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January 13, 2018

Hi Folks,

Thursday was the first day in over a month when I let my wood stove go out during the day. Considering that I get ~60% of my heat from wood and the stove runs 24/7, that's a major milestone for any winter. Temps today have been in the upper 30's all day and they are projected to be in the 40's or even low 50's tomorrow. With the rain that's projected, I may have to put on an Hawaiian shirt and jams for the day!

January thaws are not at all unusual for New England, and this one is about right on schedule. in 2016 and 2015 we had a similar thaw right at around Jan 14 & 15 and in 2014 it was right around Christmas. I'm confident if you go back through the archives you will see pretty much the same thing every year over the 15 years I have posted up there. I'm not sure why it always happens, but it's just par for the course. I'm not at all optimistic about the climbing for this weekend with 2"+ of rain in the forecast. I think watching the Pats polish off the Titans would be the thing to do on Saturday and maybe another game on Sunday.

My friend Bobby Graver wants to go climbing, so we headed up to Crawford Notch for a late start Monday to hit on the Snot Rocket. I've done it many times, but it's been on my list for this season. At the top of the notch it was 14 degrees with a light wind blowing form the south that felt slightly warmish. Go figure... Surprisingly the trail in on the RR tracks was very deep in show. Tho there were a few tracks, with almost every step I was up to my knees! I guess it was due to the big wind event blowing and drifting the snow for the couple of days before. Fortunately the climb isn't far down the tracks, but once there it was waist deep getting to the base of the climb. SHEESH

I had hoped to do both pitches, but that was not to be. The first pitch was great as usual, steep and solid grade 4. However, the pillar on the second was completely hollow and very thin. I guess I could have gone up the back side and swung around at about 12' where it got thicker, but the risk/reward ratio didn't seem to make sense to me. I thought that there were some slings on the tree by the pillar, but they weren't there so we rapped off by throwing the rope around the pillar itself and a couple of big ice blobs. It still was good fun.

Brad called and wanted to climb on Wednesday and I fell right in line. It was supposed to be a sunny day and in the low 20's, so why not? Surprisingly the tracks were quite packed out, as was the trail up into the Amphitheater. Brad had been thinking Chia, but there was a soloist and 2 other parties on the climb. I tried to talk him into Hobbit, but we settled on Pegasus. There was another party led by my old friend Tom Boydston, finishing up so we geared up and got ready. They had belayed in the middle, but I led the whole thing in a single push. It was in the best shape I've seen it in for some time and that was great. I would guess the upper pillar was full-on 4 + with no real rests anywhere. Similar to Snot Rocket but about twice as long and highly enjoyable.
Check for more pix on or FaceBook.

The trails are toast now. Nothing solid enough to ride until later this coming week.

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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

Tick marks abound, so even the stupid can climb.
Matt Samet
In his preface for the original Rifle guide.
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