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June 24, 2010
WHEW... My big music push is finally over & I've had a couple of days to recuperate. It's amazing how, at least for me, doing anything a lot can really beat me down. In this case it is my hands that take the brunt of the beating. Even with not really working on the computer, no bike riding and certainly no practicing the bass the hands and wrists took a beating. The only thing I did over that week was to take the drummer in the band out climbing at Echo Roof for a few hours on our only full day off. I'm not totally sure that was the best thing to do, but the day was so beautiful that neither of us was willing to sit around the house.
I've been a semi-professional guide for the past 10 years, mostly working for IMCS. I also worked with the Boston AMC Mountaineering Committee for a number of years helping with their winter ice climbing program. I really love being out climbing with people who have never climbed or only climbed very minimally. There is just something about being out on the rock with folks who haven't done it before. There is nothing quite like watching the expression on their faces and feeling the sense of accomplishment that they experience getting up their first climb is really a fantastic thing. Over the years I have worked with adults and kids, in groups or alone, and it never seems to get old. Of course not everyone may be totally successful, but I do believe that a good guide can insure that almost everyone can go home with something positive.
My friend Dana and I were originally going to go out for a mountain bike ride on Tuesday. However after looking over his bike I realized that he wasn't going to fare too well on the single-track over here by the ledges. [wry grin] With a totally bluebird day on tap I suggested that we might try some rock climbing instead. I was happy when he responded that he'd be up for it.
One particularly nice thing about working for a climbing school is that I can borrow gear when I need to. We went over in the mid-morning and got him outfitted with a pair of shoes and a harness that fit him and a helmet. It couldn't have been a more perfect day and on the way into echo Roof I noticed that there were pretty much no bugs! Amazing...
I started out with the basic lesson on the gear and footwork. we did a little bouldering up the dish/groove until he started to feel comfortable with the sticky rubber shoes. People are so surprised about how well they can move up and down in modern climbing shoes. It's hard for me to imagine how it must have been in boat shoes or hobnail boots! Once he felt comfortable, we moved onto belaying. The tricky thing about guiding a total beginner one-on-one like this is that you have to show them how to belay and then trust them! I always feel that I'm soloing more or less when I'm guiding, and I'm sure that most guides feel the same, if they admit to it. For me that's the case even if it's with someone I have known for a long time. It's just a lot different than going out climbing with my friends. It's a good reason why I guide things that I know very well or are well below my grade. In this case I've done everything over at the Echo Roof many many times, and I have a system for setting up the climbs right in the middle with a single rope. I can get 6-7 climbs in by putting the rope through both of the anchors in the middle. And for the most part, as long as Dana didn't yank me off the rock for some reason, there wasn't going to be any problems. And there weren't...
Now we went through the knot drill. Some folks have the ability to envision things in 3 dimensions and for them knot tying is generally easy. Some just can't see it and for them it's a rote process. I showed Dana the figure-eight-follow-though once and he got it right away. Very cool... I put him on the Gri Gri and he went to town. He had watched me go up the climb when I led to set up the rope and the gear was still there so he knew right where to go. It was so great to see him basically walk up the rock to the anchors the very first time. He even wanted to hang out up there looking at the Hotel, Echo Lake and the huge roof right above his head. As always he was a little nervous being lowered, but that is to be expected since he's never even climbed in a gym!
In a little over 2 hours we went through all the climbs that we could reach with my single rope. With every route Dana got obviously more comfortable and the grin on his face got wider. With one tiny exception he never even slipped. The twinkle in his eye and tone of his voice told me that he was hooked, not to mention his repeatedly asking when we could go out again. If I didn't have to get home to make dinner we would have been there until dark or my belay-hands giving out. [grin] I guess I'm not going to have any problem getting him up here from Worcester to play some more music with the band! mention climbing and he'll be here in a flash...
For those of you who are around this weekend, there is going to be some very good music this Saturday evening at 7PM. It's time for the annual Jackson Town Dance under the covered bridge in Jackson. This year's entertainment features Jonathan Sarty and the White Mountain Boys. I've been privileged to play with Jonathan over the years and this summer I've actually been happy to join the band. Jonathan plays great honky tonk music, the same music that I grew up playing in South Georgia and North Florida in the 60's. Jonathan has a fantastic voice and stage presence and the band is great. Over the past year he has been joined by Chuck O'Connor, an outstanding steel guitar player from Austin, TX. Chuck is the real deal. The drummer is Herb Clarke from Hiram, ME. He is a great player and a heck of a nice guy. Folks this music transcends the "country music" label. These are classic tunes, performed very well (if I do say so myself) by a group of guys who really enjoy the music and each other. Come on out and have a listen. I feel certain that you will really enjoy yourselves.
Better is all I was gonna to say about it, at least where I've been lately. and then I went over to Kennett with my son yesterday and got eaten up by blackflies. [sigh] It's all about where you are, and they aren't gone yet. I keep "wishin' and hopin'" for relief soon.
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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