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July 30, 2020

Hi Folks,

I've been doing this Newsletter/Blog/Report for I think it's been 23 years, basically almost as long as I've lived in the Mount Washington Valley. I never did it for fame, and most certainly not for fortune. [ha] And no doubt it's taken up far more of my time than I've ever gotten out of it. But I've enjoyed it for the people I've gotten to know and because I have wanted to contribute in some small way back to the local climbing community that I've been a part of.

What's happening here in the Valley has become somewhat of a microcosm of what's going on in our country. It's an intense time for all of us. Not just because of this horrible Pandemic, but also because of the political divisions that are driving us all apart. Those of you who know me, should know in general what my politics are. I am a liberal, I agree with the Constitution, the democratic process and the rule of law. I was born in Macon Georgia, grew up in the deep South, went to military school through HS, went to college at UF in Gainesville and lived there until 1975. I saw racism and intolerance up close and personal. It was in my extended family, tho it did not exist in the attitudes or beliefs of my grandparents, mother, father or sister. They taught me love and tolerance for all people. After spending 10 years in Gainesville, which was BTW was liberal in some ways and very "cracker" in others, I moved to Miami where I was introduced to the totally different Latin culture, which I embraced. Over the years I moved further north to NYC, Boston - finally landing here where I've lived for almost 24 years. While not as diverse as most places I've lived, I have enjoyed my time here. And I've enjoyed watching the diversity grow. Although I've been somewhat disappointed in how few people of color were represented in the climbing community. This really is not different from the climbing community as a whole. When I was climbing a lot in the Boston area, which after all is a generally pretty diverse community, I only saw a single climber of color in the 12 years I was there. Surprising, yet not surprising! Climb has some very high barriers to entry that favor people with money and don't favor those without the means to buy into the gear, the time to indulge in the sport and to some extent the ability to physically travel to the areas where we all recreate. It all adds up...

If you've followed the NEClimbs Facebook page, you may have seen my post about the flags that appeared on Cathedral Ledge last Saturday, between Camber and Pine Tree Eliminate.

I saw them Saturday morning for the first time and frankly was somewhat surprised. That day I spoke with the Ranger in charge of Echo Lake State Park, which manages the Ledge, and he indicated that removing them was already in planning.

This is not the first time that the Ledge has been used for political statement. Besides the graffiti that appears at random times on the ledges and boulders, a large political sign was hung under the Echo Roof in September of 2002. While I was then am still personally a supporter of the Senator, I strongly objected to the use of the Ledge for political statement and was happy when it was immediately removed by 2 local climbers.

I posted the following on the NEClimbs FB page:

"I'm a supporter of BLM, I have a gay son who I dearly love and I love the flag. BUT I don't believe that this should be hanging on the cliff. This needs to come down! Soon..."

This incited a stream of posts that varied between support/agreement, and a line of vitriol directed at me personally that shocked me. It was implied that I am a White Supremacist and in one inspired post, a Trump supporter who "inspires my Trump-minions"!

WOW... I supposed I shouldn't have been surprised as I had already been called racist the day before when I pointed out, through a series of links to CNN, Washington Post and NY Times articles, that the black "Doctor" our president had tweeted about who promotes Hydrochloriquin and that masks are not necessary, actually believes in demons and alien DNA! Honestly I didn't know what to say.

Early on I attempted to clarify that my position is that IMNSHO the cliff is not a place for this type of thing. That in fact if you believe in Free Speech, this would have to allow for the possibility that someone on the other side, a real White Supremacist, Nazi supporter, MAGA proponent or someone who wants to reject Trump in 2020 would put up their message. Which of course prompted others to reply that THOSE signs/banners/flags wouldn't stand for 24 hours! I personally don't believe that you can have it both ways, which was my point. And in fact this type of thing is directly prohibited by the NH Parks in statute.

Why am I bringing this up? Well at least in part because I find the lack of civility appalling. I am very well aware that these are unprecedented times and perhaps they require extreme actions. But IMO there have to be limits. If our little Ledge is now, is El Cap next?

All of this makes me consider have I been writing this newsletter long enough? Perhaps it's time to actually do what most people at my age of 72 do and retire. [LOL] I have to say that it's under serious consideration, and I'm truly not bringing it up to get people to try to get me to stay. Time has become more important to me, as it is for many of us. It is something to value and savor even more.

Be well all...
4,447,648 million cases, 151,077 Americans dead from the Novel Corona Virus as of Thursday July 30th!

It's truly hard for me to even grasp those numbers, and even more so for me to understand our government's lack of rational response to the international crisis that's fallen upon us. While New Hampshire has generally been in decent shape so far, compared to much of the country, things are generally trending in the wrong direction.

If you've been up here you will have seen that the town is very crowded, even on the weekdays. Air B&B's are full of folks from everywhere. Trash, garbage and literally crap is being left all over. It's quite disconcerting to everyone and causing a lot of extra work and expense for the town. While we all are well aware that this is a "tourist town", things are getting somewhat out of hand. It's now the end of July and I worry a bit about what things will be like in the winter when people will be stuck more inside. Stay tuned...

On the positive side, there are more masks being worn now than I have seen previously, and that's a good thing. I hope that we can all work together to get this virus under control. However it will take a united effort that I'm honestly not sure this country is capable of. All I can say is what I've said repeatedly in my message below -


If you a few minutes, please check out this video I did with my friend Derek Hayden. It's a cover, if you will, of a very cool Bela Fleck tune called Blu-Bop. It was fun little project.

Well, apparently the local bike group that was formerly kn own as White Mountain NEMBA, has now dissociated from NEMBA (the New England Mountain Bike Association) and is now the "White Mountain Bike Coalition Group". Go figure... That said there are lots of new trails being put in and work being done on existing ones. The riding is darn good right now, perhaps as good as it's ever been. There are new trails being added to the Marshall property, great work on trails in the Black Cap area, upgrades to the East Bear Paw network in Fryeburg and of course the new $$ trails at Cranmore. Lots to like, so get out there & enjoy them.

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

I'm getting cooked on all this wall climbing slavery. I want to sit on the beach, get a tan, and look at girls !
Pete Takeda
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