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I try really hard to balance my live between family, work, music and various outdoor activities. Of course the order of these things is adjusted dynamically, depending on external demands and how I feel at a particular moment. For instance if I get an idea for a song while I'm sitting around watching , I'm up and in the studio - or if I'm working in the office one afternoon and it's a bluebird day, I'm up and out on the bike for an hour behind the hours. And when it's time to go walk the dog down the street to pick up the kiddo from the school bus, I'm out the door. It's all about juggling those priorities and I'm sure we're all in the same boat; so to speak.
This week I've managed to work most of it all into a fairly reasonable mix and Tuesday was a pretty good example. Got up and got the kiddo fed and off to school, walked the dog, did 2 hours of work on a client web site and completed and tested the changes they wanted done, did a grocery run into town, drove up to the Notch and ran up Cinema Gully, walked around and rapped Lower Hitchcock, home & showered in time to walk the dog down to pick up the kiddo from the bus. While he was (supposedly) working on his homework I put in an hour on a mix of a tune I've been working on in the studio. Then I made up some hamburgers and yellow squash to put on the grill right before the wife came home from work. We all ate dinner and they headed off to the boy's karate class. I sat down in the easy chair in front of the tube for a few minutes to watch the news and fell asleep until they came home. WHEW Why are you not surprised?
So about the climbing on Tuesday - when I got to the top of Crawford Notch it was 35 degrees and totally bluebird. There were three cars in the lot and I followed the herd of boot tracks down the RR bed. Only one pair turned up at Hitchcock, but I'd only seen one party on Cinema from the road. I was really booking and figured they would be almost done, but when I got to the base of the climb the party of 2 were just at the second ice bulge. Oh well! I geared up and headed up, meeting the belayer just as his leader was at the base of the upper ice section. We chatted for a minute and I continued on.
Since he didn't have enough rope to go to the top he leader decided to belay on the right side of the upper gully/bulge. Unfortunately he couldn't find any really good ice to set up an anchor in a protected place, so he decided to down-climb and do a sit-belay in the snow near the bushes on the right. This time of year it's often hard to find good belays on Cinema. I've found that having a 70 meter rope gives me a lot more options, particularly on this climb.
Then on Thursday George Hurley and Joe Perez went with me up to the Notch to check on the conditions. The temperature here in the Valley when we left was a balmy 40 degrees and I was a bit worried about how everything was going to be holding up. When I came home from my band gig last night it was almost 40 and drizzling! I knew were headed for some warmer weather, but I didn't know it was coming quite so quickly.
On the way up we paused to take my pictures and check things out as we went. It got windier and cooler as we got further up into the Notch. At the view for Standard Route I realized that I'd forgotten my warm gloves. I was pretty bummed, but I figured I would try using my liners and my old work-gloves that were in the van. As I was taking pictures of Dracula my friend Ian drove by on his way to Bretton Woods. He stopped to chat and I asked if he had a spare pair of gloves. Turns out he did so I was set. Thanks Ian! When we got out at the top of Crawford Notch it was right at 32, but the wind was really blowing. It had to be in the lower 20's with the wind chill and I was glad to have a pair of real gloves.
We were planning on doing the Snot Rocket but unfortunately just as we got there another party, local climber Ray Rice and his buddy, were starting up the first pitch! [sigh]. Tho it wasn't that cold it was quite windy and we weren't about to stand around waiting for them to finish. Besides, they were talking about working on a mixed line that goes out the roof. A bit dejected, we headed back down the tracks and decided that we'd give Elephant Head a run.
Although it still was only right around freezing, the wind made it pretty uncomfortable while we were getting geared up and belaying. I was wishing I'd brought my big puffy jacket. George decided that he wanted the lead. that was OK by me so we ready and he headed up. As always it's instructional to watch him climb. Even at almost 78, with 2 recent bionic knees, he has a fluidity that any climber would be proud of. Basically, he cruised it!
We all took a run on it and decided that was enough for the day. I had to get back to process the pictures and post the Report and George had to drive back to Wonalancet. as we stove past Snot Rocket we spotted Ray and partner climbing, so we stopped and I grabbed a couple of pictures. It looked like a burley line. Any day outside is better than almost any day inside, and tho we didn't get on our first choice, all in all it was a fun day with friends doing what we all like.
There is still ice to climb in many places right now, but with the warm temps and rain coming that’s going to change quickly over the next week. I would expect that the Frankenstein Amphitheater will become problematic pretty soon. Even as big and fat as Standard Route is, it is in the full sun all day so it’s getting beat up. Climbs like Dracula, the North End of Cathedral, Lost In The Forest, Upper Hitchcock and various things in the shade will last longer of course. We’re moving into the best time for climbing on Mt Washington for the next 3-4 weeks. That said, it’s time to think about rock season folks.
Be sure to check the Ice Report Page for the full assortment.
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!
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