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After guiding on Thursday and Friday my clients and I kind of thought that our last day, Saturday, might be a bit of a bust with the big snow storm coming in on Friday night. Now I must admit that I'm getting a bit tired of all the snow and the idea of guiding in more than the average snow was not exactly something I was looking forward to all that much. I talked with my boss Brad that evening & his attitude was that it was all in my head, and that If I was able to make the switch to "this is going to be a fun day to play in the snow" we all could have a great time. Hmmm...
Phase one was getting to bed at 9PM so I was well rested Saturday morning. That helped. Phase two was a big mug of espresso before I went over to the Nereledge Inn to meet my clients. Yet another positive was the magnificent cheese and mushroom omelet that Steve cooked up. It hit Phase 3 right on the spot and kicked my mood into "this is going to be fun" mode. Not a bad start to a very snowy morning.
We decided that going to Cathedral instead of driving up to Frankenstein would be a smart move, so we crammed into my truck & headed over to the cliff. Bt 9:30, did I mention the second glass of orange juice, there were so many cars on the road it was hard to find a place to park. But just being out there with all the snow was actually wonderful & so different from the bitter cold we experienced climbing Standard Left the day before. As we hoofed down the road behind another party of 5, yes I did say FIVE, I decided that the North End would not be a very viable option. Plan B was for the first pitch of Recompense, so up the hill we slogged, and slogged, and slogged. Did I mention that there was knee to waist deep powder snow everywhere? By the time we got up to the cliff & walked, no actually wallowed, to the base of Recompense there was a party heading up the second pitch.
So what was Plan C again? Oh yes...Goofer's. When I had spoken to Brad the previous evening he mentioned that he might be going to do Goofer's on Saturday. Well I hadn't seen him, our options were getting more limited by the minute, and I figured it was worth a try. So we wallowed across the base of the cliff and I started the serious wallow up the hill to Goofer's. This too a while since it was waist deep snow all the way. It was hard to tell if anyone had even hiked up there. Somewhere around the start of Standard Route I decided that I would be better off right by the base of the cliff where the snow seemed to be more packed. That actually wasn't too bad and I made better progress. Of course right about even with Thin Air I was finally able to see and hear that Brad was in fact on Goofer's. However, we were so late that his first client was already on the way up and the second was getting ready to climb.
Cool, by the time we got up and situated, they were done & rapping. Brad mentioned that just as they had gotten up to the climb the snow slope gave way. He pointed out the fracture line extending about 20' long 6-8' below the juncture of rock & snow. Good thing they weren't coming up the gully. There's a reason there aren't any trees down there!
Of course just when I'm getting ready to start up, another party hiked up the hill. This is master guide Kevin Mahoney and his client. We all commented on how crowded it was at Cathedral that morning. Kevin said that he had never seen so many people down at the North End. I zipped up, staying a little to the right. Goofer's is notoriously thin. The first time I did it, 12 years ago with my wife Alyssa, I tied off stubbies! This time the ice was good and surprisingly fat. By the time I was set up at the belay Kevin had come up just to my left.
He ran in a couple of screws and set up his belay in seconds. We brought up our clients almost simultaneously while we chatted about the season and the general state of the ice. His client and my first one came over the bulges almost at exactly the same time...very neat.
By the time we were situated and I started bringing up my second client, Kevin had lowered his client and was feeding his rope through a v-thread hole to rap off. They were long gone by the time we were done and rapped down. What to do now...back to Plan C of course. We decided to try for Repentance again, so down, across up and over we went. And of course there was Brad heading up Repentance. (sigh) Turns out that he had the perfect suggestion for, dare I say it, Plan D! The D standing for the first pitch of Deidre of course. A quick walk to our left, on what was by now packed trail, and there we were. And there was nobody there. YEA!
How I have to admit, I just LOVE climbing runnels. There is just something about the twisting, turning, hooking, stemming and all the cool contortions that I really like. Pitch 1 of Deidre in the winter is all of that. Zippo - I made short work of it, looping one icecicle and putting in one screw. It was so neat. I ran in a couple of screws in the column and brought up first one client
Now this was really really cool. They had both been a little tentative on Thursday and got better (tho very cold) on Friday, but it all came together on Saturday. And it really happened right here on our last climb. What a great feeling. They were psyched and I was buzzing. Then the final cool thing was when I slung the rope around the pillar and we rapped off it! How neat is that?
I guess it just goes to show how with the right attitude adjustment (aided and abetted I admit by strong coffee, a great breakfast and two wonderful clients) what seems like will be a drag, can turn out to be totally superior! YOWZA.
Ice Conditions Report:
Selected Ice Conditions effective February 11, 2016
For the most part the ice is IN almost everywhere. Some places are still thin and the top-outs are not always great, but if you can climb, there is stuff for you to do. Some of the climbs in the Frankenstein Amphitheater are problematic as of today, but with the cold that is expected for the weekend, that may change pretty quickly.
New Daks Guidebook Available Very Soon:
Jim Lawyer and Jeremy Haas have been very busy boys of late. Besides all their climbing, they have managed to pout together Adirondack Rock, a new comprehensive rock climbing guidebook to the Adirondack Park. The guidebook includes all technical rock climbing routes and boulder problems from all known crags and boulders located on public land within the boundary of the Adirondack Park in New York State. The new guidebook will be available on March 28 and can be purchased at www.AdirondackRock.com.
I just ordered mine today, be sure to get yours right away!
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
This is how they die, I thought. They pass out or freeze without caring. They die as spectators, believing it's all happening to someone else. I'd rather be fully alive and awake when I die, I want to be terrified. The last place I want to snuff it is on a slope no steeper than a beginner's ski hill.