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I realize that to some I may have been shirking my assigned duties as the purveyor of ice information here in the Valley. However, I assure you that up until now you really haven't been missing anything. Plus I had elves out on an almost daily basis clueing me in on the state, or lack of state, of ice up in the Notches. With a little snow on the ground down here in the lower elevations this morning, I decided that I should start my weekly pilgrimage to Crawford Notch to genuflect in the direction os the ice gods…
There was a spotty drizzle coming down as I left the house and the roads were slippery. Bartlett doesn't put as much effort into plowing and sanding, so I drove carefully up West Side Road, through Bartlett Village and headed up towards Crawford. Once above the village the DOT takes over the roadwork and it's a lot better. They had obviously done come sanding and I saw a plow out scraping down what little accumulation had built up. However I did notice that they hadn't gotten around to scraping down either the scenic vista before Arethusa Falls or the lower parking lot.
The dark rock of the Fang face looked just as expected, completely free of any trace of ice and quite wet. The main amphitheater looked almost the same. Lots of water flowing on Smear, Pegasus and Chia. There were dribbles of ice in The Hobbit, but that was about it. Further up the road things looked a bit better. Standard had a fair amount of ice forming and hanging, in spite of lots of running water. It didn't look climbable to me, but it's on the way. There is ice forming on the lower part of Dropline, almost continually down Machine and there is a fair amount in Dracula as well. Willey's Slide had only a coating of snow over a lot of bare rock, and the face of Mt Willard didn't look any better. There is water everywhere, but it just hasn't been consistently cold enough to form much ice, especially for anything that is in the sun!
There was fog and I couldn't really see into Hitchcock, but I'm pretty sure that it's a real mixed bag - so to speak. There appeared to be ice on the Left Hand Monkey Wrench, so you may be able to get to the upper tier that way. However I could not see if there was ice in Upper Hitchcock. At the very top of the Notch I was quite surprised to see that the Snot Rocket was forming! If it stays somewhat cold it could actually be climbable soon. There was even a party setting up a rope on the little ramp next to the trestle notch. And it looked as if it was likely to be climbable! Elephant Head had some ice in its lower section, but the top looked terrible. On the way back down I noticed that the Cascades were pouring water, with only a minimum of ice on the sides. The gullies on Webster didn't look appealing, however there seemed to be some ice up high on Shoestring. I would imagine that the lower half would be a mess and the walk-off could be pretty messy. I'd heard that it was climbed a week ago, so who knows? I would get a very early start as there is always lots of loose stuff up there in the best of times!
If you look at the NEClimbs.com home page you'll see a picture of Matt Ritter on The Black Dike on Canon taken on Dec 12th. Thanks to Art Mooney of Mooney Mountain Guides for the great picture. the Dike has been climbed several times over the past 7 days, in pretty thin conditions. If you do head up there get an early start and beware of ice coming off the face to the right, and from up above as you get close to the cliff on the hike in.
The Ravines have been better, but only marginally so. According to Rich Palatino, Harvard Cabin Caretaker, it has been very up and down this past week. Lots of folks have been up there climbing in less that ideal conditions. Every day brings a different state of ice, so if you are going up you need to be prepared for whatever comes along. As Snow Ranger Jeff Lane posted recently regarding climbing in Huntington, "You might want to leave behind your pickets and bring some rock protection instead." The Mount Washington Avalanche Center has finally started posting some reports and I urge you to check them before heading to the upper elevations. As always you can read their well considered analysis and see pictures here:
Selected Ice Conditions effective December 4, 2016
In the past few daze things have started firming up quite a bit. it was cold last night and chill all day, so that helped. Shoestring was soloed today, tho it's still quite thin. The Open Book in Tucks was done a day or 2 ago, but it was basically a solo as well. I'll have info about the lower elevations on Thursday, but my prediction is that if it stays this chill we could have some ice to climb by Saturday.
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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:
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North Conway, New Hampshire
The Puking Gecko, Grand Wall, *** S9 5.12d/e 712m - An intimidating and salacious climb. The final pitch is so exposed, tricky, and continuously strenuous that it is impossible to even contact the rock at any point. Better than making passionate love on top of a Japanese Bullet Train. Superbly magnificent and grimly brilliant.