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Ever noticed how quiet it is after a snowfall? The soft fluffy stuff just soaks up the sound. In a world that's filled with the clicks, beeps, honks and roars that permeate our everyday existence, it is wonderful to enjoy the silence. It's perhaps a little surprising that someone like me, who spends so much of his time in an environment so constantly filled with sound, would relish it's absence. Yet I really look forward to my time outside this time of year, in part just for this reason.
So, it was particularly entertaining to run into a local climber at the Wildcat last Saturday night were I was playing with my friend Tony Sarno's blues band. The crux of this conversation taking place right after a particularly energetic set of blues is perhaps at least somewhat appropriate. After exchanging the obligatory greetings of the holiday, the conversation degenerated as one would expect to the state of the ice, what's IN or OUT, and the latest and greatest gear. In the course of discussing the latter, he brought up the fact that most gear these days makes noise. The clatter of flexible crampons with every kick, the clank of the metal adjustment buckle against a tool handle with every swing, not to mention the almost constant tinkle of ice screws and carabiners that take place with every movement. it's a veritable cacophony of sound, and while not altogether unpleasant, it can often obscure the more subtle and often highly informative sounds that are a part of the ice climbing process. The snick of the perfect tool placement, the thunk of the crampon into the ice below you, the squeak of a screw being twisted into hard ice, or perhaps more helpful the high pitched sounds generated as a web of cracks appear where you placed your tool just before it turns to a dinner plate! Needless to say, very informative stuff.
Now in full disclosure I should admit that climber is a rep for a gear company, and some of this conversation was aimed at pointing out the advantages of some new gear that one of his companies was bringing out. Regardless, his points were very well made. I guided on Sunday and right off the bat I noticed what he was talking about. My gear was really loud. So much so that when I went home I went looked over my tools and taped things up so they wouldn't make any noise and even wrapped some gaffer's tape on my old crampons. I guided the next day and was surprised that it made a significant difference. I felt that the added sense was really useful in almost every situation. I know it's a little thing, but check it out. Quiet is a good thing, savor it.
Ice Conditions Report:
Selected Ice Conditions effective March 16, 2017
With sunny daze and cold temps, the ice conditions have remained great for the most part since the reboot. It's turned into quite a good late season, and that looks to be going to continue at least for another week or two. Even the climbs that are usually starting to fade by this time, are still doing well. That said, with these longer days climbs in the direct sun are starting to feel their age. Lake Willoughby is a good example. With a fair amount of ice still standing, much of it is punky and generally unsafe. Be aware that things might not be quite as good as they seem! And on top of that, so to speak, is the snowpack. The Notch got the better part of 18 inches out of this one, and that has not begun to settle yet. Many climbs like Cinema, Shoestring, the large slope below Great Madness and even Willies have a LOT of snow on them. I suggest that you might want to give those a few days, like at least until Sunday, before giving them a shot.
New Year Music Update:
BTW if you are in town pre-New Year's weekend or New Year's iteslf drop by the WIldcat Tavern in Jackson. I'm playing there with my friend Tony Sarno. It's a great blues and rock band. Tony is a superb guitarist and singer and we do a mix of originals, classic blues & rock tunes. The food are good and the beer is cold. There's even a special on Tuckerman's Ale. If you come by be sure to say hi. I'm the old guy playing bass.
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: