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"You got to suffer, if you wanna' sing the blues..." (David Bromberg)
This tune kept running through my brain as I hammered my way up the back side of Hurricane Mountain Road on Monday and it came up again on on my way back from a long ride on Wednesday down here in Philadelphia where I am visiting my in-laws. (And no, family events are not sufferfests, at least for me!) In one of the recent vignettes on a Tour de France rider last week, the interviewee described how they embraced the pain & suffering as a way of life. While I dearly love to ride, I've realized that I simply don't like to hurt that much.
I've also realized that this inability to willingly embrace pain is certainly what has kept me from ever being a serious mountaineer. It's always been clear to me that if you want to climb the big hard routes in the mountains, you better enjoy suffering. Over the years I've gone to slideshows by folks like Ed Webster, Mark Synnott, Mark Twight and others and always been amazed by the abject suffering these guys go through to attain their goals. While I've always felt as if, rightly or wrongly, I was probably technically and physically proficient enough in my younger days to climb that stuff, I just never wanted to go through the pain to to get there. I don't have the mental toughness to turn off the hurt!
Over the years I've climbed plenty of difficult routes in the Whites and in the Canadian Rockies, and even soloed a moderately long one, Mt. Athabasca, and needless to say sometimes there has been pain involved. My feet and hands have hurt so much I've cried, I've shivered & shaked, and I've gotten pretty darn scared, but I'm always sure that it's going to be over within a day. When I ride the bike hard and long my butt hurts, sometimes my hands get numb, my legs feel as if they are going to fall off and occasionally I feel as if I need a lung transplant. Serious mountaineers and cyclists are able to push their bodies and minds past the point of where any normal person would, and that's truly impressive, but not for me.
Ice Conditions Report:
Selected Ice Conditions effective March 6, 2014
While the ice is going through a bit of a change, what with the weather being so cold, it's still very good in most places. With the longer days and more intense sunlight we should start to see some refreshing going on, as soon as the temps moderate. Most climbs in the direct sun are starting to see a little water during the day, in spite of the cold. The stuff in the shade that's looking a bit beat up and that in the direct sun is a little pinky. That said, it looks as if this weekend things are going to moderate, so it should be a good one.
BTW I am aware that some of today's pix are of a decidedly poorer quality than we all are used to. This is because my main camera's battery pack died and I had to use my cell phone camera - sorry about that.
I've touched on the edges of it, but always backed away. Like most people I want to be a part of those things, the long hard routes and long fast rides, but never enough to make me want to embrace the suffering that's required as a way of life to be successful at it. A weakness of character I suppose, but one I have had to make peace with as I have gotten older. I realized that I'll settle for the occasional full day of enchainment of routes in Huntington Ravine or the 4 notch 85 mile ride through the Whites. All the while knowing at any time I can put my foot down and take a break or rap off and hike back to Ho Jo's. At this stage of my life I can look at the accomplishments of the "big guys" and truly appreciate how much it took for them to accomplish what they have done. My hats off to them all.
But I still hear the sound of that refrain; "You got to suffer..."
PS - I'm with the family in Philadelphia this week on "vacation. I whipped this Report out while dealing with lots of kids showing off Lego creations and family members trying to get me to go off to Ikea. But I would hardly call it suffering. Hope you are all having a great week...
No blackflies, but lots and lots of mosquitoes everywhere. This wet weather has really made for a bug-laden summer! Keep that bug dope handy folks.
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:
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The White Mountain Report
North Conway, New Hampshire
Life is brought down to the basics: if you are warm, regular, healthy, not thirsty or hungry, then you are not on a mountain... Climbing at altitude is like hitting your head against a brick wall — it's great when you stop.
Climbing is a very dangerous sport. You can get hurt or even kill yourself. When you go climbing, you do so of your own free will. Everything on this site is to be taken with a grain of salt. Don't blame us if you get up some totally heinous route, in over your head and fall and hurt yourself.