NEClimbs - information for New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont rock and ice climbers
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February 26, 2009

Hi Folks,

There was a time, pre kiddo, when the wife and I took late-winter/early-spring vacations to warm places like Red Rocks. It was so nice to be away during mud season and to come back after spring had already sprung. With a school-age youngster we now have to get-away over the proscribed school vacation week in mid-February. Leaving a positively balmy Los Angles and returning to a decidedly chilly New Hampshire and then having to immediately snowblow almost a foot of the wet white stuff to get into the house wasn't what I was hoping for.

Even tho the weather is generally better in California in February than here, California can have some surprises in store. We had a plan to go down to Joshua Tree for a day and a half near the beginning of our trip for some desert enjoyment and light climbing. However torrential downpours all the way down to San Diego plus family obligations put the quash on those plans. So, I was "forced" to rent a bike for the duration and do some riding to get in my needed exercise over the duration of the trip. I won't go into the details but I did ride a lot in the Topanga Canyon & Mullholland Drive hills where I saw lots of possible climbing areas and also up Mt. Palomar where I saw what looked like an unlimited supply of boulders. I don't know what the access issues are, but it all looked great. I talked with some climbers who raved about New Jack and Stony Point, but I didn't get there. Maybe next time.

When we got on the plane on Friday at 10PM to take the redeye it was a very balmy 70 degrees. We arrived in New York at 7AM and it was a chilly 42, but at least there was no snow on the ground. As we flew north you could see the change in temperature from 20,000 feet. First there was ice partially covering ponds, then ice on lakes, then light snow on the ground, then frozen lakes, ponds and streams and then ice choked rivers and finally a thoroughly frozen black and white landscape. It was like watching a bad Si-Fi movie. That said, the really cool thing so to speak, was seeing Mt Washington in the distance from the plane as we neared Portland. It really us all feel as if we were home again. Needless to say it was a very walk from the terminal to my snow-covered van from the parking lot at the airport as I had left my puffy jacket in the van at the start of the trip. Altho we'd made arrangements to have someone plow our driveway while we were away, there was still a lot of snow from the storm a few days earlier. Before I even got to go in the house I had to do some shoveling and blowing, and then only a couple of days later we got another 10 inches. Welcome to New England.

For a number of years I took winter ice climbing trips to the Canadian Rockies at the end of February. Coming home it was warmer here than out there and it felt great to be home. While it's a nice break to visit a warm place in the middle of the winter, but when you come back it can sure provide a shock to the old system. Still I think this could get into this as a regular thing. Maybe the Bahamas or Puerto Rico next February...

On Monday Brad White (IMCS) and I went out to do a video shoot for the Armed Forces Network. A crew was up in New Hampshire putting together a series of shorts about outdoor winter activities and wanted something on ice climbing. The original plan was to do it in Crawford Notch and shoot us climbing on Snot Rocket or Elephant Head. However Monday was howling wind and we decided that the conditions in the Notch wouldn't be conducive for anything, much less video. Brad convinced them that the North End of Cathedral would be just fine for their purposes and so down there we went.

In spite of a number of cars parked at the road we had the pillars all to ourselves. And very fortunately the wind was minimal down there and temps were just around freezing, because these folks were completely unprepared. One guy was wearing a leather jacket and another in jeans! Nothing we could do would convince them that this was not really appropriate for being outside, but at least we were close to the cars. Had we been up in the Notch there was no way we would have let these folks even get out of the cars, but at the North End for a couple of hours it wasn't any worse than the families I see snowshoeing past all day.

I always forget just how much video gets shot just to produce a short segment. This was to be a 60 second segment and it took 3 hours go get the footage. The neatest part was me climbing the overhanging icicles on the far right while they stuck a camera behind the drips to get my face as I went by. It will be interesting to see what they use from this footage.
Chris G and I did Snot Rocket this morning and only the first pitch was climbable, at least by me. [wry grin] There were a couple of dangerous looking drips hanging over the roof and the Pitch 2 pillar was pretty scraggly looking. Still the first pitch was worth the effort. One would think it would be a hook-fest but that was not at all the case. Instead it was 50' of pretty steep and unrelenting climbing. Good fun for a first day back on the sharp end after 10 days in LA LA land...

Snot Rocket
Snot Rocket pitch 2 drips

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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

I had climbed my mountain, but I must still live my life.
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