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So, how did you spend your summer vacation? You did have one, right? Was it a family thing, or a special climbing trip somewhere with your buds or bud-ett's? Whatever you did, hopefully you had a fun time. For me, with a 7 year old, the family vacation is becoming the norm. This year my wife decided we should head north to the Canadian island of Grand Manan for a week next to the ocean.
We decided to do 3 ferries to get there, just for the fun of it. All were quite nice and the weather and ocean cooperated. The last one, from Black's Harbor to Grand Manan itself, was the longest - taking just under 2 hours. We were out in the Bay of Fundy and it was a neat experience to be out there in the big water. While not really in the full ocean, it's big enough. On the way into the Castalia harbor at Grand Manan we had a great view of North Head and the Swallowtail Lighthouse. There was a long cliff called 7 Day's Work that runs along the entire northern coastline, making me really wish I had brought real climbing gear. I had found some mentions of ice climbing on the island, but nothing about rock. Maybe there was a reason... We spent the afternoon checking into our cottage down at the southern end of the island at Seal Cove. It was small but clean and nice. No internet service & cell calls were to expensive to manage so we decided to pull the plug on being connected. That was a trip in itself and probably another tale in itself!
The next day was foggy & a bit rainy so we decided to check out the lighthouses & cliffs. The southern lighthouse at Southwest Head was only a couple of miles away so we went there first. A day like this was a perfect way to see a lighthouse as it is actually "doing it's thing". The light was on and the foghorn moaned it's warning every minute or so. It was really cool. Of course it was perched on the cliffs that towered 100+ feet above the ocean. We walked for quite a ways along the top of the cliffs. Carefully peering down from various perches it was not an inspiring site, at least from a climbing standpoint. The rock was all shale-like and crumbling almost as I watched. Reading about it in a pamphlet later I found out that most of the rock on the island is a columnar bassalt. It was not stable and frankly after checking it out there was no way I was going to have anything to with that stuff!
We decided to drive to the north end of the island and check on the Swallowtail lighthouse. Again the rock on the large cliffs looked pretty bad. Nothing looked as if it would hold together if you tried to climb it, much less had to protect yourself. However there were some interesting boulders in an area down from the light. I spotted a few really interesting lines that leaned out over the ocean which lapped about 40' below. The rain had stopped and the rock actually was solid so I gave a few of them a try. Here was one fun one:
Ice Conditions Report:
Selected Ice Conditions effective March 26, 2015
There is still ice to climb in many places right now, but with the warm temps and rain coming that’s going to change quickly over the next week. I would expect that the Frankenstein Amphitheater will become problematic pretty soon. Even as big and fat as Standard Route is, it is in the full sun all day so it’s getting beat up. Climbs like Dracula, the North End of Cathedral, Lost In The Forest, Upper Hitchcock and various things in the shade will last longer of course. We’re moving into the best time for climbing on Mt Washington for the next 3-4 weeks. That said, it’s time to think about rock season folks.
There were a number of others that looked good too, but the family called & I went... A few days later we went to the nearby park & checked out the famous Hole In The Wall. It was a stone arch right on the coast that was formed by the ocean.
A very neat formation that looked as if it had several lines that would go and the rock wasn't too bad. That said I don't think that the water depth, at least at the medium-tide level, would make it for deep-water soloing. Walking along the edge of the cliffs we came across another few areas where there was some reasonable bouldering and even the kiddo got in a few short pulls. Sweet...
I had seen absolutely nothing that indicated that anyone was climbing anywhere on the island. I asked a few locals but they professed no knowledge of rock climbing on the island. The quality of the rock just doesn't lent itself to even trying I suppose. That said there is apparently some good seacoast ice climbing in the winter. I have heard about it from a few people and if you do a search on the web you will find a number of mentions & some pictures. Here is one such link...
Scroll down a bit for some amazing shots. The lines look great and the location simply can't be beat. It looks as if this is the type of climbing to do on Grand Manan. Hmmm, this may require a trip north next winter to check things out. And I'll bet the accommodations will be cheap at that time of year too!
Looks as if this weekend is going to be a perfect end to the summer. Sunny, dry and mild temps - it doesn't get a lot better than this. It's hard to believe that the summer is almost over, but then the good thing is that we're starting into my favorite time of the year - fall. And then ice and ski season will be here before we know it. Man I just love living up here!
Oh yeah, one more thing...it was a GREAT family vacation! So, the question is where are we going next year?
Quincy Quarries Adopt-A-Crag
Saturday, September 8
10 am – 2 pm
Now is your chance to give back to the great places where we all love to recreate. REI, the Access Fund, and DCR have partnered to bring this year’s Adopt-A-Crag event to the South Shore. We will be working to make the Quarries shine for ClimbFest, taking place on September 22. Please wear long pants and bring work gloves.
Please call REI at (781) 740-9430 to register and obtain directions. Free REI T-shirt, snacks and water will also be provided by REI.
Barely any bugs out there this time of year except for some mosquitoes & gnats. Enjoy it!
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
If I have learned one thing in my 54 years, it is that it is very good for the character to engage in sports which put your life in danger from time to time. It breeds a saneness in dealing with day to day trivialities which probably cannot be got in any other way, and a habit of quick decisions.