NEClimbs - information for New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont rock and ice climbers
Current conditions in North Conway, NH at 11:29p on 07/04/22 - Temperature: 57.8 °F - Wind speed: 0.0 mph - Wind chill: 57.8 °F - Barometric pressure: 29.976 in - 3 Hour Barometer Trend: Rising Slowly - Humidity: 49 %
BugCON 4: almost too intense for climbing, DEET required
4 out of a possible 5
Mooney Mountain GuidesInternational Mountain Climbing Schoolthe American Alpine ClubEquinox Guiding Service LLCNorthEast Mountaineering
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June 11, 2020

Hi Folks,

I woke up at 5:30 this morning to the sound of a light rain falling on the deck. It's the first rain like this in I think over month. To be sure we've had some rain, though it's been mostly thunderstorms or squalls that have hit and moved through pretty quickly. Unfortunately these haven't provided much actual precipitation, leaving us significantly on the low side of average rainfall for this time of year. Not yet drought conditions, but certainly abnormally low. So yes, it was nice to wake up to the sound of rain.

Somewhat surprisingly, at least to me, the East Side of Mt Washington, including Tuckerman Ravine, Gulf Of Slides and the East Snowfields was reopened on Monday. You can read about it here:

The WMNF suggested that "This is not the time for the typical large groups in Tuckerman Ravine and now more than ever, novice visitors should leave their skis at home." We all know how this is likely to play out folks. So if you're planning to go up there, please be safe and make every attempt to maintain some sort of social distancing, if at all possible. In addition, there will be little to no search and rescue assistance available, so be fully prepared to deal with problems on your own.

Tho it isn't summer yet and the pandemic is still ongoing, I'm hearing and seeing more and more people on the cliffs. Climbers are posting pictures of things they have done and on occasion I know that a few guides have started taking out clients. Most of the latter are with people they know and trust and have had relationships with in the past. Obviously "trust" is the name of the game here. I would think it's a lot like dating in the age of Covid, not that I'm doing any of that mind you. But like dating, BOTH parties have to feel confident that the other has their best interests in mind. Obviously guiding is one of those things where the client has to place their full trust in the person leading them around. But now, more than ever it has to be on both sides. I'm hearing that on multi-pitch climbs some are donning masks at the belay, which makes good sense to me. Especially when climbing with someone other than your significant other or very close friend.

I have been out climbing with a partner only once since all this started, and with a very close friend. We picked a location we both knew well and drove there separately. It was a fully bolted area where there were a number of lines fairly close together with bolted anchors - no, I am not saying where! I led one line on the left and setup an anchor, my partner lowered me, I unclipped all my draws and climbed the line immediately on the right on TR. I belayed my partner on both lines, and he moved the anchor to the right to facilitate climbing the next 3 lines. One more time and we were able to climb all the immediate routes, without every uniting or switching ends of the rope. We remained socially distanced at all times and felt generally quite comfortable. At the end he cleaned the anchor, rappelled on his own and dropped my anchor gear into my pack. Then we both hand-sanitized. When I got home I dumped all my gear out on my back deck and left it there in the sun until after dark. All this seemed safe and reasonable to me. Of course everyone's risk aversion level is different so YMMV...
I've noticed groups hanging at the North End and other places that weren't distancing at all, and this makes me pretty uncomfortable. I would guess that if Rumney were open, which it isn't, this would be the norm as well. I pay a lot of attention to what the scientists and experts are saying and I just have to think that what has gotten us through this point with "only" 115,000 deaths, and that's a crazy number folks, is that we have managed to do some amount of social distancing and masking. If we blow this off, we will likely be in a VERY bad place before we know it. New research seems to indicate that counted deaths from COVID-19 in mid-April were about 20 times greater than seasonal influenza counted deaths recorded during peak weeks of the past seven flu seasons. This is NOT like the flu. It is far more contagious and deadly!


As always I've been avoiding the "usual places" over the past couple of weeks. It seems that every time I consider going to ride the Marshall trails, Sticks and Stones or Hemlock Lane the parking areas are full - even at what I would consider to be off-peak times. That leads me to simply pick other spots like Zealand Road, the Albany Town Forest, the Bartlett Experimental Forest roads off Bear Notch and the Bear Paw network in Fryeburg (what has to be the buggiest place in the area). If you haven't ridden these areas I can definitely recommend them, as long as you bring plenty of DEET and don't stop on Bear Paw!

I wanted to get in a good workout and it's been a while since I rode in the Experimental Forest area so this was particularly attractive. After my friend Dick Devalian was killed on the road a few weeks ago, I've sworn off they road-bike, so this was a way to do Bear Notch, without actually riding Bear Notch. You can park in the snowmobile lot on the left at the base of the road, ride uphill 400 yards or so and take a right on the obvious dirt road. There is a small kiosk on the right and on the day I did it a sign indication possible logging truck traffic. I know they have been logging up there, mostly over the winter, tho I didn't see any trucks the day I rode.

The interesting thing about riding the dirt roads, as opposed to just riding the paved, is the difference in time, distance and elevation gain. Looking back at my Strava history it would appear that I generally ride Bear Notch round trip in under an hour, 9.95 miles to the summit with ~1,000 feet elevation gained. The dirt way came in at 10.5 miles, 1,170' of elevation gained and round trip took me almost twice as long! Tho I felt good on the ride, I attribute the major time difference to road bike vs mountain bike, enjoying the views and definitely riding much slower coming down. At least that's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

A couple of observations... There are a couple of right hand dead-end offshoots to the right that are pretty, but don't go anywhere. DOT or Forest Service is doing some pretty major road work installing a new culvert at about 2/3 of the way up. The road was officially closed, but you can go through on a bike. At about the halfway point where there is a semi-hairpin turn, you want to avoid the XB411 left turn as that will take you back to Bear Notch Road. Past the culvert work it's interesting to notice how the road is literally cut into the side of the mountain. Going uphill the fall off on the left is truly amazing, going from the maps what looks like a drop-off of close to 500' down a steeply wooded hillside! On uphill side in the upper 1/4 of the ride you can see small old culverts built from brick. It makes me wonder just how old this road is and if it's possible that this was part of the original road. I don't know. Regardless, this is a fun and entertaining ride to do and is truly spectacular in the fall and makes me lust a little bit for a gravel-grinder bike.

For some reason I haven't been all that bothered by black-flies this spring. At least not so far. I've only gotten a few bites, tho both were on my face! And tho I keep hearing about ticks, I've only found one on me as well. That said, the mosquitoes are pretty darn horrible. Working in the garden in the morning or late afternoon has become a real drag, and as I mention in the Valley Cycling section, some trails are simply abysmal and DEET seems to be required for most outdoor activity right now. Here's a link to a pretty good article in DownEast magazine with a few tips on dealing with the black-flies.

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.

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Have fun and climb safe,

Al Hospers
The White Mountain Report
North Conway, New Hampshire

Leashes, gheesh those things are for dogs and weird people who walk their cats. Pappy are you a cat walker?
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