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December 6, 2007
It's amazing just how people's attitudes in our little Valley change in the winter depending on the snow. In fact it changes just with the prediction of snow, especially in early December. Everyone I know was kind of moping around last week. Then the weather folks started talking about a snowstorm on the way. Every few hours their prediction amounts increased, and with every increasing inch the smiles in the Valley got wider and the spirits higher. We ended up with 8-10 inches and the smiles were beaming everywhere on Monday night. With current prognosticators talking about generally cold temps with no rain or major thaw in the offing, those smiles might just last through Christmas. Now that will be a gift that we all will appreciate.
Brad White and I decided to take our days off on Wednesday this week and head up to Upper Crawford Notch to check out he climbs on Mt. Willard. Last week a number of these climbs looked to be coming in well and I'd heard that the numbered gullies, the ones left of Cinema, were looking pretty good. I played music Tuesday night, so we got a late start, getting to the pullout just above Elephant Head at around 10. It was a little breezy but the temps were pretty mild, in the upper 20's. There was one other car and we followed their footprints down the tracks. They headed off uphill before Hitchcock, so we guessed that they may have been heading up to try the Corkscrew.
As usual this time of year there were a couple of holes in the tracks that are gotcha's. And as usual I found two of 'em. Fortunately there was no damage, other than to my ego, so we trudged on. It's always further than you think, getting all the way around to the start of Cinema - it's a good 45 minute slog for me. And of course then it's another 30 minutes uphill to the base of the climb.
We'd decided on Gully #2 as our main objective, so we plodded about half way up the Great Madness drainage and then cut left into the trees and up to the base of the climb. There was a lot of snow covered rock and the going was a bit harder than planned. There was nothing resembling mid-season neve to kick steps in. This was all powder, fluffy and dry.
The climb looked pretty darn good, so we didn't look any further. We checked the time and it was almost 11:30. I "volunteered" for first lead & suited up. As usual things were a bit harder than it looked, but there was plenty of ice and generally good placements. About 40' and 3 screws up the ice got a lot more candled that was obvious form the ground. I ran in a good screw and decided to make a little traverse left to what was obviously better ice. I'd cleaned out a number of icicles by my right tool and was leaning left to make the move when an icicle fell of right overhead, whacking me in the face right above my right eyebrow. It was a pretty good hit, but it didn't knock me off or make me feel woozy or anything so I figured it would just be a scratch. I started to make the move again when I felt wetness all over my face.
I looked down at my feet and saw blood dripping pretty fast all over the nice clean white snow and ice. Then I looked up at my right tool placement and the blood went in my right eye and I couldn't see anything. ARRRGGGH!!!!!! Now I was pissed. I called out to Brad that I had gotten hit but he couldn't see what it looked like 'till I turned around. I checked the state of the screw I'd just put in and lowered off. There was a trail of blood on the ice and snow all the way back to the pack. Brad suggested that I grab a chunk of ice and press it on the cut to stop the bleeding and to make the swelling go down. It was rapidly looking like there was a marble on my eyebrow. While I did that I also rummaged in the top of my pack for my first aid kit. It's something that I always carry with me, and was very happy to have along. Of course now the blood was dripping all over my pack and gear. SHEESH!!!
it's a rather festive look don't you think
There is something about face wounds in the winter that just makes you bleed like the proverbial "stuck pig". I felt fine, but I was most assuredly stuck and bleeding! I grabbed the gloves & gave them to Brad and found some gauze in my kit. Fortunately by now the ice had pretty much stopped the bleeding and amazingly enough the swelling had gone down. That made me feel a whole lot better about the possibility of salvaging the day. I did NOT want to have to pack up and go to the doctor for stitches. To make a long story shorter, I used the gauze to apply pressure for a few minutes and the bleeding stopped altogether. A band aid was applied, I popped a couple of Ibuprofen and I figured I was good to go.
I figured I'd let Brad finish off the first pitch & I'd second it to see how I felt so he gathered up the gear and headed up. He did a superb job avoiding my mess and made the traverse left to the better ice. He's climbing very well and made short work of the curtain, doing a very nice job on the final tricky move to the slab.
Gully # 2
We'd planned on belaying right there, but the ice was crusty and crappy so he had to continue all the way to the tree, 60' higher. I felt just fine and followed fairly quickly. When I got there he pointed out that the upper pitch was in as well. I went ahead and did that one, finishing at a tree on the right. As I was setting up the belay I found an old double length Dyneema sling sticking out of the snow. From the look of it I figured it had been there since last winter. Brad followed me up & we discussed how to get off. We had only brought a single 70 meter rope and were concerned about rapping the last section. I thought that we would make it, but he wasn't so sure. So we decided to hike up and around left over Gully #1, coming down a narrow cleft and back to our packs. We'd both done it a number of times and it worked just fine. There was one place where we could have down climbed, but used the rope just to make it easier. It was really quick and we were back at the packs in no time.
Gully # 1
I brushed snow over all the bloody drips in the snow and kicked the chunk of blood-covered ice down the hill. We packed up and walked/slid down to the tracks. There were ski tracks on the RR bed and we followed them back around the corner. From the tracks at Hitchcock it was obvious that someone had come down that way, probably the party whose tracks we had seen earlier. I checked out Snot Rocket as we walked by and the first pitch looked OK. The little Trestle Gully looked pretty good and Old Anxiety even looked as if it might go. There were a number of drips in the cut that also looked as if they would be fun to do on a toprope.
When I got home I had a look at my cut and decided that I couldn't be bothered with going to the doctor for stitches. It didn't seem worth the hassle and I figure another scar will just add a little more character to this old face. Some hot soapy water, some tripple-antibiotic ointment and a butterfly will do wonders.
Needless to say this was a good reminder to go through my first-aid kit at the start of a new season. You DO carry a first-aid kit, don't you? Here's what I'm carrying these days:
roll of gauze
assortment of band aids including butterfly and fingertip
You can get by with less I suppose, but I figure this is a minimum to handle most minor to medium emergencies. What's in YOUR pack?
We have had a nice surge in donations this week. To date there have been 71 very kind individuals who have contributed to our 2007/2008 Fundraiser. That's a big jump from the 43 we had this time last week. Thanks to each and every one of you who have made a donation. We are almost up to 10% of the 938 subscribers to the White Mountain Report.
From what I hear from professional donation people that's not a bad number but hopefully we will do better than that. Keeping you up to date with happenings in the Whites is a time consuming thing and doing it in ice season is even more so. Providing the latest ice and rock conditions, reporting on events and people in the local climbing community and more consumes 10+ hours a week. And think about the cost of gas in the truck driving all over the place to take pics of the ice in winter! That's not insignificant these days.
My requested minimum $20 donation isn't much, considering all the great information provided every week. Heck, the info you get from the Report or from NEClimbs could easily save you more than that in gas on a single trip to the Whites. More if you drive a gas-guzzling SUV!
Please don't wait to make a contribution and don't assume that others will pick up the slack. YOU signed up to be included on the Report mailing list! YOU read it every week! Support NEClimbs and The White Mountain Report, by sending a check or money order for $20 NOW, or make your contribution ON LINE via PayPal. It's easy & painless and you can use your credit card. Simply click the link below to make your donation...
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You DON"T need to have a PayPal account to use this service. Any credit card is fine. If a credit card is not an option, you can make out your check or money order to NEClimbs and send it to:
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The Donations list on the NEClimbs site is up to date as of this morning. It contains the names of all of those who have contributed as a part of this 2007/2008 fundraiser. Thanks to all and special thanks go to a couple of very generous individuals.
The Donations list on the NEClimbs site is up to date as of Wednesday evening. It contains the names of all of those who have contributed as a part of this 2007/2008 fundraiser. Thanks to all and special thanks go to a couple of very generous individuals.
When you make that minimum $20 contribution you will be automatically entered in our raffle for some GREAT prizes like Ice guides, copies of Accidents In North American Mountaineering, Bouldering guides and more. The drawing will be held on December 13th, 2007 and all winners will be notified in the following Report. The drawing date has been EXTENDED to December 12th. Your donation must be received by mail OR by PayPal on or before December 12th, 2007 to be entered. It's a perfect opportunity to support NEClimbs, and a great chance to win a useful prize.
REMEMBER, it's your contribution that makes this newsletter and the NEClimbs web site possible. Thanks so much for your support.
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.
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:
Have fun and climb safe,
The White Mountain Report
North Conway, New Hampshire
|Then came a bigger fear. Not the threat of imminent injury, but the fear that if I didn't go back up, I would be a chickenshit forever.|