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January 15, 2016

Hi Folks,

It’s been a real rollercoaster ride this week. Things were doing pretty well until Sunday, when we got almost 2” of rain and temps in the 50’s! Many of us thought that might be the end of things for a long while. Brad and I drove up on Monday morning to check things out. While lots of things had been seriously compromised, it wasn’t as bad as we had thought. I took a few pictures that I posted on FaceBook to reassure folks that things weren’t as bad as expected. Fortunately the temps plummeted the next day and the ice started to build again.

I’ve been keeping an eye on the state of the ice here in the Valley for the past few daze. Temps were in the 20’s during the day and single digits at night and I could see that some things were starting to come back. This had been the second time Diagonal had fallen down this season, but even it started to come back and I started feeling that we were going to come back form the abyss. So, when Frank from Bagels Plus pinged me about climbing today I figured why not, there should be something fun to do.

I picked Frank up at his shop and we headed up to the Notch. As we drove up and stopped to take pictures, overall things were looking pretty good. There were cars everywhere, 16 at the top of Crawford Notch, and we could see climbers and ice pretty much everywhere. We drove back down to Frankenstein and walked in, with no specific plan. Waking across the Trestle we weren’t exact;y surprised that things were pretty lean in the Amphitheater. I had heard that Art Moody had led Hobbit the day before, but it all looked pretty beat to me. As we stood there looking, large chunks of ice were falling off Bob’s in the sun.

Since there were more than a dozen cars in the lot I figured that the trade routes might be a bit crowded. As we walked through the Trestle Mixed area I spotted several lines that looked leadable; the one on the left, one in the middle and another on the right. I asked if that was OK and Frank agreed, so I picked the middle one. The start looked a bit fragile, and it was. Plus the ice was more brittle than I expected. I couldn’t manage to get a screw in for about the first 20’, but that only served to get my head “in the game”. I traversed a little right and continued up what had looked like a face that was leaned back a bit. Of course “it’s always steeper than it looks”, and this was certainly true. Plus, it was thinner than it looked from the bottom. All the screws were a bit less secure than I had hoped, but at least I did get generally good sticks. One of my screws went through the ice and into the loose turf, earning it the moniker “turf screw.” [sheesh]

From having climbed a lot in this area I knew that the top-out was unlikely to be very good, however this time it was really not good - in fact BAD! What ice there was at the top was all fractured and just broke off when I swung into it, exposing bare rock underneath! [sigh] And on top that the turf wasn’t frozen at all, making for a “topout trifecta”! I got a 10 cm screw halfway in a blob of ice on the right, scratched around until I got a piss-poor hook, and just made the pull over. WHEW. I setup an anchor, brought up Frank (who made it look easy) and we rapped off climbers left, setting up a TR on a line just left of what I led. We both did that line and then Frank set up a very thin line 20’ to the right of my original one. It was quite hard, but he did a great job on it. By now it was getting a bit late for me so we headed back.

All in all it was a fun day and the season is looking a whole lot better than I expected, based on the slow start and all our ups and downs so far.

Things were very well packed out before the rain and snow. Now it’s all a bit of a mess until the snowshoers and snowmobiles get out and pack things out. I haven’t been out so far, but I’ll bet that it will be OK again after the weekend.

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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

We'll climb with you and steal your women.
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