NEClimbs - information for New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont rock and ice climbers
BugCON 4: almost too intense for climbing, DEET required
4 out of a possible 5
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June 29, 2006

Hi Folks,

I was heading out with some friends the other day and we were slathering on the the sunscreen, prior to spending the day outside. I had my usual SPF 50 stuff that says in the squeeze tube that screams in large bright contrasting letters -

Broad Spectrum UVA & UVB Sunblock Lotion
ULTRA Sweatproof
Waterproof, Non-Greasy
Helps Protect Skin From Premature Aging

Sounds like that should do the job, aye? One MIGHT hope...

One of the things about my dad is that he is someone who has spent a significant amount of his life outside. He grew up on farms in Iowa and New York and then spent a lot of time in Georgia and Florida. For many many years neither he nor my mother wore any sun screen. In fact I remember my mother using baby oil and iodine as a sun TANNING oil. It wasn't until the 70's, when they were in their 60's and living in Florida, that they both became aware that the sun wasn't such a great thing for their skin. My mom's previously glowing healthy skin started getting like leather and my dad had a couple of problem areas on his nose that had to be burned off. This prompted them both to wear wide brimmed hats whenever they were out playing golf or doing anything outside, and to put on sun screen as well. Both became pretty religious about it.

Sometime around 1990 my sister, who spent a lot of her spare time at the beach, had a skin cancer growth on her cheek that had to be removed. Apparently it had penetrated all the way the way through her cheek, and was bad enough that she had to have some plastic surgery to deal with it. She went from loving tanning, to basically completely covering up in the sun.

I was paying attention to all of this & being pretty darn good about wearing sunblock all the time, especially during the years I spent in Miami. I wore a baseball hat almost all the time and unlike most of my friends wore loose fitting long sleeve shirts. In spite of being a pretty light complexion, I had very few issues. I went to see my doctor twice a year just to make sure that there was nothing getting out of hand. By the 90's he was finding an occasional thing that needed to be burned off. Nothing like what my dad and aunts had, but they were there.

When I go to see my dad these days I am particularly struck by the number of growths that he has on his arms, face and head. Some are the normal crusty patches, some pointed horny growth, and others are just pretty gross looking. I am certain that some are well on their way to being significant skin cancers. It's hard to know what to do about them as he is already 91 and not in all that good health.

All this makes me worry about the state of my own skin, especially considering how much time I spend outside all year 'round. The most recent time I saw my doctor, I remarked on how religious I was about putting on sunscreen. He made an offhand remark about how "The jury wasn't in yet about sunscreen." I didn't get what he meant at the time, but I got it a few days later. Apparently there is a class-action lawsuit going on against the sunscreen manufacturers. Basically they are being accused of false advertising in terms of the level of protection afforded by sunscreens. Marketing terms such as “sunblock,” “waterproof,” and, “all day protection” are particularly under fire because they allegedly convey a sense of security that doesn’t and cannot exist given the nature of sunscreen formulas. You can read more about this on these and other links:

CNN story
Kabana Skin Care
NPR story

I'm not sure where this lawsuit will go, however it does make me wonder if I really got any significant protection from all those years of counting on sunscreen to protect me from the rays that cause skin cancer. All I know is that I don't want to have the kinds of problems others in my family had had, but it may already be to late. All of us love to be outside - climbing, riding, hiking, kayaking, whatever. It's important for all of us to be aware that just putting on a dab of sunscreen might not provide the protection that we have expected. Here are a few suggestions that are worth considering from the Skin Cancer Foundation:

1) Seek the shade, especially between 10 A.M. and 4 P.M.

2) Do not burn.

3) Wear a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher every day.

4) Apply 1 oz. (2 tablespoons) of sunscreen to your entire body 30 minutes before going outside.

5) Reapply sunscreen every two hours or after swimming or excessive sweating.

6) Cover up with clothing, including a broad-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses.

7) Examine your skin from head to toe once every month.

8) See your doctor every year for a professional skin exam.

9) Avoid tanning and UV tanning salons.

It is generally thought that practicing all of the above strategies will help prevent skin cancer. But these days it's not a sure thing. Be aware...
Susan E.B. Schwartz Slideshow:
Susan Schwartz will be giving a slideshow and signing copies of her new book, "Into The Unknown: The Remarkable Life Of Hans Kraus" on this Friday night at 7 PM upstairs at International Mountain Equipment in North Conway. This is an excellent book, read the review on NEClimbs, and I'm sure that the slideshow will be good.

For more info call IME at 603-356-7013

Peregrine Closings/Openings:
The Peregrine nest at the Main Cliff at Rumney failed to produce chicks this year. However, the cliff remains closed to climbing until the abandoned eggs have been recovered and the signs have been removed. This will be done as soon as possible, probably well before the posted August 1st date. All other rock faces at Rumney remain open, as they always are and have been all year.

Some folks have asked about closings at White's Ledge and Willard. There are no closings at either of these cliffs. The posting at Cathedral Ledge was removed some time ago due to a failed nest.

Fun Friday Night:
My band SoundsClever is playing at the Red Parka Pub this Friday night. If you are looking for something fun to do after a day's climbing, drop on by. Good food, ample drinks and there's never a cover charge.

New Daks Guidebook In The Works:
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 More information is available here

  Adirondack Rock

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Remember - climb hard, ride the steep stuff, stay safe and above all BE NICE,

Al Hospers
The White Mountain Report
North Conway, New Hampshire

I've tried many sports, but climbing is the best. The beauty of this sport is that no matter how good you get, you can always find a way to challenge yourself.
Randy Leavitt
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