NEClimbs - information for New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont rock and ice climbers
Current conditions in North Conway, NH at 9:59a on 07/01/22 - Temperature: 72.2 °F - Wind speed: 0.0 mph - Wind chill: 72.2 °F - Barometric pressure: 29.869 in - 3 Hour Barometer Trend: Falling Slowly - Humidity: 26 %
BugCON 4: almost too intense for climbing, DEET required
4 out of a possible 5
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April 21, 2005

Hi Folks,

p class="textMain"> So I'm getting ready to leave the house to meet Travis & Toby over at Whitehorse for a day of fun and games on the South Buttress, but it's hard to figure out what to wear. It's still fairly cool at 8AM, but I know it's going to warm up later so I throw on some casual and comfortable clothes that I figure would be appropriate when I get this comment from my wife. "You aren't going out of the house wearing that outfit are you?" "Yeah, you're not wearing that are you dad?" echoed the kiddo.

I poo-pooed their comments and walked out the door, dog in tow. I threw my gear in my dad's old minivan (truck in the shop) and headed out, but it should have been a bit of a tip off that the dog insisted in sitting about as far away from me and looked the other way on the ride! When I got to the parking lot Toby was already there and Travis pulled in right behind. I shut off the engine and got out and the Tob-meister almost fell to the ground laughing and the dog moved over to the other side of the driveway. The first words that Toby, my FRIEND, uttered was something to the effect that he hadn't seen anything as bad as what I had on for a looooong time. Travis just kept his head down, obviously to cover the smirks.

Well I have to admit that I am hardly a fashionable person. In fact I basically just don't care about my dress. As long as what I am wearing is comfortable, it doesn't matter to me. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately for my reputation) I don't have a picture of me on that day, but here's the breakdown:

olive/gray Gramichi long sleeve cotton T
royal blue North Face fleece vest
10 year old charcoal gray Verve tights
pink & gray striped baggy shorts
510 Guide Tennie approach shoes

Hey I figured that the gray theme would hold it all together, but I guess that the striped shorts put it over the top. Some Hotel visitors told us about seeing a bear & cubs so we made noise as we walked on the trail. We didn't see any bear so maybe my outfit scared them away!

As usual Travis wanted to do something different and had his eye on a climb at the Stake Sauce Crag. Apparently there was this finger crack testpiece called Powderfingers that he wanted to try, and since I'd never been there before that sounded good to me. I'd heard about Steak Sauce for years, but I'd never checked it out. Considering that it's a whole 100 feet off the trail on the way in to the Inferno slab I can't believe that I'd never noticed it. Basically, you just follow the "new" trail into the South Buttress. Go through the rock notch, keep going uphill and bear right on the trail as usual. 50' up the trail look over to the right and there it is. A very short walk and you are there. So why isn't is more popular? Well, the forest in there is all hardwood and when the leaves are on the trees you would barely be able to see it so most people don't even know about it. In reality tho it's probably 'cause it's all hard stuff and not things that most folks are capable of doing.

So we checked out the centerpiece of the crag, Steak Sauce, 5.12c. All I can say is that I would love to see someone do it. Hey, I can't even imagine how you get off the ground. It's totally fingertips and in your face climbing. Short but amazing. Kudos to Swain for finding it and for Surette for sending it free.

Powderfingers is a left arching finger crack that, unfortunately, has no lockers anywhere. I was impressed at how well Travis did on-sight. There weren't any real rests on the whole climb. It's short, but intense and just keeps on going. Even the last bit is tricky with your gear below your feet. Travis did hang in the middle but rallied and sent it.

Travis 1
Travis 2
Travis 3
Travis 4

Check out the difference of his expression between 26 and 30. Think that he's happy to have that toe-twist?

After all that we weren't done. Unfortunately Toby had to leave but went on up to Jacob's Ladder, up in the gully left of Cold Day In Hell. This is one of my favorite climbs on the South Buttress. With more varied climbing, a little harder moves and good protection I find myself liking it better than Cold Day or Hotter Than Hell. I took the first pitch and Travis the second.

We met up with Brian Johnson and Steve Nicopor on the ledge. Brian was giving Coffin Nail a try. He was puzzling on the upper section when we got there. When I mentioned that the upper bolts were all pounded flat he decided to bail. I still don't understand why someone did that. It is actually dangerous too, since you can't tell until it's almost too late!

We still hadn't gotten our fill so Travis went up the Inferno Crack and set up a toprope on In Your Face. This is a rarely done Uwe Schneider route that goes up the slabby ramp to an unlikely face 20' right of Inferno. While the book calls it 10d, don't be fooled, that's an old school rating. Both of us thought it was more in the 11b range and is very height dependent. After I figured it out I actually had a bit easier time with the crux than Travis. Not surprising considering Uwe is probably 2 inches taller than me, making him close to 4 inches taller than Travis.

Since by now we'd had all the workout we needed, we finished up the short final pitch of Inferno and rapping off. I'd certainly worked up a sweat and given my fingers a workout. I should have worried about being able to play bass later that night at the Parka, but after such a great day I just didn't care.

Oh case you didn't know. The cliffs are generally dry now, except for the drips form the rain last night, there aren't any bugs to speak of and very few climbers anywhere. This is one of the best times of the year to live up here. You can do anything from climbing to biking to kayaking to skiing in Tucks and it's all perfect. This is why I live up here.

Still Ice - Naaaah:
Well we had about 1/2 inch of rain last night & it has been wicked warm the past several days, even reaching 80 yesterday (Wednesday). That has certainly had a major impact on all the hidden ice that lurks above. I would imagine that most if not all is gone and will finally declare ice-out, at least in the lower elevations. That's not to say that it's not possible for something to lurk around, but generally we should be OK at last.

I had posted a note on the Forum about an episode on Short Order last Sunday. Apparently couple, a man leader & woman second, were on the route. Neither were wearing helmets! As the leader topped out a very large chunk of ice came down from up above, probably from in the upper corner on Mistaken Identity which I have been eyeing for the past few weeks. The leader was hit on the hand by a large chunk and he thought at first that it had been broken. The woman got peppered a bunch on the HEAD but is OK. They were lucky.

More On Accident at Shagg Crag:
Here are a few more details about the accident 2 weeks ago at Shagg from Paul Marcolini, one of the members of the rescue team.

"There were several of us from Mahoosuc Mountain Rescue, (Bob Baribeau is our director) that were called in anticipation of a technical component to the rescue. A technical rescue was not necessary. An interesting point for us in Maine was that Brunswick Naval Air was unable to get a crew together for the rescue. That decision took almost two hours for them to make. The deployment to Iraq is an issue for helo response. The climber was in an area that would have offered easy extraction. The air ambulance service LifeFlight, is similar to DART in New Hampshire, in as much as it doesn't have lift capabilities. So, we all went for a nice walk in the woods. The patient was airlifted to Central Maine Medical Center from a field near the incident after a carry of a little over a mile. The patient arrived at the hospital just before 01:00am."

"Bottom line is... this is one lucky fellow. The injuries were not even as significant as you had mentioned. Apparently, laceration to his head and sprained ankle were it. He was released from Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston the next day."

Another person who is friends with the belayer commented:

"He (belayer) is relatively new to climbing but strong and smart. Also, the climb was 'Meltdown' 12d. Sounds to me that the poor communication and the relative inexperience of both the climber and the belayer as well as the casual attitude of both lead to the accident. The 9.4mm rope in a Grigri didn't help either."

It's important to note that Petzl states the following on their web site and product info for the Grigri:

"For ropes of diameters from 10 to 11 mm (9.7 mm accepted)"

A lot of climbers think that just because a belayer is using a device like the the Grigri they won't have a problem with the belay. Obviously this isn't the case. a combination of miscommunication and misuse of gear can easily lead to an accident. BE AWARE and remember folks -

Only YOU can prevent belay errors!

Subscription Notes:
1) Recently I have been getting back some of the Report emails that I send out. These are bouncebacks from the mail servers on your side. It seems that for the most part it's the same email addresses over & over. Usually after a couple of these I delete the email address. However they keep getting added back on the list. I am figuring that this is because the recipients ARE getting the Report, but their Mail Server is choking on it and spitting a copy back at me. If you find that you are getting deleted from the list over & over, there is a reason folks! Please contact me directly before you re-ad yourself to the list.

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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:

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Have fun and climb safe,

Al Hospers
The White Mountain Report
North Conway, New Hampshire

The best training was to go to the pub, drink 5 quarts of beer, and talk about climbing.
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