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December 16, 2021

Hi Folks,

I had to leave at 5:30 for an early morning dermatologist appointment in Portland and it was going back & forth with rain and freezing rain. What a mess! In a way it was a metaphor for what the whole winter season has been so far. This has been a REAL roller coaster of a fall for sure! One that I keep hoping will stabilize sooner than later. It seems as if every time I have wanted to get out and actually climb something, the weather hasn't cooperated.

By now I usually have managed to get in at least a few passes on Thresher or the North End pillars to get myself in some semblance of climbing-shape. But this year the ice-gods simply haven't cooperated. My7 2 outings have both been following Matty Bowman up Parasol Gully in Dixville Notch. And while both times have been fun, IMO neither time has the ice been anywhere near optimal. The first time it was very thin at the start, mediocre in the middle and honestly a total mess in the upper runnel. This time, on Sunday, the ice was actually pretty decent for the first 2/3, but the runnel was still falling apart. [SHEESH...]

We actually ended up there on a whim. Plan A was to head up to Grafton Notch and find something to do, probably in the Amphitheater. Saturday it had rained and on Sunday temps were warmer than we had expected, but we figured we would give it a try nonetheless. We met in Gorham and drove up Rt 2, through Bethel and over. When we got to the pulloff there were a couple of cars there and of course there was a group ensconced on the line just right of the chimney, the only real climbable line, with everything else pouring water. As we were walking down our buddy Mark came up and we all decided to check out Plan B - another mini-amphitheater a few hundred yards to the left. Unfortunately that too was wet and a mess. [SIGH] Plan C was to drive down a bit and then walk in the drainage that is just right of the big upper slab. I hadn't been there before, but the drainage was like a river so I wasn't optimistic. And with good reason as everything up at that ice was just gushing. [ARRGGHH]

We talked about checking out Parasol, but mark wasn't up for it. Matty and I figured what the hell, so we took the drive. Interestingly enough there is NO snow on the ground up there. That's right, NONE! It was quite strange. When we got to Dixville we both were surprised about how much better Parasol looked than the previous time. Matty was up for it, so I decided I'd just go along for the ride. Getting up the hill was a hassle but when we got there the ice looked a LOT better than expected. It looked like real ice that you could swing a tool into and put in protection. WOO WOO... The climbing up to the big block was surprisingly good. Half of the second pitch OK, up to the runnel. Unfortunately from there on it really wasn't good. Broken ice, rock and verglass abounded. [YIKES] But as always Matty did a great job in funky conditions. Regardless, it was good to have not gotten skunked and actually pulled something out of what could have been a wasted day. FWIW we came back through Milan and Berlin, winding up what was a 100 mile round trip!

Here's some pix:

ICE FEST 2022:
Mount Washington Valley Ice Fest is on the books for February 4-6, 2022. Stay tuned for website and registration updates, guest guide information, and party details. Plus, with any luck, there WILL be a party this year! If you have questions, call IMCS at (603) 356-7064.
VERY IMPORTANT - all attendees are required to provide proof of vaccination. No test results will be permitted. So, be sure to bring your card and picture ID, or you won't be able to participate.

I got a email from Todd Swain about some stuff going on about the Marlow Profile craig in Marlow NH. I know nothing about the place, but it does sound like a bit of a mess. You can read about it here:

Thanks to all 113 contributors to this years fundraiser. Believe me, I sincerely appreciate your support. The books for the 2 winners of the guidebooks have been mailed out and should be there before Xmas. If you still want to make a contribution, you can do it here:

You can contribute any time via check or money order if you like. Just please make the check out to Al Hospers and send it here:

92 Bow Lane
North Conway, NH 03860

The state is averaging more than 1,000 new infections each day ever since the start of December. That's now pushed the state to the highest per capita infection rate in the country. 11 new deaths tied to coronavirus were reported, and 463 people remain hospitalized from the virus. Surge centers in some of the more burdened hospitals hopefully will make it easier to care for COVID patients, the majority of whom are unvaccinated! Twelve members of the National Guard have started working at Wentworth-Douglass Hospital in Dover Wednesday as New Hampshire hospitals continue to see an unprecedented number of patients amid the COVID-19 surge.

I keep saying that things are "not good" but this is a severe understatement. The situation is BAD up here, and frankly not getting better. PLEASE get vaccinated and boosted. And if you are going to come up here and hang out at all, mask up! This NO JOKE friends. Here is an Op Ed from a nurse at Memorial Hospital:

New Hampshire:
11 new deaths reported
1,126 new cases reported
9,607 Active cases
463 patients are currently hospitalized

United States:
Confirmed: 50,511,161
Deaths: 803,633

Confirmed: 272,860,151
Deaths: 5,335,758

The Johns Hopkins COVID-19 tracking map:

I find JHU's Daily COVID-19 Data in Motion report to be very informative. It shares critical data on COVID-19 from the last 24 hours in a short 1 minute animated video format.



I rode one of my go-to loops earlier this week. While there was some snow in the woods, it was only about an inch thick. There was however ice underneath in places, so I was glad to have on my studded tires. I highly recommend them at this point. You just never know what's under there. Part of my ride was the Electric Loop on the West Side. I walked the long bridge for the first time in a couple of years because of the icy bit in the middle and I did NOT want to go down off it into the water. LOL

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

How do you distinguish between being off-route and putting up a first ascent?
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