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July 18, 2013
WOOO Wee… In case you haven't heard, the storm we had last night! It was no joke. For at least a half hour there were lightning strikes all around and the sound of the thunder roared off the cliff. There was literally no time between a lightening flash and the sound. Before it finally rolled through I was really starting to worry that one of them was going to hit the house! I've seen some pretty big thunderstorms up here in the 17 years I've lived here, but this was the most violent I can remember. Usually I can leave the windows open on one side of the house or the other, but this time the wind was swirling around from all directions and I had to close them all.
On top of that, just before I closed the front windows there was a huge gust of wind and somehow a bat flew into the house and right in front of my face. It startled me so much that I knocked over a glass of water and freaked the already scared dog. I guess the gust slammed the bat up against the corner of the screen and it slipped through onto the house. These are really old crank-open storm windows. I closed the window and spent 10 minutes chasing the bat around the house until I cornered it and managed to catch it in a dirty towel. The storm winds had died down so I opened the door and shook it out of the towel. I'm sure it was as happy to be out as I was for it to be out!
On Monday I hooked up with my friends Joe & Judy Perez to have a look at the new climbs put up by the Chinos Mountain Club at a little craig located across from the Rocky Branch parking area in Pinkham Notch. I won't repeat the directions in this email, as you can get them from either Mountain Project or the NEClimbs forum. We got started abut 10 Am and it took us about 40 minutes to get up there from the road. It is somewhat of a bushwhack and if it becomes popular I would hope that there gets to be a more beat-out path. That said, the AMC Guide seems to indicate that the actually Hall Path goes to the top of the ledge, as does the ski trail from Carter Notch. I want to check out the latter to see if you could ride a mountain bike in there!
The craig has a number of different areas, each of which is fairly unique. We had the app from Mountain Project and all felt that the directions, descriptions and grading leave something to be desired. We planned to do the moderate routes in the summit area, but had a bit of difficulty figuring how to get up there. The directions mention a ramp, but the only thing we found was a slimy corner, so we ended up walking way around to the left to get to the top The views from the top were very impressive, both up and down the valley. You can get an amazing view of Mt Washington that would be pretty spectacular in the fall.
When we finally figured out where these climbs were, the description advises you to "be creative with anchors"! I would say that is accurate. There are no fixed anchors and the trees are pretty off route or way back. I'd advise bringing a 70 meter rope or 2 60's. We ended up rapping down and then TR'ing back up. Altho these were rated as 5.6, none of us felt that the gear was exactly appropriate for a 5.6 leader. It's either marginal, or very runout. That said, the climbing was entertaining, and IMNSHO if there was a bolt here or there it would be a nice climb for the 5.6 or 5.7 leader.
There is supposed to be a crack wall up in the same area, but when a few minutes of poking around didn't yield it we gave up. The directions didn't say where it is, relative to the slabs we were on. This is kind of indicative of the descriptions, at least in the app. Some of the climbs do not seem to reference another climb or prominent feature. As there is no overall description of the area, unless you know what you're looking at you may have a hard time figuring out which is which. A topo would be a great addition to the directions.
After we finished on the slabs, we rapped down through trees just left of what we figured was the Golden Wall. The obvious climb on that wall is Hair Of The Dog (5.7+). While we didn't do it, a friend did and he thought it was closer to 5.9. Of course grading is subjective and perhaps not a lot of folks other than the Club have climbed these routes to give a real consensus, so YMMV. We started running out of time so we just poked around on the right and found the Blob, just right of the Golden Wall. There are a couple of interesting looking climbs there that I want to try soon.
The rock is pretty interesting. I don't know what you would call it, but it has some mica in it, in places looking and feeling a little like Rumney. The holds on the climbs we did all felt solid. It is definitely not a sport area and you will need trad gear on most of the climbs. Kudos to the Chinos crew for developing this area. It has some nice climbing and I am planning to go back again soon. It looks to be well worth the effort to hike in and deserves to be somewhat popular.
Here's a few pictures -
I received the following email from NH Audubon biologist Chris Martin a couple of days ago -
This spring marked the 33rd breeding season (1/3 of a century!) in the
post-DDT recovery era for New Hampshire’s peregrine falcons. Ever
since a pair was first discovered nesting in Franconia Notch back in
1981, our state’s peregrine population -- once classified as federally
endangered, currently listed as state-threatened -- has been rebounding
at a very gradual pace. After more than three decades of recovery from
population lows in the 1950s-70s, many seemingly suitable nesting sites
in the Granite State still lack documented breeding pairs. On the other
hand, another historic site (Fall Mountain in Walpole) was reoccupied
for the first time this year, and other nest sites that did not exist in
the 1940s (I-95 Bridge in Portsmouth, Brady-Sullivan Tower in
Manchester, Vermont Yankee Nuclear Plant adjacent to Hinsdale, where NH
Audubon suggested placing a nest box (see photo)) are producing young
regularly. And NH's gradual peregrine population increase occurs within
the context of a regional population that also continues to expand.
In 2013, we confirmed a total of 22 occupied territories in NH, which
sets a new state record-high for the post-DDT era. All 22 territories
were confirmed to have pairs capable of breeding attempts, although at
least 3 sites had an immature-plumage bird as a member of the pair. NH
Audubon staff and volunteer falcon observers confirmed incubation of
eggs at 19 (86%) of the state’s 22 territories, setting a new state
record-high. But of this year’s 19 incubating pairs, less than 60%
were successful in fledging at least one young. NH's 11 successful
peregrine nests in 2013 produced a total of 25 fledged young, an average
of 1.32 young fledged per nesting pair this season is below the state's
32-year average of 1.64 fledged per nesting pair.
Notable in 2013 was the first documented successful fledging of
peregrines from nests at Woodchuck Ledge in Albany and from Fall
Mountain in Walpole (see photo). The pair that typically nests on
Cathedral Ledge in Bartlett shifted to nearby Whitehorse Ledge in 2013
and fledged a chick from that cliff for the first time on record. On
the negative side, the heavy wet Memorial Day snow that blanketed
western NH's mountains resulted directly in death of chicks at Bear
Mountain in Hebron (see photo before snowfall) and Rattlesnake Mountain
in Rumney, and likely contributed to the failures at several additional
mountain locations. Holts Ledge in Lyme remains on of NH's most
productive sites over the long-run, fledging 4 young again in 2013 (see
Only 3 NH peregrine chicks were ID banded in 2013, a trio produced at
the Brady-Sullivan Tower in Manchester. One of those juveniles received
post-fledging care by Maria Colby at Wings of Dawn, but was OK for
release within days (see photo on B-S Tower roof). Overall, of the
total of 349 fledgling peregrine falcons that have been color-banded at
New Hampshire nests since the early 1990s, a total of 83 (24%) have
eventually been re-sighted (either alive or dead) and reported to us and
to the federal Bird Banding Lab. After more than 20 years of concerted
work, NH Audubon is scaling back significantly on our efforts to access
remote nest ledges and band chicks. Expect to read more about the
rationale for this shift in priorities in a future e-mail message.
Observations to determine the current banded status of New
Hampshire’s breeding peregrines in 2013 yielded the following
results. Of 44 known individuals (22 pairs), banded status was
confirmed for 22 individuals (50%) and unconfirmed for the other 22. Of
the 22 individuals where banded status was determined, 14 (64%) were
confirmed to be unbanded, while 8 (36%) were confirmed to be banded.
Among notable band encounters in 2013, the male at Brady-Sullivan,
"black/green 6/7", is now a 13-yr old bird originally fledged from
Cathedral Ledge. The male at Pond Ledge in Haverhill, "black/green
P/8", is a 4-yr old bird originally raised at Owls Head Cliff in nearby
Benton NH. Over the border in Lawrence MA, 12-yr old Manchester
fledgling "black/green *6/*4" continues to breed successfully, as has been the case since 2003.
Certainly the most interesting encounter of a banded peregrine raised
at a New Hampshire nest was a May 2013 report from Charlotte NC of
"black/green A/30", a 3-yr old female from Holts Ledge in Lyme NH. This
amazing bird attempted to breed some 950 miles from home in suburban
Atlanta GA in Spring 2012, but in 2013 she showed up in Charlotte and
successfully raised young on the 40th floor of One Wells Fargo Center in
downtown Charlotte. For more on this story, see:
We continue to be grateful for all those who support peregrine falcon
recovery efforts in New Hampshire, including public resource managers
and private land owners, volunteer observers and our rock climbing
partners. Management activity at breeding sites is supported by a
federal State Wildlife Grant to the NH Fish and Game Department Nongame
Program. Additional monitoring support for two breeding sites is
provided under a contract with Stantec, an international environmental
consulting firm. Every third year we receive additional funding to
monitor a subset of breeding sites from the US Fish and Wildlife
Service. And of course we always appreciate the generous support of NH
Audubon members and other individuals.
Final site-by-site NH Peregrine results for 2013
Abeniki Mtn (Dixville) - failed
Bear Mtn (Hebron) - failed
Beaver Pond Cliff (Woodstock) - failed
Brady-Sullivan Twr (Manchester) - fledged 3 y
Christian Sci Church (Concord) - territorial pair
Devils Slide (Stark) - failed
Diamond Peaks (2nd College) - failed
Eaglet Spire (Franconia) - failed
Fall Mtn (Walpole) - fledged 1 y
Frankenstein Cliff (Harts Loc) - fledged 1 y
Holts Ledge (Lyme) - fledged 4 y
Coptic Church (Nashua) - territorial pair
Owls Head Cliff (Benton) - fledged 3 y
Painted Walls (Albany) - fledged 3 y
Peaked Mtn (Piermont) - fledged 3 y
Pond Ledge (Haverhill) - failed, renest, failed
I-95 Bridge (Portsmouth) - fledged 2 y
Rattlesnake Mtn (Rumney) - failed
Russell Crag (Woodstock) - fledged 1 y
Square Ledge (Albany) - failed
Whitehorse Ledge (Hales Loc) - fledged 1 y
Woodchuck Ledge (Albany) - fledged 3 y
Climbing closures for peregrines in 2013 have been lifted. Have a
great summer everyone!
Chris Martin, Senior Biologist
Conservation Department, New Hampshire Audubon
84 Silk Farm Road, Concord, NH 03301
Except for the ticks, it's a crap shoot. You could get brutal mosquitoes and gnats/blackflies, or you could get nada. I've experienced both over the past week, so if I were you I would just bring the DEET and be prepared.
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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:
Check it out and if you have issues on your specific phone, please feel free to let me know.
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Have fun and climb safe,
The White Mountain Report
North Conway, New Hampshire
|This is how they die, I thought. They pass out or freeze without caring. They die as spectators, believing it's all happening to someone else. I'd rather be fully alive and awake when I die, I want to be terrified. The last place I want to snuff it is on a slope no steeper than a beginner's ski hill.|