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January 5, 2012
It's hard to believe, after all the ups and downs we've been though over the past 6 weeks, but I just gotta think that we've finally settled into winter. After the warm and rain last weekend, the forecast is for continued chilly weather and occasional snow, at least for the next 3-4 days. That means that the ice will continue top build and be stable for a while. We still could use a foot or two of snow, but that may be wishing for too much at this stage of the game. But at least the snow areas can continue to make snow and keep the business happening, and us ice-lovers will have something to play on. I'm jonesin' for my xc-skis, but there's nothing I can do about that right now. [sigh]
There was an incident that took place on Standard Route at Frankenstein on Monday. Based on the posting on the NEClimbs forum, I would say that everyone was pretty darn lucky. Temps had been quite warm over the weekend with folks commenting that it had been as high as 45 up in the Notch on Sunday, plus we had some rain that assuredly had undermined things. In this case the leader of a party of two was belaying his partner up the first pitch from in the cave. A large section of ice came off from the upper curtains, shattering and raining ice down over the entire center sect of the climb. Fortunately the second was under a bulge and most of the chunks went over their head. However, at least one bit hit them in the back of their head, causing a large cut that required 6 staples to close!
Apparently the leader was told by a group repelling down the right side of the route at the time; "the lead climber of a party up on the last vertical section climbed straight up a sketchy bit of ice on the last vertical section and dislodged the whole face as he topped out. "
WHEW - It was just lucky that no one was really seriously injured. I'm kind of surprised that a bad accident has not taken place on Standard in early winter or the early spring when the sun is on the face. I've decided not to climb there on warm days because of a fear of something like that happening. Again, it's something to take into consideration when you climb ice.
Joe Perez and I decided we would get out to do something today, so I left the house a bit later than normal so I could meet him at the Attitash parking lot. I stopped in at Cathedral to have a look and things were really coming along. While the Barber Wall didn't look too good, Goofer's is filling in nicely. The lower half looks thin as usual, but the upper part is filling in well. The North End actually looked OK and I spotted a party on Repentance. The leader was belaying his second up on Pitch 2. It's hard to tell it's actual conditions and the ice looked fairly sparse. The pillar on Remission looks as if it's building pretty well, so maybe these testpieces will come in after all! Black Pudding is looking a lot better than last week, but the tongue has still not touched down yet. The Barking Dog has climbable ice and there is not a No Parking sign at the pulloff on the right, so maybe it is OK to park there.
I picked up Joe at Attitash and we headed up into the Notch. A light snow was falling and it was hard to see up into the Texaco Amphitheater, but it looked as if there was climbable ice there and the Texaco Slab actually looked OK. I wasn't too surprised to see that the Fang face was pretty dry. There were some pillars over in the vicinity of Cocaine, but they are't yet complete. The Frankenstein Amphitheater is looking a whole lot better this week. Smear still looks thin in the middle, but the left in the groove looks as if it will go. The pillars on Pegasus still look bad, but the rock finish looks good. I would be very aware if you decide to climb any of that in the direct sun! Chia looks as if it has several possible lines, but again beware on a sunny day. The upper curtains do not look very well bonded to me. Although Widows Walk is not happening, Cave Route looks as if it's OK. I would not advise anyone to walk under Widows Walk tho.
The trestle slab looks OK and I have heard that there is stuff in the mixed area to be climbed. Walk In The Forest is in good shape, and tho I can't see Lost In The Forest I have heard that it's OK. Waterfall looks OK, as does Standard Route. Standard Left has filled in a lot and there is a clean line up it from bottom to top. Penguin is getting done and the column just to the right has been as well. Dropline has formed OK, but still looks as if the start is iffy. Unfortunately Machine has not come in yet. Dracula is OK, but harder than usual. According to some friends who did it a couple of days ago it's in one of it's harder states.
It was snowing lightly further up the Notch and It was difficult to clearly see Shoestring or Willie's, but it looked as if there was ice. Shoestring looked as if there was more white than brown for a change. There were 4 cars parked at the pulloff for Shoestring at 10:30 and a van from Penn State at the Willie's pulloff. Busy Thursday…
Willard was a real mixed bag. Gully Number 1 looked pretty good and there was a party on it, while 2 and 2 1/2 didn't look great. I put the binoculars on Cinema, but it was really hard to tell it's state. Although there was some ice, there was a light dusting of snow that obscured things. Regardless, if there is ice, it's not much. Around the corner Upper Hitchcock looked pretty good and the Monkey Wrench looked fine. There were quite a lot of fangs forming on the upper tier so I'm sure there are many options to play on up there. At the top of the Notch Elephant Head looked good. So that's what Joe and I decided to climb.
Compared to the low 30's in the Valley, it was a chilly 24 when we walked down to the climb, but at least it wasn't windy and the sun kept peeking out. We geared up and I led it up the middle, through the notch and then up the right hand finish. The ice was thick and fairly plastic and at one point the sun came out and I got quite warm. I brought Joe up and we set up a TR on the left side to do the steep pillar. As I belayed him up the wind picked up and it started snowing harder. As he was finishing another party who lI knew came up and started getting geared up to climb the right side. I hadn't brought my big puffy jacket [dumb] and I started getting chilled standing around in the wind. When Joe finished I had him just rap down and I didn't take a run, I was too cold. I should know to bring ALL the clothing on a day like this! When Joe rapped down we packed it in and headed back to the car. It was a satisfying Thursday and made me feel a lot better about the state-o-the-ice for 2012.
Here are a few interesting pix taken on Thursday January 5th:
At the suggestion of NEClimbs member Mark Sprague, I added a new section called Conditions to the Forum. While mainly intended for the rapidly changing ice season, it can be used for everything. It's a great place for folks to post their observations about the state of climbing in various areas here in New Hampshire and beyond. If you are out climbing anytime, but especially during ice season, please drop by the forum and post your observations. Obviously I can't be everywhere and it can be a very valuable resource. You can also post your pictures there or in the Photo Gallery. Of course you will need to register to do anything other than read. I hope you find it useful…
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.
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:
Have fun and climb safe,
The White Mountain Report
North Conway, New Hampshire
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