NEClimbs - information for New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont rock and ice climbers
Current conditions in North Conway, NH at 1:29p on 06/28/22 - Temperature: 70.8 °F - Wind speed: 0.0 mph - Wind chill: 70.8 °F - Barometric pressure: 29.985 in - 3 Hour Barometer Trend: Rising Slowly - Humidity: 24 %
BugCON 4: almost too intense for climbing, DEET required
4 out of a possible 5
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October 27, 2016

Hi Folks,

So we’ve apparently transitioned from fall to winter in a matter of a few days. A week ago temps were moderate and days were sunny. But now it’s cloudy and cold, and we’ve actually gotten some desperately needed rain. On the positive side, if you’re one of those who have been Jonesing for ice season, we’ve had a dump of snow and ice in the higher elevations. There’s even skiable snow at places like Bretton Woods. WOO WOO…

As always there are those who have to grab the earliest possible ice-ascents of the classics like the Black Dike and Pinnacle Gully. This year it was Keith Sidle and Peter Doucette on the Dike and Zak St. Jules solo of Pinnacle. Does that mean that ice season in the North Country has officially begun? Considering that there is only some pretty sketchy ice in the upper elevations, I would have to personally say NOT YET. Especially since the boyz only placed 4 screws in the climb! Based on the chilly weather we’ve been having this past week, there is no doubt winter is on her way. However, it’s going to take some snow or a lot of rain to give us any early season ice in the lower elevations.

I know I keep talking about the rain, or lack thereof. Southern New England has been in serious drought status all summer, but this week NH State officials announced that Conway is now on the list of NH towns in SEVERE drought conditions! While to visitors it doesn’t seem to make a whole lot of difference, to those who live here, it’s really a fact of life now. George Walker, the the town Emergency Management Director is now asking residents and businesses to conserve water. A number of people with private wells have seen them run dry, or be very low.

How does this affect ice climbers? Basically the lack of ground water means that the early season climbs on Cathedral and at Frankenstein that depend on flowing water, won’t be forming. I was up in Crawford Notch a few weeks ago and the cliffs were all bone dry! In addition the pond at the Willey House was almost all dry and the upper Saco is very low. I looked at Ripley Falls and it too was a mere trickle of itself. You can look at the pictures I took of Crawford Notch this morning and see what I mean. There is literally nothing at Frankenstein, and only some minimal dribbles on Mt Willard. Fortunately there is some rain the forecast for this weekend, but then it’s going to warm up a bit. And actually it would take more than 16 inches of rain to get rid of the drought. So that isn’t likely to help all that much. Our best bet is for snow and continuous cold. Stay tuned…

Although George and my trip to the Gunks was cut short due to weather, we did get in quick run up Disneyland in the Nears Thursday morning. Tho much of the rock was wet, pitch 1 is under the roof and was completely dry. I led it, a wallow as usual, and brought George up. He looked around and decided he wanted to try an obvious line that went up and left, out around the nose to a pin and then to a crack. I couldn’t confirm what it was from my phone guidebook and was skeptical, but George wanted to give it a go. Of course just as he got up past the pin, it started to rain! [sigh] He backed down to the pin, examined it pretty carefully, and decided he would have me lower off the single pin. I wasn’t happy, but he seemed confident, so I did it. I backed him up off my anchor, but he went to the ground uneventfully. There is not a fixed anchor where I was so I had to either leave gear or rap off the same single pin! What to do, what to do? I decided I would rap from the same pin, however after I set myself up and before I removed my anchor, I bounce tested the pin. It seemed fine, and of course it held for him, so I VERY carefully did the same thing. I HATE doing this kind of thing, but sometimes you don’t really have a choice. I was in the same position with Brad up on Willeys Slide this summer and we both rapped off a single nut and old baby angle! It’s something that you do your best to avoid, but sometimes you have limited options and have to do what you have to do. Here’s a few pictures.

I got a picture from a good friend of a bolt hanger that had broken on a recently-bolted climb on Canada Cliffs in Acadia. It happened when someone took a whipper on the last bolt of the climb. Needless to say this made for an exciting finish! I haven’t been to this area, but as I understand it it’s not on the ocean, so salt water corrosion should not be the issue. This hanger was manufactured by a company called “Climb X”. I’ve never seen their stuff before, but that doesn’t mean anything. HOWEVER, if you do a Google search on “climb x bolt problems” you will see numerous links to problems with these hangers. You should make your own decisions, but I am going to stick with the Petzl and FIXE bolts and hangers that the Perez’s and I have been using for our routes over the years. And I probably will avoid climbs that use those bolts!

I’ve ridden several times this week. Tho it’s been cold, just like with all winter outdoors activities, with the right clothes on you’re just fine. I spent 90 minutes one day at the Marshall property and another similar time over on the trails behind Walmart. To me, the only downside of riding at this time of year is that the leaves cover the features in places, and on downhill trails like Shumway at the Marshall property they can be slippery. But honestly, this is a great time to be out on the bike and I’m even looking forward to riding my fat tire bike in the snow like I did last year.

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Have fun and climb safe,

Al Hospers
The White Mountain Report
North Conway, New Hampshire

Climb if you will, but remember that courage and strength are naught without prudence, and that a momentary negligence may destroy the happiness of a lifetime. Do nothing in haste; look well to each step; and from the beginning think what may be the end.
Edward Whymper, 1865, the first ascent of the Matterhorn
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