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Yes, it's the end of November folks - the 29th. And it's pretty hard to believe that we're already this far along without any significant snowfall! It's not that unusual, but it's certainly not at all what any of us who live up here want. Of course if you are into riding the bike, things are actually pretty darn good. However, even I am ready to move this season right along into winter. I'm ready to be ice climbing and cross-country skiing. If I wanted it to be like this at this time of year I'd move down to North Carolina. Not that NC is a bad place to live, you understand…
Since we've had a pretty chilly week, generally 20's at night and mid-30's during the day, I was optimistic about what I might see up in the Notch this morning. I even took mountaineering crampons, ice tools and an 8mm rope, just in case. My plan was to check out Shoestring, if that wasn't good then I'd look at Hitchcock, and if nothing else I'd take a walk up Willard. I did my due-diligence checking out all the lower elevation ice, and things are looking better. Unfortunately my two planned outings didn't look all that good to me. However, Standard Route had ice top to bottom…hmmm! Driving back down the Notch I decided I'd walk in to check out Standard. I needed the walk and I really had a hankering to swing the tools.
As I was getting on my boots in the parking lot Bill King and his wife pulled out and stopped for a chat. He commented that things were looking better, but that it was also quite dry, even in the streams and river. He said that he hadn't seen anyone up there yet looking as if there were out to climb anything. Then, just as I started to walk away, another car came up. It turned out it was Marc Chauvin, just out to check on the state of the ice. We walked down the tracks together and chatted. He had gone up to Huntington on Wednesday to have a look. He mentioned that Pinnacle was pouring water, but that Odell, North and Yale looked pretty good. As there is minimal snow up there he also commented that the hike through the fan is not that much fun! I'm not at all surprised. When we got to Standard he headed back and I headed up for a closer look.
I was very happy to see that the ice was actually fairly thick and looked bonded, and amazingly there wasn't that much water running. I geared up and just went up and down a few times in the center to get used to swinging the tools and kicking the boots. It all felt really good so I grabbed my rope and harness and headed up to the cave. I thought that the ice was in good shape. There were a few places where the ice dinner-plated a little, but overall it was great. Not hero-ice, but just fine. The ice was thick enough that I could have gotten a couple of short screws if I'd been actually leading. It was thinnish, but you could probably call it IN - mostly.
I thought about going on up left of the cave, but decided that the cave was far enough for the first outing of the season, there was absolutely no one else around and I hadn't brought a leaver-screw in case I had any problems. Better safe than sorry this early in the season. It was quite interesting to be up in there before the ice really had a chance to build. The pin anchor on the left was covered in ice and I had to knock it out of its shell. The rings on the right seemed to be way up high, as the ice hadn't build on the floor. It was neat. I flaked out the rope and rapped back down. I left my crampons on for the hike down 'cause the leaves and little bit of ice here and there was pretty slippery.
I really feel that we need some snow to make things actually come IN. Although most things in Frankenstein are spring-fed waterfalls, except for Standard there really isn't all that much water flowing. It needs the snowpack to provide the freeze-thaw cycle that builds ice. Plus, if it gets and stays cold, the water that is there will eventually lock up. If there is snow on top of it, it will be insulated from the cold and keep flowing.
By now the sun was going behind the Frankenstein Cliff, but it felt quite warm. When I got almost to the parking lot I checked out the thermometer that's on the pole and it was over 40 degrees! No wonder I felt comfortable in just a fleece shirt! Well at least I've gotten some actual ice climbing in this season. All in all it was a great outing.
PLEASE READ THIS - 2012/2013 NECLIMBS FUNDRAISER:
First I want to sincerely thanks the currently 21 folks who so far have donated to NEClimbs and the White Mountain Report so far this season. You read that right, we've just have fourteen donations! Needless to say I would hope for more, but you have to have to accept and be thankful for what you are given.
I've put out The White Mountain Report consistently since 1998 and the web site went on line a few years later in 2000! There is a cost of hosting and maintaining the site and putting out this newsletter: the annual electricity for the web cam and weather station, cable replacement, gas for the van running up and back taking pictures every week or more often (it's a 50 mile round trip!!!) and more importantly the time required to do all of it. I truly hate to ask for money, and I suppose that sounds to some like whining, but it's just the actual reality of producing a site and newsletter like this and keeping it going that is not insignificant. I would hope you might find that the value of the weekly White Mountain Report and NEClimbs.com web site is enough to warrant making a small donation to support the site. ANY amount would be appreciated!
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Ice Conditions Report:
Selected Ice Conditions effective January 29, 2015
The ice is in great shape right now, with good climbing almost everywhere you look. A few areas like the Fang wall aren’t as good as they were a couple of weeks ago, but overall we’re in great shape. Get out there and enjoy yourselves…
Check the web site for additional pix. Hang in there folks, it's gonna come soon…
20th Anniversary Mt. Washington Valley Ice Festival:
Believe it or not, you should be putting Ice Fest 2012 on your calendar. This year it's this February 1-3. Plans are already afoot and you can read about them here - http://icefest.blogspot.com/. If I were you I'd get your hotel accommodations in place 'cause this is going to be a big one!
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
Climbing for speed records will probably become more popular, a mania which has just begun. Climbers climb not just to see how fast and efficiently they can do it, but far worse, to see how much faster and more efficiently they are than a party which did the same climb a few days before. The climb becomes secondary, no more important than a racetrack. Man is pitted against man.