NEClimbs - information for New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont rock and ice climbers
Current conditions in North Conway, NH at 2:29p on 06/28/22 - Temperature: 74.0 °F - Wind speed: 0.0 mph - Wind chill: 74.0 °F - Barometric pressure: 29.967 in - 3 Hour Barometer Trend: Steady - Humidity: 18 %
BugCON 4: almost too intense for climbing, DEET required
4 out of a possible 5
Friends Of The LedgesNorthEast Mountaineeringthe American Alpine ClubMount Washington Valley Climbers CooperativeMooney Mountain Guides
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April 23, 2020

Hi Folks,

So here I am, 38 days into my personal stay-home time. The only people I see for the most part are when I go to the grocery store every other week and my 4x a week virtual cocktail party on ZOOM. Sitting at the kitchen counter with the computer propped up and a bottle of red wine. I never would have thought I would be saying that this is about as good as it gets, but thank goodness for friends and the Internet, aye?

I did drive up to Crawford Notch on Tuesday, with the intention to maybe take a fat bike ride up Sawyer River Road. Unfortunately it was still snow covered and soft, so I took the opportunity to wander up to Frankenstein and Mt Willard just to see what it looked like. For those who might think I'm straying too far from home, it's less than 20 miles and I'm still in the radius of my hospital and healthcare provider. Not exactly like folks driving up from one of the states further south. Of course there is no ice up there to speak of, and the snow in the woods is clearing pretty quickly.

I stopped at the Dry River Campground where I normally take my Ice report pictures. The campground is open and undated, with no signs or anything indicating that there is a pandemic going on or that people need to use caution. I posted a video of it on my personal FB page, as well as one of the Frankenstein Amphitheater and my thoughts on it. Here's a few pictures, just for the halibut.

Looking at the cliffs in the Valley and elsewhere is a bittersweet thing. In many ways this would be a perfect time to get out and climb. The air is crisp and dry, and the black files and mosquitoes haven't come out; tho I am starting to see some here & there. But I'm still following my own advice and not climbing at this point. And of course it would be difficult in any event as I don't have a significant-other to climb with. [sigh]

Fortunately I have my music, the bike and a seemingly never-ending list of tasks that need to be done around the house. Ahhh - the joys of being a home owner. In particular I don't know what I would do without my music. I'm recording tracks for other people, assembling and mixing songs, writing some new tunes and of course practicing. And while it's definitely not the same as playing with others, it is absolutely rewarding. Climbing has some similarities to playing music, at least for me. While I can climb by myself either solo or TR solo, at this stage of my life it's really the social interaction that is the biggest part of the attraction. I love to play music with my friends, and love to climb with them as well. While prior to the pandemic, I went out riding regularly with a friend or two, I'm perfectly fine going out alone. And in fact I often find it quite meditative to do that.

Sorry if I have mentioned this before... Governor Sununu is talking about allowing campgrounds to be open this summer. Most of us here in the Valley feel that this is a terrible idea on every possible level. Attracting more people from other places to come up here at this time seems totally counterintuitive. Campground users will be using the group bathrooms and showers at the facility and visiting the local grocery stores and pharmacies. In the campground there is no way they will be staying in their tents all the time, and if they have children they will absolutely be interacting with each other. And of course there are almost no restaurants open or entertainment things for them to do. We are already seeing a major increase in the number of folks on our local trails. In some cases the trailheads are full to overflowing. I am certainly not against campgrounds and I understand that they and the people they attract are important to our economy. But at this time I think we all would be better served if they were not open this spring and perhaps through the summer.
And while I'm on the subject of trailheads... All the local hiking and biking trail parking areas have been quite packed on the weekends, and some other days as well. I'm not sure what people are thinking. Are they treating this whole quarantine things as a vacation? And if they do need to get outside, and who doesn't, what makes them think it's a good idea to go someplace where it's obvious simply from the number of cars in the lot, that it's going to be tough to social distance. Let me spell it out, when you pull up at the Peaked parking area and there are 30 cars all along the road, consider going somewhere else. Or if you pull up at the Marshall Conservation parking area for a bike ride, and the only place to park is out on West Side Road, how about considering a different place? Logical aye?

I came across the movie of Nevil Shute's classic 1957 book On The Beach, about post-nuclear-war a few days ago. For some reason it just popped up in my consciousness, I searched it out on YouTube and watched a couple of 3-5 minute clips. I remember reading the book when I was 10 or so, shortly after it came out, and then of course I had to see the movie starring Gregory Peck, Anthony Perkins and Ava Gardner. Probably the thing that pushed my subconscious in that direction was the concept of an invisible enemy, radiation, that's wiping out all life on the planet. While we're not quite in that state yet, the idea that while everything looks exactly the same, it is in fact not. I experienced that feeling this morning when I took my post-coffee walk over by Cathedral Ledge. It was a glorious morning, feeling for all the world like every other spring Thursday in the 24 years I've been living here. But it's not of course. Although we can't see the virus, there is no doubt that as of 4/23/2020 confirmed U.S. cases topped 843,000 and deaths exceeded 46,000. Globally, more than 2.6 million people have been infected; more than 185,000 have died. Sobering numbers for sure! All of this in just a few short months, with the first known death has now been established as happening on February 6th!

I'm confident that there are a surprising number of people who don't actually believe that this is real. Not because they believe that the pictures of the patients in NY, LA, Detroit and Chicago are fake. Nope! I think it's because it's invisible and they can't/won't take it seriously until it touches them directly in some way. But that's absolutely going to happen; it's simply a matter of time. The 46,000 deaths we see right now is almost assuredly a drop in the bucket to the end result. Sure, I truly hope that's not the case, but based on the current rates I'm not optimistic. And of course listening to the doctors and scientists, I agree that there will be a second wave this fall. Unless of course we have a medical breakthrough of some kind. In the meantime, the best possible thing we can do for ourselves and for others is to stay at home, social distance, and be religious about hand-washing and personal hygiene in general. I thought this paragraph from an Op/Ed in this month's Wired Magazine kind of spelled it out -

"Intensive care units are overflowing. A brand-new disease is killing people we love. But we have to remember that inside that storm, faith in each other and in the scientists and medical workers who are dedicating their minds, all over the planet, to the work of understanding and fighting this virus - is the antidote to fear. Their work needs time, which means we all have to work together to slow the virus' spread...we can do this."

"Now we're all in a disaster together, even if physically apart. Things will seem like they are getting worse. Stay home. Don't spread a virus. Don't be scared. Buy the scientists time. Living in the future is hard, but it WILL be fun again - maybe even better."


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

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