NEClimbs - information for New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont rock and ice climbers
Current conditions in North Conway, NH at 11:59p on 07/04/22 - Temperature: 56.9 °F - Wind speed: 0.0 mph - Wind chill: 56.9 °F - Barometric pressure: 29.982 in - 3 Hour Barometer Trend: Rising Slowly - Humidity: 51 %
BugCON 4: almost too intense for climbing, DEET required
4 out of a possible 5
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September 21, 2017

Hi Folks,

Looks like Fall is coming in with a blast of Summer weather. Hard to believe it, but this weekend and next week you'll be able to savor our gorgeous foliage, while sweating through mid-80 degree temps. Hard to believe, but maybe this will be that proverbial Indian Summer that I've heard so much about. Well, I sure do hope not 'cause I'd much rather see it in late November when I really need it, right?

So - I was thinking about writing something about the season, or climbing at the Wall Of The Hurley Morning Light, or how the bike riding is superb right now, or any of a number of topics...but I'm going to take a bit more serious tack this week. If you've been following me on Facebook, or seen the news last week, there was a fatal climbing accident at the Lower West Bolton Climbing Area over in Vermont. A similar incident happened outside of Durango and amazingly the climber survived in spite of a 90' fall. In both cases the incidents took place after the climb was completed and during the lower/rappel. As best as can be put together both happened because of a miscommunication between the belayer and the climber as to whether they were going to rappel or be lowered. The climber thought they were boing to be lowered and the belayer thought the climber was going to rappel! [sigh]

Let's face it, pretty much beyond a shadow of a doubt this is the point at where a majority of climbing accidents take place. The climber thinks they are going to be lowered, but the belayer thinks they are going to rappel. The climber rappels off one or both ends of the rope. The belayer allows the rope to go through the device, dropping the climber. A simple perusal any of the Accidents books will reveal many many of these types incidents taking place. Enough that, as I seem to remember, a year or so ago there was a special section about it.

OK, so this kind of thing happens a lot. It's my and others contention that it's a tragedy that simply does NOT have to happen. The day this happened I read a FB post from my friend Malcolm Daley about the Durango incident. His comment was that basically when sport climbing, ALWAYS lower! Why untie, haul up the rope, pass it through the anchor, put yourself on belay, etc; when you could just put a couple of carabiners on the anchor and be lowered? Makes some sense to me... And that same morning I was getting coffee with master guide Marc Chauvin and friends and Marc said that he always holds onto the belayer side of the rope until he feels the tug that tells him he is on belay. And then that very afternoon I see a post from Gunks guide Joe Vitti with almost exactly the same observation. Huh...great minds, or what? Joe's was based on how he almost didn't - until he saw his belayer walk off to take a pee just as Joe was going to lean back!

Holding onto the rope at the top is something I've pretty much always done on my own and thought I was the only weenie out there. Is it something prompted by fear, mistrust, or just an attempt at mitigating the danger inherent in this dangerous sport that we are all addicted to? Perhaps a little of all of the above, and more of the latter. I know I've mentioned before how Brad and I often talk about stacking the odds in our favor. Whether it's adding that extra piece to the protection placement, clipping the anchor as our first piece, occasionally using a small locking biner on a draw when we're not quite sure which direction we're going to go, flipping the rope-side biner for the same reason, placing gear early & often or any number of other little things to keep ourselves safe in a dangerous world. Holding onto the rope while you confirm that you're actually ON rappel, tying a knot in the belayers end of the rope, tying knots in the ends of the rope as you rappel and using a backup as you rappel are all what seems to Brad and I as sensible things to do. And why not? I know some folks have ways to rationalize about how knots in the rope can get hung up, how they are used to wrapping the rope around their leg instead of using a backup or whatever... That's fine, until something happens to them.

I wear my seatbelt, religiously wear a helmet, I tie knots in the ends of the ropes, I use a backup (unless I forget it), and I hold onto the rope 'till I feel that welcome tug that lets me KNOW I'm on belay and ready to be lowered. I guess I'm just trying to be one of those old and maybe slightly bold climbers.
In case you had forgotten, the 25 annual Ice Fest is coming up. Mark February 2-4 on your calendars and stay tuned. It's going to be a good one!

I've ridden the Marshall trails twice this week. Monday with the Old Spokes crew and Wednesday with my good buddy Mikety. Both times we went up Lucile's, kept going to Lager's, on to High Street, back on Red's to T Bone over to the Muzzy Bench and down Shumway. Turns out there has been MAJOR work done on the High Street end of Red's! There is a new culvert in one spot and a lot of fill, basically getting rid of most of the mud. This is a GREAT improvement for this well used trail and a nice job by whomever!

Hardly any bugs anywhere. Not sure if that's going to be the case with this warm humid spell that's coming in, but it sure is nice right now.

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

Climbing is about climbing, not talking about climbing, thinking about what you are going to climb, nor thinking about what you are going to think when you've finished climbing!
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