NEClimbs - information for New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont rock and ice climbers
Current conditions in North Conway, NH at 6:00a on 07/01/22 - Temperature: 55.7 °F - Wind speed: 0.0 mph - Wind chill: 55.7 °F - Barometric pressure: 29.918 in - 3 Hour Barometer Trend: Falling Slowly - Humidity: 74 %
BugCON 4: almost too intense for climbing, DEET required
4 out of a possible 5
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March 31, 2005

Hi Folks,

Buzz, chirp, thwack, boom, drip, crash, roar, splash. It's like going from inside an anechoic chamber, into a city. Noises I haven't heard in quite a while have started to work their way into my consciousness. I was out playing music at the Wildcat Tavern on Tuesday night. When I left at around 11:30 I heard this roaring sound. At first I thought it was my ears ringing from the volume, then I realized it was the sound of the river. Let me tell you, it was LOUD!

I've been leaving my windows office open in the afternoons when it's warmest and they face Cathedral Ledge. I have been hearing some crashes and booms from the ice falling off the cliff and it all sounds pretty big to me. Chris MArtin, the NH Audubon biologist, was over on Wednesday morning scoping out the peregrines. He heard some very big crashes and some climbers calling out up near the Prow area. It's probably not a very safe place to be right now IMHO.

One of the more popular places this time of year is the North End cracks. Everyone wants to get an early start on the season and that's a happening area. Unfortunately it's also a place with some very large ice directly above that can and will come down at any time. I've been waiting for a serious accident to happen. Don't let it be you!

Wednesday was an absolutely beautiful day, about 55 degrees, so I decided to combine my last trip up to Frankenstein with my other love, riding the bike. I've been out a bunch, but this was the longest ride of the season so far. It was fun riding up 302 past the skiers at Attitash and Bear Peak and all the snowbanks along the road. As I got to the Mt. Washington scenic pulloff near Frankenstein the wind picked up a bit from the North. I saw a car pulled over by the Dry River Campground and noticed that there were a couple of spotting scopes on tripods alongside. Turns out it was Chris Martin and his assistant Robert checking out the birds on the upper cliffband. Small world...

We chatted for a bit and I had a look at the ice in the Amphitheater. It didn't look good and he commented that he had seen stuff falling down earlier. I rode on up to the viewing place for Standard Route. For almost the first time since December there was nobody up there. It was amazing that Dropline was still hanging on. A little further I got the look into Dracula, which still seemed to be fine. If I were going to climb anything up there I think that Dracula would be the choice.

I went out with George Hurley on Saturday and we climbed Dracula. He had decided that he wanted to do the direct line right up the center. There were several parties up there when we arrived, including one very strong Canadian couple that was doing laps. Their method was: climb one side, walk around, climb the other. Rinse, repeat...

George started up and as usual it looked steep, but not all that steep. Just before the final difficulties about 2./3 of the way up he detoured just a bit to the right to set a good screw. Then he stepped back left and motored straight up to the top. It was a very impressive display of mental and physical control, something he has always had in spades. When I followed I was surprised that the line he took was totally in your face right from the start, clearly the steepest variation. As I got very near the top George leaned down and urged me to take the absolutely steepest line that was just a bit to the right of his finish. A he put it "it will build character!" Boy was he right.

BTW - the climber to his left in the picture was the Canadian. His partner had just called up to tell him that George was 70. He was in complete awe and told George that George was his new idol!!! Mine too.

We did get some rain earlier in the week and even more is predicted over the next several days. Basically I wouldn't take bets on how that might affect the ice down here, much less that in the upper elevations.

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Have fun and climb safe,

Al Hospers
The White Mountain Report
North Conway, New Hampshire

The wall was the ambition. The style bacame the obsession.
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