Unprecedented February in The Northeast

Where are we and what’s next?

Remind me? What month was that?

February or April? The month started off great! Plenty of snow and ice to climb. But, right after some epic snowfalls and great skiing, things went south. It started to feel more like April than February. A day or two of warmth is normal, but a week and a half of record warmth and rain took its toll. Spring came early and devastated the ice climbing in many areas. Winter temperatures are returning this weekend but it may be too late for most climbs to recover. Keep an eye open for the rare visitors. “Omega” on Cannon cliff has been found in great shape even in April. It’s time to follow the weather, look in the shaded gullies and up high. Be ready! This is the Northeast, and we are not done yet!

Damage Report!

Adirondacks:

Tendonitis - Feb. 26, 2017 - Uploaded By Brandonian / NEice Photos

Tendonitis – Feb. 26, 2017 – Uploaded By Brandonian / NEice Photos

Ian Osteyee, owner of Adirondack Mountain Guides says, “Everything is so fat; it’s all still there.” The back side of Chapel Pond and the North Face of Pitchoff are both areas that still have ice to climb. Routes like “Chouinard’s Gully”, “Crystal Ice Tower”, and “Tendonitis” are still in. Osteyee did caution climbers about crossing Chapel Pond though, after this warm spell, saying, “areas next to the shoreline may be open or have thin ice where you could break through.” So, even if temps drop to zero, people should check ice thickness before just walking across to climbs on the other side of the pond.

Catskills:

Mountain guide and owner of Alpine Logic, Silas Rossi – “I’m as close to 100% as I can possibly be that there won’t be any ice to climb in the Catskills for the rest of the season. Time to rock climb in the Gunks!”

The White Mountains:

Mountain guide at Northeast Mountaineering, Matty Bowman – “I’m finding ice quality to be very mixed. In places it’s building, like early season, and other spots, it’s dry, brittle and rotten. The bottom of Parasol ice was plastic, while the top was brittle, with lots of channeling from the thaw.”

“Huntington was in good condition. We found good ice on the first pitch of Pinnacle and great snow climbing up higher. Lots of water channeling on the upper pitches, including some thin eggshell sections over running water and large holes from the thaw. Other gullies looked good. We saw parties in Damnation, Odell’s, etc.”

Frankenstine2

The Frankenstein Amphitheater last weekend. – Matty Bowman

“”Frankenstein” is pretty much out. I guided there last Saturday and we canceled Sunday. The ice was undermined and top-outs were horrendous. We could not see anything on the walk in, but walking out the amphitheater was completely falling apart. Pretty grim.”

IMCS – International Mountain Climbing School – “We’re getting into my favorite month on Mount Washington: March! Lots of snow up high, milder temperatures, and longer days transforms the little cirque into a skier or alpine climber’s paradise. It seems like March goes quickly and we only get a month of prime conditions. IMCSWe had a great mountaineering course this week; here are daughter Brandi and mother Melissa descending the East Face snowfields. We glissaded to treeline. I’ve got some BIG plans for the rockpile these few fleeting weeks: how’s about you?” – IMCS, Facebook

“This was unlike any other Feb thaws in that it was a full re-set in most areas,” said Doucette, owner of MountainSense Guides in New Hampshire, who described the damage done due to the prolonged warm spell. ““Dracula” and “Standard,” some of the last to go, were not what I would call a safe bet these last few days.” But, he added, “Now it’s cooling off again, I’d go for supported features at elevation on cooler aspects – north and east-facing.” Now that it’s March, the sun will have increasing effect and that‘s something climbers need to keep in mind, emphasized Doucette.

Doucette encouraged people to look at Mount Washington, Smuggs and Cannon as probably the best bets aside from a few north-facing crags for a while. “If folks are mixed climbing, I’d bring a full rock rack and expect to anchor with that, or gun for the trees! There may also be a lot of verglas in cracks, so favoring stoppers, pins, and hexes over cams for their reliability. Any times conditions change rapidlym you have to be that much more prepared for the unexpected.”

Vermont:

Conditions were rough last weekend in Smuggler’s Notch. The rain and 50 degree temperatures this week has that area basically starting over, and it will mostly be dependent on whatever forms in the coming cold snap.

Lake Willoughby flows are hurting, to say the least. Parts of “Mindbender,” WI5+, lay in the ditch by the road Sunday morning.  But, surprisingly by early Tuesday morning, things were starting to look exciting as a couple lines that rarely form, like “Five Musketeers” and “Aurora,” had come in overnight with the cooler temps and lots of water flow.  Unfortunately, they fell down just as quickly as the strong morning sun came over Mount Pisgah, and baked the dark rock.  By that afternoon, the thermometer was at 42F, and I listened to ice and rockfall echoing loudly as I safely skied the woods on Mt. Hor across the valley.

While there is some ice hanging around still on upper parts of Willoughby routes, it’s all detached and dangerous.  After temps drop in the next day or two, who knows? Some cool stuff could form quickly again. If you decide to head there, bring your rock rack, all of your stubbies and a good dose of courage. – Alden Pellett

Quebec:

Newfoundland:

It may well be worth the drive up if you have time, and are still in the ice-climbing mode. There is still plenty of ice up there to climb. Check out “Climbing a Dream in Newfoundland,” Joe Terravecchia, Will Mayo and Anna Pfaffs’ new mega-ice route.

Also, check out “The Unseen Sun” by Nick Bullock, where he and the b’ys find adventure, friendship, and hospitality in Newfoundland.

Weather Forecast:

Cold weather is headed our way. So cold, it’s going to hurt after these 50 degree days. It may bring in some rare visitors if you can brave the chill. Running water is everywhere, but it may be too late for a lot of climbs. The sun is high and warm this time of year.

d87c7661-72a0-46b2-6a7a-f8eb8f1a1c92

March 2017 temperature outlook. Areas not shaded have an equal chance of above- or below-average temperatures. (The Weather Company, an IBM Business)

March 2017 temperature outlook. Areas not shaded have an equal chance of above- or below-average temperatures. (The Weather Company, an IBM Business)

Some Information from Around the Web:


Be careful out there – February 24, 2017


February 27, 2017


February 28, 2017


When all else fails, get ready for rock climbing. Jon Sykes new guide book is out. Pick up a copy and get ready for some rock climbing adventures.


Mike Pelchat on the wet and thin Black Dike Traverse. 2-23-17

Featured image: Matty Bowman finding wet rock and just enough ice on the traverse of the Black Dike, Franconia Notch NH – Photo: Mike Pelchat

Featured Photos – ADK Mountainfest 2017

We had a great time at the 21st ADK Mountainfest. We delivered some hot soup to the clinics, did some climbing and Solo had a good flight over “Cheese and Crackers” at Chapel Pond. Here are a few of the images I captured during my travels at this event. Many thanks to The MountaineerRock and River , the Guides and everyone involved for the great work they do for the community, and the participants.  Their friendliness and hospitality is unmatched. We can’t wait to return.

Photos from the 2017 ADK Mountainfest – Doug Millen

Cover photo: ADK Legend Tom Yandon getting started on Rhiannon, Chapel pond.

 

 

LOSING WEIGHT FOR THE NEW YEAR

Alden Story Cover Image


– By Alden Pellett

My leg plunges through the crust into the waist-deep snow again. I fight to keep my balance on the slope but find myself in an embarrassing situation: my pack pulling me over backwards, my arms flailing, I am wallowing upside down and swimming in a heavy layer of powder. It’s not my first rodeo post-holing up a steep approach to ice climb in Smuggler’s Notch, Vermont, but this time my pack feels three times heavier than usual. It’s the start of a new year, and like many people traditionally do, I had my New Year’s resolution. I resolved right then and there, I needed to lose some of this weight.
Unless you’re gearing up for a big objective in the Himalaya, the key to success with this gear-intensive sport here in New England often means keeping things as light as possible.
So, just because you’re climbing a two to three pitch route at the local crag doesn’t mean you shouldn’t bother keeping the weight off. NEice talked with some of the top guides in the region to hear some of their insights. We’ve gathered a list of tips and tech stuff that hopefully helps you with your own climbing resolutions this year.Tim Farr - Scream Quean

A week ago, I stood with IFMGA guide Silas Rossi, owner of Alpine-Logic in New Paltz, N.Y., below “Mindbender”, WI5+, at Lake Willoughby. We peered up at the unrelenting steepness and started getting ready to swap leads up some fairly mean-looking terrain. If there is one place in the Northeast that gets you sweating just thinking about how heavy your rack is, it’s there.

With that in mind, Silas offers up this bit of advice: “Do more with less. A lot of people carry too much on their harness. Three lockers, a belay plate, a cord, and a 4′ runner. A prussic loop and your rack and draws should suffice most of the time.”
I caught up with another one of the strongest climbers and guides in the East, IFMGA guide and Piolet D’Or-nominee Kevin Mahoney to get his take on how to improve on my slimming New Year’s resolution. When it comes to mixed terrain and keeping it light, Mahoney says to go for the Ultralight BD cams. When on ice, he explained, he pares things down even further by sizing down screws and carrying more of the short 10cm rigs.
AMGA Rock Instructor and Assistant Alpine Guide, Matt Shove, who runs Ragged Mountain Guides in Plainville, Conn., echoes Mahoney and Rossi, recommending the lightest in new carabiners and slings. To paraphrase Matt, if you’re carrying around ten-year-old carabiners, it’s time to upgrade. Matt is also pretty enthusiastic about one of his favorite lightweight tools, the J Snare. “It’s the lightest ‘V’ thread tool. There are no sharp points, so it won’t shred your pack, your expensive belay parka, or more importantly, your lunch.“ In fact, we at NEIce are witnessing many guides putting this baby on their racks this winter!Alden Story 2

Perhaps Rossi sums it up best, “Update to modern gear, everything from carabiners, runners, screws, clothing, boots, crampons.” Today’s new equipment, he says, “…keeps getting lighter and lighter.”

LIGHTEN UP FOR THE NEW YEAR

SCREW THAT!

Petzl Laser Speed Light screws: These babies are sharp! They bite into ice ridiculously fast and weigh next to nothing. They cost more than others but on a long pitch or route, the weight savings is really a game changer. Some of our test guides say they don’t seem as durable over time as the Black Diamond’s Turbo Express screw, but for ‘fast and light’, there is really no substitute.
https://www.petzl.com/CA/en/Sport/Anchors/LASER-SPEED-LIGHT#.WGvuQFwsLAM

ALL TIED UP?

Mammut Twilight 7.5mm ropes: Got the feeling that your rope is trying to pull you off the climb? At 38 grams per meter, you’ll shave some real pounds off the trek towards that big route with the latest in skinny ropes. At times on some difficult ice leads, I’ve almost forgotten I have these tied to me.

Beal makes an even skinnier set of ropes: their Gully 7.3 Unicore ropes. Regardless of the brand, these thinner models thread nicely into the ice for rappels, leave no trace, and make carrying extra cordage up a route for descents almost obsolete.
https://www.mammut.ch/US/en_US/B2C-Kategorie/Equipment/Ropes/Half-and-Twin-Ropes/7-5-Twilight-Dry/p/2010-02760-1144

SUSPEND DISBELIEF

Patagonia Galvanized pants: Superlight with all the features an ice climber needs including suspenders. NEIce founder and longtime gear tester Doug Millen says he’s run these pants all over the White Mountains this season already. From soloing long easy routes to beating them through deep snow approaches, they’ve performed for him, no complaints.
http://www.patagonia.com/product/mens-galvanized-pants-for-alpine-climbing/83155.html

KEEP THE STOKE HOT

Stanley Adventure Stainless Steel 17 oz. vacuum bottle: Personally, this is one tool I won’t ever go without on a cold day of ice climbing. At under a pound dry weight, I bring it up anything longer than a single pitch. A good cup of hot honeyed ginger tea before leading up a steep pitch is worth its weight and this is a sweet rig that takes a beating. Stanley also offers larger sizes but this fits right in my ruck alongside my puffy belay parka.
http://www.stanley-pmi.com/store/stanley/en_US/pd/ThemeID.39334800/productID.324175400

LOCK IT DOWN

Lightweight carabiners: There’s so many now that it’s hard to pick just one brand. Petzl’s Attache’ locking carabiner is a popular one, and at just 56 grams, it’s a keeper. Pair one of those with Mammut’s Wall microlocks (47 grams) for safe clip-in points at the belays and you might start seeing the slim results in the mirror. DMM also offers a super light version: The Sentinel MS locker ticks in at 54 grams. Like I said, there’s a lot of choice out there. For this category, it won’t hurt to take a trip to your local gear store and watch the pounds melt off your rack.
Petzl Attache’ locker
https://www.petzl.com/I/en/Sport/Carabiners-and-quickdraws/ATTACHE#.WG1NCFwsLAM

DMM Sentinel HMS locker
http://dmmclimbing.com/products/sentinel-hms/

Mammut Wall Microlock
https://www.mammut.ch/US/en_US/B2C-Kategorie/Alpine-Climbing/Mixed-and-Ice-Climbing/Wall-Micro-Lock/p/2210-01260-1502-1

Alden Pellett, Photographer
www.aldenpellett.com

Have you been Naughty or Nice?

Merry Christmas to All

This has been the best start to an Ice Climbing Season in recent memory. Seems like most climbers have been “nice” this year. Thank you Santa!

@zacst.julesclimbing Started the day getting shut down by Omega. Finished the day on Fafnir. All around good day with @pgcooke. Thought Id share this fantastic photo of the sun lighting up Omega. .

@zacst.julesclimbing – Started the day getting shut down by Omega. Finished the day on Fafnir. All around good day with @pgcooke. Thought Id share this fantastic photo of the sun lighting up Omega. 12-20-16
.

Cathedral Mountain Guides December 21 · Ice climbing is back! It's looking pretty good up in Crawford Notch - Frankenstein, Mt Willard and Mt Webster are all pretty icey right now. Here is CMG's Jake Job on a pretty steep, early season Dracula. Yeah!

Cathedral Mountain Guides – December 21, 2016
Ice climbing is back! It’s looking pretty good up in Crawford Notch – Frankenstein, Mt Willard and Mt Webster are all pretty icey right now. Here is CMG’s Jake Job on a pretty steep, early season Dracula. Yeah!

The Amphitheater ice in Grafton Notch is in well. Even the steep curtain is touching down. Acadia Mountain Guides Climbing School #maineiceclimbing #neice.

The Amphitheater ice in Grafton Notch is in well. Even the steep curtain is touching down. Acadia Mountain Guides Climbing School #maineiceclimbing #northeastice.

Scott Lovell leading Crazy Diamond up to the cave. The finish pillar wasn't in. The roof system beside the pillar on the right now sits on the ground. Maybe 20 tons of rock cut loose this fall. It's the same roof that many climbers have thought a wild mixed finish might go through. Well I thought it would go, and it did.Then we did Twenty Below Gully. It didn't rain over there like it did here. The lake is not going off yet.

Scott Lovell leading Crazy Diamond up to the cave. The finish pillar wasn’t in. The roof system beside the pillar on the right now sits on the ground. Maybe 20 tons of rock cut loose this fall. It’s the same roof that many climbers have thought a wild mixed finish might go through. Well I thought it would go, and it did.Then we did Twenty Below Gully. It didn’t rain over there like it did here. The lake is not going off yet. – Jon Sykes

@adventurespiritguides@zebblais keeping things straight on Mindbender. @mammutna @mammut_absolute_alpine #runatribe #neclimbs #northeastice #lakewilloughby

Adventure spirit guides@zebblais keeping things straight on Mindbender, Lake Willoughby VT.
@mammutna @mammut_absolute_alpine #runatribe #neclimbs #northeastice #lakewilloughby

Here it is. Poster for the 11th Annual Smuggs Ice Bash! Psyched for a great weekend climbing and celebrating with you all.

Here it is. Poster for the 11th Annual Smuggs Ice Bash! Psyched for a great weekend of climbing and celebrating with you all.

Warm temps and soft ice in the Catskills right now! A fair bit of water running but plenty to climb right now in Devil's Kitchen. #alpinelogic #catskills #iceclimbing @arcteryx @sterlingrope @petzl_official @julbousa - Silas Rossi

Warm temps and soft ice in the Catskills right now! A fair bit of water running but plenty to climb right now in Devil’s Kitchen. #alpinelogic #catskills #iceclimbing @arcteryx @sterlingrope @petzl_official @julbousa – Silas Rossi – alpine-logic

EMS guide @dmarshallphoto chasing the sunshine on the classic route Fafnir at Cannon Cliff. #emsguides #shreddingthegnar #northeastice @petzl_official @scarpana @lasportivana 📷 @80percenter

EMS guide @dmarshallphoto chasing the sunshine on the classic route Fafnir at Cannon Cliff. #emsguides #shreddingthegnar #northeastice @petzl_official @scarpana @lasportivana 📷 @80percenter

Doug Ferguson - Martin enjoying the type 2 fun with the perpetual calf burn of NFOP — at Pitchoff Mountain.

Doug Ferguson – Martin enjoying the type 2 fun with the perpetual calf burn of NFOP — at Pitchoff Mountain, Adirondacks NY – Mountain Skills Climbing Guides

Matthew Horner With Bill Schneider at Chapel Pond.

Matthew Horner With Bill Schneider on “Power Play”, Chapel Pond, Adirondacks NY

#skadidog test fitting her new Rex Specs!!! Bring on the blower pow!!!! #chistmascameearly #rexspecs #skidog — at Petra Cliffs Climbing Center & Mountaineering School.

#skadidog test fitting her new Rex Specs!!! Bring on the blower pow!!!! #chistmascameearly #rexspecs #skidog — at Petra Cliffs Climbing Center & Mountaineering School.

The business on Notched in Stone. A Tom Yandon and Joe Szot route, up and left of Moss cliff. #adirondacks #iceclimbing #northeast #winterfun — in Wilmington, New York.

The business on “Notched in Stone”. A Tom Yandon and Joe Szot route, up and left of Moss cliff. #adirondacks #iceclimbing #northeast #winterfun — in Wilmington, New York. – Matthew Horner

Doug Ferguson shared Stephen Pucci's photo — with James Matalvin Tullos. Yesterday at 5:30am · Pucci tang scored this nice shot of me yesterday in Cascade Pass. Thanks Pucci!

Doug Ferguson shared Stephen Pucci’s photo — with James Matalvin Tullos. Pucci tang scored this nice shot of me yesterday in Cascade Pass. Thanks Pucci! – Mountain Skills Climbing Guides

Joe Vitti at Catskill Mountains. December 21 at 5:11pm · Instagram · Here's a beautiful route on the west side of Stony Clove called Spiral Staircase. Troy climbing strongly through the steep crux. The ice was a bit delicate today, not perfectly bonded to the rock, there were some hollow thuds and some missiles, but the climbing was so cool! #catskilliceclimbing #frozenwaterislife #blackdiamondequipment #vittimtguides

Joe Vitti at Catskill Mountains. December 21, 2016 
Here’s a beautiful route on the west side of Stony Clove called Spiral Staircase. Troy climbing strongly through the steep crux. The ice was a bit delicate today, not perfectly bonded to the rock, there were some hollow thuds and some missiles, but the climbing was so cool! – Vitti mountain guides

@inphinitelyripped Gettin the goods on Mt. Cannon today with @kob6... Third pitch of the Black Dike 📷 @kob6

@inphinitelyripped Gettin the goods on The Black Dike, Cannon Cliff. NH today with @kob6…Third pitch of the Black Dike 📷 @kob6

Ice Revolution

Ice Revolution from Granite Films ~ Jim Surette on Vimeo.

“My main climbing partners were John Bragg, John Bouchard and Henry Barber…” Rick Wilcox narrates the ice climbing revolution of the Northeast in the 1960s and 1970s.

Cog Railway Announces Intentions to Build a 35 Room Luxury Hotel on Mount Washington

The Coos Planning Board Meeting

Cog Railway owners appearing before the planning board (Wayne Presby in red) – Doug Millen


When History Threatens The Future

When I heard about the Cog Railway’s intention to build a 35 room upscale hotel and restaurant along their tracks on Mount Washington, I almost didn’t believe it.  I felt frustrated and angry over the fact that there are people with the ability to tamper with something I love.  For many of us, Mount Washington is our place to experience nature’s force, and to challenge and humble ourselves in a wild and frequently harsh and unforgiving environment.  My time on Mount Washington’s slopes has made a significant impact on shaping the person and climber I am today.  Although I am fully aware of the what occurs just above me on the summit, I remain on the ice and rocks of the ravines below and see a mountain too special and unique to be the victim of selfish interests. As chronicled in Mount Washington’s long history, it’s apparent the mountain has meant something entirely different to others.

Building and development is nothing new in the White Mountains, especially on New England’s highest peak.  As early as the mid-19th century, the mountain was developed into what can be considered one of the first tourist destinations in the country. Numerous bridle paths, most notably the Crawford Path completed in 1819, were constructed to the summit.  In 1861, when the five-year road project was complete, the mountain suddenly became accessible for all.  Waiting on top for the growing number of visitors were hotels and restaurants beginning in the 1850’s all the way until 1980, when the last hotel was demolished for the construction of current Sherman Adams Visitor Center. Despite devastating fires the 1900’s, developers continued to build and re-build hotels and restaurants to attract more visitors each year. Battles over ownership of the peak frequented the New Hampshire court system, a telling sign of the mindset of that era.  It didn’t take long after European settlers first saw the mountain for it to become the center of exploitation.

After the road was open to the public, its business doubled every year until 1869, when the most impactful event happened. The Cog Railway was complete.  It was a turning point for life on the summit of Mount Washington.  “Never again by the new rail can he have the sensation that he enjoyed in the ascent of Mount Washington by the old bridle path from Crawford’s, when, climbing out of the woods and advancing upon that marvelous backbone of rock, the whole world opened upon his awed vision, and the pyramid of the summit stood up in majesty against the sky.  Nothing, indeed, is valuable that is easily obtained.” -Charles Dudley Warner, 1886.  Now, 130 years later, this same entity is trying to repeat history, but I believe at a higher cost as the sensitive alpine environment is continually under the threats of our current age.

I don’t deny or ignore the history of Mount Washington when I plead my case to stop further development on the mountain.  It would be impossible. It is that history preventing efforts to conserve what remains of not just Mount Washington but all areas of the White Mountains under constant risk of human intrusion.  The precedence has already been set, as pointed out by the owners of the Cog Railway, and used as an argument to support the hotel’s construction.  Just last year, the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC), who owns and maintains the existing and historic hut system along the Appalachian Trail, announced their intent to construct a new hut in the already overcrowded area of Crawford Notch.  Thankfully, days after the Cog Hotel news broke, the AMC officially terminated their plans, noting the opposition they were receiving.  Maybe it’s time to change history for a better future for our mountain ecosystem we cherish.  Let’s allow our future generations to enjoy an untarnished landscape and teach them care and conservation through our present actions.

Thank you to my fellow hikers and climbers who feel similarly to myself and are actively fighting the construction of this hotel.  The following information has been pulled together by the help of this community who love the White Mountains.

-Courtney Ley


The Facts:

Mt Wash Summit

The Summit of Mount Washington NH

Mount Washington State Park is a 60.3-acre (24.4 ha) parcel perched on the summit of Mount Washington, the highest peak in the northeastern United States. Summer seasonal amenities include a cafeteria, restrooms, gift shops, the Mount Washington Observatory and its museum.

In April of 1894, the Mount Washington Summit Road Company, owners of the summit at the time, sold a 49 acre circular tract to the Mt. Washington Railway Company.  That land constitutes the bulk of today’s Mount Washington State Park.  A small segment of the summit is still owned by the Cog Railway and used as the upper terminus of the railway.

It would be a terrible intrusion, and assault on the fragile alpine zone of an already overcrowded Summit. It sets a bad precedent of commercial use for profit above treeline. Mt. Washington is the Jewel of the state, let’s treat it as such and preserve it for future generations to enjoy. – Doug Millen
Sources: Mt. Washigtion Cog Railway, NH Divishion of Parks and Recreation, Mount Washington Auto Road and bostonglobe.com

Sources: Mt. Washington Cog Railway, NH Division of Parks and Recreation, Mount Washington Auto Road, Google Earth and bostonglobe.com – Doug Millen / NEice.com

The Environment on Mount Washington:

Mount Washington is home to the unique alpine tundra natural community system and the Presidential Range accounts for more than half of the 13 square miles of alpine tundra in the northeastern United States. The mountain contains an exemplary (high quality) natural community of the alpine zone.  It supports the richest assemblage of arctic-alpine plants in the region, most of which are rare in the coterminous United States. Scattered areas of krummholz, which are composed of dwarfed and matted black spruce and balsam fir, are also present. The Alpine Garden Research Natural Area (RNA), contains a former candidate for listing under the Endangered Species Act, the Boott’s rattlesnake-root.  The New Hampshire Natural Heritage Inventory has determined that the RNA also contains 7 state endangered plants, 24 state threatened plants, 7 state rare plants, 3 state endangered animals and 2 state rare animals. (Source: USDA, Forest Service)


The Initial Steps:

A Planning Board meeting was held on December 8th where owners of the Cog Railway discussed their general plans for the hotel.  The purpose of the meeting was a preliminary discussion with no consensus or decision making at this early stage.  No formal application was submitted and it was not open to official public comment, however, over 40 members of the hiking and climbing community attended the meeting.

A Brief Synopsis of the Coos County Planning Board Meeting

Nickie Sekera – Social and Environmental Justice Alliance
December 9, 2016

The Coos County Planning Board held a meeting tonight (12-8-16) in Lancaster, NH where we listened to a preliminary review of a (conceptual) proposal of a 35 room hotel and restaurant at about 5,200′ of elevation in the alpine zone on Mount Washington.  The Cog Railway owners opened up the discussion with their history on Mt Washington, citing that a previous hotel sat on the summit, to lean on the fact that a precedent of there being a hotel above treeline had previously been set.

They also framed the project as being a solution to the issue that they pinned on the state as a shortcoming, stating that they are unable to provide “proper services” to address “overcrowding” at the summit.

Funny, at the planning board meeting the owner of the cog was comparing his 35 room hotel proposal to the alps hut system and how similar it would be to there. Interesting to read how different you think this proposal is from the alps. The White Mountains is 1,225 sq mi and the Alps are 80,000 square miles (the state of Minnesota is 79,617 sq/miles), something to think about when you’re considering development here vs there.
-Anne Skidmore Russell

It was also stated that the Cog Railway currently subsidizes state operations at the summit to the tune of approximately $200,000 annually. While this project claims that it will be completely privately funded, they did ask for latitude on zoning.

No one could answer the question as to what the “maximum capacity” of the summit could sustain-ably accommodate, nor what the projected impacts would be with increasing the traffic, except that New Hampshire continues to promote the mountain without apparent concern of consequence.

We noticed that Fred King, the vice chair, presented with an air of confidence in this project. It’s difficult to say how the others level of concern may or may not be, but it is apparent that the Cog Railway folks are doing a “temperature check” and may be responsive to push-back if concerned parties start applying pressure to them publicly, citing the negative impacts.


Arguments in Favor of the Hotel:

Provide the Crowded Summit with Additional Amenities

They State: With the number of people visiting the summit, there needs to be additional accommodations.  Wayne Presby, president and co-owner of the Cog Railway said in an interview that Mount Washington has become a victim of its own popularity. With 300,000 coming there every year and as many as 5,000 on the mountain on a given day, they said there aren’t enough amenities to serve the public.  He stated it would ease congestion.

We Respond:  The people already visiting Mount Washington, whether by the auto road, cog railway or hiking to the top, are there for just the day and most only stay for an hour or two. They aren’t looking for a hotel room or a fancy restaurant.  The hotel will simply increase traffic in the alpine zone with its own guests and will not relieve the stresses of the current situation on the summit.  The current configuration of the summit should be the limiting factor on the traffic it receives.  Do not encourage more.

With over 374,000 coming every year to this, the highest point in the Northeast and as many as 5,000 on the mountain on a given day, do we just keep building to accommodate everyone that wants to come with no regard for the mountain, or the people that love this mountain?

Provide Local Jobs and Bring Tourism Dollars

They State:  “The hotel and restaurant would create 20 new jobs, and provide an economic boost to the North Country through the use of local contractors,” Wayne Presby noted.  In response to the opposition, he is on record saying the hikers who want the outdoors preserved are “elitist” and “[they] resist compromise that opens the outdoors to more people and brings in more tourist dollars to a region that needs them.”

We Respond: Are 20 new seasonal jobs and temporary contractor work worth the cost of potential environmental degradation? Any additional dollars to the local economy will only be captured by the owners of this development as they provide their tourists with transportation, luxury lodging and meals.  With the hotel near the summit of the mountain, the surrounding towns at the base of the mountains will not see these hotel guests, and not profit from their visit.


Important Matters:

Requires changes to the zoning laws

http://www.cooscountynh.us/sites/coosconh/files/file/file/zoning_ordinances_as_amended_nov052015.pdf

The Cog Railway owns a 90′ wide strip of land under the current railroad with National Forest land on each side. The required setbacks are 25′ on each side. That leaves 40′ to build on. Current zoning prohibits building above 2700′. The proposed building is at 5000′. Zoning laws were meant to protect against projects like this and should not be compromised.

I don’t like the situation now and I just don’t see a scenario where this new development improves it. I ski and climb a lot in the Alps and I love the hut system there. Huts are small, and friendly and don’t interfere with your adventure, they are never on the summit. But you can swing in on the way down or up for a cup of soup and staying at one is very affordable. Unclear why things must be so very different here at home.
– Olga Mirkina 

Fire & Safety Issues – It’s remoteness causes real concern for fire and safety in this sensitive area. How would a major fire be dealt with? And putting more potentially uneducated hikers easily on top of a mountain with some of the worst weather in the world would add extra burden to the local search and rescue members.

The narrowness of the building site – How grand can a hotel be when you are restricted to these building dimensions. What happens if this business venture fails? Are we left with a forever deteriorating blemish on the mountain?

Development for Profit – The driving force in most developers is profit! And the rest of us suffer while they profit.


From the News:

Boston Globe

December 10, 2016

http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2016/12/10/plans-for-luxury-hotel-below-washington-summit-prompt-outcry/qD915HAyuWY9GKw05sbO1I/story.html

“Mount Washington is big, but it may not be big enough for this hotel.”

An online petition created Dec. 2 in opposition to the hotel had attracted 6,307 signatures by Saturday — more than 11 times the 562 names attached to a counter-petition in support of the plan.

Gareth Slattery, a local man who gave the hotel his online backing.

This proposal would change all that, and would flood the high peaks nearby with ill-prepared, and worse than that, ill-educated “hikers”. I predict that the sections above treeline but below the area of broken rock, will be severely damaged within a few years.
– John Currier 

“I actually live here, unlike most who have signed against this project,” Slattery wrote. “Tourism is our industry and provides livelihoods to thousands in our area. It seems most who sign against [the hotel] would like to keep it their personal playground. Nothing greedier than that.”

“The mountain has been so developed, and it continues to be exploited for obvious reasons — financial gain. It’s a hard pill to swallow,” said Dave Dillon, a 32-year-old hiker from Tewksbury, Mass.

“If you’re up there to enjoy the outdoors, the summit of Mount Washington is exactly the opposite. It’s like a little city,” said Dillon, the hiker. “We can’t continue to keep adding and adding and adding. We’ll be left with nothing,”

“To Presby, much of the pushback smacks of what he sees as elitism by hikers who understandably want the outdoors preserved. But many of them, he added, resist compromise that opens the outdoors to more people and brings in more tourist dollars to a region that needs them.”

“There isn’t a thing that gets done in the North Country that doesn’t get opposition from these groups,” said Presby, who previously owned the Mount Washington Hotel, a sprawling Victorian-era landmark in the valley.”

That argument received a thumbs-up from Gareth Slattery, a local man who gave the hotel his online backing. “I actually live here, unlike most who have signed against this project,” Slattery wrote. “Tourism is our industry and provides livelihoods to thousands in our area. It seems most who sign against [the hotel] would like to keep it their personal playground. Nothing greedier than that.”

_________________________________

The Concord Monitor

December 8, 2016

http://www.concordmonitor.com/Coos-County-Planning-Board-hears-Cog-Railway-hotel-plan-6766818

Chris Magnes of Conway-“I respect the auto road and the train, and the history that surrounds it, but we don’t need anymore buildings or people on that mountain.”

“The issues of overcrowding are related to access because it’s a very accessible summit from the railway and the road.”

_________________________________

New Hampshire Public Radio

http://nhpr.org/post/developer-makes-public-pitch-hotel-mount-washington

“So far, about 6,400 people have signed petitions against the proposed hotel, saying it would diminish the wilderness experience on Mount Washington. About 550 people have signed a petition in favor saying it would help the economy and pointing out that the mountain is already commercialized.”

________________________________

Herald Courier

December 8, 2016

Appalachian Mountain Club withdraws White Mountains hut plan

http://www.heraldcourier.com/news/appalachian-mountain-club-withdraws-white-mountains-hut-plan/article_2e6b46ee-7028-5637-804f-1ce66ffb4341.html

“The proposal drew mostly negative feedback from hikers and outdoors lovers who contend the region is already overcrowded. Others said the hut rates were out of their price range.”

________________________________

Union Leader

December 3, 2016

http://www.unionleader.com/Hikers-sign-on-to-fight-proposed-Mount-Washington-hotel

“I just feel it would be a blight on the landscape,” said Mike Cherim, a longtime hiker who’s trekked up the mountain 90 times himself and runs Redline Guiding that offers guided hikes especially in the winter.”

“I am adamantly opposed to the construction. The whole project just sickens me. I love this mountain and feel like this is going to ruin the experience for a lot of people.”

“The ones who actually hike to the summit are stuck waiting in line behind a sea of khakis and sandals. With the added Cog traffic this issue is sure to increase.”

There is no doubt the North Country has benefited by the presence of the Cog Railroad, as it should continue to do so. We don’t want to take anything away. We’d even be open to the idea of the same hotel built at the base station as a compromise. But what we don’t want is more development on the mountain.
-Mike Cherim

Presby said in an interview last week that Mount Washington has become a victim of its own popularity. With 300,000+ coming there every year and as many as 5,000 on the mountain on a given day, they said there aren’t enough amenities to serve the public.

“Tourism is the lifeblood of Northern New Hampshire,” the pro-petition states.

But Presby notes the conditions are Spartan at the current huts and bringing a luxury hotel to the mountain merely returns Mount Washington to its history of having an elegant dining and residential space.

David Dillon, a veteran hiker who wrote a blog in opposition to this plan, said he fears that bringing a full-service hotel back to this site will only encourage more growth.

“I think if we open the door to new construction it will be a slippery slope and this won’t be the end of development,” Dillon said. “Some places are meant to be difficult to get to and enjoy. That’s part of what makes them so special.”


How You Can Help

Sign these Petitions:

Stop the Cog Railway from building a motel on Washington

DERAIL Cog Railway hotel proposal

Share these petitions, share this article, share the news stories and Get The Word Out.

Below is the contact information for every member of the Coos County Planning Board, retrieved this morning from http://www.cooscountynh.us/planning-board. I strongly oppose the development of a new hotel on Mount Washington, especially so high on the mountain. I plan to share my thoughts directly with each member of this Board and I encourage others to do the same. Sarah Garlick

Coos Planning Board

Coos Planning Board – Photo: Nickie Sekera

John Scarinza, Chair
375 Randolph Hill Rd.
Randolph, NH 03593
[email protected]
603-466-5775

Fred King, Vice Chair
PO Box 146
Colebrook, NH 03576
[email protected]
603-237-8716

Edwin Mellet
1165 Lost Nation Road
Groveton, NH 03582
[email protected]
603-636-2630

Scott Rineer
PO Box 121
Errol, NH 03579
[email protected]
603-482-3851

Rick Tillotson
111 Munn Rd.
Colebrook, NH 03576
[email protected]
603-490-9877

 

 

 

Michael Waddell
45 Alpine St.
Gorham, NH 03581
[email protected]
603-466-5149

Thomas Brady
597 Ingerson Road
Jefferson, NH 03583
[email protected]
603-586-4592

Jennifer Fish
PO Box 10
West Stewartstown, NH 03597
[email protected]
603-246-3321

Rep. Leon Rideout
28 Causeway Street
Lancaster, NH 03584
[email protected]
603-237-4429

Mark Frank
7 Grandview Drive
Lancaster, NH 03584
603-788-4825

Thomas Mccue
27 Cambridge Street
Berlin, NH 03583
[email protected]
603-724-5605


Historical Resources:

The Stone Hotels of Mount Washington, Jeffery R. Leich, Appalachia, June 15, 1997

Possession of the Summit “A Prolific Subject of Contention”, Jeffery Leich

History of the Road, Mount Washington Auto Road


Central Buttress – Mt. Washington NH

Cental butress

Michael Wejchert climbing on the Central Buttress , Mt. Washington NH – Photo: Bayard Russell

Just thought I’d fire a cool shot your way to get the early season psych up.

That’s a new route on Central Buttress that Ryan Driscoll starting working on last year. He, Michael Wejchert and I went up there yesterday (12-4-16) and had another go. Ryan is killing it. We all took turns getting the gear in, but Ryan took it to the ledge on the top of the pitch. Fucking cold up there! He had to hang and warm his fingers up, otherwise he’d a done it. Guess we’ll just have to go back.

Best!
Bayard

Ryan Driscoll – EMS  / Michael Wejchert – IMCS

Cathedral Mt Guids Logo Amb

CATHEDRAL MOUNTAIN GUIDES is a New Hampshire based climbing guiding service founded in 2008 by American Mountain Guide Association certified instructor Bayard Russell, Jr. and now run in partnership with local guide, accomplished alpinist and Piolet d’Or Recipient, Freddie Wilkinson. 


It’s about Time, Where have you Been?

Winter is finally headed our way

Last weeks warm weather took it’s toll. On Saturday conditions looked worse than the week before. But on Sunday, with a night of below freezing temps the ice is starting to form again. There is plenty of water flowing and a dusting of snow to feed it. The forecast calls for below freezing temps all week and mostly cloudy weather with snow showers. The perfect conditions for forming ice. The water is cold and the climbs should build fast. This next weekend should provide some of the best conditions to date. Not fat by any means, but it should be better than anything we have seen so far this season.

The Forecast

http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/predictions/610day/610temp.new.gif

https://weather.com/weather/tenday/l/Mount+Washington+NH+USNH0154:1:US

7 Day Forecast for Latitude 44.15°N and Longitude 71.69°W Elev. 3720 ft

More Weather links here: https://www.neice.com/weather/

Crawford Notch NH – 12-4-16

It does not look like much now, but give it a week! Nothing builds ice like Cloudy, Snowy weather below freezing.

[supsystic-gallery id=1 position=center]

Photos by Doug Millen

“The Dike”, She GO! 10-26-16

The Black Dike

Cannon Cliff, Franconia State Park NH

October 26, 2016

Peter Doucette and Keith Sidle found just enough winter on Cannon cliff today to climb “The Black Dike”. They found thin, wet and bonded ice with just enough gear to get up the climb. Peter always seems to be in the right place, at the right time. October ascents are so sweet. Great work guys!

This is believed to be the first ascent of the season, and Pinnacle was climbed yesterday. Let the games begin!

*Photos by Doug Millen – Click to enlarge

The Black Dike 10-26-16

Peter approaching the 2nd belay

The Black Dike 2

Keith belays Peter on the 2nd pitch

The 1st pitch

The 1st pitch

The Dike 3

Keith leaving the 1st belay

Approaching the 2nd belay

Keith approaching the 2nd belay

Keith on the last pitch of the dike

Keith leading the last pitch

More on Peter Doucette, and The Black Dike

Peter Doucette
AMGA/IFMGA Mountain Guide
Mountain-Sense-logo-300x95mountainsenseguides.com
[email protected]
603-616-7455

Nova Scotia Ice Guide – 2nd Edition

Available online for Free!

Ice Climbers Guide to Nova Scotia

Roger Fage has refined and updated his Nova Scotia Ice Climbing Guide and has generously put it online for free! You can download it here in PDF form. This guide will help you find the more than 200 routes in Nova Scotia and it documents Nova Scotia’s rich ice climbing history. It is the most extensive ice guide for this area to date.

Intro:

““In the winter of 2010, I put together a first edition of an ice guide to Nova Scotia. It was produced in very limited quantities for the winter of 2010. It was rushed, lacked appropriate research, and desperately needed more. This is a subsequent more satisfying end product. With considerable updates and additional original route information from the original ice guide to Nova Scotia put together by A.Parson in 1994. The A.Parsons guide (or the Allan Parson’s Project as I’ve come to call it) is referred to extensively and often quoted directly in this guide.”

Source: Gripped.com and sponsormeow.files.wordpress.com

Cover Photo: Marty Theriault on the first ascent of New Brunswick Pillar in Moose River, NS. Photo by of Max Fisher.

The Season in Review – 2015-2016

Just Enough to Survive

Solo

What the Fuck!

The Last Printing Ever

“The Lake”

It’s an “Ice Bash

Let it Snow

Flight into Emerald City

Some Nasal Drip

Mountainfest!

The Devil Is In The Details

Ice Fest!

Dropline

One Bad Ass Climber

Up, Up and Away

By Tooth and Claw

The Wildest Pitch of Ice He has Ever Known

Blue Lines 2

The Father of The Harvard Cabin