NEClimbs - information for New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont rock and ice climbers
Current conditions in North Conway, NH at 6:29p on 02/16/20 - Temperature: 26.1 °F - Wind speed: 0.0 mph - Wind chill: 26.1 °F - Barometric pressure: 29.931 in - 3 Hour Barometer Trend: Rising Slowly - Humidity: 67 %
IceCON 4. Climbs are IN at the usual places and generally at consensus ratings.
4 out of a possible 5
New England Mountain GuidesInternational Mountain EquipmentThe ACCESS Fund, Protect America's Climbingthe American Alpine ClubNorthEast Mountaineering
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January 22, 2004

Hi Folks,

This week we've moved from IceCON 3 to 4. It's been a slow process this season with things swinging wildly back and forth with the vagaries of this years New England weather. It certainly has given new meaning to the old adage, "If you don't like the weather, wait a minute." It seemed for a while as if every time the ice came IN, a warm snap and torrential-like rain would knock it OUT again. Hey, I was starting to think that we should be the poster child for the global warming contingent.

Someone asked me how I made the decision as to what the iceCON rating is each week, and what it actually means. Well for one thing it's totally my arbitrary ranking of the the state-o-the-ice for the current week. I go out, I climb, I look around and I talk with a variety of folks about how things are looking that week. Then, I rate the week's conditions, loosely based on the following numbered system that I have evolved over the past 4 years:

IceCON 0 - Minimal ice available for the hard core and mixed afficianados! Ravines and higher elevations probably hold more possibilities.

IceCON 1 - Climbs are coming in, but generally sporadically. Higher elevations are generally better. Bring some rock gear.

IceCON 2 - The trade routes are generally climbable. There is plenty of ice out there to be enjoyed.

IceCON 3 - Ice available in many of the usual places and the climbing is good.

IceCON 4 - Climbs are IN in all the usual places and at the consensus ratings. Climbs are generally fat.

IceCON 5 - Superb New England ice climbing... Everywhere you look there's ice, even in places we don't usually see it. Get it while you can!

So why is this week a 4 and not 5? Although the ice climbs are generally fat, there's finally ice in all the usual places and ice is in many unusual places, the severe cold and dry weather has made for brittle ice and desiccation on climbs that aren't in the sun. The climbing is very good, but not superb. There are very few climbs, and not too many days, where you are going to be out there climbing 4+ on hero-ice.

Needless to say, check the detailed Report for the current state of any climbs you're thinking about heading for. If you're making a long drive, call around to the local stores or guide services and pick their brains about the climbs you are considering. Everyone I know up here is happy to answer any questions you might have. Obviously the guide services have people out there almost every day and often have even a better idea of what's up that I do. Of course you should always remember that none of this is a promise that a given climb or area is in the stated conditions, or that you can climb it.

Off the Kanc:
Over the past week or so several people have asked if I knew anything about Way In The Wilderness so I took a ride out that way on Tuesday to have a look-see. From what I could tell via my binoculars, the climb looked in reasonable shape. I took a couple of telephoto shots from the road and went on. When I got home I looked closely at the pics I was surprised to see that there were climbers on the route!

It looked so nice & warm in that amphitheater in the sun that I immediately called up Maury McKinney and talked him into taking a ride out there the very next day. When we got there around 10:30, with fellow guide Tom Hargis in tow, none of us were very enthused about what we saw. The ice was pretty beat up and in even more difficult shape that normal. So, we decided to leave it to the younger & more bold, and retreated to some interesting drips, drools & runnels that we had seen earlier. As I have said, if you just keep your eyes open there is stuff to climb everywhere! Here are a couple of pics from a mystery crag that you may find entertaining...

Al on a nice pillar
Maury on the cool runnel

"There's more out there in them there hills..."
Jamie Cunningham, 2004

From what I saw from the road on Tuesday, Rainbow Slabs is fantastic with a ton of moderate lines that could keep you occupied. Unfortunately the river is definitely not frozen yet, so it's a bit of a hike/ski to get in there, but you certainly aren't going to run into any crowds there. Tho I haven't been there myself, I've also heard that Champney Falls is finally frozen and in good shape. That's an easy hike-in for several hours of quality entertainment.

New Routes:
Jamie Cunningham has been kind enough to keep me up on what he, Jon Sykes and company have been up of late. Word has it that there is even more to come beyond even this offering so stay tuned...

Willoughby Area -
Cold Hearted Hor, WI 3, 340'
Done in two long pitches with long streaches of WI 2 ice. A recommended moderate route if it ever comes in again! Climb the face to the the right of Woober Goober Gully. Descend off to the left of climb by rapelling through scub trees to base of Woober Goober Gully.
FA Jon Sykes, Larry Beohmler, & Jamie Cunningham on 12-20-03
Pitch 1
Pitch 2

Ethan Pond -
The Lid Ran Away With The Spoon. WI 4, 150'.
This is the corner, left of Power of Ethan Pond.
FA Jon Sykes & Larry Boehmler.

Raven's Gully. WI 2 with several finishes possible up to grade 4, 200'. From Power of Ethan Pond hike down and right around a long slab leading up to the prominent Raven's Gully.
FA Jon Sykes, Kevin Delany, & Dave Leahy

Glass Bottom Boots. WI 4, 100'.
From bottom of Raven's Gully turn left and climb for 100' moderate to steep ice to a tree anchor.
FA Larry Boehmler & Jon Sykes

Gabrielle's Gully. WI 4, 180'.
Starts 25' right of Glass Bottom Boots. Grade 3 ice leads to an unprotected runnel in a shallow right facing corner.
FA Jon Sykes & Larry Boehmler

Stuck on Haley's Pillar. WI 4, 180'.
Hike 100' right from base of Raven's around slab to hidden ice flow.
FA Larry Boehmler & Jon Sykes

Thanks to Jamie Cunningham, Larry Boehmler and Jon Sykes for the photos.

Ice Conditions Report:
Selected Ice Conditions effective February 13, 2020
Ice conditions have definitely improved over the past week. It's amazing what a cold snap and a little snow/mix will do for the state of the ice. It's time to move us from the 3 Axes where we've been stuck for a while, to a solid 4 and I'm sure happy about that. Even the Amphitheater at Frankenstein has finally perked up to something like it's normal state, and hopefully will just get better from here on out. Although unfortunately Machine hasn't come in, Dropline has been climbed several times and it's in pretty good shape. I'm on the fence about Repentance. I heard that it was climbed, but other folks have said that even P 1, which often gets done on its own, is crappy. Looking at Goofers, it sure looks much better - thin at the bottom as always, but fatter the higher you go. However there is a lot of snow on the upper ledges and the snowfield below that is problematic! Champney is good, Newfound Lake is OK and the Flume in Franconia has some good ice. You just need to be cautions on the floor. We're in another snow event that's going to last through the day and bring as much as 4-6" more to the Valley, Notches and upper elevations. I'm not going to belabor it here because I've written a section in the main REPORT about the implications, so be aware friends.
Huntington Ravine DANGER  
Repentance OUT  
Standard Route good Click to see route picture.
Dracula good Click to see route picture.
For the full current conditions report, 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.

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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

Climbing may be hard, but it's easier than growing up.
Ed Sklar
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