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"Houston, we've had a problem." Starting on Sunday afternoon this quote came to mind more than once over that and Monday. After a great weaken of climbing on good ice, it all fell apart with the very mild temps and 3+ inches of rain that blew through Sunday afternoon and all day Monday. Temps up here in the Valley got all the way up to 50 by Monday afternoon and I'll tell you, it was not a pretty sight!
By midnight on Monday temps started to plummet, dropping to the upper teens on Tuesday. With a single bump up to around 20 they've stayed in the teens ever since. Couple this with the amount of moisture that's in the system and you get a great formula for making ice. Still, it's only been cold for 2 1/2 days. How much ice could have formed in that amount of time? Well as it turns out, quite a lot.
I've been keeping an eye on the webcam over the past couple of days, and have seen the changes in Goofers and Diagonal. Wile neither one is really anything close to IN, the both are reforming amazingly quickly. Especially considering both were completely gone on Monday afternoon. When I left the house this morning I was surprised to see how much ice had formed on Cathedral Ledge. Nothing is IN yet, but it's coming along very well. What was really surprising was the wide ribbon of ice that formed in the middle of Humphrey's. I think that it's the elusive Senator. A climb that has only formed a single time in the mid-70's. It's actually more ephemeral than The Myth.
I met my old buddy Toby at Attitash and we drove up into the Notch. He wasn't into climbing so we brought our cross-country skis, in case there was enough to do something. Driving past Frankenstein we both were completely blown away by how much ice had reformed in just this short period. The fact is that things are almost back to where they were last Saturday. Not quite back yet, but close.
We parked at the top of the Notch and got on the skis. It was darn cold when we left the van and started down the tracks. I had on some warm gloves, but my fingers were still nippy. There was absolutely no indication that anyone had been down that way in a day or two. No tracks or footprints at all. There was a light breeze as we went and occasional ice-debris in the tracks that we had to avoid. As usual, when we rounded the curve past Hitchcock we moved into the sun, the breeze dropped and we warmed up. We cruised along over the trestle only stopping to have a look at the various climbs on both Willard and Webster. It was a beautiful morning to be out.
We skied all the way down to Willies right on the tracks. There was enough snow that I never scraped rock or ties at any time. How sweet is that? Just as we got to where the climbers trail crosses the tracks a party of 4 climbers appeared out of the woods. It turns out that they knew who I was and 2 of them knew Toby. I'm always surprised about how it's such a small world of climbers! We chatted for a few minutes and by now it was about 11:30 so we turned around and headed back up the Notch. Although it is gently uphill, we'd left tracks that were so nice to follow back. Although I didn't swing my ax today, it was a great time to be outside. It really doesn't get a whole lot better; and with any luck I'll get out for some ice over the weekend. I'm sure there will be plenty to climb just about everywhere by then.
Ice Conditions Report:
Selected Ice Conditions effective February 23, 2017
The warmup has really hit us hard everywhere but in the higher elevations. Anywhere in the direct sun is dam close to toast right now. The Amphitheater at Frankenstein is off the radar, or certainly should be. You can probably do the Pegasus rock finish, but that's all. And I would be VERY careful walking under anything over in that area. As of today, Thursday Feb 23, Standard Route still looks OK. I also spotted someone climbing on Waterfall, tho I'm sure that the normally funky top outs are worse. The bottom of Dropline fell down, but Dracula still looks good. I was pleased to see that Willies still looks good. The snow has compacted and I saw what looked to be blue ice. The left side of Willard is basically gone, but Hitchcock, The Cleft, Left Hand Wrench, the far right slab and Elephant Head are still climbable. Other than the Barking Dog and North End I would write off Cathedral Ledge. I know people are going to ask about Repentance, etc and frankly I would caution away from it. In fact anything that is supposed to be attached to rock is suspect. Not to mention the fact that there is a LOT of stuff hanging around above you on Cathedral at this time.
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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