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March 21, 2008

Hi Folks,

Wednesday night was the Vernal Equinox and we switched over to Spring. I don't know about where you folks are, but up here in the hinterlands it's hard to believe. It pretty much snowed all day Wednesday, tho we didn't get much accumulation. In the Notches it's like we still are in winter. When I had to go out to a meeting in the evening it had switched over to freezing rain and later to pure rain. Then from midnight through 8AM we got a half inch of something mostly liquid. It's left a sloppy crust on top of everything and hasn't caused things to melt that much. I don't know if this is good or bad, but it's not too fun.

So here we are in Spring. Are there any indications that we've shifted into a new season? Not that many, but here's some I have noticed, in no particular order:

1) Although the ice in most sunny places is trash, what's left in the shade is plastic and has become the much-sought-after "hero ice", letting the Grade 3 climber feel like they can climb Grade 5 with ease. (Thus, grab Black Pudding Gully while you can!)

2) The windows of warm weather have many animals our foraging and some are getting into my compost pile earlier than I've ever seen them. When the bears start waking up this is really going to be a problem as the berry crop will likely be very late this year.

3) In one small place in my yard where there is no snow, at least before yesterday, some day lily bulbs were pushing up. I don't think that anyone is going to be able to start a garden before June and that's going to push back all of the farm crops and thus the farm stands. Gotta wonder if we will get any fresh stuff this year.

4) The Saco River at First Bridge is already clear of ice.

5) Load Limit signs are going up on a lot of the side roads.

6) On sunny days when I can open my windows to air out the house the sound that's like thunder is actually the sound of the massive ice and snow falling off Cathedral and Whitehorse.

7) In between more rounds of snow/rain/sleet I can get out and find some dry rock to boulder or maybe even do a climb.

8) In between more snow/rain/sleet I can occasionally get out and ride my bike around town, or maybe even further, on some semi-dry pavement.

9) When the weather pundits talk about temps relative to previous years, they have shifted from "above" to "below" average.

10) We keep going back and forth between mud season and not mud season. Pulling off the road onto a shoulder is very problematic now. I saw a lady in an SUV with up to her axles the other day. It's been several years since we've had a mud season, but f the parking lot at Cranmore is any indication, I think this year is to be a corker.

11) We usually get frost heaves in the Spring, but this year they have come sooner than ever and they are worse than I've ever seen. West Side Road near the strawberry fields is horrible and the top of the hill on the Bartlett side of West Side Road just beyond Cemetery Crag is unreal.

12) Better have the "bot plates" on your crampons now. The snow wasn't sticky before, but it certainly is now.

13) The snowbanks on the sides of the road are finally coming down a bit. Pretty soon they will be low enough that I can actually pull out of my driveway and see what's coming!

14) I'm seeing bugs outside these days. Moths, flies, spiders and snow fleas are all starting to appear.
I was up in Crawford Notch on Thursday. It's been sunny other days, but this day was cloudy and lots of climbs looked good. Even some of the climbs on Willard are looking better. Here are a few pics from this morning:

Black Pudding Gully
Numbered Gullies in Crawford
climb below Waiting For Janet in Crawford

If you're going to be out climbing here's a couple of cool climbs to consider this weekend:
Black Pudding is IN and very fat
lots of very cool drips in the woods right of Black Pudding
the climb below Waiting For Janet looks fantastic
Gully 2 1/2 looks like it's IN for a change
Snot Rocket looks like there's some good stuff on and around it

Upcoming Slideshow:
Vertical Ethiopia - Climbing Toward Possibility in the Horn of Africa
by climber, writer Majka Burhardt (

Vertical Ethiopia documents a climbing expedition to unexplored sandstone spires in northern Ethiopia. In March 2007, four women traveled to Ethiopia to discover if climbing might be the next frontier for this continuously evolving country. Told through a series of vignettes that reveal what it means to climb, to travel, and to explore, Vertical Ethiopia looks closely at the intersections between adventure and culture, history and opportunity.

May 7th, 7pm
Cabot Auditorium, AMC Headquarters, 5 Joy Street, Boston MA

Sponsored by the AMC Boston Chapter, Mountaineering Committee in conjunction with WorldBoston ( and The Access Fund.

For more information:

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Remember - climb hard, ride the steep stuff, stay safe and above all BE NICE,

Al Hospers
The White Mountain Report
North Conway, New Hampshire

The hype pretended that M7, or 8, or 12 for that matter, had never before been climbed un thil the current practitioners rap bolted some overhanging choss heap, rehersed it, climbed it, did photo shoots on it, and treated it as commerce.
Mark Twight
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