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February 6, 2014

Hi Folks,

What an Ice Fest we had this year! Near perfect temps, tons of great ice everywhere you looked, great guest guides and clinicians, and Tacos! All supported by a wonderful and hardworking crew of folks from IME and IMCS with one goal in mind - create a great event for this community of climbers. What more could you ask for? IMNSHO this year's Ice Fest was the best one ever! Kudos to all who helped make it happen, and kudos to all who came and participated. This was the 21st Annual Mount Washington Ice Fest, stay tuned for the 22nd!

Over the years I've been to many Ice Fest's as a participant, and many as a working guide. Over the past 5-6 years I've ended up working the whole weekend, which has made it really tough to get around to see the various slideshows and presentations. I think of myself as being in pretty reasonable shape but as I've gotten older I find it harder for me to guide all day, go out at night, guide another whole day, go out again, and guide another day. I'm totally impressed with the dudes and dudettes who can manage it. This year I took a pair of clients up Shoestring for an Alpine Climb on Friday, did an Alpine Skills Clinic with three clients at Willies on Saturday and then did a day of climbing on Mt Willard on Sunday. I wrote this huge thread about my whole weekend, but then decided it would be too long for this email. You can read the whole thing when this gets posted in the online Report on . I'll get it up by tomorrow.

Anyway, what a great weekend it was, being out on the ice for three days with nice people and not even freezing my butt off. [grin] I'm already looking forward to next year's Ice Fest, tho this one's going to be tough to top.

Yet Even More Climbing This Week:
I had planned to climb with George Hurley before Ice Fest, but I needed a day to rest up before the weekend, so we rescheduled for the Tuesday after. I got a much-needed and deserved massage in on Monday morning, so by Tuesday I felt almost human again! I've been seeing all kinds of great pictures of Repentance and Remission so our plan was to try and grab one of those. I've been living or coming up here for well over 20 years, and I've never see the ice spilling out of the chimney on Repentance. It looked like those classic pictures of John Bragg doing it in the mid-70's! On top of that the direct start to Remission was all the way to the ground! This both both of these classics, at the top of my list. I've climbed Repentance several times, but never Remission. Our backup plan was for Unicorn, which is always a fun climb regardless.

When we got to the cliff about 10:20 there were a couple of cars already there and a couple of guys we knew, Adam Bidwell and Frank Dahlmeyer, gearing up to do Remission Direct. Adam was Peter Doucette's partner on some cool new lines on Whitehorse and I know Frank because he owns one of our sponsors, Bagels Plus! We hiked up and there was a party on the top pitch of Repentance so I watched Adam float the direct start to Remission. He really made it look a whole lot easier than it actually is. The good thing is there actually IS some reasonable fixed and rock gear in the first 50'!


Then I walked down the cliff to check out Diedre and Unicorn where I ran into Joe Klementovich with Doug Madera leading Karen's Variation. That's an often mossy groove/crack climb that was originally done BITD by Joe Cote. I watched Doug tap in cams and a Spectre and scratch his way up most of the first pitch. It was really cool. There has been a lot of interesting stuff like this being done this season.


I looked back down the way and noticed that George was gearing up and had the ropes all flaked out so I hurried back, just in tome to watch Frank follow Adam's pitch. George was already tied in and chomping at the bit so I got ready and up he went. He led the first 2 pitches in a single push. This isn't a bad idea as if you have difficulties and fall out of the chimney on P2 you will have some rope stretch to cushion the fall!

As I was getting ready to follow George, the guys who were above us came back to get their packs. I asked them how the chockstone pitch was and what side they had gone on. The said it was pretty bare of ice, they had gone left and that you would need a #2 or #3 Camelot to protect it. HMMM… That didn't make me feel to good since that was to be my lead, plus the biggest piece George brought was a #!.

I followed George's pitches to the lower belay on P2. I was really impressed by how much George stretched out the distance between the screws, plus how much ice was in the upper chimney. Many folks said that it hasn't been this fat since the mid-70's, and I'd have to agree. At the belay I clipped into George's last screw on the right and he slid the remaining gear over to me as it really would have been a lot more of a hassle for me to get over there on the rock. There was a bit of a hassle with some twists in one of the double dopes that I had to take care of because the rope would wrap itself around the draw on the screw as if it had a mind of its own. SHEESH

The ice in the upper pitch was great all the way to the chockstone and the last 20' was even plastic and running water. As always the chockstone itself was intimidating. I'd climbed it twice before, on the left both times, but I'd never led it. It seemed to me that there was less ice under it than I remembered. Regardless, I looked at the left side, moving up and down a bit, but without any gear I didn't feel at all confident. I moved up in the right side and could see that there were small foot placements on the right face and I was able to clear out some ice and get a tipped out #1 in the lower part of the crack! I gave it one try and found that there were slots for my tools in 2 places and if I was willing to commit, I could jam my left boot, crampon and all, in the crack while using one of my dual-point crampons on the right. The second time was the charm-once I got the feet settled and did the 2 tool-stacks I was finally able to get a thank god turf-shot and move up to the snowy ledge. Needless to say the cliffs echoed with my cheers!


I brought George up to the chockstone and he was surprised that I had gone right. However, when he looked at the gear, or lack thereof, he understood. I won't say that he made short work of it, but he didn't fall and that's the main thing. He complimented me on my lead, and I accepted very graciously. Honestly, it was probably the most committing thing I've done on ice.

We headed down the trail, happy to have had such a great outing. I went ahead to grab our empty packs, and he took the ropes back to the car. As I was walking past the Unicorn area I saw Anne belaying Bayard on Jack The Ripper, a difficult crack climb. Bayard really made it look very easy, almost running up the pitch. It was impressive. He's climbing very very well.


All in all it was a great day of climbing, fun to get out with George on ice and very interesting to see all the climbers out doing interesting things. There's some great ice out there to climb folks, get it on!

I also managed to get in some more climbing today, Thursday, with my friend Monica. We met at Frankenstein this morning after I took the Report pictures. I thought that we might be the first or even only people there after the big weekend, but as it turned out there were a ton of folks climbing today. That was a particularly good thing considering that we didn't have to break trail after the 10" of snow that fell yesterday. Amazingly there was no one on Bob's Delight so we jumped on it. The ice was plastic and it was delightfully warm in the sun. About 2/3 of the way up it got thin, but it still was OK. As always the finish is entertaining, but the view is great and I like it.


Then we headed over to Smear. I haven't done it this season and for some reason it seems to have gone out of favor. That said, it was as huge as I have ever seen it. Unfortunately since the sun was now behind the cliff, the ice was also very hard and brittle. In addition, all of the top-outs were horribly crusty. Although there was a v-thread about halfway up, I didn't see a single pick mark or screw hole anywhere! I've done it many times over the years, but this time I thought it was really difficult.

Regardless it was a great day. It's very rare any more that I get 5 days of climbing in a week. I'm tired, but absolutely fulfilled. I'm not sure if I would want to do it every week, but it sure made for a very nice change to my routine.
HERA Womenıs Cancer Foundationıs Climb4Life Boston 2014:
The HERA Womenıs Cancer Foundation, a nationally recognized ovarian cancer nonprofit, will present its 3rd Annual Climb4Life Boston March 8-9 at the MetroRock Climbing Center in Everett AND at Central Rock Gym in Watertown. Climb4Life brings together beginner and expert climbers, ovarian cancer survivors, their families and supporters, and anyone else interested to rock climb, raise funds for ovarian cancer research and drive awareness of the signs and symptoms of the deadly disease. Climb4Life Boston is part of a national series that raises money for ovarian cancer research and awareness initiatives through rock climbing and hiking weekends. The event is open to people of all ages, abilities and skill levels. To register, visit

Registration is $35 through Feb. 28 and $45 thereafter.

Climb4Life Boston 2014 will take place at two climbing gyms in the Boston metro this year! Registration includes admission to the MetroRock Climbing Gym, their ropes course, a treadwall climbing competition and beer tasting from 4-8 p.m. on Saturday, March 8, plus the main event, yoga sessions and Climbing 101 seminar on Sunday, March 9 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Central Rock in Watertown.

Ovarian cancer is a very serious, yet under-recognized womenıs disease. According to the American Cancer Society , about 22,240 women received a new diagnosis of ovarian cancer in the United States last year and more than 14,000 died. With early detection, about 94 percent will survive longer than five years after diagnosis. BUT, only 20 percent of ovarian cancer cases are caught early enough because there is NO effective early detection test ­ pap smears do not detect the disease. So, for many women, by the time they are correctly diagnosed, the cancer has already reached advanced stages. HERA is committed to stopping the loss of women to ovarian cancer and works to achieve this through fundraising for ovarian cancer research and awareness initiatives.

Paradox Sports Adaptive Ice Climbing Event - February 7-9, 2014:
Paradox Sports is pleased to announce that the third annual Paradox Ice event in North Conway, New Hampshire February 7-9, 2014. Throughout the weekend, 20 adaptive athletes will learn about the specialized equipment and adaptive techniques needed to climb vertical walls of ice. Participants range from wounded warriors with PTSD to amputees, paraplegics and visually impaired athletes. Registration includes meals, lodging, equipment rental and professional guide services.

Co-founder and below-the-knee amputee, Malcolm Daly, launched Paradox Ice in 2008: “Ice is the great equalizer. None of us can climb it without adaptive equipment. We just go one step further.”

Paradox Ice is open to people with physical disabilities, their families or caretakers and military veterans. This is event is made possible by the guides at Ascent Climbing and Alpine Inspirations. For more information or to register for the upcoming climbs, please visit Scholarships and financial assistance are available.

Program Coordinator and guide Nate McKenzie of Ascent Climbing: “We?re excited to bring Paradox Sports adaptive climbing programs to the north east. Its the only event of its kind in the region and the community really steps up to support Paradox and our athletes.” We still have a few spots left and we're looking for more participants. We can provide full scholarships and tuition assistance for folks that need it.

If folks want to help support our trip by making a small donation to Paradox Sports, they should visit our CrowdRise fundraiser at

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.

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Join us and LIKE us on Facebook. I'll try and post 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:

Remember - climb hard, ride the steep stuff, stay safe and above all BE NICE,

Al Hospers
The White Mountain Report
North Conway, New Hampshire

From Everest Base Camp, you can walk four hours and you're lounging on grass, drinking beer with trekkers. K2 stands absolutely on its own. The approach is hard. The base camp feels like the moon. The mountain itself looks utterly impregnable, and there's no easy way up the thing. And all this hits you between the eyes when you see it for the first time. It's like that famous Munch painting. You know the one—The Scream? Except, of course, you're the one doing the screaming.
Jim Curran
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