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Archive for the ‘Conditions’ Category

A Dose of Prozac and Some Positive Thinking

Let’s get right to it!  More noteworthy news coming out of Cannon Cliff again this weekend!

Jeff Previte and Matt Ritter made the second ascent of Prozac on the Omega Wall this past Friday.  The mixed route, finishing right of Omega, was first established by Kevin Mahoney and Ben Gilmore in 2002.

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The Omega Wall section of Cannon Cliff, showing (left to right) the Mean Streak (red); the Firing Line (yellow); Omega (green); Omega Variation Start (blue); Prozac (purple). Photo courtesy of Freddie Wilkinson, The Nameless Creature.

 

Kevin recounts:

“We swapped the leads from the day before.  Not because we didn’t want to face the same gut-retching second pitch from the day before but because we wanted to share the clarity it offered.  Once at our high point from the day before I got to lead the last pitch.  This was the lead I had been waiting for all season.  The lead that required full commitment and willingness to shake the cob webs free.  The lead that would cure my sinking psych.  Knife blades with screamers, stoppers heads, marginal cams all added to the mix.  I dropped a tool (this was the time of leashes and I was trying the Android leash for the first time) fortunately ben was close by to tag a tool on to the rope.  Once at the trees I was different, not the same sulking man that my fiance was wondering if she should marry.  Those two days on Cannon had set me right.  Ben and I named the new route Prozac.  Nine years later I can still enjoy those two days with Ben on Cannon and hope conditions like that come again so Prozac can get a second ascent.”

You can find his whole story remembering that day, on his blog post, Around the next corner?

As Jeff and Matt made their way to the base of the climb, Majka Burhardt and Peter Doucette were already on the route.  Peter, just coming back from Nepal only 30 hours earlier, was leading the second pitch. Majka and Peter decided to call it a day after three pitches and rappelled down passing by Matt and Jeff. As they continued up, Matt described the third pitch as a “run-out muckle of ‘egg shell’ ice which gave way to a sketchy mantel and an awkward perch beneath the steep, more solid ice.”  Sounds fun eh?!

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Matt Ritter on Pitch 3. Photo by Jeff Previte.

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Majka approaching the top of the third pitch. The ledge and belay are shared with Omega. The second party visible below. Photo by Peter Doucette.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now they were perched at the Pitch three belay looking up at the last and final pitch which was waiting patiently, as it had for 12 years.  The sun was lowering and the cold air began to penetrate their now shivering bodies, but Matt didn’t need to think about the next move.  He was motivated.

As Matt started up the final pitch he wrote:

“There was no obvious path other than the gnarliest looking corners and roofs which got me pretty excited. Confident, I knew I could make this pitch go. I began by down climbing 15 feet after sinking a Lost Arrow just above the anchor. I traversed left to a stance and climbed  a techy vertical crack and T4 (turf ratings) front point placements. Getting situated in a sweet corner below a grooved roof I found a piton and a tiny fixed wire I assume were placed by Kevin. I took a while here making sure not to rush anything. Hooting, hollering, singing Taylor Swift, laughing maniacally, I found myself torqueing micro cracks perfectly designed for pick placements in steep terrain. Tiny cams and wires protected most of the tough bits decently well. At the crux I stopped laughing, and Jeff said he wasn’t gonna take my picture again due to the long encroaching shadows.  Locking off on a sinker left tool I found myself traversing right out of a shallow corner onto a steep face using elegant and technical foot crosses and a high step to a one inch gloved thumb undercling! A bit of aggressive snarling and soon enough I was in the Krumholz. I found a Spruce or a Fir with an old loop of rope and belayed Jeff up from here. Ecstatic, I thought about Kevin standing at the previous ledge scoping his line. Of the handful of in-obvious options, we had chosen the same path, and how 13 years ago he fished that dinky little wired nut into a constriction and cruised onward. I took a few moments to laugh uncontrollably. When laughter gave way to the largest perma-smile I own, I experienced a deep appreciation for life, for Cannon Cliff, (the old old grandpa cliff) for Kevin and Ben being supremely badass, and for the holistic nourishment these experiences provide.”

Nice work guys! To read his entire account of the day, check out his report on Walkabout Wild.

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Mitt Ritter on the final pitch. Photo by Jeff Previte

If you are still feeling the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder after that dose of Prozac, here’s some Positive Thinking!

The next day, over in New York, Jeffery Dunn and Bryan Kass climbed Positive Thinking at Poke-O in 90’s fashion.  The route in early season mimics the days when the ice rarely touched the ground. They pulled some Patagonian-style tricks out of the bag and had a little fun with it along the way…


 

It seems climbers everywhere were heading to the hills this past weekend, taking advantage before the warmth and rain hit during the early part of this week.  Check out the Photo page for what got done.. including some sweet shots at Lake Willoughby!   In Crawford Notch, Mt. Willard offered up a taste of ice and in the Adirondacks, the climbs at Chapel Pond froze long enough to see some action.

Now if we can all sit still long enough, waiting for the warm front to move out of here and the cold to return later this week, who knows what we’ll find!

(CLICK PHOTOS TO ENLARGE)

By Courtney Ley

Special Thanks to Majka Burnhardt, Peter Doucette, Jeff Previte, Matt Ritter and Jeffery Dunn.

 

The Weekly UPdate!

From Cannon Cliff to Crawford Notch and Beyond

New Hampshire

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Photo courtesy of Erik Thatcher

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Photo by Art Mooney

It’s game on in the higher elevations this week!  Lines formed in Pinnacle Gully and other gullies in Huntington saw some action too, including Odells and Yale.  We even had our first minor epic (?) this week.  Yes, someone forgot their three screw anchor on Pinnacle.  So it’s business as usual on Mt. Washington.  The Great Gully in King Ravine got climbed as well.  Although perhaps the most exciting news was happening on Cannon Cliff.  The Black Dike got all sorts of traffic over the weekend.  Erik Thatcher and Art Mooney bailed off The Black Dike because of slushy conditions on Friday, but when Saturday rolled around, Eric Marshall and Jeff Previte found the freeze Friday night good enough, and fired it.  Erik Thatcher decided to return on Sunday with Alexa Siegel and take care of some unfinished business.  They got it done and he left his Nomic hanging on a tree as a flag of their conquest!  Too bad he had to return on Monday and do yet another lap with Art Mooney to retrieve the lone tool.

Also on Monday, Jeffery Dunn and Bryan Kass headed up on Cannon to the Dike, but took on a harder variation.  The duo climbed the Hassig’s Direct variation which had been looking good over the past couple of days.  Here’s Jeff’s report on the day.

“Already sleep deprived, Bryan Kass and I left NYC at 11:00pm Sunday night and swapped “leads” northwards through the driving rain. Pulling into the parking lot at 10am, the presence of another party’s truck was the only indication that conditions might be good on the cliff which lay invisible behind a billowing fog bank. With temperatures above freezing and a steady rain falling, there was no sense of urgency while we ate a breakfast of sausage and chocolate doughnuts and desperately tried to make sense of our wholly disorganized pile of winter gear.

Eventually, we disembarked the van and made our way down the bike path. Halfway to the approach trail we encountered the other climbing party, Art and Erik, who shared the promising conditions report; “soft”.

The first pitch took a screw in addition to the good cam and I set a belay under Hassigs. Unlike the last time we had come through, Hassig’s was in fantastic condition and sans large ice mushroom top-out. Bryan lead through and found good rock gear down low, a decent thread, and then a good screw. Already soaking wet, I was allowed some personal time to explore the fullness of a winter experience. The right side top-out, starting off with a nice ice curtain and moving into aesthetic moderate alpine mixed, brought us to the trees.

Arriving back at the van, there was only one suitable way for two NYC based climbers to celebrate starting the ice season in mid November: drive home immediately and get ready for work in the morning. The van stopped for 20 minutes to get gas and food, arriving in NY just over 24 hours after leaving.”

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Photo courtesy of Jeffery Dunn

Across the way from Cannon, others were finding enough ice to climb.  The narrow gully up in the Big Slide Area on the steep western slopes of Mt. Lafayette was picked at by Nick Yardley and David Crothers.  This great little gem of a route is a good early season option.  It’s a two second approach compared to other routes on Mt. Lafayette’s southwestern side such as the Escadrille.  You can bet that route, along with Lincoln’s Throat are in top notch shape.  Also, it wouldn’t be surprising if the Ammo Ravine on Washington is good to go.  Only one way to find out…

So with things blowing up, Doug and I decided to take a few practice flights in Crawford Notch.  WooKong 3.0 and ARDU buzzed by the forming ice routes in this video condition report.


 

Other Places

In the Adirondacks, Ian Osteyee of Adirondack Mountain Guides and Holly Blanchard of The Mountaineer got on a very thin Chouinard’s Gully over at Chapel Pond.  With snow in the forecast for Wednesday and Thursday and temperatures staying below freezing into the weekend in Keene Valley, it’s go time!

Alden Pellett finding thin conditions on the Blind Fate column. Photo courtesy of Kel Rossiter/Adventure Spirit Guides.

Don’t swing too hard! Alden Pellett finding brittle conditions on the Blind Fate column. Photo courtesy of Kel Rossiter.

In Vermont, Steve Charest and Alden Pellett got some very thin ice in Smuggler’s Notch last weekend. The pair ticked off Jeff Slide and most of Blind Fate in very thin conditions but finding the finish pillar hadn’t touched down, they bailed from there. Pellett returned during the week with Kel Rossiter of Adventure Spirit Guides to finish up the job on the now freshly-formed free-standing column at the top of that route which they said was “not trivial”.  Pellett, afraid the foot-thick column might collapse with him on it, didn’t place any gear until 15-20 feet up when he was able to get a couple of stubbies in where the ice was attached to the rock.  For the latest conditions in the Notch, check out the conditions page. If you’re thinking of heading up to Smuggs this weekend, a good six inches of fresh powder has locals skiing the Notch road, so make sure to bring your boards for an easy run back to the car!

Down in Pennsylvania, it looks like a quick window of opportunity opened up for November in the Narrows! Climbers in PA had a stellar ice season last year.  Let’s hope for more of the same.

Back up to Ontario, the ice climbing season has started in the Batchawana Bay!  Conditions report courtesy of Superior Exploration Co.

By Courtney Ley and Alden Pellett

Special Thanks to  Erik Thatcher and Jeffery Dunn

Click on the images to enlarge

 

Back to Business!


The Season is On!

Let’s take a look at the conditions and reports from this past weekend across the Northeast and go over what to expect for the coming weekend.

New Hampshire

In Tuckerman Ravine, we saw a couple of climbers lingering around as we headed up Hillman’s Highway.  It was a fun day and we climbed some great ice!  YES, enough to satisfy our hunger.. for now!  The headwall ice was coming in well.  Here’s some photos from the day.

Photo credit: Courtney Ley, Nick Yardley, Doug Millen

In Huntington Ravine, Pinnacle Gully was climbed by at least two parties.  They “found more ice then expected and in much better shape… Thin in some spots with running water, holes and some detached ice, but then again its still November! But overall WI2+ and able to accept decent protection.”

Conditions of Pinnacle Gully 11-9-14

Pinnacle Gully 11-9-14 – Photo by ralbert20

And over to Franconia Ridge:  Climbers headed up Lincoln’s Throat  Sunday and Monday to see what they could find.  The headwall was super thin, so both parties backed off and headed right across to the slabs and up. Alpineclimb noted the headwall “could have gone with a few stubbies and cams.”

What to expect for this weekend:

The weather forecast for the White Mountains is calling for a slight warming trend through Thursday, but temperatures dip back down to the low 20’s and high teens on the summit of Mt. Washington starting Thursday night.  That’s accompanied by some snow flurries into Friday and the wind will persist all week. The warming trend should add some moisture in the high climbing areas as the snow melts slightly and the cold will return just in time to lock things back up!

Don’t expect any climbable ice in the lower elevations this weekend, but if it stays cold that could change. Look high, climbs with northern aspects and in shaded areas for the best ice.

Are you looking for a guide? For a Mountain Washington adventure? Contact one of our local Ambassadors and they will be glad to help.  Cathedral Mountain Guides – Mooney Mountain Guides

Vermont

In Smuggler’s Notch, things are still pretty scratchy as temperatures just didn’t drop far enough to build thicker ice.  At least one party got out for some drytooling action though.  Tim Farr of PetraCliffs Climbing Center says “All in all, the Notch is coming along with ice slowly forming all around. It was just above freezing and ice wasn’t well bonded so I didn’t want to knock any of it down yesterday. Things in the Easy Gully vicinity are starting to form. Jeff’s slide has a consistent thin flow for much of it’s length as well.  The road is closed and has a thin layer of ice on it from melting snow as of yesterday. With the approaching cold snap, things should shape up quick in the Notch for some thin climbing.”

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Taking in the view in Smuggs! Photo by Tim Farr

What to expect for this weekend:

It’s looking like there will be more time to sharpen your drytooling skills as we wait for temperatures to drop below freezing, which doesn’t come until Saturday.  Even then, it’s a small window as the temperatures creep back up on Sunday.  There will be a rain/snow mix on Thursday night into Friday.

New York

In the Adirondacks, Ian Osteyee of Adirondack Mountain Guides reports: “No real ice yet. There have been lines of thin ice forming on all the usual suspects, but nothing that has survived the warm days. After tomorrow the temps will drop and I think we’ll see our first real ice to climb next week.”  Once things get going, look out for Ian’s Condition reports here!

Jesse and Emilie, owners of Cloudsplitter Mountain Guides in the Adirondacks, just got back into town and are getting ready for the winter.  Driving through Cascade Pass with temperatures in the mid 40’s on Monday didn’t raise many hopes, but it appears the early season skiers are enjoying some turns already on the Mt. Whiteface Toll Road.

While you are chomping at the bit up in New York, you can pass the time reading a recent interview in this fun article, Ladies we Love, about mountain guide Emilie Drinkwater.

For a look at the current weather, the Mountaineers Web Cam in Keene Valley will let you know if it is snowing or raining.

 What to expect for this weekend:

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Gothics North Face on October 30, 2013. Photo by Emilie Drinkwater

While the forecast in the valleys and passes will be similar to that of Smugglers Notch, the higher summits are looking at temperatures below freezing starting on Wednesday night and precipitation will fall as snow.  So while the chances at Cascade Pass and Chapel Pond might be grim, the climbs in the backcountry alpine areas could be promising!

– For some more early-season stoke and thoughts on ice climbing,  see these articles on early season ice.

Get out and explore!  You never know what you might find!  And whatever you do find, tell us about it here on NEice!

 

~Courtney Ley

Chronicles of the Overly Motivated

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Mud and fall leaves typically found on the boots of the overly motivated

By Courtney Ley

I’ve been inflicted by a disease.  It leaves my muscles constantly sore, my body screaming for sleep and my family and friends worried about my mental stability.   I become antsy and unable to sit idle for too long. I prefer the trunk of my car to my soft bed and prefer pre-dawn hours to high noon. The worst of the symptoms seem to arrive in late fall when the cold begins to settle in.

“All I need is a few cold nights and my mind begins the activation process”

 It’s not too far off to say that I become inflicted with an energetic state similar to what most animals succumb to during mating season.  In summary, ‘Out of my way! I’m fit and ready to get some.’   My doctors say that certain tendencies can increase my symptoms exponentially. Such as, the habit of thinking positively – all the time. Well, I am doomed for the foreseeable future, so I thought it best to reach out to others who have similar diagnoses.

All I need is a few cold nights and my mind begins the activation process.  Like a slideshow stuck in fast forward, images appear and disappear in front of my eyes. The darkening skies, howling wind, freezing fog, ice crystals forming and snow falling.  Then dawn breaks and that yellow ball strikes that crisp blue sky with intensity but no warmth manages to penetrate the atmosphere. The mountains hold on to the cold of the night, despite the light revealing their sharp ridges and smooth valleys.  When the temperature drops, I find myself on the move.

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May Ice. Why Not?

Sometimes this behavior is rewarded.  When it comes, it feels sweeter than anything you’ve had before. Late last season in May, I hiked into Huntington Ravine accompanied by a friend with a similar ailment. We were pretty damn positive there would still be ice to climb, even if it took climbing a few hundred feet of wet rock and precariously placed vegetation to reach it…and it did.  I had a grin on my face for the entire 80 feet of ice.  Yes, that was it, 80 feet. We were motivated to savor the last licks and it was worth it.  But for the afflicted, the most delicious reward is that first ice of the season. And for me, this comes early, just as the last ice had come late.

Sometimes though, your plate comes up empty.  That doesn’t deter the overly motivated, however. We only get hungrier.  This past Sunday, with my usual high hopes, I packed my gear the distance into the rocky depths of King Ravine.  Sitting on the north side of the mountain, the shade lingers.  This Halloween weekend, however, I didn’t need the shade as a low cloud bank parked itself above the summits.  With those clouds also came hurricane force winds.  Even better, I thought. It’ll freeze any water molecule that decides to visit the alpine arena.  My mind envisioned the drainage of Great Gully just frozen enough.  The slideshow of winter images played themselves out in front of my eyes as I started the approach.  Water slowing, ice crystals forming and snow falling.   Right away I noticed winter had greeted the mountains.  Snow clung tenaciously to the tree branches.  Further up, it hid the withered and wrinkled fall leaves.  Even higher still, the white crystals coated the cool rocks. By the time I hit the ravine, I was negotiating the boulder strewn floor with an inch of snow blanketing everything.  I was fully in the grips of my disease.

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The cloud bank settles in low.

Being overly motivated and yes, overly positive has many advantages, in my opinion.  I travel miles in beautiful woods before most people had even woken up.  I am able to spend time alone in the mountains.  Really alone without encountering any others.  Whether it be the time of day (or night), or the place I’m in for that time of year, I can be in the mountains with only myself or the people I choose to accompany me. When I’m walking up the trail on those approaches during early season, my surroundings seem quieter and I feel more meditative.  My mind clears itself of distractions without any effort on my part and my focus is simply on my breathing and my immediate surroundings in that moment.  The wind up high snakes its way through the stunted alpine spruce and produces a sound not unlike a distant river.   I linger blissfully in the idea that few had thought to see of there is ice there to climb and fewer still were motivated enough to trek that far.  When the walls of the ravine rise on either side of me, I feel small and humbled against the forces that created the mountains so long ago and the forces that are presently making themselves known. The wind, the cold air and the rough terrain.

Of course, the best prize of all is capturing the ice you’ve been hunting for.  On this day however, I stood in the half-frozen drainage looking at slush on top of running water.  Damn!  What was it?  Was there more water flowing this year than last?  Were the clouds blanketing the ravine and keeping it warmer than usual?  It was clear that the few cold nights just weren’t frigid enough.  In the end, the disappointment was brief as the morning had been sublime.  I made my way back down the trail and the air of late morning fought off the chill.  The ground radiated heat and melted the snow off the leaves along the path. I returned to my car having enjoyed the morning, but a deep rumble in my empty stomach would urge me back to the mountains soon.

No dice

No dice

Ok, maybe I am guilty of being too positive about the conditions.  But I’ll allow my disease to take over and I’ll allow my friends and family to call me crazy.  My body was glad for the sleep that night and my muscles were feeling the hours of climbing over giant slippery boulders.  Soon my episodes will become more frequent until I can get a few millimeters of metal into some thin ice.  And from that moment of hitting rock bottom with my malady, I’ll realize that from there, I’m only going UP.


Baxter – Fall 2014

Conditions Report!

October 12-14, 2014

Some years you find ice to climb in October, other years you are hiking in your underwear. The weather started out cold on our trip and we were hopeful, but this was not an ice climbing year. We still had fun and explored some new areas to the Northwest of Baxter Peak. The Northwest Basin is simply amazing and worth the 8 mile approach. Below are a few photos from our trip. Enjoy!

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Doug on the Northwest Plateau headed back to Roaring Brook after exploring the Northwest Basin. Yes, underwear time!

Alfonzo enjoying some early season ice two years ago on October 13th

Alfonzo enjoying some early season ice two years ago on October 13th


Photo Gallery

*Click Photos to Enlarge

- Doug Millen


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