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There are lots of obvious differences between winter and spring. The color is of perhaps the one most people notice. Everything is generally rendered mostly in black and white in winter, rich greens and browns in spring and summer, and the glorious yellows, reds and golds in the fall. Right now, just before the official start of spring, we're in that transition period where winter is still hanging on with the black and white in the higher elevations offset with the royal blue of the sky, while down here in the Valley it is mostly green and brown. Amazingly enough the snow is pretty much gone everywhere, even in the woods.
For me, as a musician, there are some radical differences in sound between winter and spring/summer/fall. For one thing all sounds are significantly softer in the winter. I've really noticed this as I've been out walking the dog over the past few weeks and even hiking up on the ridges. In the dead of winter where there's lots of snow on the ground I can hardly hear the trucks going by in Crawford Notch form the top of Webster Ridge or even the ones on West Side Road from Echo Lake. But now I can hear them all. Not all that pleasant...
With a whole week of 50+ degree days, all of the ice in the Valley has either come down or is well on its way. Goofers fell down on Wednesday, the bigger part in the morning and the rest in the mid-afternoon. I didn't hear it that one but my neighbor did. He said both were pretty amazing. I've been out in the yard when stuff has been coming down on Whitehorse and it sounds like thunder, echoing off the ledges. It's impressive from here and must be truly entertaining at the Hotel.
Of course there are some beautiful sounds like the woodpeckers hammering on the trees looking for insects, bluejays calling to each other across the woods, crows yelling at me as I walk through the forest and the screech of the Peregrines as they hunt for food or look for mates near the Ledges. Even the chip chip chip of the chipmunks gnawing on the pine-cones on our back deck is a fun sign of spring.
Of one downside of the snow melting is what it uncovers. All the trash, bottles, cans, dog-poop and worse seems to rise daily as the snow alongside the road and on the trails. It's pretty surprising to see what people discard, even on the trails. Candy wrappers, cigarette packs and even baby diapers appear in places you couldn't imagine, and not just on the side of the road, where we've almost come to expect it. I've started taking a grocery bag with me in the mornings when I walk the dog to pick up some of it in my own neighborhood. I'm sure it will be the same up on Cathedral Ledge Road once that melts off.
Humphrey's and the South Buttress of Whitehorse are looking pretty good. I've seen folks out there and things are drying off quite well. If things go like last year we should have a fairly dry early spring, so get out there and enjoy it before the late spring rains come. That said I would stay away from the slab area of Whitehorse. Up close it looks great, but if you get away you can see the ice and snow still up at the top. There is also ice hidden up in nooks and crannies above Echo Roof and the Mistaken Identity corner. There isn't as much ice as usual up on the Unicorn Ledge above the cracks at the Cathedral North End, but I'd still wait a bit to climb there. I'm sure no one wants to be under a place where some of that stuff is coming down. It's just not worth it...
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!
If you live in or around Portsmouth my Trio with Mike Sakash on sakes, Rusty Wiltjer on hand percussion and me on bass, vocals and acoustic guitar will be playing at the PressRoom this Friday night (March 19th) from 9-12. On Saturday (March 20th) we will be at Tuckerman's Tavern in Intervale from 7-10.
The group plays a very eclectic mix of instrumental jazz and fun arrangements of popular music. It's a great trio and I'm sure you would like it. Plus both venues have excellent food and drink. I hope to see you there...
Update On Last Fall Whitehorse Rockfall:
I popped over today to see if the rock on the ledge from last Fall's rockfall above Loose Lips had been brushed off by the snow this winter. Unfortunately that does not seem to be the case. The same stuff I saw last Fall is still sitting there, if anything closer to the edge. I'm recommending being very careful in Ethereal Buttress area until that stuff comes off, or until someone does a trundle... You check it out and draw your own conclusions.
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.
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The White Mountain Report
North Conway, New Hampshire
I had the unique experience the next day: placing sixteen bolts in a row. It was just blank and there was no way around. But it was a route worth bolting for, and after a time I began to take an almost perverse joy in it, or at least in doing a good job.