NEClimbs - information for New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont rock and ice climbers
Current conditions in North Conway, NH at 10:59p on 07/04/22 - Temperature: 58.8 °F - Wind speed: 0.0 mph - Wind chill: 58.8 °F - Barometric pressure: 29.974 in - 3 Hour Barometer Trend: Rising Slowly - Humidity: 45 %
BugCON 4: almost too intense for climbing, DEET required
4 out of a possible 5
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December 11, 2003

Hi Folks,

So I keep wondering... is this just another tease, or what? The ice starts coming in and then it gets blown away and we go back to rock climbing for a week or so. Then it gets cold again and we get a serious load of snow. (When I say serious I mean multiple feet of snow folks!) Now the current weather is for rain and warmish today. I just gotta feel as if there is somebody up there playing tricks on us. <grin>

To answer my own question, no I don't think it's a tease. Just to be clear, in fact I think that this is going to be a great ice season. Yes it's started out a bit slow, but ice is happening now. I went to Frankenstein Wednesday morning for my mid-week look-see and workout. There were no tracks going up to Arethusla Falls so I asked Bill King if he knew anything and he said that no one had been up there since before the big snow. Apparently no one has been into the Amphitheater as there are no tracks on either side. Not surprising as the ice is still forming in there. I slogged on down to Standard and there was a party from Massachusetts with the leader in the cave and the second getting ready to start up. I suited up quickly and tagged the second on his left side. When he went into the cave, I kept on going. The ice kept going back and forth between plastic and brittle. At the small ledge before the main upper ledge, there was a giant opening in the ice with water gushing underneath. I gingerly traversed around it to the right & went up and right through some really wet sections. I had a look at Penguin and Dropline and then headed on up. It was hollow again in the middle bulges so I moved all the way to the left & up the final slab. There was a couple of huge daggers in the middle and some fragmented and partially formed curtains on the left. I guess it wasn't as good as it looked! Still it was a great outing.

I was using a pair of the new Fusions that BD gave me to test. I had played with them last Thursday and not really enjoyed working with them. After a couple of mornings at the North End playing around they felt a lot better. You don't actually "swing" these tools. You more stab and pull down with them. It takes a while to get it happening, but once you do they definitely work. I'll be looking at the Petzl Ergos, Trango Madame Hook and some new tools from a small French Canadian company over the next few weeks. Believe me, it is a lot of fun to play with these tools and well worth the effort to learn how to take advantage of what they have to offer.

When I went over to the North End on Monday to play around I ran into Dave Lottman on his way out. He mentioned that he saw a bear up in the woods above the Practice Slab. After I topped out on Thresher I was looking up in the woods and saw a motion behind a tree and there he/she was! Big, brown and slow. I moved around to get a bit of a view and took this picture. It was pretty surprising to see a bear awake at this time of year but I figure it's because we had a warm early winter. Fortunately the Riley-dog wasn't interested in messing with him! <grin>

State-O-The-Ice (as of Wednesday Afternoon):
Right down the street, the ice at the North End of Cathedral is not bad at all - at least through yesterday afternoon! The pillars are forming up nicely and Thresher is fine. It looks as if Repentance may go, tho I think Remission isn't ready yet. Check out the pictures of Diagonal and the ice coming down off the Mordor. If this stuff hangs in it will be truly amazing. I've been keeping my eyes on Black Pudding, but it's not touching down yet. There doesn't seem to be enough ice in the Texaco area to warrant hiking in there yet, but it could happen any day now.

Frankenstein is still a mixed bag. Some climbs in the Amphitheater look OK from the trestle, but most aren't in yet. Regardless, based on the lack of tracks no one has tramped in there to do any climbing, so I guess it doesn't matter. Someone tried Fang on Tuesday, but when it started falling down around them, they backed off. If we get some more cold weather tho there's a good chance it and possibly Bragg-Pheasant will be happening. Some of the Trestle climbs are OK and the Trestle slab is thin at the bottom, but certainly doable. I didn't personally check on Walk in the Forest and Lost In The Forest, but I hear that they are getting close. Waterfall has some bare spots and the top is very thin. Standard Left looks as if it will go and Standard itself isn't too bad. Be careful of a large hole in the upper section. The upper part of Penguin is in and been done, and there is a good pillar forming around the right side of it that looks like it will go. I think that the Hanging gardens are in reasonable shape. Doug Madera did something there a couple of days ago. There is a huge pillar just left of Scratching Post that I've never seen as big. Dracula is in good shape and getting done. The lower left side is good, and the upper right is fine. Dropline is in pretty good shape and Welcome To The machine is forming as well and I think that it will go for someone who feels good scratching their way up the first 40 feet!

I rode up into the Notch and it looked as if Willey's is OK, but a bit on the snowbound side. Cinema is very thin, Great Madness isn't fully formed and the numbered gullies look thin as well. The upper part of Hitchcock and the East Face Slabs look pretty good. I would imagine that Lower Hitchcock would be a bit of a thrash. Elephant Head has been getting done, but looks thin to me.

According to Mark Givens, as of Tuesday Omega was in poor shape. The Dike was thin as was Fafnir. Our correspondent David Powers says that Lake Willoughby is in good condition with many climbs in already. Apparently there is also good climbing to be had in Smuggler's Notch.

All of this Report MAY be moot if we get the rain event and warm temps that have been predicted. Of course the current predictions are for cold temps fairly quickly thereafter. Based on that I think that we could be in for some superb ice. I'd plan on getting your tail up here for the weekend. It's my guess that everything will be fat and sassy by Saturday morning!

Here are a couple of pictures from yesterday:

Standard Route
Cinema Gully

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.

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Have fun and climb safe,

Al Hospers
The White Mountain Report
North Conway, New Hampshire

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