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BugCON 2: some mosquitoes, possible blackflys swarming with minimal biting
2 out of a possible 5
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May 6, 2010

Hi Folks,

I've become aware over the years that a lot of climbers have pets, especially dogs. I'm not sure exactly why that is, but I'll bet that it has something to do with the fact that a dog can be a companion to us when we're out climbing, even in remote locations. There's probably more to it than that, but I don't want to belabor the point. The point is that I see a lot of climbers out there with their dogs. I too have a dog. A 11 year old Rottie/Lab mix by the name of Riley. Named, for those of you who aren't familiar with 50's TV, for a sitcom starring William Bendix called The Life Of Riley. And yes, I am showing my age here... And yes again, that's the name of a new climb I did over at Humphrey's with Joe & Judy Perez a couple of weeks ago and needless to say Riley was right there when we did the FA!

Riley almost never barks, is generally content to hang at the base of the climb and just really enjoys hanging with people. He's great with kids and other dogs and in many ways is the quentisential crag dog. We got him from the local pound when my son Lewis was about 6 months old. He was more than twice the size of Lewis, but when Lewis would poke at him and pull on his ears, pretty much all he would do was snort and walk away. That's all it took and he was immediately integrated into the family.

For several years Riley was the neighborhood dog. I'd feed him in the morning, open the door and out he'd go. Not to return unless he wanted a treat or it was dinner time. A lot like me in after school or in the summer when I was a kid! That wasn't such a bad thing, unless we need to find him earlier for some reason, and then it was a bit of a hassle. Mostly tho he would hang next door at a neighbor's who was always giving him treats. Why was I not surorised. This worked pretty well for everyone until a fisher cat got to him one day and tore up his ear. YUCK. A $300 vet bill later and I decided that Riley was going to stick a lot closer to home, even if he didn't want to. This happened last fall, so it wasn't all that that bad, except that someone has to walk him twice a day. And guess who that most often is? Doing this for the past 6 months has made me far more aware of the private life of a dog than I ever wanted to know! Recently I've made it a part of Lewis' few chores to "walk the dog" at least once a day and it's brought the 2 of them more together and given Lewis a sense of responsibility. Not a bad thing at all, right? Besides, Riley's not MY dog, he's the FAMILY dog. At least as far as Lewis & me, the wife has absolutely no interest in dog walking...go figure. She's actually the one who wanted a dog to begin with!

Of course this has also meant that the dog tags along on lots of hikes and climbs. This spring I've taken him with me on all of the days I've been out climbing at Whitehorse, Cathedral and Humphrey's as well as most of the hikes that Lewis & I have done, including a trip up to Lost Ledge a couple of weeks ago.

Now here's where this becomes a bit of a climbing story... That rainy day last week Brad White and I hiked up to Found Ledge to check out the elusive Found Ledge. One of the things we noticed was 2 bolted climbs on the little slab in between the 2 main cliffs. They looked interesting so we decided that we were going to get back out there in the next week or so to check it out. The left one was in Ed Webster's guidebook and called Little Dab Will Do Ya, but the other was not. Brad and I talked at the beginning of this week and decided that Tuesday would be a good day to hike in there & try 'em out. I got a call from Joe & Judy and so I invited them to go along. I got another call from my friend Jeff Lea looking to climb so I invited him as well. Of course I just couldn't leave the dog behind, so now it was a "crew".

We met in the morning and were at the pulloff on the Kanc around 10:30. The weather was beautiful, tho somewhat hot and a little humid. We all walked down the trail together and then started up alongside the stream. I let Riley off the leash and he went back & forth across the stream and up and back down nearer to me in typical dog-fashion. At one point I walked up on him starting to roll in something on the ground! ARRRGH! I scooted him along before he turned into the nasty smelling dog that he can sometimes be. A bit further up there were places where the stream was flowing over a solid rock bedding and there was the dog literally taking a crap in the water. OMG... The perfect example of why you never want to be drinking untreated water out of a wilderness stream! About halfway up I came across a huge pile of bear scat. Fortunately Riley was on the other side of the stream at that point. I'm not sure if anyone would have ridden home in the car with us if he'd gotten into that!

Probably less than 30 minutes from our start we were at the base of the right hand cliff. Everyone was interested in the various climbs as we walked left to the slab area. The areas in the shade were still somewhat wet so we were a little worried about the slab. When we got there fortunately it was almost all in the sun and was mostly dry. Looking good... We dumped the packs, got something to drink and geared up. I tied Riley off to a tree with a long tether so he could move around near us and go from shade to sun. The bugs were terrible so we all put on some repellant. They were so bad that we could see a halo around each others heads in the sunlight!

Brad decided to try the right-hand climb, the newer of the two, and Joe Little Dab. Both agreed that the climbs are really nice. past the steeper section Little Dab apparently continued up a somewhat wet, unappetizing and basically unprotected slab to the trees another 40' up. This didn't look too good to Joe, and besides he'd need 2 ropes to get to the ground, so he set up a anchor from the last 2 bolts with some cordalettes and sling and rapped off. The first 2 bolts seemed to be the hard part of this route, and really not all that hard. We all agreed that the book rating of hard 8 (8+) was probably about right. The moves were fun and if you feel comfortable on slabs you will enjoy it.

We were all chatting when we heard someone say Hi! We look down the hill and it was Jerry Handren and his buddy Josh. The commented that it probably had been a long time since Found Ledge had seen to separate parties up there and I responded that it's had probably been a long time since anyone had been up there! They had come up to climb and clean the climbs on the Lumberjack wall. It's pretty impressive that someone doing a new guide would be doing that kind of work on an obscure craig like Found Ledge. It gives me a very good feeling about his book! They went on up the hill and we went back to the efforts at hand.

We were all impressed that the newer climb had apparently found a very cool, but improbable line, right up through the moss to a nice 2 bolt anchor. I was itching to jump on it myself so Brad pulled his gear on the way down and I pulled his rope. The sky was looking a bit like it was going to rain so I really wanted to get going. This one has an easy start up to the first bolt on a little ledge system. All of the feet and hands are on these super cool feldspar-style nubbins and scoops. Once you start to hone in on what you're looking for, it's all there. None of us have any idea of who put this up, but it's a nice climb that probably goes at easy 5.7. Sweet...

Riley was getting thirsty and kept coming up to the edge of the slab to lay in the slightly wet leaves. As I was going from place to place I slipped on the leaves and exposed a whole bunch of compacted and icy snow still hidden under the leaves and insulated from the heat. Brad and I had seen some of this the week before but I'd thought that after all the rain and warm week it would be gone. It was perfect to break off chunks and feed them to the hot Riley-dog and needless to say he loved it...

We all took runs leading both of the climbs, but with only 2 of them in our grade levels plus a little toproping on the slab we were pretty much done in a couple of hours. we decided to leave our stuff at the slab and go up to the wall to check on what Jerry and Josh were up to. This is a very steep and slightly overhanging wall containing close to a dozen interesting and difficult climbs. The good thing is that it's easy to set up topropes on everything. The guys were scrubbing and climbing and they had already made quite a difference in the state of things. I want to get up there later this summer to take a run on Lumberjack and a couple of the others. I'm not going to lead them, but it would be fun to "fall my way up" them. [grin]

It was about 1:30 or so and was pretty clear that the weather was starting to change so we said goodby and headed down the hill. Like the week before we stayed high on the right side of the stream (heading down) and it was a lot easier going. At the cairn at the halfway point we crossed to the other side and it was a fast hike down. We packed up and headed down the road just as it started raining. We all agreed that it was a great time and that it was a good thing we had left when we did. It's certainly going to be a place I plan on revisiting at least a couple of times this summer when things dry out. I recommend that you check it out if you like that back-country climbing thing.

Here's a few pics from the day:

some big bear scat
Brad White on Cast of Chickenhead
Riley eating snow
Judy, Joe and Jeff
Judy on Little Dab Will Do ya and Joe on Cast of Chickenhead
Jeff on Cast of Chickenhead
Jerry Handren
Jerry Climbing and Josh Cleaning, or...?
Josh on Lumberjack Crack

FLASH - Just as I finishing this Report I got a call from Brad who took a few minutes to look in the New Route Book at IMCS. It turns out the second climb on the slab named is names Cast Of Chickenhead. the FA was done in 1998 by Myles & Bob Tafuto. They say that it was hand drilled on the lead and they rate it at 5.5. None of us think it's 5.5, more like 5.6 or 6+. Regardless it's a nice climb and is worth doing.
Best Of The Chef's this Friday Evening:
If you are up here this Friday evening you should seriously consider taking advantage of a great event, the Best Of The Chef's. The Best of Chefs draws over 200 guests from all over the area for a night of dancing, tasting and fundraising all to benefit the local Lilliputian Montessori School. The auction committee has set an ambitious fundraising goal of $15,000 and is committed to showcasing donors and generating top dollar bids to support quality educational opportunities for our youngest community members. It's being held at the Shovel Handle Pub at Whitney's Inn at Jackson. Tickets are $30 each and include admission, a fabulous gourmet spread featuring food from almost all the Valley's best Chefs and kitchens, a silent auction with thousands of dollars worth of items donated by MWV businesses and individuals, live music by The White Mountain Boys. Come eat, dance, and enjoy a great party! Here's some more info -

FWIW I am playing with the White Mountain Boys a lot this summer. If you like Honky Tonk music and American music, you'll love this band. Jonathan Sarty is a great singer and performer plus the band features fantastic steel guitarist Chuck Connor. This is the music I grew up listening to and playing and believe me, it is very well done!

Bug Report:
I raised the BugCON status to a 3 last week and at the rate things are going it could be a 4 soon. The blackflys are out and biting and the mosquito population is growing fast. The one good thing is that the ticks aren't so bad, at least where I have been lately. I've only seen one on me or my animals so far this spring... YMMV That said, some folks have told me that they are very bad. I'm just putting on the hard-core bug dope as a matter of course these days when I go out.

Peregrine Closings 2010:
To promote successful nesting by NH state-threatened Peregrine Falcons, temporary access restrictions are currently posted at the following New Hampshire cliff sites through August 1, 2010:

Cathedral Ledge (north end only), Bartlett, NH
Eaglet Spire (and adjacent walls), Franconia, NH
Frankenstein (lower south-facing wall), Harts Loc., NH
Holts Ledge, Lyme, NH
Owls Head (see signs on site for closed section), Benton, NH
Painted Walls, Albany, NH
Rattlesnake Mtn. (Summit Cliff only), Rumney, NH
Square Ledge, Albany, NH
Sugarloaf Mtn., Benton, NH

These postings are subject to change as conditions warrant.  Printed material suitable for posting will be distributed to field offices, climbing schools, and recreational outlets.  Your cooperation is essential to the success of this effort.  Share the cliffs with wildlife!

- Chris Martin, Senior Biologist, NH Audubon

April and May are month here at Lowe Alpine:
As the snow happily disappears and the sun and warmth bring with it time on the rock and trails, we'd like to enhance your experience with a new pack or accessory.  So through May 31st, find the Lowe Alpine product that best suit your needs and enjoy 25% off the entire purchase. Click the link HERE and enjoy...

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 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:

Remember - climb hard, ride the steep stuff, stay safe and above all BE NICE,

Al Hospers
The White Mountain Report
North Conway, New Hampshire

If we need rope ladders to ascend a peak, then we've climbed our ladders, not the mountain itself.
Tod Skinner
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