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January 10, 2008
Perched on my toes a mere 30' off the deck, I feel in a far more precarious position than if I were on Dropline. I swing my trusty Cobra, using the adze to carefully clear away the large icicles hanging in my face. They fall, exploding to bits as they hit the ground below me. Although on a top rope, I feel as if I could easily slip and swing into the hard white surface next to me and am happy to have the comforting feel of the rope tugging at my harness. I swing the axe into the final chunk of ice, mantling over the final bulge and onto the snow covered ramp. Clipping the axe on my harness I look down and call to my wife, "OK - Throw me the shovel. I'll clear all this snow off the roof first and start hacking at these ice dams."
I don't know what it is this year, but the ice dams have really formed on almost everyone's roofs. Some people are ignoring them, but we started getting a leak in our upstairs bedroom so I had no choice but to get up there & clear the snow and hack them away. Fortunately it was on one of the warm days so it wasn't too bad.
Although I had all the climbing gear and was actually roped up, I always feel a lot more nervous up on a 30' aluminum extension ladder than on some big vertical pillar of ice or rock. That darn ladder moves, and that brown wooden deck just looks so unforgiving. So I tie one end of my old climbing rope off to the bumper of my truck, heave the other end over the roof using a half filled Nalgene bottle as a weight and then use my GriGri to self belay up the ladder onto the roof. Just like climbing Dracula, it's the final moves onto the top that are the most nerve wracking! And while I know it's not an APPROVED use of the device, I gotta tell you that being roped up makes walking around on ice and shoveling 3' of snow off my 45 degree roof a whole lot easier to deal with. Especially since I can't use crampons!
I didn't get everything done on Monday, so late the next afternoon, Tuesday, I got out there to finish the job just as the sun was going down. We had a beautiful sunset and the temperature was a balmy 45 degrees so after the job was done I sat outside drinking a beer. I listened to the thunder of the snow sliding off Whitehorse and the crashes of the ice falling off the Mordor. Of course we'll jump back into winter soon, but I was still a bit frustrated. We've had such a wonderful early season, it's hard to let go. Still - even during the "good old days" there have been these kind of January thaws, usually pretty short lived. This one should be more or less over by Saturday, so I suppose that's not too bad.
Here are some additional pics taken on Thursday morning that aren't in the Ice Report:
The one this does do is to remind me that with these kinds of big snows comes the big-time Spring thaws. All this snow over the winter brings with it the promise that for the first time in a while we'll actually have a mud season this year.
HIMALAYAN ALPINE STYLE
Significant moments during climbs on
Koh-i-bandaka - Hindu Kush, Afghanistan
Shishapangma South West Face - Tibet
Baruntse-Chamlang-Makalu - Nepal
Lobsang Spire-Broad Peak-K2 - Pakistan
Nanga Parbat-Mezeno Ridge - Pakistan
7 Medford Street
WHEN: Wednesday, January 16 7:30 pm
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The White Mountain Report
North Conway, New Hampshire
|Writing about climbing is boring. I would rather go climbing.|