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I love adventures. Sometimes I'm sitting at home and all of a sudden I just have to get up and do something. In the summer that usually means going for a long bike ride, usually over Hurricane Mountain Road or up into one of the Notches. In the winter it means heading up into Crawford Notch to go climb something. This Saturday I got up late after playing music the night before and was chomping at the bit to get outside, so I gathered up my stuff and headed up to Crawford Notch.
I rode by Frankenstein thinking of Standard or Walk In The Forest, but it looked totally full of people. I thought about Shoestring but there were already 4 cars at the pulloff, so I kept going. I wanted something more than Willies, so I passed that up as well. As I rolled by Willard I could see a couple of parties on Cinema, but I figured that they would be way up before I got there. The lot at the top of the Notch was totally full so I had to park on the road. Man it was a busy day!
I suited up and walked down the tracks. Other than a party on Elephant Head I didn't see anybody else, tho there were a lot of tracks. Rounding the corner I saw that there were 2 parties on Cinema. One down low at the first belay and another up at the large ice bulge. At the base of the climb there was a large pile of slough avalanche debris, obviously from that morning. I wasn't surprised since it was so sunny and warm. It was almost noon and I'll bet it was close to 40. When it gets that warm all the snow in the upper face comes off and causes slough avalanches on the lower face. I've seen it happen before and was fortunate one day for it to not have brought me down.
I headed up the first section and quickly got to the party at the first ice bulge. It was local guide Kevin Mahoney and his client. They were planning on rapping because the client was having equipment problems. His whole boot had blown out! There was even plastic in the snow on the climb. I expressed my condolences and continued on up, being careful not to knock off anything on top of them. At the upper bulge I passed the belayer. He and his partner were a couple of nice guys from NY. They asked me for beta on the climb and I told them how to get across to Upper Hitchcock.
It was great that the trail was beat out all the way across to Upper Hitchcock for a change. As I came across the open snowfield I noticed an interesting ice formation that was right above the start to Upper Hitchcock. Interesting... When I got over there I saw my friend Bob Ahern & his partner Steve.There was already another party up in the upper section and as Bob and I were jawing another party of 3 came up. This seemed a bit much so I decided to rap off. I walked over to the belay tree and chatted with 3 very nice guys from Connecticut. They were kind enough to let me rap with them and I pulled the rope for them in gratitude. [grin]
It was still early and I wasn't tired enough so I walked around and climbed back up via the Left Hand Monkey Wrench. Strangely enough I'd never been up that so it was good fun and it's in great shape. I wandered up the little trail back toward Upper Hitchcock to see if everyone was done, but of course they weren't. The 2 guys I met from NY were on the east face slab right and it looked pretty good. As I was considering it a couple of other folks came up who had just done the Cleft. They said it was in fat conditions. I considered doing that, but they said there was no trail beat out from the top so I decided to follow the NY guys up the right face.
The ice was big and fat and a little crusty in places, probably solid 3 and really good. At the top there was no path connecting the top of the ice to Upper Hitchcock so I had to wallow up on my own. Only 50' but it was chest deep and a real slog. There were 2 nice guys from Manchester at the upper belay bringing up their 3rd. We chatted for a minute and I kept on going up the top of the little ice gully. the trail at the top looked well packed and I followed it to the main Willard trail. I appreciate whoever banged out that track, but it sure did wander around in the woods a lot. The hike down was great as usual and surprisingly I didn't see a soul all the way down. I must say that I was very happy to get back to the car. Car to car r/t had been about 4 1/2 hours of nonstop fun. It could not have been a better day...
The next day, Sunday, my son and I went up to XC Ski on the Zealand Road. On the way by I glanced at Cinema and counted a dozen climbers on it in various positions, picture below. Sure glad I climbed on Saturday...
There is still ice to climb in many places right now, but with the warm temps and rain coming that’s going to change quickly over the next week. I would expect that the Frankenstein Amphitheater will become problematic pretty soon. Even as big and fat as Standard Route is, it is in the full sun all day so it’s getting beat up. Climbs like Dracula, the North End of Cathedral, Lost In The Forest, Upper Hitchcock and various things in the shade will last longer of course. We’re moving into the best time for climbing on Mt Washington for the next 3-4 weeks. That said, it’s time to think about rock season folks.
COMING SOON - 2010 Mount Washington Valley Ice Fest - February 5, 6, 7:
Apres Climb Hour @ IME: Fri & Sat from 4-5:30pm
Friday Night: Steve House multimedia show and the 2nd Annual Face Off Comp featuring MC Freddie.
Saturday Night: Climbers Party and Amateur Photo Contest Winner announced! Guest Athletes & Guides Include: Steve House, Kevin Mahoney, Mark Synnott, Janet Bergman, Majka Burhardt, Emilie Drinkwater, Freddie Wilkinson, Peter Doucette, The IMCS Guides, and more!
In House at Ryles Jazz Club in Cambridge MA:
The In House jazz jam band is playing at Ryles in Inman Square in Cambridge on Friday, February 5th. This is a world class band featuring acclaimed guitarist Randy Roos. If you are looking for a great evening of music, food and drink join us at Ryles. $10 cover charge and free parking. Wonder what it sounds like? Check out these YouTube videos of the band from the last time we were at Ryles:
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: