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So your victory garden is chugging along, putting out tomatoes, green beans and copious amounts of zucchini squash and it seems to be business as usual. One day you take a ride up into the Notches, Gaps for those of you in Vermont, and you notice these flashes and hints of color creeping in. You wake up one morning and it's cold, well maybe just really chilly but the wife says COLD, and you put on a sweater. Your children start talking about turning the heat on and you go out for that climb, ride or walk after work and come back wishing you had brought along a headlamp. You throw the dog and cat out in the morning as usual and they are back at the door in 5 minutes, instead of the normal hour. That's when you realize that it actually IS Fall.
So with all due brou-ha-ha, we are finally "officially" in Fall. All the pundits have made an appropriate "really big deal" about it, unnecessarily proclaiming FALL IS HERE via every paper, news show and media outlet. But of course you already knew that. Shoot, it's not as if someone actually flips a switch and BINGO we're in it. In fact it kind of creeps up on you, especially if you live up here in the mountains.
Last year we had a major snow-dump on Mt. Washington & Wildcat the second weekend of October. People were climbing the Black Dike on Halloween and I even soloed Pinnacle on November 10th. While it's pretty clear that the climate is in fact warming up, there are these blasts of colder weather that seem to come earlier every year - at least in the 10 years that I've been living up here. WIll it happen again this year, who knows? Will I be able to ski out my back door and around Cathedral Ledge, who knows? All I do know right now is that I have to put on a base layer if I'm going to be out any time other than mid-day. It's Fall...
I really do love the quality of the light this time of year. It has this deep Golden Pond feeling that makes me feel so good. The quality of the light that filters through the trees in the woods is particularly satisfying. Perhaps it's because I'm getting old, but Fall always brings up these wonderful memories of when I was a child. I can remember playing outside on late Fall days at a particular grassy place near a large oak tree. It was my favorite spot in my grandparent's yard. I would lay in the sun with my small plastic cowboy and Indian plastic, creating all sorts of fantastic scenarios in my mind, feeling the suns golden warmth on my small body. As the afternoon progressed the shadows would move over where I was playing and the chill would seep in. I would move across the lawn in this manner until my mother would call me in to clean up for dinner. I feel the same way when I go over to Humphrey's or other places to go bouldering. I find myself, following the warmth of the sun, trying to stay just ahead of the afternoon shadows. It is a wonderful feeling.
Ice Conditions Report:
Selected Ice Conditions effective February 16, 2017
At this point almost everything is IN and in pretty decent shape and I'm raising the ICECon level to a 4. The thing now is simply getting around. With all this snow you might not want to be the person breaking trail. [wry grin] Tramping out to the more obscure spots will definitely require snowshoes and a heads of for avalanche danger.
Blast From The Past:
Over the past few years I have become friends with Thom Perkins. Thom is a accomplished singer and gifted guitarist who plays regularly in this area, almost exclusively at the Wildcat Tavern in Jackson. He plays and sings a mix of folk, blues and eclectic music that I find particularly appealing. Besides running the Jackson Ski Touring Foundation, I know that he is very much into boats and sailing. He knows that I am very much into climbing and cycling. (Yes I will get to the point now!) Last Tuesday he told me that he had something for me and would bring with him it to the Wildcat that night for Hoot Night. That evening he presented me with a small catalog that he had found in the basement of his house in Jackson. The front was a very beautiful picture of a mountain, obviously taken in the Himalaya. Flipping the booklet over I was amazed to see the name
The Great Pacific Iron Works
Manufacturers and Distributors of
P.O. Box 150, Ventura, California 93001
While undated, the catalog contains references to what were then current events occurring in the mid-seventies. It is an amazing slice of history of the time. There are discussions of the change from hammer to hammerless ascents of various climbs. tubular ice screws and wart hogs, Chouinard/Salewa rigid crampons and much more. There are articles on hex and nut placement, racking gear, methods for driving and removing pitons and a great article on talus running by Doug Robinson. I spent several hours perusing it yesterday when I should have been working, and there is no doubt I will do the same this weekend.
NEClimbs and Mammut Photo Contest:
Only a matter of days are left in this month's photo contest. Get in your best shots for a chance to win some fun prizes. For details see the NEClimbs web site.
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:
The White Mountain Report
North Conway, New Hampshire
Personally, I would rather climb in the high mountains. I have always abhorred the tremendous heat, the dirt-filled cracks, the ant-covered foul-smelling trees and bushes which cover the cliffs, the filth and noise of Camp 4 (the climbers' campground), and worst of all, the multitudes of tourists which abound during the weekends and summer months.