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Well I expected to be coming back to snow or at least cold weather on Saturday, after being in warm
temps all last week. But to get home Saturday night to a balmy 66 and all
the early season ice gone and the river spring-high - SHOOT! I would almost
call that an insult. "Fortunately" things chilled out on Sunday and really
chilled Monday evening. And now after 3 days and nights of consistent mid-20
temps, it is starting at least to feel like winter. When I say "at least to
feel like winter" that's because except for the upper elevations, we haven't
got any snow! And after last year's record snows, i t feels pretty darn
I had a band practice in Ashland on Monday and decided to drive through
Franconia Notch and Crawford Notch on the way back. I was surprised to see a
real lack of snow in Franconia, other than in the higher elevations like
Lafayette. In addition, while there was ice starting to reform in the Dike
and other parts of Cannon, it was still ephemeral. It seemed obvious that
things would likely be happening fairly quickly with continued cold.
The rest of the week it's been quite cold, only rising above freezing on
Tuesday. I figured that Wednesday might be a good day to check out what has
been happening on Mt. Washington, so I called up my climbing partner and
sometimes boss Brad White. He wasn't optimistic about being able to actually
get in any climbing, but he was on for a hike in any event.
We started up the trail at about 9:30 on Wednesday morning. There was a
single signed in ahead of us with Pinnacle as their destination and as we
started out another car pulled up with what looked to be 2 climbers, so we
expected to see others. It was a pretty chilly morning, low 20's, but we
warmed up quickly and chugged away. The wind was howling away above the
trees and we were a little concerned about how things would be in the Bowl.
Over the years both of us have made the hike, only to be turned back by the
wind and blowing snow.
About 1/4 of the way up the trail had a fair amount of ice on it. I have the
StablIcers and Brad has the MICROspikes so we put them on. We both really
like using these traction devices as they allow us to walk directly up the
ice as if we were in regular crampons, but are a lot easier on our feet.
These are highly recommended for travel in anywhere that is slippery.
We made pretty good time to the Huntington intersection. There was a single
pair of tracks heading in that direction but we kept going to Ho Jo's. We
stopped for a few minutes at the Hut to get a bite & drink as well as put on
some warmer clothing. The wind was pretty intense at this time and we
couldn't really see into the Bowl. I took a minute to chat with the
caretaker and he said the wind was actually less than it had been over the
previous few days! Hiking up the trail to the cache my fingers got a little
cold and I had to fold them into my palm for a few minutes. HMMM... However
just as we crested onto the flat area the wind died to close to nothing.
This was what we were hoping for. There was definitely ice up there and we
should be able at least to swing the tools into something.
We threw the packs down, got another bite and drink & put on our real
crampons. Brad was the first one ready so he pranced up the thicker looking
ice left of the Book. It's his usual first-ice of the season.
Once he got up a bit I took a picture and then decided I was going to try
the Book itself. There was a hose coming out of the pillar at the top and I
figured I could angle left to avoid getting wet. The start was pretty good,
tho a bit on the mushy side and the sticks weren't too bad for the first
20'. About this time Brad walked around and called up asking how it was. Not
too good was my qualified reply. The ice was covered with a crust and I got
a little worried that if it decided to slough I would go with it. Still I
didn't feel like down-climbing so I keep on. There were no really solid
sticks all the way to where I was parallel to the hose. The top-out was
particularly uncomfortable since what looked like snow & ice was just snow
plastered on rock. I managed it and then snapped a good shot looking down on
Brad as he did another lap on his climb.
It was about 2:30 so we decided to call it a day. While not as good as we
have seen it in early season, it was just fine for both of us. We had a nice
hike and we climbed some ice. Doesn't get much better that that. Brad and I
both agree that "in our professional opinions" the ice isn't IN, but it is
certainly climbable and in a few days there should be some fun things to
play on. Winter is IN and ice season is almost here. Enjoy...
Ice Conditions Report:
Selected Ice Conditions effective February 23, 2017
The warmup has really hit us hard everywhere but in the higher elevations. Anywhere in the direct sun is dam close to toast right now. The Amphitheater at Frankenstein is off the radar, or certainly should be. You can probably do the Pegasus rock finish, but that's all. And I would be VERY careful walking under anything over in that area. As of today, Thursday Feb 23, Standard Route still looks OK. I also spotted someone climbing on Waterfall, tho I'm sure that the normally funky top outs are worse. The bottom of Dropline fell down, but Dracula still looks good. I was pleased to see that Willies still looks good. The snow has compacted and I saw what looked to be blue ice. The left side of Willard is basically gone, but Hitchcock, The Cleft, Left Hand Wrench, the far right slab and Elephant Head are still climbable. Other than the Barking Dog and North End I would write off Cathedral Ledge. I know people are going to ask about Repentance, etc and frankly I would caution away from it. In fact anything that is supposed to be attached to rock is suspect. Not to mention the fact that there is a LOT of stuff hanging around above you on Cathedral at this time.
Automobile Gas Saver Tip:
While gas prices have dropped substantially, they still are a big drain on
everyone's budget. If you are on your way up here or leaving town one of the
cheapest places I have found to get gas is the station on Rt 16 in Tamworth.
As recently as Monday I filled up at $1.99/gal. They are generally 5-8 cents
a gallon cheaper than here in the Valley. If you are heading up toward
Bretton Woods be sure to have a full tank because gas up there is as much as
$2.60 a gallon.
Great Music in Portsmouth:
Yeah, I know. I say that every band I'm in is great. But this one is really really good. In House is a jazzy jam band that plays funk/rock grooves with wild guitar stuff over the top. Two guitars, bass and drums is the instrumentation - no vocals. This is NOT your daddy's ricky-ticky-jazz music, but you CAN dance to it and it is as modern as the latest groove you know. Original tunes with a couple of interesting covers thrown in for good measure.
Look - I dare you, NO I double-dog-dare-you to check it out. I promise you won't be disappointed. But if you ARE, I will personally buy you a beer. Now that's a deal you can't turn down...
Randy Roose - guitar
Jim Alba - guitar
Jared Steer - drums
Al Hospers (that's me) - bass
The Press Room
Nov 22, 2008
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.
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