Monday, December 23, 2013

New Hampshire Winter Climbing: Online Resources

There are a number of great resources online for anyone heading into the White Mountains in New Hampshire for winter hiking, climbing, or skiing. I use a few of these daily for their regular updates. Here are my favorites.

Some hunting around on weather sites and climbing forums lead me to
the Auburn, MA Ice Box Canyon one morning for a quick session on some thin ice.

  • Mount Washington Avalanche Center
    • Daily avalanche forecasting normally posted by 8:00 AM online, and earlier on the mountain at multiple locations on the way up to Tuckerman or Huntington's Ravine.
    • Photos of each ravine posted regularly. Great to assess ice conditions in Huntington.
  • Mount Washington Observatory
    • Daily weather report and up to the minute weather data collected by the manned observatory on the summit of Mt. Washington, as well as several remote monitoring sites. The absolutely most accurate forecasts for the White Mountains.
    • Webcams located on the summit give great ideas of current conditions, even if they're socked in the clouds.
    • Weekly White Mountain Report including photos of ice climbs and information from site administrator and long-time local climber Al Hospers. Normally updated on Thursdays, just in time for the weekend.
    • User created content for ice climbing including climbing photos, articles, and a very active forum.
    • Also great classified section, quick weather reference, and trip reports as well.
    • The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is my favorite website for extended weather forecasting and anything not on Mt. Washington.
    • The "pin-drop" feature allows you to zero in on a specific crag to get the weather info. You can do that by searching the weather for a town close to the cliff, like Bartlett for Frankenstein Cliff, and then using the map on the right side of the page to find the cliff and clicking on a location.
These are my favorite and most frequently visited sites. Feel free to share yours in the comments section.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Dawn Wall Episodes

I've been watching these Dawn Wall episodes being produced by Rock & Ice. I love to follow the work these guys are putting in to free such a huge route. I've compiled them all here for easy viewing!

The Dawn Wall: Episode 1 from Rock & Ice on Vimeo.

The Dawn Wall: Episode 6 from Rock & Ice on Vimeo.

The Dawn Wall: Episode 7 from Rock & Ice on Vimeo.

The Dawn Wall: Episode 12 from Rock & Ice on Vimeo.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Creeksgiving 2013

Indian Creek + Thanksgiving = Creeksgiving!
The crew of New Englanders and Texans the morning of our departure.

Spending Thanksgiving this year in the West away from my family meant that I wanted to spend it climbing of course! And if I couldn't spend it with my immediate family, I was going to spend it with my climbing family. So my partner Laura and I loaded up the van in Flagstaff and headed to meet a friend of mine from college, some mutual climbing friends, and unbeknownst to us some soon to be new friends from Texas. But that's the way of climbing; we're always meeting new people and new climbing partners. Especially in a place like Indian Creek where everyone wants to pool their gear so you can lead all the awesome sustained cracks.

Unfortunately, the weather wasn't cooperating exactly how we'd like. It had snowed about a foot the weekend before Thanksgiving when my friends arrived. They had to shovel out places to put their tents and couldn't climb for the first day until things started to dry out. By the time we arrived on Wednesday the sun had been out for a few days and things were looking better. We woke up in fog which cleared and we spent a fun day warming up. The hard route of the day was a finger and ring-lock route called The Last Battle 5.11 that took a group effort to put up. But unfortunately the weather would change again quickly.

Kyle and Kathleen hanging out and trying to stay warm!

The next morning we woke up to a cold and overcast day with no signs of the thick cloud blanket opening up to sun. We still managed to brave the cold temps and get some routes in, including my lead of the classic route Scarface 5.11- which yielded well to my skinny hands. We wrapped up and built a big fire back at the campsite to warm up and cook some of our Thanksgiving feast upon. The spread included mashed potatoes, grilled veggies, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, stuffing, and to finish it all off pumpkin pie. Obviously there were many vegetarians in the group (myself included) so the traditional turkey was missing. We had a great dinner and fun evening, especially watching the crew from Boulder next to our campsite go streaking through Creek Pasture campground. But unfortunately when we woke in the morning to the same scene of being socked in by dreary clouds it was time to leave. No one was psyched on another frigid day climbing so we conducted the sorting ritual of gear to make sure everyone got back their respective equipment and hit the road. We didn't get out of the cloud blanket until 4 hours of driving had us back into Arizona. All in all though I had an excellent time and will be sure to return next year for Creeksgiving 2014! Hope to see you there.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Layering: Staying Comfortable in the Mountains

Check out this blog post I recently wrote for the American Alpine Institute. Many of my technical thoughts on fabrics and layering strategies for alpine climbing. I also listed a few of my kits I use regularly in different locations.

My friend Conor and I demonstrating how NOT to layer while hunting for early season ice.