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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April 19, 2020

Hi Folks,

For over 20 years I have sat down at the computer every Thursday, usually in the mid-afternoon, to write the White Mountain Report. For the most part I don't really have any problem coming up with something to write about, it just comes out. I have been very fortunate to live in a place where I can do virtually everything that makes me happy. Climbing, riding my bike in the woods and on the road, hiking, playing music with friends...all things that give me happiness and joy and help to provide purpose in my life. And that's what most often comes spilling out. These times unfortunately, are quite obviously different.

While spring is quite clearly well on its way, we have had some twists and turns with it. Not that April have its moments, that's for sure. A massive storm on Monday dumped 3" of rain here in the Valley, raising the rivers to near flood stage in places, while just soaking into our sandy soil leaving very few puddles. We've been getting alerts about how dry things are and warning of possible fire danger, so actually it wasn't all a bad thing. Some places in northern NH got some snow and the higher elevations got a pretty good dump. But none of that here, go figure... Personally I'm down to two small blobs of snow in the yard that will likely be gone when it warms up again in a day or two. There is still some in the woods and shaded places, but of course that's not at all unusual.

I bought some seeds and got out my trays to see if I can start sprouting some seeds for my garden. I've had lots of tomatoes, beans, peas and herbs like basil, tarragon and oregano over the past 15 or so years. Normally I just buy cheater plants from a variety of places, but I'm not sure how that's going to play out this year. It's another of the myriad questions that so far remain unanswered. I guess we will just have to see. There is nothing quite like home grown veggies, so I am hopeful. Plus it gives me something else to do. [wry grin]

While I have curtailed my personal climbing, I am well aware that others have not. Yup, I've seen people on both Cathedral and Whitehorse and cars parked at Humphrey's over the past week, and while I would hope that they are climbing with their significant other, I would be quite surprised if that always is the case. Considering how close folks are at a belay and how much gear is shared, I don't think that's a good idea. Are they wearing masks and gloves? [rhetorical question of course] However when I point that out, online in public forums and directly in email or text, the blowback is surprisingly immediate and strong. Often reminding me of the folks who are having rallies in Michigan and other places protesting the stay at home orders, even when it's clear that gatherings like this are not in their own best interest.

I took a walk in the Albany Town Forest yesterday. There were a few cars in the lot, but I saw no one else during my 2 mile walk along the Swift River. The river was running fairly high and the little tributaries were filled, but it was fun to hop over them while following the bike trail. However, when I drove home past the Marshall Conservation parking lot I was amazed to see 8-10+ cars and a large crew of mountain bikers that had to have been close to a dozen, all gathered in the lot getting ready to ride. 3 months ago this would have been the norm on a nice spring day. But considering where we are right now, honestly this was startling. Enough so that I turned around and drove back past to make sure I wasn't dreaming - and of course I wasn't. Oh boy... I am riding now, mostly on the road at this time. But once I think things are dried out enough I will be back in the woods. But I'm not going to be riding with other folks, and definitely not in a group. And I'm not throwing the bike around in the woods like I was doing last fall. I'm nervous enough about coming up behind someone on the road, but riding with a group in the woods simply makes no sense to me. If you haven't seen the following study, I suggest that you check it out. I think it applies to climbing just as well.

Look, I understand that no one, yup not even me, likes to be told what to do or be called out when they do something that goes against the general well being. Where today that is social/physical distancing and mostly staying at at or near home. But it's truly the only way we will get through this time and eventually get to the point where we have a vaccine and can have some semblance of normalcy. Not that things are likely ever to fully go back to the way they were before this pandemic, at least not in my lifetime.

I have been told recently that I don't understand what others are going through. That they've lost their job or their business and are feeling frustrated, angry and are willing to do virtually anything to go back to work and get their life back. That they can't stand it any longer, and how can I possibly understand what they are going through? Well yes, I admit it - I am fortunate... I mostly own my house with a fairly minimal mortgage and am on Social Security and Medicare, so of course those really really help me to get by, at 72. But you know that I am a performing musician and ALL the gigs that I play through the year, the studio sessions as well as the teeny bit of guiding that I do all help pay my property taxes and anything beyond the very bare essentials in my life. And those are gone - totally and completely gone. I live alone and there is little to no backup in my life. I have grown kids that live in cities like Brooklyn and Philadelphia that I worry about all the time. I'm not whining, just pointing out that I DO know to some extent what many of you feel like. I can empathize with you. And I too miss all of the things that we do that give our lives meaning beyond the day to day. But we are all in this together and we need to work through these difficult times, just like we would work through a hard move on a climb. And if we put our heads down and do the hard work, when we come through the crux over the top, we will know that we have done some truly difficult and important work. And it was worthwhile...
As is so often the case, the peregrine falcons are back and nesting on Cathedral Ledge. This year they are on the right side. Thus all routes to the right of Cathedral Roof and to the left of Diedre are temporarily closed to climbing. This includes Solitude Crack, Intimidation, Repentance and Remission. All routes left of Cathedral Roof and right of Diedre are open, including the North End cracks. Please cooperate in allowing these birds to nest successfully. The restrictions will be over no later than August 1.



Joe Brown -

Yosemite -

So that's it for now. Love and peace to you all...

I will no longer be including the local weather with this newsletter. If you don't live here, you have no need of the up to date conditions in the Valley. If you live here, you know already what it is...

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Have fun and climb safe,

Al Hospers
The White Mountain Report
North Conway, New Hampshire

There are old climbers, there are bold climbers, but there are no old bold climbers!
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