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Today, September 22nd, is the last official day of Summer. After several days of spectacular, almost Indian-summer-like days, it's kind of hard to believe that we're starting rapidly down the road toward ski and ice season. Yet here we are, stuck a drizzle-time that's probably going to last right into the weekend. [sigh] Well, at least I managed to get out and enjoy the past week, and I hope you did as well.
Although the TV folks are sure talking up the foliage season, it's really not happening all that much from what I can see. I was out riding the bike up near the Moats and on top of Cranmore the other day and it's still pretty darn green. Sure, there are some Maples that are turning, but it's not too much yet. I figure another week at the least before we start seeing any major color on this side of the Notches. It's coming tho...
At the end of last week I got over to Humphrey's again with the Perez's. Why are you not surprised, right? Joe led Under Toe and then we played around with a toprope on a couple of the faces there. It was a sunny and fun afternoon for us, and surprisingly there was absolutely no one there besides us. This week's cover shot on NEClimbs is of Joe on Under Toe. That's a really nice climb that was put up this summer by Chris Graham and Bob Ahern. It's not a give-away, but if you're solid on 5.9 you should really enjoy it.
A month or so ago I'd spotted a line between Todd Swain's '80 route Straight Up and George Hurley's 1979 route Giuoco Piano. One day when I was up there with Brad White, I poked around on the lower section, but I couldn't see if there would be any gear on the upper slab. I didn't want to run it out if there wasn't, so I filed it away for future reference. I managed to swing over on to the line the day with the Perez's and found that there were three nice pockets that would take Tricams right where they would be desired. Unfortunately no other gear would go in the pockets and we didn't have any Tricams with us! [sigh We all gave it a quick TR, and again I filed the climb away for another day.
I'd been watching the upcoming weather and realized that things were going to get funky for a number of days, so I collared Brad to go over there on Monday - which was anther beautiful day. He was also interested because he wanted to give the lower section of Straight Up a try on toprope, since he had been with Todd when he put it up over 30 years ago. We went over that morning and I sent it. The final 25 or so feet was unprotected slab climbing, but there were tons of foot and hand holds and I thought it was about 5.2. Even tho you might have groundfall if you came off, it's easier than many easy Whitehorse slab climbs. I built an anchor under the big headwall over near the crux corner of Straight Up. I threw the rope down and brad attached his drill-bag which I pulled up.
When I brought Brad up I asked if he felt it deserved a bolt and he said no. If you can climb the first part, there is no reason you can't walk the upper part. We both agreed that the beginning section was about 5.8. It's a committing move up the little notch, to stand up on the slab. Once there you can reach the first pocket, and then the next two moves up and right each have another pocket. SWEET… I had been surprised that the the climb was going to go as a fully trade line and Red Sox announcer Joe Castiglione's famous statement when the Sox won the World Series in 2004 came to mind: "Can YOU Believe It?" It seemed like the perfect name for the climb. [grin]
Brad drilled and set up the rap anchor in a comfortable spot. He has one of the newer drills and it's very quick to put in bolts.I lowered Brad off and as he went he replaced the decades old headwall 1/4" bolt on Straight Up. He also cleaned out some bushes that had grown up in the signature groove. They pulled out as if they were potted plants! It's nice when it goes that easy.
We each took turns toproping the start of Straight Up and a Doug Madara and Kurt Winkler variation, African Queen. Both have much top recommend them. We found that the gear on both is small, but definitely adequate, at least up to the anchor we put in. We looked at the upper corner of Straight Up and it looks just as R as it ever did. From what we could tell in the Webster guide, African Queen starts on the left of the slab and traverses across an unprotected ramp to an overlap. We found a better variation just right of Straight Up that can provide some reasonable gear and make the climb doable by mortals like us. I think I'll have to give both of them a try sometime soon, now that I know where the gear is.
I put all 3 of these routes into the Routes database on NEClimbs. Here are a few pix from the day:
I know, I know there are some folks who will say that this or that climb is still IN, but believe me there really is no safe ice in the lower elevation now, so the rating has been dropped to a 1. This indicates that the only ice is in the higher terrain now. And in fact, other than climbs that have some significant part of them in the shade, like Pinnacle, everything else should be considered suspect. That said the skiing is supposedly amazing right now so grab it while you can. Starting next week we will move fully into rock season and will switch to BugCON ratings.
Instant Bug Report:
Some mosquitoes and gnats are out there, but altogether not bad at all. Enjoy your early fall conditions.
NEClimbs & White Mountain Report On Facebook:
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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: