NEClimbs - information for New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont rock and ice climbers
Current conditions in North Conway, NH at 7:30a on 07/01/22 - Temperature: 59.9 °F - Wind speed: 0.0 mph - Wind chill: 59.9 °F - Barometric pressure: 29.909 in - 3 Hour Barometer Trend: Falling Slowly - Humidity: 58 %
BugCON 4: almost too intense for climbing, DEET required
4 out of a possible 5
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December 4, 2003

Hi Folks,

Man, some mornings are harder to get up before dawn than others. Hearing the wind howl, and the knowledge that it's bitter cold outside, I really hated to crawl out from beneath my down blanket at quarter of 6, but I knew it would be better if I got up before the alarm actually went off and I woke the wife up too. I think that winter is really and truly here now.

I left from Pinkham at 7:15 and was very surprised that there were no tracks in front of me. I'm not used to being the first one up on the hill! I've hiked up twice before this season, and still not climbed up there. The first was very early and there was no snow yet and no chance of there being ice. this was before Alden and friend did Pinacle. Everything was all pure waterfalls. The second time was just a hike with friends and the conditions were the same. this time I had hopes of actually swinging tools so I actually packed axes and crampons.

It was cold in the Notch and the ravines and summit were totally obscured by blowing snow. The summit weather report was saying 60+ mph winds and -13 temps.It got significantly colder and windier the higher I went. Certainly not surprising, but not encouraging for a solo outing. With no one to talk with I just put in my ear-buds (headphones) and cranked some tunes on my iPod. A mix of Earth Wind and Fire, Tower Of Power and Third Eye Blind kept my pace up through the fresh snow. It was nice to finally hike on snow for a change, instead of the normally rocky trail. The only drag was getting sore toes from accidentally kicking rocks hidden under the fresh powder.

I got to the Hermit Lake hut sometime right around 8:30/quarter to 9 and I ducked into the cabin & chatted with the hut keeper for a few minutes. He told me that he hadn't seen into the ravine in almost 3 days! THat wasn't all that encouraging, but since I really wanted a couple of pictures, I decided to go ahead & see how far I could get. I put on my jacket and headed up the trail. By now it was really windy now. My guess is 30-40 gusts were coming every 3-4 minutes with consistent 20+ the rest of the time. I managed to get up alongside the cascade and still couldn't see anything. I hung out for about 10 minutes hoping that it would die down & clear for a minute so I could get off a shot. Finally I got tired of being that cold so I turned around & went back down to the hut.

Just as I got to the toilets the wind died and it cleared for all of 15-20 seconds. Of course there was no time to get the camera out & powered up so there is no picture. From what I could see in that brief period, there is definitely ice on Diagonal and to the left and right. it also looked like there was ice above that on the headwall. It did look as if there was water running in the center right of the headwall.

I was disappointed, but bagging it felt like the right decision. I had planned on going across to Huntington but decided that visibility wasn't going to be any better there, so I called it a morning. On the hike down I saw a set of tracks going up into Huntington. I also ran into ranger/climber Brian Johnson. He said that he had been in Huntington on Tuesday and that there was definitely ice up there to be had. There is still not enough snow to pack in the bowl, so apparently it is still somewhat of a thrash though.

I took a ride up to Frankenstein to have a look-see at those climbs. It was obvious that there has been a ton of ice formation over the past several days. There was even ice forming on Fang! I saw someone rapping out of the cave on Standard. Of course now my camera battery has died, so I didn't get any shots of there either. But then that's a perfect excuse for having to go climbing this morning! And of course I got a call from my old friend Jay Conway who's finally back in town after a long road trip. we made plans to meet at the Frankenstein lot at 8 AM.

I met Jay and his friend Eric Wednesday morning and we did Standard Route. It was wet and cold, but super fun. Man does it feel good to swing the axes. <grin> I have a set of the new BD Fusion ice tools to play with and I led the first 2 pitches with them. They definitely swing differently and will take some getting used to, but they are nice. I can't wait to try them on the rock. I'm going to do a full review of the Fusion and a roundup of leashless tools over the next couple of weeks. Iused the Trango Madame Hook tool last winter and really liked it. Once you get used to it, going leashless isn't all that big a deal.

Harvard High Cabin Closed:
Currently the Harvard Cabin at Huntington Ravine is closed. It won't be open again until they find a caretaker. If you, or anyone you know, are interested in managing the HMC cabin for the winter, please email Jeremy Hutton at

In Case You Need It:
Of course you've noticed the house at the top of the road at Frankenstein. Just in case you didn't know who it belonged to, that's Bill King's house. If you look carefully under his deck on the right side you will see a nice shiny yellow rescue litter as well. In the unlikely event that you have a serious problem while climbing in the area, this is the place to go. Besides the litter, he also has a phone and is happy to let you use it to call for help, since in the majority of cases your cell phone won't work up there! If you see him in his yard, be sure to say hi. He's a really nice guy.

Oh yes, one other request... There is a nice toilet in the bottom parking lot. Stop there on the way up and use it. Please don't use the woods by the top parking area as your toilet. It's kind of like if someone took a dump on your front lawn. Yuck! Thanks...

I got back from Frankenstein at 1:30 & wanted to get this out, so pictures won't be up until in the morning. Sorry, but here's the skinny... I climbed Standard Route. It's wet but IN, be careful on the route when the upper tier is in the sun. We had 2 large icefalls while we were on the route and the second one was quite large! The Amphitheater is coming, but not there yet. The only thing that looked doable was Hobbit. There was a party toproping Dropline in the afternoon. The left side of Dracula looked as if it would go and the upper section of The Penguin is in good shape. Welcome to the Machine and Last Exit are well on their way to being doable and there is ice down in the Hanging Garden. Up in Crawford Notch, Willey's looks as if it will be OK to climb, Cinema Gully was melting out by the afternoon and the climbs on the left look iffy.

I hear from a reliable source that the Dike and other climbs on Canon are back in. There is ice in Tucks (my view from Wednesday) and I spoke to someone this morning who was in Huntington yesterday (Wednesday) and they said that Pinnacle was great. It's clear that there is stuff to climb all over the place. If we just stay cold and get some snow this could easily be a banner ice year. I predict that it's going to be a good weekend. Now just get out there & have some fun. <grin>

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 some 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:

Have fun and climb safe,

Al Hospers
The White Mountain Report
North Conway, New Hampshire

Writing about climbing is boring. I would rather go climbing.
Chuck Pratt
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