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July 9, 2009
WOW - I got up Thursday morning at 6:30 and IT WAS NOT RAINING!!!!!!! That's right, I could actually see blue skies. In fact the only clouds I could see were a few high light ones off in the North East. At 8:30 there were even folks up at the visitor overlook basking in the sun. I'm surprised that there weren't climbers out there already trying to grab a bit of sun and dry rock.
The July 4th weekend was surprisingly nice, considering how things have been lately. Scattered showers on Saturday, but they held off for the fireworks, and Sunday was darn near perfect. Looking for a bit of a family outing with my 9 year old son Lewis and my 70+ year old mother in-law Barbara we opted for a hike on Sunday. And as usual I was hoping to combine it with something climbing-related [wry grin] so I suggested we do Sugarloaf. It's a very moderate hike of under a mile and a half with spectacular payoff views, plus Middle Sugarloaf is reputed to have some very nice moderate slab climbing! I hoped to be able to do the hike and then get a couple of pictures for the NEClimbs web site.
When we got to the parking area we were quite surprised to see 30+ cars layered in one behind the other. I did find a spot to park, but it was difficult. The way they were blocking each other in it was pretty obvious that they were part of a large group. Hmmmm...
The trail is very pleasant and the hike uneventful. I was surprised to see these two humungous boulders right on the trail fairly near the trailhead. Tho they were mossy, I have to believe they have both been climbed on as there are some obvious lines that look very cool. As we hiked along we were surprised by the widely varying plants as we climbed higher, plus the fact that the woods were completely void of evergreens of any type until just below the saddle. In addition we heard very few birds. This was quite surprising, considering how many birds Lewis and I had heard on our hikes earlier in the spring.
About halfway up the trail we rain into two pairs of hikers coming down. Both notified us that there was a huge church group of a hundred people or so heading up to Middle Sugarloaf carrying babies, guitars, box lunches and megaphones! OMG... Needless to say we immediately decided that North would be the more desirable option.
At the trail intersection in the saddle between the summits we turned right to North. The trail went across what was obviously a rocky ledge system through many more evergreen trees. It took a downward turn to the left and then climbed somewhat steeply back up alongside a ledge system to the summit. On the way Lewis noticed several places that had apparently been quarried for quartz and he found a number of very interesting rocks.
The summit itself was very nice with amazing 360 degree views across to Mt. Washington, up the Zealand Valley, over to Middle Sugarloaf and even up to Twin Mountain. Other than Mt. Washington everywhere we looked was reasonably clear, with only broken clouds and lots of blue sky. There was however a shroud of dark clouds covering Mt. Washington starting about halfway up and extending across the tops of both Eisenhower and Pierce. Interestingly enough on Monday I spoke with some friends who had tried to summit Eisenhower on Sunday around the middle of the day. They ended up turning back near the summit because it was socked in, very windy and surprisingly cold. Hey, it's the Presies', right? You just never know... We brought rain gear & headlamps for our little hike!
I looked over the edge of the North summit ledges facing Mt. Washington and was surprised to see some very significant overhanging cliffs. In one case I would say that it was 70-80' high. The Webster second edition describes some climbs on North, but according to the description they are on a cliff band right off the trail before you get to the summit. The cliff I noticed was on the opposite side of the summit. Like many of the outback cliffs in the Presies' I would bet that they have been climbed, but simply not recorded. It looks pretty interesting tho.
The hike down was uneventful and we didn't encounter the church group. As all the cars were gone from the trailhead when we got down, they had made good time. Happily there were no visible signs of their presence, other than a lot of footprints on the trail.
Unfortunately the view of Middle from the other side of the North summit is of the side that is away from the climbing slabs, so I was unable to get a picture for the NEClimbs Routes database. We took a ride down the Zealand road looking for a clear spot where I could get a shot, but I didn't find any place that was clear enough. [sigh] Lewis and I are planning to try Mt. Hale next week so I might be able to get something from that summit. Perhaps I can get one of Mt. Oscar as well. If anyone has an overview shot of the Middle slabs or Mt. Oscar please let me know.
I don't want to belabor this so I will leave it to you to do a quick Google search to find the details. RIP
Black flies DOWN, mosquitoes UP. Not too surprising considering the rain. BugCON is still not quite a 5, but it's not fun in the deep woods. Bring that bug dope with you folks, you'll need it.
A body was found on the Lions Head Train about 3/4 mile from the summit of Mt Washington on Monday afternoon. According to Fish and Game Sgt. Wayne Saunders, remains were found under an overhang and it was “extremely difficult to see from the trail and would have been difficult to see from the air.” Although an autopsy was scheduled by the state medical examiner's office in Concord for Tuesday, results have still not been released. It may be Peter Shintani of Napnee, Ontario, a 70-year-old Canadian hiker who was last seen June 8.
Believe it or not this Wednesday, on the "hump" of the week, there was the first "camel-ascent" of Mt. Washington. That's right folks, a camel named Josh hiked the Mt. Washington Auto Road in 5 1/2 hours. Do a quick search on Google and you'll even find a video that will likely bring a smile to your face. It sure brought a smile to his. As someone on NEClimbs queried; "What's next for Josh, a winter ascent?"
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
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