Reboot with Crampons & Ice Axe


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Why haven’t I posted since December 14th? Flexiblity plus frostnip, when faced with adversity.

Adversity? Well, having accidentally smashed my laptop PC’s screen on Dec. 10 and had my desktop PC crash from a little-documented Windows 2000 flaw two days later, there has been little that I could do online. Though I’ve an external backup drive with my files, this was the first time in 20 years I not had either of my two personal computers operating.

I phoned for a replacement laptop PC (local stores didn’t have the model I wanted), but I didn’t replace my desktop PC because that machine had started a CHKDSK/F routine and appears to be repairing itself. I also couldn’t simply plug my external backup drive into my business partner’s desktop, because his is in Boulder, Colorado, where he lives, a three-hour flight from here in the New York City suburbs.

So, while waiting for my new laptop to arrive or my desktop to repair itself, I visited some of my clients located in New York City. I made no travel plans further afield because I expected the desktop to repair itself within a few hours or a day and my laptop was supposed to arrive in two days. What good timing my New York City vists last week were, too, because that city’s transit workers planned to strike this week(and did).

But when I finished those visits, my new laptop hadn’t arrived (it was backordered) nor had my desktop repaired itself. Indeed, my desktop (as picture this afternoon, above) strives for a new record for CHKDSK duration. It’s now in the ninth day! Its display continues to scroll names of files on which it’s working without repetition. (This evening, it informed me that its repairs are 7 percent complete, at which rate it will be fixed around noon on April 29th, 2006.

So, what do you do when you run an online business but you can’t go online, can’t go into the city due to a transit strike, and can’t run the business solely by phone? You let your business partner run it and you go on vacation. I had been planning on a vacation between Christmas and the New Year, but why not during this week?

One reason might have been because everyplace warm this week in the Northern Hemisphere is already reserved. So, are most ski resorts.

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But who needs warmth, resorts, or even hotels! For the past several days, I’ve been cross-country skiing, snow camping, and ice climbing along the eastern slopes of Mount Washington massiff in New Hampshire. Back in 1995, I taught above-treeline winter travel here for the Appalachian Mountain Club’s headquarters chapter, which is in Boston, and still retain my National Forest Service commercial guide card. (Ken Sands of the Spokane Spokesman-Review is the only other online publishing maven who also climbs in winter).

Frostnip is the medical condition just prior to frostbite. On the first day of winter yesterday, deep in Tuckermans Ravine (a self-portrait of me at its Hermit Lake hut) was a mellow -2 degrees F (-19C) with 32 m.p.h. (51 k.p.h) winds. The summit of the mountain was 1F with (-18C) with 62 m.p.h. (99 k.p.h.) winds and freezing fog. None of those temperatures include the wind chills. Delightful weather if you know how to dress and deal with it. I do.

It’s much better now than March when I was last in Tuckermans. The still air temperature then was -36F (-38C) but there was no still air. Or way back on April 12, 1934, when the weather station at the summit clocked winds of 231 m.p.h. (still the world’s record) before its gauge blew away.

The Lion’s Head route to the summit has been closed due to avalanche danger. The main Tuckermans routes up headwall is iffy but doable, but not by me, who has been climbing alone without anyone to rescue me quickly in case of avalanche. So, I’ve kept to the less steep Hillman’s Highway route, where the only real danger has been in surmounting the snow cornice at the top. Ski to the treeline, snowshoe as you can walk, then crampons and ice axe up.

My PDA/phone (an iPAQ 6350) had GRPS and GSM signals all over Mt. Washington, and has IMAP capabilities, so I received some e-mails and phone calls this week. But it was hard to reply while wearing thermal mittens. Otherwise, I’ve been offline (and, solo, offrope) this week.

I returned to my office this evening. I’ll try to catch up with everybody now that I’m back and my laptop has arrived. Pray that my desktop finishes its CHKDSK before April.

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