The current forecast for the weekend contains lots of rain (friday through sunday). Things have a way of changing rapidly around here, so I'll take a wait-and-see approach. But it doesn't look good. By the way, the image above is a composite of two images I 'stitched' together using the "Hugin" user-friendly interface to the famous 'pano tools' image merging algorithms. It's so great you can't tell it was two images!


20070421 - Planning For Sunshine


According to the theories of a crackpot amateur scientist who lives up the road from me here in the Northeast Kingdom, there is this thing he calls "Sohn" or "Suun" that radiates copious heat and light and appears to move across the sky because, as he claims, the earth actually TURNS! How lame. He's been walking around mumbling about how in a few days our happy, battleship grey sky will suddenly open and we'll see an azure background of bright glowing 'Skie' and this Sohn thing. He says it will be so bright we'll have to wear special dark glasses and coat our exposed skin w/ special protectants to ward off the evil Yoovee rays. He's such a whack-job.

Anyway, if this turns out to be true, I plan on selling all my worldy possessions and heading for the hills of New Hampshire. Probably Saturday the 21st. tMail has already expressed an interest in the old standby of Franconia Notch due to a trip he's planning for Sunday (if the planet still exists). Time will tell.

Yoovee rays. Ha. What a nut.

[Update, 4/20/07: Looks like we're heading up to Franconia Ridge, but are steering clear of falling water.... oooooh, it's gonna be warm and wet tomorrow...]

[Update 4/21/07: tMail and I had a fantastic day out. We missed the rest of the gang, but not so much that we cried real tears. The snow was from 0-8ft deep. The entire ridge between Liberty and Haystack was so deep in snow that we were in the tree-tops. I've never seen so much snow on the ridge between Haystack and Lafayette.

I've got cuts and scrapes all over my arms from pushing through the branches. The trail was non-existent at that height (most of the blazes were at/below snow-line). In low-visibility conditions it would've been extremely harrowing. Luckily we had light, time and warm weather. We wore t-shirts (tMail went sleeveless) for the first 4 hours of the hike until the exposed ridgeline at Haystack and then put on windbreakers, but in all the sheltered spots the windbreakers were overkill. Lunch on Lafayette was easy in spite of the breeze by sitting on the rocks on the lee side, looking into the Pemi. Blue sky, warm sun and a sardine sandwich!

While there were rare sections of the ridge that had no snow, the entire ridge north of Haystack was basically snowed in. We only needed snowshoes on the Liberty Spring trail and the Liberty-Haystack section... although we did do some major post-holing down the Greenleaf/Bridal Path section. Photos, etc. to be posted later tonight or tomorrow.]

[Update 4/22: Pics are posted.
If you're observant, you'll notice near the end there are two photos of some kids (the "jeans-and-sneakers" crowd) that had made it to the summit via the bridal path. The girl wasn't even wearing socks (or maybe ankle socks). On the way down, we were noticing slush, running water, snow and at times post-holed knee-deep. What these idiots were thinking is beyond me, but their cotton jeans were soaked. She was very cold and their feet were soaked.]


20070407 The Real Story

G-$$$ and the Puppet Master made a masterful attack on the overnight in the northern Presi's. g-$$$'s account:

Real Men Do Overnights:
..and that we are not.
First we got delayed because we had to aid in the rescue of 4 Canadians who thought they were on Mt Everest. Then the PM kept chasing me around the Madison Hut trying to hide his "Easter Eggs" in my "Chocolate" But the last straw was when one of the folks we met reminded us that the AMC would not recognize our Traverse because it fell outside of calendar winter, so we decided to protest and spend Easter with our families......

But so many lessons learned today......
Glissades don't go well with 50 lb packs and sleeping pads wider than your ass (even mine) dragging beneath you
50 lbs packs makes you strong but putting them down at stops and lifting them back up is no fun.
climbing with a 50lb pack is no joke, especially when you know where you are on the trail and it's not where you want to be.
breaking trail through knee deep snow with 50 lb packs is even less a joke.
When they say you should be fit (mentally and physically) to do a Winter Traverse, pay attention
A two-day traverse is a dream......a one-day...hah...yeah right!
Canadians must celebrate Easter by climbing and camping on Madison.
Air Line is a cool trail...even with a 50 lb pack.
And #1 Lesson to be Learned.....courtesy of the wisdon of the PM....Aborted Presi Traverses are like really bad sex...you don't really enjoy yourself and all you want is to just get over with it.

And that is the lesson for today!

Happy Easter!
As for tMail and me? Well, our plan for a grand loop (up Castle Ridge, down Lowe's Path) got trumped by the weather but as tMail put it: "I learned today that................um........um......ALOT." The mountain spirits were having fun, but clearly the devil lives in Edmand's Col. I also have to add that tMail and I got to experience almost everything one could in the northern Presi's, except wind. Without going into the long, gory details at this point, here is a list of all the experiences I can think of that characterize yesterday's 11 hour trek:

snow, posthole, powder
ascend, powder, posthole
climb, sweat, gear
, change
rock, crevice, danger, axe
low visibility, disorientation, compass, cairn, no-cairn
decision-making, retrace-route, time
endurance, push, reserves, sweat, food
crampon, rock, pole, (honorary mention: kneecap)
descent, glissade, boot ski

Pics will be posted at some point, maybe even a youtube movie. Today's a family day, keep the swelling down in my kneecap, shovel snow, etc.


20070407/08? Ideas?

So, g-$$$ and the PM are talking about a 2-day winter/spring traverse. I have no experience camping and because of the bare conditions on the summits and somewhat lukewarm about the idea - although it has its obvious appeal. I think if they go I'll join them on day one (saturday) but not overnight.

The next few days will bring in a lot of weather, so the Sat/Sun choice may also wait until the last minute for a good decision. Right now in Danville we've had rain all day and now sleet and then snow during the rest of the week (mixed w/ sleet and rain). The high summits are expected to get a mix as well, probably mostly snow at this point, although it's also been rain up until now.

If the snowpack is stable, there's a climb I'm intrigued by one gully to the left of Dodge's which I've marked in the picture shown here. It's not real clear from the angle of this photo, but there is a fin of rock between it and Dodge's. It looks real narrow, which means few options, and a higher likelihood of not making it to the top - but still, it's really intriguing.... isn't it? I found another pic on Tuckerman.org that might help illustrate the route (seen on right).


Dodge's Drop II: Doug's Drop

Later this evening I'll get pics posted and a full workup of the event, hopefully w/ comments from the PM and Doug. Here's the short version:

I replaced my 8yr old Kong Bonati crampons with Black Diamond Saber-Tooth step-ins. I realized saturday when I tried to sharpen my Kongs that I had busted a tooth of one, bent a tooth on the other, busted a rivet on one, bend the extender bar on both, chipped a tooth, dulled all the points down to butter-knife dullness and frayed the straps down to threads. I'm not even going to keep them as spares. Because they were my first crampons I may hang them in the MuthaZ "Awarded Senior Status in the Hall Of Limited Efficacy" or ASSHOLE. Due to a rockin' 25% off sale at the NorthFace shop in Lincoln, I also picked up two Black Diamond Rage tools (low-end, all purpose, all-terrain hammer axes). Today I got to test drive my new crampons and ice tools.

The route: Dodge's Drop again. The ice dam was bigger than last week and posed a bit of a logistical hurdle... but not for MR. ICE TOOL AND NEW SHARP CRAMPONS!! The PM and Doug did a masterful job of scrambling over that w/ their alpine axes.

Then, there was the tippy top. As you've seen in the pics from previous trips (and you'll see again when we post our pics from Lion's Head), this trail starts off at a mere 15deg slope, then kicks it up to 20, 30, 40, 50 and I'm quite sure at the tippy top, we had about 15 vertical feet of at least 75deg pitch. It was c-r-a-z-y. Because I had the two tools, I chose the more challenging route, but the "less challenging" route was fucking c-r-a-z-y! It's not like it had rungs. I almost couldn't watch the other guys pop over the top because the closest I could get to the edge all I could see was Doug's head and empty space down to Pinkham Notch.

The weather on top? Ummm, maybe 30F w/ 2mph winds, gusting to 10? Of course the summit had its own story to tell, maybe a little windier - but not by much.

A great time was had by all and of course we missed all who could not attend, especially afterwards when we got drunk and rowdy and the PM punched a horse. You'll hear more when we get the pics posted.

UPDATE 4/1/07, 10:45pm
My pics are posted - waiting for PM's later this week. See link at left (for 070401) or click on title of this post. The picture included with this post is Dodge's Drop gully as seen from Lion's Head. The gully is the one ascending up the center of the image to the highest point. It descends down to Hillman's Highway, which from this perspective cuts diagonally across the screen and is best identified visually in the middle-ish left side by the thin, nearly-straight black line of bare rock.

UPDATE 4/4/07, 9:25am]
Website updated w/ the PM's Pics. See links on left or Click Here.