NEClimbs - information for New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont rock and ice climbers
Current conditions in North Conway, NH at 7:00a on 07/01/22 - Temperature: 58.5 °F - Wind speed: 0.0 mph - Wind chill: 58.5 °F - Barometric pressure: 29.912 in - 3 Hour Barometer Trend: Falling Slowly - Humidity: 67 %
BugCON 4: almost too intense for climbing, DEET required
4 out of a possible 5
Equinox Guiding Service LLCInternational Mountain EquipmentNorthEast MountaineeringMount Washington Valley Climbers CooperativeInternational Mountain Climbing School
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December 29, 2016

Hi Folks,

Oh boy, oh boy oh boy!!! In case you haven't heard, and I gotta wonder where were you if you didn't, we're in for IT. What is IT, why Snowmageddon II of course! I just gotta laugh when I see all the crazy talk that's all over the media these daze. If I didn't know better, I'd think we live in the middle of the Sahara Desert and this will be the first snow in 300 years. This is New England folks. While we haven't had a snow like this one in 2 years, that's only because we had basically NO snow last year. Just slow the heck down when driving and make sure you're paid up with your snowplow guy and you'll be just fine.

Of course the above rant is about just the normal dealing with this storm in your day to day existence here in NH. From a mountaineering, climbing, backcountry skiing and general outdoor recreational activity standpoint, it's a bit of a different story. Below are some excerpts from today's Mt Washington Avalanche Center advisory by Ranger Frank Carrus.

Huntington Ravine and Tuckerman Ravine avalanche danger will increase from LOW to CONSIDERABLE today. All forecast areas will have CONSIDERABLE avalanche danger. Natural avalanches will be possible and human-triggered avalanches likely. Careful snowpack evaluation, cautious route-finding and conservative decision-making are essential.

Wind and snowfall rates will intensify this evening and overnight with large or widespread natural avalanches occurring.

Avalanche danger will rapidly increase through the afternoon and evening hours. Travel in avalanche terrain near and after dark is not recommended.

Safe travel today will be all about timing and keeping an eye on rates of snowfall, ridgetop winds, and other people above you acting as triggers. A hard, icy bed surface will make self-arrest and escape from even a small avalanche very difficult.

Threading the needle today to play safely in the mountains may be possible but the margin for error is extremely slim. Expect avalanche danger to continue to increase tonight and through tomorrow as west winds ramp up and load the expected 20-30 of snow into east facing terrain.

I had a conversation with Brad White of IMCS this morning and we agree that this is going to present some significant objective dangers for those wanting to go climbing over the next several days. While the places we all like to climb USUALLY are immune to dangers from avalanches, this level of snowstorm PLUS the hard pack we have on ethics's ground significantly changes the dynamic. While it can certainly happen with less, when you get snowfalls in the 6-12"+ range, all bets are off. Willies Slide, Shoestring or any of the Willard gullies or slabs, Cinema and the ledge above it, the approach to Great Madness, the Black Dike approach and of course all of Mt Washington are to be considered suspect. But avalanches can even happen at Waterfall, either of the cascades in Crawford Notch, and believe it or not even the Thresher Slab at Cathedral Ledge. FWIW I've actually seen the latter happen and it was actually lucky that no one got injured!

With this amount of snowfall, it's going to be several days before things settle down. If you're going to be out in it, you need to be very aware of our surroundings. Word to the wise folks!!!

As I do a couple of times a year I got to climbing with my friend Martin from NY. We've been doing this for many years and it's always great to see him and enjoy the fellowship of the rope with him. His wife dropped him at the house at around 9AM on her way to go skiing at Bretton Woods and we headed up to Frankenstein. It was a balmy 33 degrees when we got there and there were a dozen or so cars in the upper lot. I wasn't even going to consider walking down to Standard Route so we headed into the Amphitheater. Bob's and Cave Route had been in last week, but no more. On top of that Smear looked very thin and parts of the main pillars on Pegasus and several sections of Chia were down. There was a lot of water flowing on Pegasus as well!

Fortunately there was no one on the Hobbit Couloir, so we jumped on it. I led up the gully pitch, and it was a bit more funky than I expected. There was exposed rock just above the start. Where it becomes more vertical about at the halfway point, the ice narrowed to a runnel and it was very brittle. I took a swing and knocked a large hunk out, which encouraged me to back down a few feet and take the left exit onto the right side of the main face and use that to get to the rock belay. Martin followed and since he's never done it, I gave him the lead. As is usually the case, it was in great shape and good fun. There was even some ice covering the rock on the top-out which made it much more enjoyable.

While he was leading the rock pitch, I looked closely at Hobbit. It was running water and looked significantly harder than usual, so I suggested that we just throw a rope on it and give it a run on TR. We did that and it was as I had imagined. It would have been very difficult to protect and I was just as happy not to have led it this time. From there we walked off, grabbed a snack and decided to do Chia. We did rock-paper-scissors for the lead and I won, but gave it to him since he doesn't get to climb ice all that often. He headed up the ramp, with a bit of grossing about the noises that the ice was making. He did a great job and I followed, something I don't do all that often. It's always interesting for me following, I do it so rarely. I feel totally comfortable leading or even soloing, but for some reason I always feel a bit wonky seconding - go figure! Following a rising traverse always makes me aware of how well the leader has to protect to make the second feel comfortable. Regardless, I managed it, in what I think was pretty good form.

I must note here that Chia had some funky spots. As I mentioned above, there were numerous places where the ice sounded quite hollow. There was also a place at about the halfway point where you traverse under some daggers hanging over some exposed black rock that I didn't like. I was happy to move quickly through that section. Then about 3/4 of the way there is a place where the rock is actually exposed and you have to do a step-across. Couple that with the fact that there is only a single place that you can safely top-out and I would have to say that I would not recommend this climb until it fills in again and the water stops flowing quite so much.

The fundraiser has started off fairly slowly, with only 26 people participating at this time. [YIKES] The Fundraiser is officially over. Thanks to the 59 individuals and the 1 organization sponsor who contributed. I sincerely appreciate it. If you want to contribute, of course you can do so at any time. Simply click here:

Of course you can also contribute via check or money order if you like. Make it out to NEClimbs and send it here:

92 Bow Lane
North Conway, NH 03860

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Thank you once again for your support...

The riding was fairly good this week, this a little soft in sunny areas. Unfortunately this snowfall is going to shut things down until the snowmobiles get going and the locals get out packing with their snowshoes. Stay tuned...

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Have fun and climb safe,

Al Hospers
The White Mountain Report
North Conway, New Hampshire

Nobody climbs mountains for scientific reasons. Science is used to raise money for the expeditions, but you really climb for the hell of it.
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