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After a wet spring it's been days since it last really rained up here in the Valley. Sure we've had some thunder boomers come through, but we haven't had any soaker rains. Seems good in that the cliffs and trails are dry, but not so good for the gardens, lawns for the fire danger. It's time to be very aware of what you're doing when you're out there in the woods. All you have to do is stick your finger down into the ground or dig just a little bit and you'll realize how dry the top 4-6 inches of soil is right now. I wouldn't take a whole lot to set off a forest fire, and we certainly don't need what they have been getting out in the West. Make sure your campfires are thoroughly out and be careful when disposing of your cigarettes please.
I was reminiscing with a friend the other night about ways in which climbing in the Valley has changed since the late 80's and 90's. One particular way is the crowds. When I first started coming up here in the late 80's there were people everywhere. In the early 90's when my wife and I were up every weekend there were times when you couldn't find a place to park on the road by Cathedral. When we moved up here in '96 we would put our packs on and ride our bikes over to the North End on the weekends because we couldn't park anywhere. There would be people lined up to do Birds Nest and They Died Laughing. The Thin Air face was even worse. If you didn't get up there by 8:00, you would end up waiting be hind at least 2 parties to get on the climb. Don't even think about Upper Refuse...
Things are certainly more mellow now. Part of this decline, if you will, is generally attributed to the popularity of places like Rumney. From what I understand, tho I rarely visit there, Rumney feels like the Valley of the 90's. At least from the crowd standpoint. But I still think that there are some other factors at play here. One that comes to my mind might be that a lot of folks are simply finding other places to climb and spreading out. The development of outlying areas like Mt Oscar, Mt Willard, Mt Webster, Sundown, Lost Horizon, Mt Wheeler, Woodchuck, Bald Mountain, Lost & Found Ledges, White's Ledge and even the left side of Humphrey's are siphoning the remaining trad climbers away from Cathedral & Whitehorse. When you think about it, if there were a total of 100 climbers on Cathedral & Whitehorse BITD half of those go to an outlying area instead, that's a pretty significant reduction. And if those 50 climbers are spread out over all those other areas on a given day you might not see anyone else out there.
Sure it's just speculation, but there definitely HAS been a big reduction in climbers in the Mount Washington Valley, and they must be going somewhere. I'm not convinced that Rumney is the sole answer and this is just one thought. What do you think?
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.
Unnamed Route At Humphrey's Completed:
Joe and Judy Perez and I have been working a new route over on Humphrey's just left of Wanderlust. Until now it was Unnamed Route, but we finally finished it today - adding a third and final pitch. We had been thinking that it was not going to get done until the weather cooled off, but today was a nice one so we grabbed it. Here is the information. Give it a try, I think you will like it but let us know.
Above And Beyond 5.9+
Directions: Hike left toward the end of the main cliff band looking for a clean slab with shiny bolts, just before a buttress. This is Wanderlust. The climb starts up the right facing corner of the buttress, left of the slab.
Description: The first pitch was established by Joe and Judy Perez several years before the second and third, thus the FA history is somewhat complicated. In the spring of 2011 the Perez's and Al Hospers went up to check out a possible second pitch and Al found a nice 5.9 line that went straight up off the Wanderlust belay on good rock. Several weeks later the threesome hiked up to the top of the cliff and rapped down to top-rope the line for pitch 3. A couple of months later, in early July, Joe & Judy went back and drilled the bolt holes for the last pitch. On Bastille Day 2011 all three went back, put the bolts in and Joe led the last pitch.
Pitch 1: Climb the right-facing corner to a small ledge just below the slightly-overhanging headwall. Surmount the headwall past 2 bolts (crux), past 1 more bolt and then pad up easy ground to the Wanderlust belay. (5.9+)
Pitch 2: Climb straight up from the anchor and follow a straight line past 6 bolts to a 2-bolt anchor. (5.9)
Pitch 3: Climb up to the headwall and clip the first bolt. Make difficult balance moves up and right to a second bolt (crux) and then up with some difficulty to the third bolt. Continue up right of the bolt to a left facing flake and a stance where you can get gear (green Camelot) in a horizontal at the top of the flake. Continue past several bolts to a 3-bolt anchor under a large rotten headwall. Do NOT continue to the top of the cliff as there is a LOT of debris on the ledge above.
Gear: P1 requires several large to medium cams. P2 is a clip-up as there is no natural protection available. P3 requires a green Camelot and you can possibly use another small cam or two.
Descent: Rappel from the upper anchor in 3 raps with a single 60 meter rope.
History: P1 Joe & Judy Perez somewhere around 2005
P2 Al Hospers, Joe & Judy Perez 5/9/2011
P3 Joe Perez, Judy Perez & Al Hospers 7/14/2011
I've noticed that we are starting to have what I think is going to be a bumper crop of berries this year. It's been a little late coming, but it seems as if everywhere I look there are blueberries and blackberries and even some raspberries. The blueberry bushes along the roadsides are getting pretty prolific, and there some amazing ones all along the top of Whitehorse. I've got to start bringing a Tupperware container with me when I go out climbing. The wife and kiddo will appreciate some of the treats as well.
Instant Bug Report:
YEE HA! The bug population has finally dropped down to manageable levels over the past week. Sure there are places where it c an still be pretty uncomfortable, but you won't get carried drained now, like you were 10 days ago. The most noticeable difference is the decided lack of black-flies and that's the best thing. I dropped the BugCON rating to a 3 and it's probably gonna stay there for a while.
NEClimbs & White Mountain Report On Facebook:
Join us and hopefully 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:
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.
NEClimbs & White Mountain Report On Facebook:
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:
The White Mountain Report
North Conway, New Hampshire
I had the unique experience the next day: placing sixteen bolts in a row. It was just blank and there was no way around. But it was a route worth bolting for, and after a time I began to take an almost perverse joy in it, or at least in doing a good job.