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Well here we are at Ice Fest 2009 time. It's hard to believe, but there have actually been 16 of these babies. It is IMNSHO the premier event of the winter around here. I have probably been to 14 of these, only missing 2 when I went to the Canadian Rockies instead, as that's about the best time to be there. While they all seem to run together, here's 10 that stand out in my memory...
1) Watching Alex Lowe lead an amazingly thin mixed route at the Flume with almost no gear. Talk about precision...
2) Being amazed by very young Kevin Mahoney pulling a very burley move over a roof on a mixed route at the Flume.
3) Seeing helmet-less Mark Wilford get whacked on the head when a free hanging icicle came down while he was leading a route as a part of a clinic. He was all bloody and it made me a true believer in wearing helmets all the time, especially on ice. To be fair that day he also taught me all about tap-tap as opposed to thunk-thunk, a lesson I remember and use to this day!
4) Meeting then-guide Ian Cruickshank at a clinic at Champney Falls and at the end of the session the two of us climbing right next to the falls itself beside an incredible ice-hose.
5) Watching Barry Blanchard use incredible footwork on one of the free hanging icicles at the Texaco Amphitheater. For a big guy he is amazingly agile and is footwork is some of the best.
6) Catching a Mark Twight show where he spoke for the first half with no slides, and then didn't talk through the slideshow in the second half. The slides were good, but the talk was even better!
7) Watching the first presentation of Robert Frost's wonderful movie Uncommon Ground, a story about climbing in the Mount Washington Valley. The applause when Kevin Mahoney pulled the last moves on the mixed climb at Trollville was deafening.
8) Standing on the roof of my truck and shooting pictures of John Bragg climbing Dropline one sunny morning. His movements were poetry in motion.
9) Being unable to keep up with Mark Wilford, Alex Lowe and Barry Blanchard hiking out of the Flume and realizing that they weren't even breathing hard!
10) Watching Jack Tackle climb Broken Pick on the Unicorn Ledge after he had been sick for over a year and marveling at his total economy of effort.
There are tons more flashes that come back to me whenever I think about Ice Fest and this year will provide a lot of additional memories for all of us. Even if you don't take a course or clinic, just come up and check out the gear demos and presentations. Being around the featured guides and hundreds of other folks who love climbing just as much as you do is a rush that you simply must experience. I hope to see you here...
With sunny daze and cold temps, the ice conditions have remained great for the most part since the reboot. It's turned into quite a good late season, and that looks to be going to continue at least for another week or two. Even the climbs that are usually starting to fade by this time, are still doing well. That said, with these longer days climbs in the direct sun are starting to feel their age. Lake Willoughby is a good example. With a fair amount of ice still standing, much of it is punky and generally unsafe. Be aware that things might not be quite as good as they seem! And on top of that, so to speak, is the snowpack. The Notch got the better part of 18 inches out of this one, and that has not begun to settle yet. Many climbs like Cinema, Shoestring, the large slope below Great Madness and even Willies have a LOT of snow on them. I suggest that you might want to give those a few days, like at least until Sunday, before giving them a shot.
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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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