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June 22, 2006
Summer has finally arrived, both literally and figuratively. Last week's weather ramped up from wet and raw, to hot and humid - reminding me for all the world of my teenage years in Florida. But at least it was mostly dry. At last we had a weekend that was without rain. What a "swunnerful" thing!
Someone recently repeated that old adage: "If you bring rain gear, it won't rain. If you don't, it will." While that may possibly hold true in the Spring or Fall, I'm not entirely sure that it holds up for hot summer days in the mountains. Lately we've seen a series of afternoon thunderstorms sweep through the area between 4 and 5:30. Not your regular rainstorms these, but full-on thunder, lightening and wild whipping wind kind of storms. The kind that are unpleasant in your living room, somewhere between very uncomfortable and dangerous outside, and very dangerous on the cliffs.
We had one such on Monday afternoon, bringing with it 30+ MPH winds, hail and torrential rain. The whole episode only lasted about an hour, but what an hour it was. I knew it was on the way, having checked the radar on NEClimbs. Here at the cliff I could see it coming across the Moats. Temps started dropping ahead of the front and I could hear the thunder bouncing back and forth between the back side of Whitehorse and the Moats. The sky in that direction was an ebony wall with flashes of lightening at times like spider webs stretching from the sky almost to the ground. It was most spectacular.
We went from nothing to torrential rain in an instant. I ran around closing windows as the swirling winds blew the rain into every window, no matter which side of the house. When the time between thunderclap and lightening became undetectable I turned off the computers, even tho they are shielded by 2 Uninterrupted Power Supplies and industrial strength surge suppressors. Although the lights dimmed several times we never actually lost power. The three of us and my visiting in-laws sat in the dining room where we could see all the action. We are about 50' from the nearest tree so we figured, probably unreasonably, that we were reasonably safe. Riley, the dog, huddled under the dining room table whimpering to himself terrified by the shock and awe. After about 45 high intensity minutes the storm marched off to the South East, leaving behind a steady drizzle. I had to leave about an hour later to setup the Open Mic at the Red Parka and it rained off and on all night. When I got home at about 1 AM I could see the stars and moon intermittently through the high broken clouds.
Surprisingly there was no newspaper the next morning. I just figured that the guy who delivers it had forgotten us, as he occasionally spaces. I had planned on a bike ride that morning, but I couldn't get out until early afternoon and I decided to ride up the Kanc & then back down via Passaconaway Road. As I headed up West Side Road to Conway I was surprised to see how much debris there was on the road. Lots of small stuff in the bike lane and on the side of the road. There was even more debris on the Kanc, and about halfway between Rt 16 and the Albany Covered Bridge there was a place where it seemed that a tree had been cleared from where it had fallen across the Kanc itself. There wasn't much else all the way to the top of the notch, but I had to be careful of all the small stuff on the road on the descent. No 45 MPH zip-zip this time, sigh! Passaconaway was another matter altogether, with tons of stuff on the ground and more than one place where trees had fallen on the road. In one place a very large tree had obviously come down and taken power lines with it. Public Service of NH, one of the local power companies, had a truck there working at cleaning things up. Another large tree had come down on Sidetrack Road as well. This was one intense storm.
Tuesday night another line of storms came through. Not as violent as Monday's, but pretty strong nonetheless. I didn't catch that evening's news, choosing to play bridge with the in-laws, but the next morning when I read the paper I was even more surprised at Monday's storms' toll. Apparently we were lucky, there had been many power outages in the area. The paper hadn't been delivered on Tuesday because of a surge that blew out some circuits in their printing press. Our cleaning-lady Marie, who lives in Albany on Passaconaway Road, said her power was out for 14 hours! Trees had been blown down everywhere and the rainfall had been well over an inch in most places. In a somewhat freak-accident a camper in Fryeburg was killed at the peak of the storm when a tree fell onto her tent. Her companion was uninjured.
Had you been out climbing, I wouldn't think that having rain gear in a storm like this would have made any difference at all. The main thing would to have been conservative enough to get off the cliff as soon as you started hearing the thunder. Even then I'm not sure you could have gotten down from more than one pitch before the brunt of the storm would have been upon you. We all think about the "normal" objective dangers of climbing - falling, rockfall, etc. This is a little different since it's Mother Nature and due to the speed with which it came up. On top of that many of the big summer thunder-boomers come up from behind the cliff where you can't see them coming. In my opinion at this time of year it's prudent to at least give a little thought as to how you might bail quickly if necessary. Some places are easier to get off than others, but I certainly wouldn't hesitate to leave a little gear behind if it meant not getting caught up on someplace like the Thin Air pedestal in one of these babies.
I posted a poll in the General Climbing section on NEClimbs to get a sense of the demographics of the visitors to the site. If you get the opportunity drop in and vote. I'd like to get some idea about where you folks hail from.
June 13, 2006, Boulder, CO- After 2+ years of negotiations, the Access Fund has successfully negotiated a license that will keep climbing open for most of Oak Flat and Queen Creek, AZ.
The license ensures continued public access to The Pond and Atlantis sport climbing areas—Resolution Copper Company (RCC) private property—and to most of the bouldering found at Oak Flat (public land that will be transferred to RCC in the SE Arizona Land Exchange and Conservation Act of 2006 which still awaits Congressional approval).
Oak Flat is a federally protected national recreation area set aside in 1955. RCC discovered a copper deposit under the popular bouldering area and proposed the land exchange bill. The Access Fund strongly opposed the land exchange as it was initially drafted and negotiated an outcome that provided continued access to much of Oak Flat and Queen Creek. With the help of climbers across the country, decision makers heard climbers’ voices and while the land exchange moves forward, climbers’ interests are being addressed.
A new guidebook to rock climbing in the Adirondacks is in preparation,
due for publication in 2007. This comprehensive guide to crags in the
largest park in the US will feature more than 20 new climbing areas and
all the new routes of the last decade on better-known cliffs -- plus
updates and corrections. Anyone with information to contribute can
contact the authors at firstname.lastname@example.org. More information is available
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.
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Have fun and climb safe,
The White Mountain Report
North Conway, New Hampshire
|Just a reminder — a guidebook is no substitute for skill, experience, judgement and lots of tension.|