NEClimbs - information for New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont rock and ice climbers
Current conditions in North Conway, NH at 10:30a on 07/04/22 - Temperature: 71.5 °F - Wind speed: 2.0 mph - Wind chill: 71.5 °F - Barometric pressure: 29.949 in - 3 Hour Barometer Trend: Falling Slowly - Humidity: 13 %
BugCON 4: almost too intense for climbing, DEET required
4 out of a possible 5
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January 1, 2004

Hi Folks,

Happy New Year to each and every one of you. One of my resolutions is to climb more in '04. Hopefully that's one I will be able to keep. <grin> I've been trying hard to keep from writing about the weather, but it's a hard thing to do. On the face of it we've had such unusual conditions, and I'm so Jonesin' for ice, that it's hard not to obsess. And all the while I keep getting emails from folk who tell me about this & that piece of ice that they have done over the past week, in spite of the deteriorating conditions. It's true that there is ice and climbing to be had, you just have to poke around for it and accept the attendant risks.

I saw someone up on the South Buttress of Whitehorse Monday morning in the warm sun. At the time it was 48 degrees here by Cathedral, and I would imagine it was in the mid to upper 50's up there on the face. It even looked safe, with little or no snow and ice up above! Kurt Winkler and friend did the first pitch of the Prow and Bombardment in mountain boots the other day, and I hear that people have been doing Whitney Gillman in rock shoes. Hey, I figure it's just a matter of time before someone does Camber one sunny morning!

Of course sometimes when you least expect it, things start falling apart. Last weekend one of our local guides had a large chunk of Pegasus come apart on him. Fortunately injuries were minimal. The same weekend someone took a 125'+ fall out of Damnation in Huntington Ravine and walked away. Now that's what I call luck! Maybe dumb-luck, since I hear he had strap-on crampons and hiking poles. People have been soloing the various gullies, even while there have been multiple days of above-freezing temps on the summit. With the amount of running water up there, ice dams are very likely. The ice in Tucks, while still present, is said to be seriously undermined and should all be considered suspect. Last Tuesday afternoon the entire top left curtain of Standard Route at Frankenstein collapsed when there were multiple parties all over the route. Amazingly enough no one was even hit. When I was at the North End this Monday, I saw 4 people walking around near the cliff directly under Repentance and Remission. There was ice falling near and over top of them and I was totally surprised that they didn't get hit. You can't even see what's up there in the cracks & crevices that is getting heated by the sun and loosened up.

So, can you spell L U C K?

I do think that it's easy to get lulled into a false sense of safety on days like these. You get out there and it's a beautiful spring-like day, the sky is blue, the ice & snow are plastic, you feel like a god and life just seems so good. This is much like the spring conditions in late-March, when anything can and will happen. There is stuff to indulge yourself in, but you want to have a heads-up attitude about it.

Wednesday morning Jeff C and I went up to the Notch to look and climb on anything that looked good and safe. It was cloudy and cold as we drove past Frankenstein. I suppose safety is definitely relative, as we came upon a rolled over car at the top of the Notch. There was no one inside or around and no blood anywhere, so I can only assume that they were uninjured and had walked up to the AMC hotel for assistance.

There was surprisingly little ice on Mt's Willard and Webster, and Willey's Slide had a river running through it's middle. Interestingly enough there was still a climbable amount of ice in Elephant Head. Go figure... We decided to look at Frankenstein up close and take a walk down the tracks. Tho it was cloudy when we left the truck, by the time we reached the trestle it was clear and quite a bit warmer. As expected, the Amphitheater was devastated - not that it has been good at any time this season. The trestle mixed routes were in poor condition, but the slabs were not bad. Huge chunks of Waterfall lay across the tracks, as was most of Dropline. We were considering the right side of Standard Route, but decided that with the pouring water and delaminating ice everywhere, it simply wasn't worth the risk. Of course since we live here, we have the luxury of coming up almost any day that things are in better shape. As we walked out we saw several parties coming it. Most seemed surprised that we were giving up. Yesterday evening I got some pictures from people who climbed a variety of routes including Standard, Coffin, Dracula and others. I suppose that I am getting significantly more conservative in my old age, but I find that as much as I want to climb, I want to remain healthy. That said, here are a couple of images from Eric McAllister - who obviously has a stronger will than I:

Pitch 1 of the Coffin
Pitch 2 of the Coffin

I had done Coffin a week ago in significantly better conditions and it was wonderful. If it comes back I can heartily recommend it.

So is the ice all done for the season? Frankly I don't think so. Far from it in fact. It's just January 1st, we still have a lot of winter left and there is a lot of cold weather to come. It's easy to forget that many years we don't have ice at all until after Christmas. One of our best years in recent times had a lot of rain right around Xmas which brought everything down, and then it came back like gangbusters. This year the ice came in early, and I fully expect it to come back soon, perhaps even as soon as this weekend.

BD DVD Available:
Black Diamond has released their No Pain No Gain DVD, documenting the wild and wonderful world of leashless climbing in Europe. Shot in Switzerland, it features footage of indoor training, climbing at the Pitztal Glacier and Uschinen and World Cup Competitions. The featured climbers, including Ines Papert and Simon Anthamatten, use figure-4's, heel hooking, and every trick imaginable climbing steep overhanging rock and wild ice. I can't imagine doing it myself, but it certainly is fun to see. While it is in German with English subtitles, the climbing and energy transcends the language barrier. No Pain No Gain is an inspiring look at a small group of men and women who are clearly passionate about mixed and hard ice climbing. BD is offering the DVD free to customers ordering any product from their on-line store, or separately for $5 to cover the cost of shipping and handling.

Written Warning:
I have never seen as many police on the roads around the Conway's as I have lately. Almost every time I am out on West Side Road, River Road, 302 or East Side Road for that matter, I see black and white's. I was coming back toward Cathedral from Bartlett the other morning and I saw a police car coming my way. He went past me and immediately pulled a u-turn, turned on the lights and pulled me over. He stated that I was going almost 50 in the 35 mile zone. Fortunately I only received a written warning. It must have been the climbing gear and NECLMB vanity plate that got me off. That said, I asked how he could know how fast I was going, when he was driving and coming toward me on the other side of the road. He stated that recently the local department had updated all their radar units to be able to handle "closing speed." Apparently this is new to them and they are taking advantage of it to slow people down all over the area. Word to the wise...

CHICKS WITH PICKS 2004 - North Conway, New Hampshire Events:
Chicks with Picks is an all woman's ice climbing clinic that promotes "women climbing with women, for women". To date, we have raised $43,000 for local women's shelters for domestic violence. Clinics are open to women of all abilities and are designed to teach self-reliance through the development of skills in a safe, non-competitive environment. The majority of time is spent on the ice in a three-to-one participant to guide ratio. The focus of the clinic is to learn new techniques, improve current skills, and provide the unique opportunity to learn from the world's top female climbers.

Price includes: lodging, breakfasts, dinners, a four-to-one ratio with world-class female guides, a public slide show given by one our our guides (proceeds from the live auction go to a women's shelter), a "welcome packet" (complete with cool freebees from various gear companies) demo gear (use of soft wear, ice axes, boots, crampons etc.), and a sassy Chicks with Picks T-shirt (one of a kind)! For more details and application click here

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

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