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May 5, 2011

Hi Folks,

Well I gotta admit that we most certainly did have a great string of nice weather from last Friday through Monday. Those are the kind of days that I live up here in New Hampshire for. Dry, moderate temps, no bugs…it doesn't get a whole lot better. Some of my friends went skiing on The Mountain, others were rock climbing, some went kayaking and still others were out on mountain and road bikes. Heck, some did it all in one weekend, or even a day. Sweet...

I managed to get in rounds of cycling and climbing. On Saturday Brad and I went to Humphrey's to do something on the Geriatric Walls. When we got to the pull-off I counted 13 cars parked alongside the road. Turns out that half of them were from a botany group looking at the spring wildflowers that grow along the cliff. But there were still a lot of climbers on the cliff. we went down to geriatrics and there were several parties on both ends of the area. The start of Tree Keys was seeping, as it often is, but the upper section looked fine so I led that. I've done it before when the bottom was wet so I knew what I needed to do. It was in great shape and was fun as always.

After that we decided to go over to the area between Wanderlust and the Dedication corner. There is a place where you can easily scramble up to the intermediate ledge so we did that and set up a toprope on the face climbs on that wall. We did Six Bolts and a Plug (5.8) , Over Arch (5.9) and It's Five What? (10a). They're all fun routes and well worth getting on. I will say that Six Bolts seems harder than 5.8 to both Brad and me, probably more like a 9!

On Monday I got out again withe those indomitable Perez's! The plan was to reconnoiter a possible new route on the main wall at Humphrey's. This required our hiking up the carriage road starting near the barking Dog area all the way around to the top of the cliff and then bushwhacking along the top above where we wanted to rap down. It was a particularly sweet day, so the hike was nice. I'll bet it's more than a mile to the top of the cliff from where we started tho. There is a beautiful overlook right where the carriage road ends with a spectacular view of the Saco fields all the way across to the Intervale Flats and Mt. Kearsarge. It's a great place to take a snack and water break.

There are several small crags up at the top of Humphrey's. None are probably worth spending any time on, but they are interesting. We wandered back and forth and it became obvious that we didn't know where we needed to be, in spite of having a GPS with us. Both Joe and I rapped down a bit to get our bearings, but we still weren't sure. Finally we just gave up and rapped down where we thought we would be close to the potential route. Unfortunately we still were in the wrong place, but at least we could tell where we should be for the next time. Surprisingly there were a number of trees up there with old slings on them. None of us have any idea what's up with that as several of them were definitely not rap anchors for the normal established climbs.

We had to stop at an intermediate anchor before the ground, but with 2 60 meter ropes we probably could have gotten all the way to the ground. We were all a bit frustrated, but figure that we know where to go for the next time and it was a beautiful day for a hike. I would say that the lesson to be learned from this is that it's often harder to tell where you are from the top of a cliff than it is from the bottom…

BTW although most of the snow is gone in the Valley, there are a few pockets of white stuff still hanging around. One is over by Short Order and the other is on the beach below the right side of the Whitehorse slabs. Check 'em out, they won't last long…


Whitehorse Rockfall:
All of us in the Valley feel as if our local crags are much more stable that cliffs like Cannon or the like. At least until along comes a rockfall, then our perceptions quickly change. In the case of Whitehorse in particular, it is not at all unusual for there to be rockfall at least once a year. Last year it was right alongside of the Ethereal Buttress, prior to that it was the massive slide over Mistaken Identity, prior to that there was a good sized event up at the first pitch of Unicorn and I'm sure that the list can easily be expanded upon. Just look in the woods as you hike along the base of the cliff and you'll get a good idea as to the amount of rock that's come down over the years. All those boulders didn't come from nowhere… [wry grin]

On Tuesday morning at around 10:30 several folks working outdoors in my neighborhood heard a large sound on Whitehorse. I was climbing on Humphrey's and didn't hear about it until I returned in the late afternoon and I was unable to get over and have a look until Wednesday morning. Driving by the golf course at Hales I could see an obvious brown spot just below the large pine tree between Sea Of Holes and Dike Route. There were also white scars on the granite below it. The area surrounding the tree at the base of the cliff directly below the start of Sea Of Holes, where we usually put on our shoes, was covered with debris and there was also a large block the size of a picnic table leaning against the tree. It looked as if a slab had slid from below the upper pine tree and broken apart as it went down the cliff.

The incident certainly made quite a mess, but fortunately didn't happen on a weekend when there would have been many folks climbing in and around that area. I have not climbed either Sea Of Holes or Dike Route since this took place, but from what I can see I would be surprised if either suffered any damage. That said I don't think I would rap from the tree that is just above the place where the slab fell! Here are a few pix:


Peregrine Falcon Closing at Cathedral Ledge:
NH Audubon staff and volunteers have confirmed that Peregrine Falcons are incubating eggs at the northern end of Cathedral Ledge near Repentance and Remission.  All routes located to climbers' right of "Cathedral Roof" and to the left of "Diedre" are temporarily closed to climbing.  Your cooperation is essential if these birds are to nest successfully.  Peregrines are protected by both Federal and State laws.  Harassing, pursuing, shooting, killing, trapping, capturing, or attempting to do so, is illegal.  Temporary closure signs for this limited area of the cliff are now in place and will be removed as soon as possible, but definitely by August 1.

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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.

NEClimbs & White Mountain Report On Facebook:
Join us and LIKE us on Facebook. I'll try and post 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:

Remember - climb hard, ride the steep stuff, stay safe and above all BE NICE,

Al Hospers
The White Mountain Report
North Conway, New Hampshire

Personally, I would rather climb in the high mountains. I have always abhorred the tremendous heat, the dirt-filled cracks, the ant-covered foul-smelling trees and bushes which cover the cliffs, the filth and noise of Camp 4 (the climbers' campground), and worst of all, the multitudes of tourists which abound during the weekends and summer months.
Yvon Chouinard
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