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Ah yes, I DO love Spring... A time when tough ladies and hard men alike can feel comfortable sporting an endearing unisex perfume. Simply walking down Main Street you can even whiff the odor exuding from the children merrily scampering by. Or you can smell it drifting by on the breeze from the party next to you on the Whitehorse slabs, mixed with the sweet scent of sunscreen. What is it you ask? Why it's that wonderful fragrance of au de DEET of course! Designed to ward off those evil black flies and mosquitoes.
The further North you live, the worse they seems to be, tho the shorter the season. Perhaps the shorter summers in the higher latitudes concentrates the intensity. I had some friends who lived up in north-central Maine who complained that the mosquito and black-flie season was comparable to Alaska. While I've never been in Alaska in the summer, from the descriptions I've heard that may be a bit of a stretch. Still, at times it can be so bad up here in North Conway that it becomes close to impossible to use the back deck at supper time. And by mid-June climbing in the early evening can be an exercise in holding on with one hand, while swatting at bugs with another. I have a picture somewhere taken about 15 years ago over a Memorial Day weekend at Farley Ledge. I am standing at the base of some climb with a halo of mosquitoes and black-flies around my head. It was so bad that we bailed and ran back to the relative safety of the car.
For the first several years that my wife and I lived up here we would go on road trips in the worst of the bug season. They bother her the worst so sometimes she would even escape to her relatives in Philadelphia or Indiana. With a kiddo in school now, that option is pretty much off the table. [sigh] But I do know that she thinks about doing it again.
I have tried lots & lots of bug repellants over the years. Organic, natural, various concentrations of DEET and everything in between. Unfortunately, for me, it's just the DEET-laden concoction that does the job. I've personally settled on a brand that contains about 10% DEET for all but the worst times, but others seem to require more. While I do worry about the long-term effects of exposure, I guess I just figure that at 61 if something was going to happen, it would have happened by now. And if I didn't use it, I simply wouldn't be able to go outside in the Spring. That said, I usually spray it on my baseball cap, socks and t-shirt rather than directly on my body most of the time. That seems to work almost as well as lathering up, and it just washes off the clothes in the laundry. Your mileage may vary...
I don't remember the bugs bothering me all that much in Georgia or Florida when I was growing up. And as much as I was outside when we were living around Boston I don't remember them being this bad. But then it may just be my memory, or lack thereof. Of course this is just one of the trade-offs that we all make when we choose to live up here in northern New Hampshire. I simply choose to accept the 6-7 weeks of annoyance in exchange for the fantastic Spring, Fall and Winters that we have. It's certainly better than the 90-100 degree temps and 90% humidity of Florida and Georgia, that's for sure.
Ice Conditions Report:
Selected Ice Conditions effective February 4, 2016
In spite of the rain and warmup, there is still ice to be climbed in the Valley and Notches. Some additional caution is required after an event like this, but with reasonable care you should have stuff to climb this weekend. All of the larger climbs are still there and by mid-day Friday and Saturday should be good to go. Just place plenty of pro, check for bonding and beware of some of the top-outs and all should be good. For the time being I personally would NOT go under Repentance or Remission!
Good Gear Questions:
Someone posted some comments on the NEClimbs forum about some private testing that's been done recently on Aliens (cams). It's worth reading & looking at the pictures too. Plus, it got me thinking...and that's usually a good thing! As you may know they have had some fairly well documented quality control issues in the past. The testing that was conducted on two pieces of gear that in one case a cam that was found and another that had been purchased used. It seems to have stirred up questions again about the safety of CCH's products. I only own a pair of green Aliens that I purchased new and I've had almost since they came out. I've never taken a fall on them and regularly check them for obvious signs of damage, as I do with all my gear. I trust them as much as any piece of gear in my rack, but then I don't push the edge as much as many folks do.
Over the years I have seen many recalls and reports of problems with gear. Fortunately I have never owned one of those pieces of gear, but I know folks who have. That said, I don't personally know anyone who has experienced a failure of any recalled piece of gear, but I would certainly retire a piece of gear if I knew it had the significant possibility of being defective. Since there is the big to-do about Aliens, why haven't I retired my 2 pieces? Good question...and one that's probably hard to answer. Certainly not that I don't believe that there have been some problems. And its not really the money as I could certainly scrounge enough to buy another cam if I wanted it. I think that in my case it's that I know that the green Alien fits in places where I can't seem to get in anything else, perfect for those narrow pin-scars. Because of that I just keep those pieces on my rack. I'm not a big crack climber, so anything that makes me feel better when I'm climbing one, that's a good thing. I guess it comes down to I'd rather take the chance of failure than to not have a piece that fits in that placement at all.
Still I will stick with never trusting booty gear and not buying gear from folks where I don't know its history. Perhaps it's time for me to look around at some other similar gear, but right now I'll stick with the devil I know. How about you?
We're holding at a BUGCON 3 right now but I think that's going to change upward pretty soon. Stay tuned.
Pan America Conservation Initiative:
Petzl is announcing a partnership with Access Pan America through a grant from the Petzl Foundation. Access Pan America is a newly established organization dedicated to protecting climbing access across the Americas. It will be the first and only organization of its kind, bringing together activists, access leaders and influencers, and land managers from several countries to unify efforts toward climbing conservation for the entire Western Hemisphere.
The inaugural Access Pan America meeting will be held in Squamish, British Columbia (B.C.) during the Squamish Mountain Festival, August 12th-16th, 2009. The Petzl Foundation has made an early commitment to provide travel scholarships for access ambassadors from Latin America to participate in the initial forum. The inaugural meeting will serve to address: assessment of climbing access and the climbing environment in all of the Americas; work to create a Western Hemisphere access support network or central organization; a consensus, commitment, and road map for keeping climbing areas open and protecting the climbing environment in all the Western Hemisphere.
“Conservation and climbing access are two issues central to the mission of the Petzl Foundation,” said Paul Petzl, founder of Petzl and its foundation. “Access Pan America is an effort that matches our goals of preserving climbing areas for all to enjoy, not just climbers, but all who appreciate nature and our natural environments”.
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.
NEClimbs & White Mountain Report On Facebook:
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: