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June 3, 2010
As I've been saying regularly here, it's been a great spring. Now we've gotten a couple of days of rain. And as dry as it's been I really mind all that much. The last thing I want is for us to get in the same position as Quebec. In spite of it taking place several hundred miles away, the smoke and haze was pretty darn bad here in the north country. We've never had fires on quite the level that they are having now, and I don't want to experience it. Our little fires in the Moats and up in the Greenhill reservation several years ago were a gracious plenty for me, thank you very much!
Last Friday I went with NH Audubon biologist Chris Martin to do out annual peregrine banding up on the Painted Walls, off the Kanc. I look forward to doing this every spring and it's a really special experience. This year the weather was good and not all that hot. In fact it was quite chilly the night before. Still, we warmed up on the hike in. Basically we hike up to the huge boulder in the woods that marks the middle of the trail to Way In The Wilderness and then continue up and left until we find a tree covered ramp that takes us to the upper section of the cliff. From there we traverse right, across the top of Way In The Wilderness until we are just before the cliff takes a turn left. I've done this with Chris at least 6 of the past 10 years and we know exactly where to go so it's not that bad. This was Chris' 15th trip to this area since 1990! Tho there is lots of blow-down in the upper section and there is no established trails from the boulder, the basic hike takes a little over 2 hours.
We had a bit to eat and Chris got out his binoculars to watch the mother peregrine who was watching us. She had spotted us before we got to the top of Way In The Wilderness and was flying around making a lot of noise about it. I set up a 60 meter rope to rappel down about 50' to a pine tree where we staged before rapping another 30 feet to the ledge where the peregrines nest. They have nested on the same ledge for all but one year that I have done this.
Once we both are at the tree. I tie off the rope a second time, to make it easier when we are jumaring back up, and rappel down to the ledge. All the while I am doing this mommy peregrine is diving around in a very unhappy mood. Just above the ledge I paused to assure myself that there was at least one chick and that they were not in my path. This year the chick was in the back corner of the ledge, out of the way. I continued to the small ledge, tied the rope and myself off to a sapling and called to Chris to come on down. He rappelled and I set him up with a tether on both the fixed line and the tree so he could move around.
As always we spent a little time looking over the debris on the ledge to see what the birds have been eating and finding any egg shards. This time there were bits of bones and feathers including a Cedar Waxwing and several others. There were also remnants of a second egg, but only a single chick. This is not really very surprising. Chris got out his kit which contains the bands, pliers, gloves, bags for the debris we collected and an old egg box for the pieces of eggshells. While some times we have to pick up and hold the chicks to be banded, this time we did not. Chris was able to put the bands on the birds legs and attach them with pop-rivits without handling her at all. It was pretty neat.
Once we finished the process and got everything picked up I helped Chris set up his ascenders and he jugged out. I gad the end of the rope tied off so it was pretty easy for him. I, on the other hand, tied myself off to the end of the rope for safety, and thus had no weight on the rope and had to pull on it with every reach of the ascenders. On top of that the anngle of the rope made me want to swing over to the left instead of going up the V where we came down. Bitch, Bitch - I know. It's my least favorite part of this particular place.
Once we got back to the very top we packed up and went back over to the top of Way In The Wilderness. With just the 2 of us we can avoid the annoying hike back to the ramp and down by rapping down the winter ice climb. It knocks off at least an hour off the trip. From there it's just a matter of following any drainage downhill to where they cross the normal hiking trail; that follows the river. Probably only a 45 minute hike through fairly open woods, with the exception of the 300 yards or so nearest the cliff.
Tho there was only one chick it was a productive and very entertaining day. Here are some pictures that you may enjoy. They are in the order that I took the. I took some video and plan on having it posted in the next week or so and will let you know where it is. Enjoy...
WOW, the bugs are bad. The BugCON status is at a 4 and if it gets any worse it will be a 5 soon. I was up on the Kanc on Monday and they were really brutal, both in the early morning and late afternoon! If you're in the woods, out of any breeze or at the base of a climb it can be horrible. Bug dope is required right now. You have been warned!
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
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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Have fun and climb safe,
The White Mountain Report
North Conway, New Hampshire
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