NEClimbs - information for New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont rock and ice climbers
Current conditions in North Conway, NH at 10:29p on 07/04/22 - Temperature: 62.0 °F - Wind speed: 0.0 mph - Wind chill: 62.0 °F - Barometric pressure: 29.969 in - 3 Hour Barometer Trend: Rising Slowly - Humidity: 40 %
BugCON 4: almost too intense for climbing, DEET required
4 out of a possible 5
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September 10, 2020

Hi Folks,

It's been a crazy spring/summer on every level. In spite of being in the middle of the worst public health crisis in 100 years, the tourists simply haven't stayed away. Every trailhead, campground, restaurant and many hotels have been at full or over capacity. It's been a real mess.

This Monday ended the Labor Day weekend, signaling the end of summer. It usually gives the Valley a well-needed break before the Leaf Peeper's start arriving, but it's not at all clear if that will be the case. We will see what happens over the coming weekends. One thing for sure is that the usual influx of international visitors on bus tours to see the changing foliage are not likely to be taking place. I think all of the locals hope that will in fact be the case. Most feel we need a significant break from the insanity we've been going through.

I got a significant amount of direct feedback (44 emails) from last week's rather political Report. All but one was positive, Honestly It's OK if you disagree with me. If you don't like my politics, and you feel that it's unacceptable to you, by all means unsubscribe. I've decided that what's happening in our country now is simply too important to remain silent.

Late last week I got out climbing with Brad at Mt Forist. This summer we'd done most of the climbs on the main part of the cliff around Madigan as well as those on the middle section of the cliff. This time we headed down to the right. I led several climbs that were in the 7-8 range and Brad did his really nice route Berlinner. IMNSHO the rock on this one is really stellar. All the holds and bolts are where you want them and the texture of the rock itself is outstanding. I didn't lead it, but I followed it in my approach shoes with very little effort. It was great fun. Then we walked down to the right side near the end of the cliff to check out my 5.9 route Birthday Boy. I literally did the FA on this one on my birthday several years ago, accompanied by Joe and Judy Perez. It was a 62 degree day, perfect for steep friction, and the very next day it snowed - so go figure... The start had some moss on it that I'd cleaned up on the FA, but it didn't really affect the climbing.

I think that the climb has held up very well since I put it up and I've done it at least once a year. By "hold up" I mean, I thought it was 5.9 when I did it, and I still think the same. The start is delicate and tricky, and there are at least one or two other moves that are close to that grade. The bolts are where you want them and there is good gear here & there, making it safe. I felt good about leading it again.

What's interesting to me is that a week earlier I led a Joe Cote route at Lost Ledge called Vector. This is the one that had been hidden in lichen and someone brushed it off a (very little) bit and replaced the 1/4" crux bolt. Doing these climbs less than a week apart, gave me an interesting perspective on grading. Vector is rated 5.8 in both the recent Handren guidebook and the last edition of the Webster guide, and Jerry even gives it a star! Considering that the route has been hidden in the lichen for as long as I've been climbing there, 15 years or so, and the bolts were very rusted 1/4"ers its hard for me to believe Jerry climbed it.

The day we were out to Lost Ledge I climbed both Lost Arch and Found Arch, both to the left of Vector, and both rated 5.8. I said to Brad at the time that there was no way Vector was an 8! You climb ~15' above the bolt on very thin friction/thin-face moves to some moderate holds, and another 15' or so to the next bolt. So it's at least 30' from the first bolt to the next one, making you very close to ground-fall if you come off. So I would assess it at least 5.9R. Birthday Boy has several hard moves off the ground and a few other interesting ones at about 1/3 height, but if you all anywhere after bolt # 1 you aren't going to deck.

One other note about Lost Ledge... According to Webster's book, all those original routes were bolted on the lead. That certainly explains why some of the bolts are where they are, and why there aren't more of them. And even more interesting is that the next route to the left, the George Hurley route Lost Arch, had no bolts on the FA! That means that there was no protection placed until the bush in the hollow about 45' up!!!! The couple of bolts on the route were placed afterward. Joe & George were hard-asses!

I was taking my post-coffee and pre-breakfast walk Saturday morning when I got a text alerting me to the fact that "something was going on at Cathedral Ledge TODAY"! As I was already headed down to the kiosk, I was surprised to see and hear an obvious crew up on the slab above the Saigons rigging Black Lives Matter and Gay Pride flags. I didn't know this was in the works, but wasn't totally surprised. I chatted with 4 young climbers who were on their way to be a part of the event, one wearing a rainbow flag as a cape! I wanted to go up to see what was going on, but had to scamper back home to turn off the sprinkler I'd left running on my veggie garden and eat my breakfast. I had stuff to do, but I put the day's other plans on hold grabbed the mountain bike and headed up the road. This was around 8 am and although there were tons of cars parked down by the gate, many of which I recognized, there was nobody walking up the road. Tho it was a chilly morning, 48 degrees at 6am, the ride both woke and warmed me up.

Tho I could see and hear the group over on the slab, I rode up to the tourist overlook first. I was amazed to see a 4-rope tyrollean already setup and folks down on the face working with some ropes trying to get the flags situated. This was causing some difficulties because of the breeze flipping the flags around. I rode the bike around by the slab, parked and joined the by then fairly substantial group. It was more young members of the climbing community, tho there were several of those of more "middle age". I have to guess that I was the oldest person there.

The previous flags were placed anonymously and removed the same way. This time the statement was being made fully in the light of day, everyone in full view and taking full responsibility for their actions and positions. Honestly it was exciting to see and eel the positive energy. At one point, probably around 9:30, a policeman appeared. He made a fairly loud statement, tho not aggressive, statement asserting that there had been complaints (?) and that hanging flags on the cliff was not allowed. There started to be some push back, but he was pretty adamant that it was illegal and that he had been sent there by the Forest Service.

Around this time the canoe appeared and was being outfitted for the infamous Canoe Traverse. As the issue seemed to be about hanging flags "on the cliff", I instantly thought about the canoe. I asked if that was OK, and he said that was fine. After all, people setup the tyrollean for a hanging traverse as well as for doing slack-line, and I've never heard anything about it. So I asked if there was an issue with hanging the flags on the canoe! [wry grin] He just shrugged and said "OK". So there we were. And as long as all the stuff was off the cliff that day, he wasn't going to make a big deal about it. WOO WOO

I had to leave to take care of some stuff that was already in the works, but the demonstration went on all throughout the day. As always there lots of tourists making the walk up the cliff road and the crew engaged with them about what was happening and why it was taking place. From what I understand it was overall quite positive. In my opinion it was a very successful event on every level. The local climbing came together and made what I think was a powerful and heartfelt statement. There are a lot of great pictures floating around, but here's a few I took:

While there was an article about it in the local Daily Sun, I found it unfortunately somewhat condescending. I feel that the one in the Boston Globe presented it in a more balanced and positive view. You should be able to read it in its entirety here. If you get the popup asking you to subscribe, look in the upper left corner of the popup for the Continue button in light grey text.

I want to make sure everyone understands that there were no bolts or gear added to the cliff, that everything including rigging and flags were removed from the cliff that evening and the entire area cleaned up.

6,363,729 million confirmed cases in the US, 190,887 Americans dead and 904,485 deaths world-wide from the Novel Corona Virus as of Wednesday September 10th!

Over the past week New Hampshire has had 1 new death, 185 new cases of the virus and we're running a positivity rate of 1.7%. That's up from the previous record high of 1.5%, and is slightly on the rise. Yes, it's lower than some places, but to put it in perspective Vermont has 19 new cases, 0 deaths and a testing positivity rate of .24%; Maine has 146 new cases, 1 new death and a positivity rate of .46%.

There was an outbreak at UNH trigged by a party at a fraternity attended by over 100 young people, basically unmasked and close together. This kind of thing is happening at a number of colleges around the country. Hopefully the administration will take forceful action about this. It affects not only the school, but the surrounding community. Maine is also outbreaks generally traced back to the wedding in Millinocket I mentioned last week. The virus gets into a community and spreads easily. What was 50 people infected a week ago is well over 200!

On a climate-related topic, I have many friends and an ex-wife in California right now and it's mind boggling what's happening out there. The pictures of the sky in downtown San Francisco look like Mars, and the pictures of the actual fires look like something from Hell! When you couple that with day after day of temps well over 100, LA up to 121, and Death Valley at 130; it's difficult to imagine actually living there. All of the State Parks and National Forests are closed, and it's not sure if they will reopen this season. Imagine fighting fires while worrying about the virus at the same time!

The Johns Hopkins COVID-19 tracking map:

I find JHUís Daily COVID-19 Data in Motion report to be very informative. It shares critical data on COVID-19 from the last 24 hours in a short 1 minute animated video format.



I don't even know where to begin with what's going on right now... If you haven't heard about the revelations in Washington Post journalist Bob Woodward's new book, you must be living under a rock. [wry grin] Apparently he had 18 interviews with the president starting in December 2019, 17 of which are taped and available to listen to on line. For me, the major takeaway is that the President knew the deadly nature of the virus very early on and chose to withhold that information from the American people, surely allowing many more citizens to die than needed to. As someone that has had friends die of become sick from the pandemic, having children with underlying conditions that make them far more susceptible to the disease and not to mention being older and worrying about myself, this makes me furious. In fact what I feel is akin to the name of Woodward's book - RAGE. If you are interested on a very good perspective, you can listen to NPR reporter Ailsa Chang talk with Bob Costas, Washington Post journalist and host of Washington Week, here:

It's difficult for me to grasp how anyone can listen to his words and feel that he cares anything about us. The clips are everywhere right now, so listen for yourself. He claims that he wanted to keep people from panicking, but he is a person thrives on causing chaos and panic.

I got in 3 rides earlier this week; up Cathedral Ledge Road and down the "downhill trail", out to the Outer Limits/Twilight Zone, and the other to the top of Whitehorse. All fun and pretty good pushes for an old geezer. I will say that the downhill trail from Cathedral is not for me. IMO it's a mess and needs some significant love, which I hear is in the works for next season. Also, I'm very careful on the trail coming down off Whitehorse. There was an accident up there 2 years ago that left a rider who is much stronger than me paralyzed! I'm pretty careful when riding by myself these daze.

NOTE - This video works on Safari, but might not on Firegox...


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Have fun and climb safe,

Al Hospers
The White Mountain Report
North Conway, New Hampshire

Breaking into a new area of climbing while remaining safe is probably sort of like practicing religion. There's no best way to do it, and if you screw up, you're going down...
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