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December 4, 2008
Well of course any news these days that doesn't revolve around the economy, or what is left of it, most certainly revolves around the weather. And, since the Valley's economy is so weather dependent, we think and talk about it all the time. If you look at the temperatures on this site and others you will most certainly feel that there is something to this global warming thing. Almost every day this week it's been warmer than usual during the day and frankly not all that cold at night. In fact since Sunday the only night it's been really cold down here has been Tuesday night. While we have had some snowfall, it hasn't been all that much to boot. The ski areas have been having a heck of a time getting open as early as they would like, but in spite of that there has been some ice to climb.
I had a few hours on last Sunday afternoon (before that horrible travesty of a Patriots game) to do something with my 9 year old son - so I talked him into doing his first winter hike. And of course, me being me, I managed to turn this into a hike up in Crawford Notch so I could also check on conditions after the slushy snow we'd had earlier. [grin] You weren't surprised, were you?
On the way out of town we stopped at IMCS to borrow a pair of MicroSpikes for his boots in case we ran into some hiking ice. I have a pair that I use to get up the trails like into the Ravine and I figured getting some for him would be useful. Then we headed up into the Notch. The external air temp on the car only hovered around the freezing mark, even as we got up to Frankenstein. I didn't expect much so I wasn't too surprised to see the Amphitheater was pretty much toast. But I was ver surprised to see that Standard had hung in and Dracula had as well. Unfortunately right in between the two, Dropline was only a smear. [sigh] Oh well, it WILL get cold I told myself!
Heading up further I could see that there was ice & snow on Willies. The normal lot on the Willies side of the road hasn't been plowed, so I parked beside 2 cars on the right. Lewis hasn't really hiked in colder conditions so we went through the whole thing about layering and not getting too hot and headed up the trail. As usual the for first bit he wasn't too happy, but after about 15 minutes he warmed to it and we started to chatter as we usually do. At the tracks we paused to eat an apple and enjoy the view. There is always something to having a pay-off when you hike, and the views across the valley as well as up and down valley were pretty doggone nice.
Mt Webster across from Willies
Lewis with Mt. Willard in the background
The last bit of the hike up to the base of Willies is the steepest but the kiddo didn't whimper at all, probably because he knew it would all be over soon. When we came out of the trees he was impressed by the sheer amount of ice. Still, he did comment that it didn't look "all that steep". Sensing an opportunity, I offered that it was an easy climb, almost a walk up an easy slope. I could see the wheels turning, but didn't press the issue. I waved at the guys climbing up the right side and they waved back. Lewis asked if I knew them and I said no, I was just being friendly. He noticed the obvious steps on the left side and asked if we could hike up them. I said yes, but we would need to be careful as we didn't have any real crampons. So we went over French Technique and side-stepped our way up about 30' to the flat area on the left by the rocks where we sat and had lunch. It was somewhat cloudy, but there was no wind and the temperature couldn't have much less than 30. A very unusual day for Willies to be sure.
On Willies #1
on Willies #2
We carefully side-stepped down and he noticed a place in the middle where someone, perhaps the other party, had done some glissade practice. I dumped my pack, hiked up about 30' and showed him how it was done, using my pole as a break. He gave it a try on his own, first only doing it about 15' up. Then he went back up to 20' and then 30'. He settled on that height and did it another half dozen times. Good fun and great practice. Next time, real crampons!
We had some warm cider/gatorade mix (my favorite winter drink) and headed down the trail. He kept wanting to gliss again, but it really wasn't steep or packed enough to do it. Hmmmmm...maybe I can get him up to Pegasus some time, just for the gliss down! Right out of the woods we took off our MicroSpikes and waked up the road back to the car. He commented on how nice it was to be hiking in the snow and asked if we could do it again. Sounds to me as if we have another converted hiker in the family. Now if I can just get the wife out occasionally...
The Mount Washington Valley's jazz band The Jazz Meisters will be at Bellini's Restorante on Friday December 5th from 7 to 10PM. Join us for a great evening of classic jazz and great food. Reservations are suggested.
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.
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:
Have fun and climb safe,
The White Mountain Report
North Conway, New Hampshire
|Winter alpinism is hard enough without the added dilemma of free-climbing ethics.|