NEClimbs - information for New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont rock and ice climbers
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3 out of a possible 5
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December 4, 2014

Hi Folks,

It's hard not to talk about the weather when I'm getting calls, emails and text messages daily, all asking the same question - Is it ice yet daddy?" One would think the question would be pretty close to self evident after the weather that's been coming through the Valley over the past week. The most recent episode on Wednesday brought in a mix of snow, freezing rain, sleet and rain. It was a major mess that mostly took place Tuesday night - Wednesday morning. The schools had a 2 hour delay and it took me almost 2 hours to clean up the driveway and scrape off the decks. It was one of those things where if you didn't take care of it right away, it was going to be there for the duration.

If you're on FaceBook or you've probably seen pictures and heard tales of folks climbing almost everything out there - The Black Dike, the Lake Willoughby Tablets, Standard Route at Frankenstein, the Left Hand Monkey Wrench, Shoestring Gully, Pinnacle Gully, Odell's Gully and even Central and Yale. And you might (do) ask, with all those reports coming in, isn't the ice IN? Hasn't the season started? What's my problem????

Well, my problem is, your problem I suppose. I'm not calling the season IN, frankly because it isn't. Sure, some people are out there climbing with ice tools and crampons. But frankly, what they're climbing is hardly ice climbing, as you and I would call it. I've spent a bunch of time driving and walking around all the crags, tho I admit I haven't been up on Mt Washington, and what I see is not conditions that I would feel good about calling IN, at least right now. I saw a posting the other day that a local guide had taken a couple of days ago of them leading Shoestring Gully, and honestly I saw hardly any ice in the pictures that were posted. I know someone who "guided" at Frankenstein 3-4 days ago, before the warmup and rain. Amazingly they climbed all of Standard, top to bottom! I ran into them at the bike shop yesterday and we chatted about it and he said that above the Cave, the ice was desperate and the gear was nonexistent. They also climbed the practice slab to the right of Dracula and apparently what ice there was, was about 1" thick, so again no gear at all. Some friends climbed (soloed) Pinnacle a couple of days ago. One said it was great early season ice, but when asked the other said it was pouring water and quite tricky. And a week ago when things were a lot better, another friend said they climbed the Left Hand Monkey Wrench and said it was a mess. the biggest issue being that the top-out had almost no ice and the ground wasn't frozen enough to get turf-shots. I've been in that position myself and it's very uncomfortable at best.

I drove up to the Notch today to take pictures. When I left North Conway it was 35 degrees. Last night it rained here in town around 8 pm. Going past Texaco there was no ice at all to be seen in the Amphitheater, tho the temperature was down to 27. There was no ice at all in the Frankenstein Amphitheater, however there was ice on Standard Route. Looking with my binoculars it looked as if you could climb up to the Standard Cave, but the upper section was very sparse with a lot of running water. There was ice forming around penguin and a drool coming down on Dropline, but nothing climbable IMHO. Dracula had fangs, but nothing looked solid at all. It got colder higher in the Notch, down to 22 at the top, and there was some ice up there. Again tho, nothing looked at all like what I would remotely call IN.

I don't mean to be the bearer of bad news, but folks it just ain't there yet. I'm certain that in a few weeks we'll have reasonable ice to climb, both low and high. we're just not quite there yet. Of course if you thrive on desperate climbing on thin, poorly bonded ice with minimal gear, then I say go for it. However, in the meantime I'm going to ride my studded-tire mountain bike in the woods on the packed out hiking trails, work on rehabbing my frayed rotator cuff in my left shoulder and doing some hiking, all of which will get me in good stead when the ice really does come IN, in a few weeks. [grin] As always YMMV. (your mileage may vary)

PS - I try to post some interesting stuff on our Facebook page every day or so. If folks send me pictures, or I see interesting articles about local or climbing in general, I post them there. If you're on FB LIKE us and you'll get the latest stuff.

Please take a minute out of your busy day to make a token $20 annual donation to support NEClimbs and the White Mountain Report. Shux - $20 is probably less than what you spend at Starbucks every week! As of December 4th, out of the 1,234 who get the White Mountain report every week, 38 of you have contributed to this year's fundraiser. From reading about how the fundraiser thing goes, 10% would be a great number. That's would be around 1,200 contributions, but honestly I would be very happy if 100 people would contribute.

Hey - it actually does take a pretty good effort to get out there and take those pictures and process them every Thursday throughout the winter. And on top of that to keep you all up to date with what's happening year-round. And it actually takes $$ to keep the site going, maintain the weather station and the webcam. It's time consuming… besides, what it would be like without this weekly mailing, especially in the winter? You wouldn't get the latest info about the ice every Thursday. You would have to make your plans for the weekend with minimal knowledge of what's going on at Frankenstein, Mt Willard or Mt Washington. Heck - you wouldn't be able to look at the Cathedral webcam or check my weather station to confirm what those weather pundits are saying! That would be a loss, and could cost you a drive for nought!

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92 Bow Lane
North Conway, NH 03860

The White Mountain Report newsletter has been put out consistently since 1998. I have archived almost all of the Reports from as far back as September of 1999 and you can read them online at any time! The current traffic on is about 1,450 unique visits a day, has over 1.4 million monthly "hits" and this funky little newsletter goes weekly out to over 1,200 subscribers every Thursday. The expense of the running NEClimbs and putting out The White Mountain Report go on year 'round. PLEASE REMEMBER, it's your contribution that makes this newsletter and the NEClimbs web site possible.

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Instant Ice Report - 1:
I keep wanting to raise the IceCON rating above my nominal 1, but I just can't do it yet. There just isn't any climbable ice to speak of here in the lower elevations, and while there is ice up high that is climbable, it's hardly in great shape. Stay tuned tho, I'm sure we will be there before long.

Here are a few pix from this morning:


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 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

The climbing as a whole is not very esthetic or enjoyable; it is merely difficult.
Yvon Chouinard
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