors. I haven't even seen any bugs to speak of, and that's a "wunnerful thing". It's hard to imagine a better Spring, so I know it sounds whacky for me to be hoping for rain.
We simply haven't had the moisture all winter that we should have had. The general lack of snow and mid-winter thaws have left everything amazingly dry. Check out the water level in the Saco and Swift and you can see what I mean. The paddlers who are usually out taking advantage of the Spring runoff in the Swift are not at all happy. This is by no means relegated to just the Whites either. I was over in Ashland at a recording studio with a view of Squam Lake yesterday. The engineer pointed out how the water level was so low in the channel that he was concerned if he would be able to get his boat out into the main lake when it goes in the water next week.
I have spoken about all the brush fires in the southern part of the state, but yesterday things have been brought a lot closer to home when a brush fire broke out in Eaton off Route 135. It spread over 20 acres before firefighters got it under control. Another fire broke out in Chatham on Wednesday and it took until 3 AM this morning to get it under control. All of this is not a good sign. I just keep hoping that we get a good soaker before things get much worse. I urge you to please be extremely careful if you are camping or just out in the woods right now. It's bad enough when lightening or a power line accident causes a fire, but let's not have a fire started by a climber!
I've heard about these folks for quite a while and seen some video and stills of their performances. IN 2004 they were featured on the David Letterman show, doing a performance on the outside of the Sullivan Theater building. Here are 2 links that are pretty cool. One of the Letterman performance & one in Yosemite. Very cool stuff.
They are coming to Boston's Shubert Theatre, for three performances on May 13 and 14. Looks as if it would be a very cool thing to see.
Hurricane Mountain Road was opened this week. As of yesterday Bear Notch was still closed as was Evans Notch. Both should be open very shortly. Dundee Road is still gated as well. For you cyclists, the dirt section of Dundee is perfectly ridable.
Some folks have asked about what the conditions are on Mt. Washington. From everything that I have heard conditions are great, especially if you are a spring skier. Yes, there is ice to be climbed in Pinnacle & a few other places but it's going pretty fast and with this kind of sunny weather be very careful of icefall. The Forest Service isn't issuing any more Avalanche Advisories for Huntington this season. If you are heading up there I suggest that you check the Tucks advisory and extrapolate from there. Here is the appropriate link:
Oh yeah, be aware that this is prime ski time and there will be LOTS of folks heading up and down the trail, especially on weekends. Not to mention that this Saturday is the Inferno Race. Parking might be difficult so be advised...
If you are looking for something to do this weekend let me suggest Friday night at the Red Parka in Glen and Saturday night at the Wildcat Tavern in Jackson. Both have great food and excellent drinks. And, oh yes, they both have great entertainment - especially on those nights. Of course that's because my band Soundsclever is playing. The Parka is from 9-12:30 and the WIldcat from 8:30-12. If you make it down there be sure to say hi. I'm the old guy playing bass.
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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