Let it Snow!

This winter has been a bust for snow in New England, but have a look at some of these photos!

Note: An email with these photos has been traveling around the web titled “Winter in Russia” but “Surfer Bill” has informed us that many of the photos arn’t, but they are fun anyway. We have made the corrections to our post. Let it Snow! is a better title….thanks Bill – See his remarks below.




  Photos submitted by Tim Creamer fowarded from George Walsh

Is Winter Cancelled?

Is this just a dream?

Earlier this month, NEice staff meteorologist, Smike, hedged his bets and gave a gloomy November forecast for ice aficionados: “Warm temps with a short bout of cold over the next 15 days. (Go grab some extra rock time) End of the month will crash into winter and it should hang on this time.”

Recent evidence, however, suggests that he has not given us the whole story.

Article by Patrick Cooke

At first glance, Smike’s work looks like the work of a professional: it’s populated by maps and graphs, and includes fancy weather-related initialisms like NAO, MJO, and NKVD (what can I say, the guy has some scary connections). Furthermore, he can use the term “Bermuda High” without arousing the suspicions of a police K-9 unit.

Have we been mislead?

Despite his professional reputation, Smike’s recent actions call his veracity into question.  On facebook Smike posted “Has anyone seen my winter around here?”.  Shouldn’t Smike know that he didn’t predict winter weather this early in November, or is he holding back on a darker truth that lies around the corner? We take it for granted that winter will come eventually, but how far off is eventually?

Smike did not do himself any favors when this reporter contacted him about his prediction:  The meteorologist’s first words were “What my FAIL on weather?” – hardly the words we hoped to hear.  With the qualifications of our own in-house expert called into question, we were forced to seek outside counsel to get to the heart of the issue.

The Expert Weighs In

Sitting back on a folding chair on a beach in the Virgin Islands while sipping daiquiris, this is not the Jack Frost you know and love.  He looks haggard and run down, a man beaten down by his own biting winds.  His take on Smike’s forecast?

We're all hoping for something better than this!

“What do you want? I give you snow in October and all I hear is whining about it being too early, I didn’t get to send my 5.12 yet, I can’t find my ice scraper… nothing but bitch, bitch, bitch.  You know what, I like it here, so fetch me another drink and then sod off!” (who knew Jack Frost was a Brit?)

Undeterred, this reporter continued to push Frost about when we could expect his return to the Northeast.  Unfortunately, Frost’s comments  were not fit to print.

For fear of angering this guy (Jack Frost, not Mrs. Claus), Kris Kringle declined to comment for this story

Where does this leave us?

“Yeah so, I make this @#$% up. Put a Young’s Double Chocolate Stout in front of me and I’ll say whatever you want!” *  Smike graciously agreed to speak again after the failed interview with Jack Frost.  A disgustingly rich malt beverage in hand, he was much more forthright about his methodology when it comes to the science of predicting weather patterns: “You know, the guys on TV look at the facts and are right only about half the time.  Does anyone call them out? No. You figure I do this for free, so why not just make it up as I go along? It’s not like you’ve got anyone else waiting in the wings.” **

In this case, he is correct.  Whatever his failings as a meteorologist, it’s not like NEice has a plethora of weathermen jumping at the opportunity to bring us all bad news.  When pressed for a Turkey-Day prediction, he stood by his original claim: “I still think my 30/70 odds or ‘real’ ice holds ;-)” ***


*Not necessarily intended to be a factual statement

**Yep, I made that one up as well, sorry Smike!

***He actually said that one


Special thanks to Smike for playing along.  The weather right now absolutely sucks (at least for ice climbing), and Sunday is supposed to be absurdly warm.  Let’s hope Smike’s prediction for a cold and stormy December comes to pass!

Dragon Tales

By Pedro I Espina

Have you ever seen how water, trapped between rock and
ice, is forced by gravity to dance along an
intricate labyrinth of micro-channels on its way
from the high snowfields to the river below? Every
spring in the highlands, this dance is repeated as
winter withdraws until next year. Occasionally,
water is temporarily detained by the night’s cold,
but in the morning, as the geese fly north, the
sun once again sets it free on its path to the
sea. This is the way in which dragons die.
My youth was full of tales of knights who,
centuries ago, slew dragons in the name of love,
glory, and God. The lonely speckle of the shining
armor moved forward even as fear engulfed him. As
the duel began, a wind of fire submerged our hero
in a kiss of death. Thrusting shield ahead, he
blindly slashed the air in search of the beast,
his panic forgotten in a fight for survival.
In those tales the hero never died. Triumphant, he
rode his horse back to the safety of the castle
where he joined in the company of fellow knights
until death called again. I envisioned them
sitting by a fire, drinking, eating, laughing, and
sharpening their tools prior to dawn’s call to
battle. For those men their purpose was clear,
their brotherhood comforted them, and the world
outside seemed as mysterious and inhospitable as
the dragons themselves.
Adulthood replaced the dragon tales with a 9 to 5
reality that numbed the spirit and dulled the
mind. In the adult world, distinction is found in
a never-ending quest for larger numbers, and honor
is reserved for multimillion-dollar athletes and
minimum wage soldiers. Loyalty is to the god of
Money and brotherhood is a four-letter-word used
to describe radicals on the 11-oclock news.
As I grew older, I was indoctrinated in the
numbers game and dedicated a decade and a half to
the search for elusive distinction in the academic
world. I betrayed many and was betrayed by a few
others. As brother was murdered, a dollar in my
pocket became my friend. Love proved disposable,
and the dream of parenthood was forgotten, as a
dog became my child. When at last, I had
extirpated from my life all who cared for me,
prescriptions consoled me and cynicism became my
In pursuit of another way to spend my disposable
income, I came across a group of men for whom the
rules of adulthood did not apply. The source or
frequency of earnings did not torment them and for
these men, the comfort of a woman was optional.
Numbers were few, but most important, they were
meaningless. Their worth was based on the love
they felt for each other and for the game. In the
place where they gathered, money, titles, and
social status were of no use and as they sat by
the fire, ate, drank, and laughed, time had no
meaning and serenity was ubiquitous.
In the beginning, I was not prepared for life in
the Bivouac. Although I was among the first
outsiders to be granted access, I tried to modify
it to suit my adult values. I found strange that
in this place liquid barley was used as legal
tender and the sanctuary of a cold three-wall
bathroom seemed rudimentary. My numbers did not
matter, for there was always one that could beat
them with little fanfare. I felt insignificant and
in search of shelter, I labeled them as misfits.
Nonetheless, they embraced me as they waited for
the mystery of the brotherhood to cast its spell.
Every fall, as the geese migrated south, I
pilgrimaged north to the land of ice dragons and
the shelter of the Bivouac. Ice climbers, bigger
than life, gave me friendship, advice (or Beta),
and cheered me on my small lizards slays. In time,
I became one among them.
At the Bivouac two rules are enforced – “Keep the
door closed” and “There are no rules.” Social
niceties are simple: bring beers for all when you
get your own, do not impose tobacco products on
others, and fill the wood stove once per visit.
Newcomers are brought one at time, and their
behavior is the responsibility of those who bring
them. The nights are filled with stories, the
aroma of cannabis mixed with poor personal
hygiene, and the sound of ice tools being
sharpened. Women who do not seek to shape the
behavior of this rendezvous bunch are welcomed and
dogs are treated like anyone else.
Every morning, a ritual is repeated; at dawn
alarms go off, the stove is lighted, packs are
stuffed, and the Gore-Tex armor is clothed.
4-wheel drives are loaded and quietly the knights
go in search of ice dragons. During the first few
winters, would-be dragon slayers serve as page
boys (or belayers) and in return they are taught
the craft of ice climbing – the sound of a good
tool placement, the efficient way to place ice
screws, the proper way to sharpen a tool, and how
to avoid swollen knuckles. Because frozen
waterfalls – like dragons – come in all sizes and
with all sorts of temperaments, every occupant of
the Bivouac has a project to fear, from
Chouinard’s to Premature Birth. Poke-O-Moonshine
is the favorite playground and on a good day, most
of the Bivouac’s inhabitants lay siege to its
frozen smears and mixed ground.
One day this past season, as I went to Poke-O in
search of the infamous dragon known as Positive
Thinking, I found few options when various teams
of climbers waited for their turn to test their
steel. While time vanished, Gary and I searched
for alternatives and the improbability of The
Runnel turned into the thing to do. The first few
moves through a dry crack were strenuous, but the
availability of a piton 20-ft up made escaping a
real possibility. At the piton, the water drip
between rock and ice indicated the clear
delamination of the late winter ice. Carefully, I
pressed my crampon front points into the ice sheet
hoping for it to remain integral under my weight.
Inch by inch, I moved up as sweat dripped down my
back. The runnel – no wider than 8 inches anywhere
– was mostly delaminated too. For the first time
in that winter, serious injury was a distinct
possibility and as I moved up, I felt the creature
creeping under my weight.
With the swing of an alpine tool, the dragon
finally awoke. Forty pounds of ice came crashing
onto my face almost knocking me off the climb.
Hanging from one tool, I slowly regained
consciousness as blood poured from my left eye. As
retreating was not practical, my only option was
up. Trying to continue, I scanned for a tool
placement when a golf ball-sized chuck of ice came
crashing into my forehead adding insult to injury.
My friend Ian, realizing the seriousness of my
condition, encouraged me from above; below, Gary
readied himself for a running-downhill belay in
case both, the Runnel and I came crashing down.
Once I regained awareness, I focused more than
ever before. My mind diminished the climb to a
small sphere of influence, which protected me. A
questionably placed nut ran down the rope as I
moved past it. Ian continued the encouragement –
“Why we do this? Because it is fun…” A few feet
higher, a glove flew down and landed on my face.
What else could be sent from above? – I wondered.
When I reached Ian and the safety of the belay
station, I knew that my scholarship had paid off:
in slaying this dragon, I had put to rest many of
my demons. And that night, when the Bivouac door
opened, my brothers cheered for me.
In his book The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint
Exupéry wrote – “Grown-ups never understand
anything by themselves, and it is tiresome for
children to be always and forever explaining
things to them.” If it has been a while since you
grew up and numbers are important to you, I am
sorry to have bored you with this tale of children
trapped in grown men’s bodies. However, for those
of you who quietly still believe, know that there
is a land of ice dragons and a brotherhood of
ice-climbing knights waiting for you in the
Adirondacks’ winter lands.

Trad Climbing

You know you’re a trad climber when…

•All your draws are 12” long

• your kid climbs harder than you do

• you’ve worn out a set of cams

• there is scar tissue on the back of your hands

• you shave the back of your hands

• you have six partially used rolls of tape in your pack

• you quit sport climbing because you can’t do any of the routes

• you see lots of sunrises on your climbing trips

• you say, “what?” when your leader says, “take!”

• your ledge is set up in your room to hold all your climbing gear

• you have climbing shoes you can wear all-day

• you don’t care when your gym membership expires

• you enjoy guilt-free eating

• you don’t know what your body-fat % is

• you ask your partner how much water to bring along

• you do a first ascent and report the names of both members in your party

• you drop your belay device and you still know how to belay

• you read back-issues or mountain gazette

• you know how to turn a crack ‘n up into a beak

• you know what a beak is

• you wake up at 2:00 am to go climbing

• your drill uses a hammer

• you take a nap in the middle of a climb

• you spend three hours removing a fixed cam

• you don’t want beta

• you think a bong is a type of piton

• you remember when climbing gear didn’t have springs

• you take a forty footer

• you summit a desert tower

• you know what an abalakov hook is

• you still use a gear sling

• there is a holster on your harness

• you rappel six pitches in the dark

• you rappel six pitches in the snow

• you drill from a stance

• you’re looking down at the birds

• you own a hammer and a haul bag

• you have sex on a belay ledge

• you’re on day 2 of a sport climbing trip and you can’t remember what you did on day 1

• you drop your water bottle and it takes five seconds to hit

• your rack is worth more than your car

• your best memories are from the epics you’ve had

• you have a great day of climbing then find out you didn’t do the route you thought you did

• you spend a night hanging in slings

• you miss work on Monday because you epic’d on Sunday

• a whole block of chalk fits in your chalk bag

• you dump your S.O. because he just doesn’t get it

• you wear out a set of jugs

• you drive all night so you can climb all-day

• you drive all night because you climbed all-day

• you’re up so high the trees look like broccoli

• your rack of pins is heavier than your rack of draws

• your slings have knots in them

• you know who larry penberthy is

• you know the difference between a copperhead and a circle head

• you think “beta” is a videotape format

• you can shit and belay at the same time

• you wear socks in your climbing shoes

• a long approach doesn’t deter you from a good climb

• a good job doesn’t deter you from a good climb

• Hendrix runs through your head while you’re climbing

• you coil your rope

• you’ve set up a belay with the only piece of gear left on your rack

• your climbing pants don’t stretch