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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 November 29, 2015
Ben Maxwell was in Tucks on Sunday and said there were a couple of reasonable lines.. I got an email from fellow guide Matt Shove who was up in Huntington Saturday. He climbed rock and said that in his opinion the ice on the mountain "has been set back to Zero!" and not 5 minutes later I saw a post her on FB by Ben Maxwell and Joe Cormier saying that they climbed 3 pitches of ice in Tucks Saturday. Needless to say that was ribbons of ice, in-between dirt and grass, but apparently it WAS ice! And then Paul McCoy posted 2 pix of what looked surprisingly like ice somewhere on the mountain. So, I have to assume that while there IS ice to be climbed, it's still fairly minimal. So there you have it...
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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The White Mountain Report
North Conway, New Hampshire
The rules of the game must be constantly updated to keep up with the expanding technology. Otherwise we overkill the classic climbs and delude ourselves into thinking we are better climbers than the pioneers.