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December 2, 2010
I went out with Brad White on Monday and climbed Standard Route at Frankenstein. We were both impressed by how thick & nice the ice was and by how well ice was forming on the other climbs up in the Notch. Even the Dropline pillar was looking good! The whole middle of the Standard flow was in great shape and when I went up it I never even hit rock. We did the very thin right side to the cave and it was great too. Other folks I know had done Shoestring and several climbs in Huntington. Such a promising start to the 2010/2011 ice season.
Standard Route Monday.jpg
And then disappointment… Dare I say it, SEVERE disappointment. We got rain that started on Tuesday evening and continued off and on on Wednesday, pouring most of Wednesday night. I was worried, but was hoping that things would hang in there… However when I got up Thursday morning and saw that there was absolutely NO snow in my yard, I knew that did not bode well. The further I drove up into Crawford Notch, the more depressed I got. The Saco was raging and other than some of the thicker blobs of snow on the side of the road there was no snow anywhere, not even in the woods. There was a thick cloud cover in the Notch, but as I neared the Arethusa pull-off a hole opened in the cloud cover and a shaft of light lit up the Fang Wall. Unfortunately what it illuminated was totally dry rock.
I pulled up to my regular viewing spot for the amphitheater and it was clear to me that things were done for the time being. The ice that had been on Smear was totally gone, there was a full-on waterfall on Pegasus and Chia only had a couple of isolated blobs of ice. A bit further on my worst fears were confirmed. Almost all of Standard Route had come down and Dropline was gone.
Standard Route Thursday.jpg
On the way home I made a brief stop at the Scenic Vista to check out Mt. Washington, since I couldn't see anything through the clouds in the Notch. There is still quite a layer of snow still up there and it really doesn't look bare. When I got back to the house I looked at the Summit Report and the temps are in the teens. I just gotta figure that whatever rain happened up there, it's now getting pretty frozen. Here's what the Observatory has to say about the Higher Summits:
"The storm deposited a significant amount of glaze ice, which has created treacherous ground conditions. With temperatures expected to gradually recede into the teens today, what were soft and slushy ground conditions last night will turn rock solid and remain so through the forecast period. Be sure to be fully prepared if attempting to brave these conditions."
Well that's pretty much my take on things right now. As is so often the case, ice season was here for a minute and gone for a minute. Pretty typical for our neck of the woods. That said, wait a couple of days or head up to the higher summits and it will be there waiting for you.
PS - I would say that MicroSpikes or the equivalent would be required even for the basic hike up the hill now!
My Wife was flipping around on cable the other night and came across this show G4. They had a segment on this store named Ellis Brigham Mountain Sports in London's Covent Garden . The interesting thing was that they have a real indoor ice climbing wall! Nothing of any consequence, but entertaining just for the novelty of it. Of course it's not cheap either. The host of the show did a climb and needless to say it was goofy at best, but you can check it out here:
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.
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:
Have fun and climb safe,
The White Mountain Report
North Conway, New Hampshire
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