NEClimbs - information for New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont rock and ice climbers
Current conditions in North Conway, NH at 4:00p on 06/25/22 - Temperature: 88.7 °F - Wind speed: 0.0 mph - Wind chill: 88.7 °F - Barometric pressure: 29.907 in - 3 Hour Barometer Trend: Falling Slowly - Humidity: 15 %
BugCON 4: almost too intense for climbing, DEET required
4 out of a possible 5
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September 4, 2014

Hi Folks,

Cathedral Ledge has been an overwhelming presence in my and my family's life for the past 18 years. We wake up and it's there, go to sleep and it's there - through sunny days, storms, summer, spring fall and winter. We look out our back window any time of day, and it's simply THERE. Even at night, it has a presence and it's almost impossible to imagine it not being there.

That said, there are times when it seems invisible, and I don't mean at night. There are occasions when on a foggy morning we wake up and you can't see the cliff at all. The same kind of thing happens in the winter, when the snow is coming down very heavily and the cliff is already coated. It doesn't happen that often, but when it does, it's a very strange sensation.

I've probably told this story before, but regardless I will tell it again. [grin] Over 1995-96 we spent 24 and 26 weekends respectively up here. We really really enjoyed our in this area and felt as if it was where we wanted to live. We were married on September 13th 1997and came up here on our honeymoon for a week, to climb and just enjoy the area. We splurged and got a room at the White Mountain Hotel, right below Whitehorse, and spent our days climbing. Somewhere during that week we took a part of a day off, were driving around the neighborhood and happened to go down a street in a neighborhood near Echo Lake State park. There was a house with a For Sale sign out front, and it looked as if there was no one living in it. I stopped and suggested that we check it out, but she poo pooed me. I just liked to look at houses and she had no real interest in moving, tho we certainly loved being up here. I persisted and so we got out and looked in the front. Indeed it was empty, but it looked interesting. I walked to the back yard and called for her to come around as well.

You have to understand that my wife was mostly a city girl at this time. Tho we came up here a lot, and spent a lot of time hiking & generally being outside, she like being near Boston. I had to work hard to get her to move from Alston out to Needham and then Natick, where we were currently living. One time she said to me that the only way she was going to move any further out of the city was "if there was a big rock in her back yard!" She walked into the yard and I motioned for her to come over to where I was standing. She looked back at the house and we spent a few minutes talking about how there was a cute little cantilevered deck off the upstairs bedroom, the 3-season porch was nice and there sure were a lot of trees in the hard (14 that we later had removed). Then I turned around and pointed up at the cliff through the trees and asked; "Is that rock big enough?"

The rest is history. [grin]

Tree Keys Update:
As I mentioned previously, someone on the NEClimbs Forum recently mentioned that there was a loose block on Tree Keys. I was there last Saturday and could tell what they were talking about. It's a piece of rock on the left just before the 1st bolt after the little chimney. Well I went up there with Brad and a crowbar today to see what was up. I climbed the route and once again could tell that that "block" sounded like it was loose or hollow. I couldn't do anything with my hands so I continued up to the top. We had previously decided that I so we both would be safe and the rope would be out of the way, I would bring him up and then he would lower me down over the route to do my dirty work! We also moved our packs and gear over 20+ feet left where there was little chance that they would be in the line of fire. (More on that later.)

I was lowered to just above the problem block and started tapping around with the bar, noticing that it sounded quite hollow. So I did a little prying and pulled off a few smaller pieces. Unfortunately, as I had predicted, the more I pried off - the more needed to come off and I ended pulling off a really big hunk of rock that was clearly unstable. [sigh] At least what was left seemed OK. Then I got lowered a bit more and tapped some more, and of course some more was really unstable. This continued for about 5 or 6 feet below the bolt! Another of the pieces was really big and heavy and when it came off it shattered, scattering rock everywhere, and that included over towards our packs! I could see that one of the big pieces hit right around our packs. I got really worried 'cause my cell phone was stashed in my pack and the last thing I need is to have a smashed iPhone! Finally it all was done so I swept off the ledges as best I could and had Brad lower me to the ledge below the chimney. I could see that a large sharp flake had lodged in the Juniper tree to the left of the chimney and took 5 minutes of prying to get it out. What a mess - I was getting rather tired of all this.

After some more sweeping of bits and pieces off the ledges, I had Brad lower me to the ground. From what I could tell the bolts were all intact and none of the holds had been impacted. I wasn't really happy with all this 'cause it underlines how generally mediocre the rock quality is at Humphrey's, but I think that the climb is safer. Now all we need is some rain to wash the dirt off the newly uncovered ledges.
Retread 5.7+ Humphrey's Ledge:
I led George and David G's route on the far right of the Geriatric Walls today. While it is nice in many places, some of the holds seem rather fragile to me. In addition the route description on NEClimbs doesn't make it clear whether you stay right at the top, or step out left onto the clean face. Since going straight up is basically 40' of unprotected 5.6, and the face to the left is nice with a few places for gear, hopefully that is the correct choice. That said, a bolt right on the arete would make for some nice climbing. Regardless bring some small pieces for some clots, it's hardly a sport route!

AAC Craging Classic - September 12-14:
Join the American Alpine Club for the annual North Conway Craggin’ Classic hosted at the Glen Ellis Campground and Cathedral Ledge! The weekend will consist of  a great lineup of clinics taught by local guides with athletes like Freddie Wilkinson, Majka Berhardt, Kevin Mahoney, Scott Bennet and more! Join us Friday night at the campground for a pig roast and live music! On Saturday and Sunday enjoy delicious pancake breakfast from the Gear Doc and International Mountain Equipment before heading out for clinics and climbing! After clinics, enjoy the vendor village, games from OR and CAMP, burrito dinner, beer, raffles, gear giveaways, and slideshows from local climbing heroes! On Sunday come out and give back by participating in the stewardship project.[UNIQID]

Instant Bug Report - 2:
I was hoping that I could lower the BugCON rating to a 1, or perhaps less, but that was before I went climbing today. When we got to Humphrey's there weren't any bugs, but around 3pm a swarm of what appeared to be blackflys appeared from nowhere and proceeded to lay waste on my less and the back of my neck. I'm pretty sure they are an aberration, but I can't lower the rating now. I'm Bummed!

IMPORTANT NOTE - there was a reported case of a local person contracting EE, which is gotten through mosquito bite. It is not clear that they got it here, but it's worth knowing. Wear bug spray in the woods, and at twilight and early morning.

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

My once-keen analytical mind has become so dulled by endless hours of baking in the hot sun, thrashing about in tight chimneys, pulling at impossibly heavy loads, freezing my ass off.... so that now my mental state is comparable to that of a Peruvian Indian, well stoked on coca leaves..
Warren Harding
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