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January 29, 2015

Hi Folks,

It’s always nice to get away in the winter for a bit, even if just for a short break. As is my usual thing I spent the middle week of January in Los Angeles. There is a huge music trade show in Anaheim, my sister lives in Redondo Beach, I always rent a mountain bike and ride for a day or two in the Topanga Canyon area and I have a ton of friends in the music biz that live in the area. I have a hard time fitting everything into a week, but it’s a gas nonetheless. I always say that I’m going to go climbing, but I never seem to manage it.

This time I got in 2 great rides in Topanga. The first included this amazing bit of single track mixed with fire road called the Backbone Trail. I try to always ride this bit while I’m out there. There isn’t the same kind of single track out there like we have here in New England, it’s more double or fire road riding. However the views in places are amazing. In one section you can see LA on one side, the mountains on another and the Malibu beach in another. I find it special and it’s something I look forward to. I did manage to take a pretty good lay-down on the bike coming down a long and steep fire road towards Tippets Farm on Monday. I was doing around 20, hit a patch of sand and the bike came out from under me letting me slide about 30’! I did get some fairly significant road/dirt-rash, but the real drag is that I sprained my left pointer finger.[sigh] It ballooned up that night and turned black & blue so I went to a Urgent Care clinic to get it x-rayed on Tuesday morning. Fortunately it’s not broken, but it means I probably can’t climb for a week and I had to cancel some band gigs. Oh well, s**t happens. I could just as easily get struck by a car crossing the street here in North Conway or hit by a dropped water bottle on Whitehorse, and it was still an amazing trip. If you’re interested here is a link to some pictures of the Backbone:

I got back into Portland Wednesday night at 11:20 pm after a long day of travel. In spite of all the weather related delays I’ve been hearing about for the past few days, all of my flights were right on time! Who woulda thunk it, aye? I’d been watching the weather pundits build this thing up into another snowmageddon, and frankly was happy that I was on the left coast for a change. Unsurprisingly there were some extremely wide variations in how much snow fell, depending on location. Worcester Mass got over 34”, a new record, while North Conway probably only got about 8! Go Figure. That said, my wife was in Portland for the day before picking me up and she said there was a ton in the city. A friend in Connecticut got hammered, while someone only 15 miles away got less than 6.

In spite of being away, I’d been keeping up with what the state of the ice has been via the forum and Facebook. From everything I read and saw, things have been steadily building again since the rainy-warmup. I haven’t done pictures in a week, so I figured that I better go out first thing this morning and have a look. My first observation was I was quite surprised that there wasn’t more snow up in the Notch. At the entrance to the Dry River Campground, where I take my pictures of the Frankenstein Amphitheater, looked almost the same as it did before I went away. In fact I could see remnants of the path I make back to the gate every week! Go figure… While there were come things that didn’t look very good, like the Fang wall which is in direct sun most of the day as well as Dropline and Machine, almost everything else looked great. I think that the moisture we received and the warmup actually helped to refresh things. In particular, the upper pillar on Snot Rocket and all of Elephant Head at the top of the Notch were huge.

My understanding is there is going to be another bit of a storm tonight into Friday, possibly dumping 4-8! For those who are into skiing, this is really nice. For the rest of us, it’s a time to be aware of what’s above and around you as you are going to and from the climbing. I looked at Shoestring and some of the other gullies on Mt Webster today, as well as the two cascades and frankly there are a lot of pillows up there to be aware of. I noticed tracks up in the Silver Cascade going from the bottom to the top that looked as if they were from yesterday or today. It’s not something that I would do as I’m a pretty conservative person as far as snow travel goes, but it looked as if this climber got away with it. I just urge you to err on the side of caution.
Here are a few interesting pix from this morning:


More pix are on NEClimbs Ice Report and Facebook.

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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:

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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 vias normales had perfect lines but new rock was the essence of climbing for us; throwing loose holds over the shoulder, feeling the exposed grains crush like sugar on footholes....
Paul Pritchard
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