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With temps rapidly bouncing back and forth between summer-like and on the cool side, you can certainly tell that fall is on its way. When I've come home late from playing music on several evenings recently it's been chilly enough to see my breath and put on my light jacket. Ride up through the notches and you're starting to see occasional trees starting to turn as well. They've already had frosts in the north-country, the Great North Woods as they call it up here, and at this rate it is going to happen here before very long.
Needless to say this is a great time to be up in the White's. Not if you work in the hospitality industry or are in a business dependent on the tourist trade of course, but certainly if you just live here or visit regularly. With the summer visitors mostly gone, traffic has ratcheted back several notches. I can even tell the difference in my neighborhood, 'cause the weekenders aren't around any more. Sweet... You can go to the cliffs on the weekend and have a good possibility of getting on almost any climb you like, with little or no waiting. Of course if you want to do Thin Air or start up Standard on Whitehorse at 11:30 on Saturday morning that may still be a bit problematic, but you gotta be realistic. And if you like to ride your bike on the road or in the woods, it's superb. Lately I've done the Bear Notch loop and seen less than a 6 cars on the WHOLE RIDE at noon!
My point is that things are quiet right now and I love it. On top of that the cool crisp days are upon us. Perfect for climbing those thin face climbs or slab routes. There is nothing like the feel of a sharp edge on a stiff shoe on a crisp day. You feel as if you can climb a whole grade harder than usual. It is so neat... In fact it's probably just about the best time of the year to do anything outside - climb, hike, bike, camp, you name it. It's perfect. Just make sure you bring something warm to wear around the campfire.
Oh yeah... Once again someone took me to task for keeping the Instant Bug Report at the 2 Bugs level. They said "There aren't any bugs out there..." Well if you say that then you haven't been out in the deeper woods lately! I was thrashing around up on the back side of Whitehorse the other day & stopped for my usual Gatorade and Clif Bar break. Instantly those annoying little no-see-ems and some mosquitoes swarmed all around me, making it so I had to walk & eat. No rest for the weary. Nuff said...
Owl's Cliff In Benton, NH For Sale:
Earlier in the summer I was riding my bike over on Rt 25 past Owl's Cliff and noticed a for sale sign right on the road. Just for giggles I stopped to check it out and it turns out that there is a 380+ acre chunk of land for sale, just right of Olivarian Pond and in front of the cliff - nestled in National Forest. It's a pretty amazing chunk of land. From what I understand it includes:
7,000 +/- feet of paved road frontage
7,000 +/- feet of the Oliverian Stream
800+/- vertical feet of open sheer cliff face
waterfalls & wetlands
In case you don't know the area, it's in a pretty rural section of New Hampshire over on the western side of the state. It's beautiful countryside, but there isn't much going on over there - YET. If you ride by you will immediately be impressed with its sweeping expanse of granite slabs. The cliff looks like a mini-Cannon or Whitehorse. Here is a picture I took recently from Rt 25.
Owls Head Cliff
While there have been a fair number of routes put up over the years by the Baker Valley Boys and locals Brad White and Ian Cruickshank, just to name a few, there is assuredly potential for more. Over the years access has been problematic, and if it goes into development it will most assuredly be worse. If the land were managed by the National Forest or a climber-friendly group I would well imagine that it could become a popular place to climb with a ton of interesting routes.
I've heard varying rumors, ranging from "developers have already put in an offer" to "people are working on acquiring it for the National Forest", however I don't know what the actual status is. A month ago I contacted the American Alpine Club and spoke with Director Phil Powers about it. He seemed interested, but I haven't heard any more. Someone else with ties to the Access Fund mentioned that there were some efforts in place, but again I haven't heard any definite word. My friend Jim Gagne passed me this link put up by people who are apparently interested in preserving the cliff:
While the asking price of $750,000 initially seems like a lot, if you look at the pictures on this site & the listing site, it is quite the value at under $2,000/acre! Hmmm...
Ice Conditions Report:
Selected Ice Conditions effective February 23, 2017
The warmup has really hit us hard everywhere but in the higher elevations. Anywhere in the direct sun is dam close to toast right now. The Amphitheater at Frankenstein is off the radar, or certainly should be. You can probably do the Pegasus rock finish, but that's all. And I would be VERY careful walking under anything over in that area. As of today, Thursday Feb 23, Standard Route still looks OK. I also spotted someone climbing on Waterfall, tho I'm sure that the normally funky top outs are worse. The bottom of Dropline fell down, but Dracula still looks good. I was pleased to see that Willies still looks good. The snow has compacted and I saw what looked to be blue ice. The left side of Willard is basically gone, but Hitchcock, The Cleft, Left Hand Wrench, the far right slab and Elephant Head are still climbable. Other than the Barking Dog and North End I would write off Cathedral Ledge. I know people are going to ask about Repentance, etc and frankly I would caution away from it. In fact anything that is supposed to be attached to rock is suspect. Not to mention the fact that there is a LOT of stuff hanging around above you on Cathedral at this time.
Friends of Owls Head Cliff,
I would like to update everyone on the activity related to the 380 acre Owls Head Cliff property that is for sale ($750,000) on Route 25 in Benton, NH (between Warren and Pike). Most of this info is based on an assortment of e mails between some of you.
The Trust for Public Lands is leading an effort to have this property purchased by the White Mountain National Forrest. The short term goal is to have the property removed from the market. TPL's Josh Kelly is the primary contact for the project. Also TPL's Rodger Krussman.
The three Selectmen (women) of Benton are interested in having this property transfered to the WMNF. On Sept. 28, 10 am, the Selectmen will meet with representatives of the WMNF and TPL for preliminary discussion on the project. I believe this will be a basic informational meeting. It should be open to the public. I am aware that a couple of you hope to attend.
TPL would like to see funding reimbursement for the administrative, research and legal expenses related to this project, a preliminary rough guess is $50,000+. They are applying to the Access Fund for a grant for a portion of this money. Other sources will be needed.
TPL would also like to see membership growth related to support for this project. The Access Fund has been contacted by at least two members. The AF contact person is Deanne Buck, Program Director. Support for this project is needed in the form of letters and other contact with US Forrest Service management, elected officials and conservation organizations. Also monetary donations to the TPL.
This project will take time, at least several months, possibly a few years. This property is too unique to let it be used for anything but public or conservation land. Many people are interested in maintaining the cliff's availability for rock climbing.
I have been told that the present owners has terminated the major logging activity on the property. A friend and neighbor of the property with forestry knowledge walked the property last month and stated that the logging was done relatively well and may have actually improved the forrest for raptors and large game.
Please e mail me if you would like jpg files of photos and a map of the property. A high resolution photo (Photo Shop, 50 mb) is also available. Please forward this e mail to anyone that may be interested in preserving this property for public enjoyment.
Thank you to all of you that are active participants in this project,
Tom Richardson (Tomr3@comcast.net)
Very, very cool... Stay tuned.
NEClimbs Photo Contest:
The contest is really cranking along now. I've had to update the new contest gallery a couple of times this past week to get in new shots. Right now there are 28 cool shots of all kinds. You can see it here:
You only have until the end of the month to get in your entry for this month's contest, so hop to it! Thanks again to Mammut for their gracious support.
Mobile Version Of NEClimbs:
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.
NEClimbs & White Mountain Report On Facebook:
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: