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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May 6, 2004

Hi Folks,

In a place like the Whites, history is all around... If you wander around enough you'll find old bolts & pins in odd places on obscure cliffs reached via overgrown paths in the deep woods. It's hard to put up a truly new climb, especially if it's a moderate, because it's very likely that some prolific but closed mouth climber has already been there.

Years ago, when I was younger, and probably a bit more foolhardy, I took a solo run up the rolling slabs way right of upper Standard Route on Whitehorse. As I was cautiously padding upwards way out in the middle of nowhere, I came across a lonely 1/4 inch bolt with a spinning aluminum hanger. Try as I might I couldn't spot a companion. Later I asked around, but no one confessed to the deed and I have always wondered about its story.

On Wednesday, with the rock pretty much soaked from the recent rains, DMan and I decided to take a hike up along the top right of Frankenstein to scope out the cliffs. The only time I've been up there was in the winter to grab a quick ascent of the ever-elusive Angel Cakes. I'd heard that there had been some action up there years ago by a few hardy souls, although overall the rock in the area has been considered sub-par. Still, lured by whispers of names like "Stem Like a Bar Stool", "Rocky Horror Show", "Atila the Nun", and Salamander Days" I figured it was worth a morning's investment.

As we hiked up past Pegasus & Chia there were small chunks of ice still on the ground and plenty of running water. Apparently the scavengers had already been hard at work, as there were no old slings, screws or any sign indicating the fact that ice season was so recently ended! We continued up the Frankenstein Ravine trail almost to the top where a faint trail went off right. When it ended we continued bushwacking right to reach the cliffband. Once there it was obvious that there was a lot of chossy rock, but some interesting features nonetheless. Some looked at least as good as a few that George Hurley has led me up over the years. <grin> The dogs led the way, followed closely by DMan. Turning one buttress he called out that he had spotted a fixed line. As I took off my pack and tied off his dog, he scrambled up the ledge. We were surprised to see a series of bolts heading up the face. The rope was frayed and faded and it was actually 2 lines tied together. It was obvious that it had been there for a long time.

Looking to the right there was a very interesting feature, 3 huge left-facing dihedrals. It seemed to me that all 3 would go as rock climbs, tho we didn't see any indications that was the case. The rock in this area looked the best of any on this cliff and is certainly something worth revisiting.

We continued down the cliff a little way until the rock quality deteriorated substantially and then bushwacked back downhill. About 300 yards down the steep hillside we came across red surveyors tape which we followed downhill. Amazingly enough it turned out to be the marks for the trai to Angel Cakes, tho we hadn't seen any indication of the ice climb. Apparently we hadn't gone far enough right. This would probably be the best way up to the cliff.

Ex-local Nick Yardley passed on the following tantalizing tidbits:

" appears that the middle pic with the rope hanging down it is Attila the Nun. If it now has 5 bolts on it I guess it may have had a couple of bolts added after we did it (though it's over 16 years since I was on it so memory can fade. Still a really great climb 5.12a. The corner to the left is a 5.11 and just left again is Gerry Handren's Rocky Horror show - a great route (I have cool photo's of him on this first ascent) 12.b. Left of this buttress is a 5.10 corner called Stem like a Bar Stool, put up by Mark Wilson. On the wall to the right of the buttress is a 12a/b put up by Chris Gill and Gerry called Salamander Days. Your final photo shows a great little 5.11a or was it 5.10 I can't remember, still a great little crack route again I have good photo's. I think Andy Ross scored this route."

If anyone has any more information on the area I'd certainly like to hear about it. It really looks as if there are some interesting climbs up there amongst all the choss.

Others did do a lot of climbing over the last weekend. The weather was warm and dry. There were a ton of folks out on the cliffs. Here are a few nice shots by Scott Conchieri and Eric McCallister. Scott's are of the Still In Saigon and Rapid Transit on Cathedral, Eric's of Soft Job at Rumney.

Rapid Transit
Still In Saigon pitch 2 crux
Soft Job 12c 1
Soft Job 12c 2

Thanks guys...

Buds & Bugs:
With the rain we've had over the last several days, nature has started going wild. Waiting buds on trees and bushes have exploded, taking the woods from brown and sparse to thick and lush - almost overnight. Rhododendrons are in bloom, dandelions are popping up everywhere and hikes in the woods can yield sightings of Trillium. It's a very special time.

Of course this means that the pollen count has gone through the roof, driving some to the allergist or pharmacist. And, in the deep woods at the lower elevations we're gradually approaching that time of year when venturing out sans-bug-dope becomes an almost foolhardy act. I've raised the Bug Report Status to a "2" this week, based on the proliferation of ticks and mosquitoes. There are isolated reports of biting black-flies but these are still few and far between. Hopefully that milestone will hold off another week or so, tho the rains will likely accelerate the process.

Believe it or not, a few of my outdoors-related goals have nothing to do with climbing! I finally ticked another one of them off last Friday, a simple traverse of the Moats. While nothing as committing as 2 years-ago winter Presi-Traverse, at 9 miles it certainly will keep your interest. If you haven't done it, I highly recommend you check it out. You start at the trailhead off Passaconaway Road and hike up South Moat, cross over to Middle Moat and then on to North Moat. The 360 degree views from the top of North Moat are spectacular.

From there you make a long descent to Diana's Bath. Needless to say you will need to spot a car at both ends of the trail. In addition there is only one way off other than completing the traverse or turning around At Middle Moat you can take the Red Ridge Trail. It takes you back down to the logging roads behind Whitehorse and Cathedral and eventually rejoins the Moat trail near Diana's bath. It knocks a little off the hike, but not all that much. Now this is something that I want to do in the winter!

Positive Update on David Benson:
Apparently during a recent physical therapy session David was able to move his left foot, left toes up and down, right toes down. He has also managed to move his lower legs. The left he can lift about 6-8 inches, less on the right, and he can also just barely squeeze my legs together. This is absolutely wonderful news and we all wish him the best.

Over 600 Subscribers:
In the beginning, one of the big goals for this humble newsletter was to reach a "circulation" of 450 subscribers. We managed that one almost 2 years ago, hit the 500 mark a year ago and 560 over the winter. Last week we pushed that number to over 600. Thanks to all of you who are making this happen.

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

I'm afraid to be afraid.
Catherine Destivelle
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