Sunday, February 7, 2016

MW Ice Fest Weekend 2016

ice, climbing, petzl, lynx quarks, la sportiva

My quads kill! And Friday’s commute to North Conway totally sucked. But it was all worth it since the weather for the weekend turned out so nice. I also got to spend time hiking with my good friend Steff, eating pizza with fellow meetup ice climbers and climbing with my climbing buddies, Jeff, Geoff and Kevin. A great, full weekend!

My pack ready with my mountaineering and ice climbing gear

I didn’t sign up for any of the clinics at the MW Ice Fest this year, but I did get in an amazing hike and some ice climbing! Friday’s commute to North Conway was slow and sloppy, but once in North Conway the weather and the roads were good! Steff and I stayed at the Claredon Motel.  Although the d├ęcor is outdated, it was clean and the staff was very friendly. Headed to the Muddy Moose for a delicious dinner!

Muddy Moose Restaurant & Pub
So a Moose, a German and a Hawaiian walk into a bar . . .  

On Saturday morning Steff and I headed to the Mount Washington summit. We met a lot of folks along the way…Marc Chauvin and his group, Justin of EMS and his group, a couple who turned around because he dropped a layer, Marcus and friends who ice climbed the day before, June the solo hiker, Craig (also solo) the photographer and Tren whose hair and beard were frosty because he wasn’t wearing a hat! Like a couple folks, we only made it to Lion Head (5,091ft) because of high winds and low visibility. Also, my quads were starting to ache and I had to use my inhaler a couple of times the higher we got because of slight wheezing. If I had been solo, I would’ve turned around once I broke treeline! Maybe if I hike in clouds more often I’ll get used to it? Anyways, the mountain will always be there. And I brought along my iPhone and a Fujifilm FinePix XP80 but both eventually stopped working because of the cold – I completed forgot to keep a spare camera battery warm.

Here we go!

View from the Lion Head Winter Trail

A queue at the first steep rock section

Itty bitty mixed climbing with no rope

Pretty much all the way up
Above treeline (5)

On our descent we passed the jacket that a guy dropped

For the steeper sections of our descent, we just set up
some rope to help with the descent. (4 photos)

Final stretch back to the parking lot

After our hike to Lion Head, Steff went off to stay with some friends as she was skiing Wildcats the next morning. I checked into the Briarcliff Motel. The staff was very courteous and friendly but the room they originally gave me (#15) had two sets of windows and the back one, didn't lock at all! When I first go into a room I always check to see that the windows and doors can lock, the water pressure in toilet, sink and tub is good and the tub and sink don't plug. I went back to the front desk and was immediately given another room - that worked out perfectly! I met fellow meetup ice climbers at Flatbread for dinner where we had a really good turnout. Delicious pizzas and lots of laughs!

Hungry ice climbers!

On Sunday morning I met up with Jeff, Geoff and Kevin – together again, the 4 climbing amigos. We climbed at Cathedral Ledge along with some climbers from the ice fest as well as the AMC Boston Ice Climbing program. We got in several laps of the North End Slabs and Pillars. So thankful for easy laps since my quads were still burning from the hike the day before!

Several "ice climbing firsts" for Kevin

 First time on lead belay...

....for Geoff

And first time "cleaning"

Geoff top belaying Jeff

Lovey and Kevin selfie at the top

Fireman belay for Jeff

Met another Hawaii girl who ice climbs!

Climb with Aloha!

Geoff and I

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Auburn Ice Canyon - Ice Climbing

ice climbing, auburn, ice, canyon
A fun vertical!
Auburn Ice Canyon
Auburn, MA

Given the warm temps today, we got lucky to have ice to climb on! I saw photos of the ice there from March 2015 and it was uber fat! But I’ll take whatever ice I can get on, especially with great ice climbing buddies! Steff and I met up with Robb, Dan and Joey at the Westec  approach. Our approach from Westec Drive was a easy and short 15 minute hike, with leveled terrain most of the way. Once we got to the canyon, I was surprised to see my buddies Jeff and Kevin setting up top rope. Originally, I had told Jeff we’d be at Auburn Canyon, but he was going north to climb with Kevin. A change of plans brought him and Kevin down to MA. Other climbing buddies, Chris and Tom showed up a short while later. There were 4 top ropes set up and I got in 6 climbs including a fun vertical and some mixed climbing. It was such a wonderful day for ice climbing! The day was clear, temps moderate in the high 30’s. And there was much laughter throughout the day!

Auburn Ice Canyon is actually a flood-diversion channel for the greater Worcester area. It usually carries a faint smell of sewage in warm weather. In the winter when everything is frozen, the floor is hard and the rock and concrete walls build up with ice flows. The canyon is a short ride from Boston and a great alternative if you’re not up for driving north to ice climb. Also perfect for getting in some quick laps.

Enjoy some photos taken while ice climbing at the Auburn Canyon in Massachusetts!

Our Westec approach took us down a ramp
then a short rappel down to the canyon floor.

Once on the canyon floor, it looks like there isn't much for ice.

But there was enough ice flows for 4 top rope setups.

Canyon Floor Selfie

Steff rocks some ice!

Chris got on some mixed stuff to show me the way!

Good to see Kevin finally on ice!



Dan's first time!


Canyon floor 

Robb and Dan

No one home

POV by Robb Millett - 2016

Monday, January 25, 2016

DIY Fleece Leggings

DIY, sewing, Polartec, Power Stretch, Fleece, Leggings
DIY  Fleece Leggings

Cozy, fun fleece leggings for hiking, camping or to be used as a layer for ice climbing and winter hiking! Using the same pattern that I used to make the 100% Merino Wool Base Layer Bottoms, I made a pair of Fleece Leggings! For fabric, I used the Polartec Power Stretch purchased at Mill Yardage. Please note that I made myself Leggings using only 1 yard of fabric. I'm petite (5'2") and its just the right amount of fabric for me. If you are taller, a bit more fabric will be needed for this sewing project. Sew easy!

Supplies used:
1 yard Polartec Power Stretch Fleece
3/4" Waistband Elastic
Kwik Sew #K3636 Pattern
1 yard Tracing Material -I use Sew-In Interfacing (Optional)
Ball point pen or marker
Scissors or rotary cutter
Cutting mat (for rotary cutter)
Ruler or Tape measure
Suggested Needle: Schmetz Stretch Needle 90/14
Suggested Thread: Maxi-Lock Stretch Serger Thread
Household Sewing Machine
Zig Zag Foot Attachment

**This DIY project assumes you already know how to use your sewing machine and have basic sewing skills. If you don't, contact a sewing store for basic sewing lessons.

My Sewing Notes:

For this project I used the Kwik Sew #K3636 pattern. It’s really easy to follow the instructions for this pattern.  JoAnn Fabric and Craft Stores carries a limited supply of Kwik Sew patterns so I ordered online (see References below).  This pattern is normally $10.99 but was on sale for $5.99. 

Tracing Pattern pieces is optional. I trace pattern pieces because the patterns include different sizes. If I cut out just one pattern size, then I won’t be able to use the pattern pieces in the other sizes. If you don’t plan to use the other pattern sizes, just omit tracing and cut out the pattern piece. This will save you the time from tracing as well as the cost of tracing material. I used a ball-point pen and a marker to trace my pattern onto Sew-In Interfacing. While some seamsters prefer to trace their pattern pieces directly onto the fabric using a tracing wheel and tracing transfer paper, I personally prefer to trace the pattern pieces onto Sew-In Interfacing. I use Sew-In Interfacing for tracing because it’s inexpensive and very easy to see through.  Also, when using a tracing wheel to trace patterns, over time the pattern will tear along the traced lines.

I also changed the order of sewing by hemming the leggings bottom first, then sewing up the inseam. This made hemming easier than sewing the inseam first, then folding up the hem to stitch.

4 Easy Steps
  1. I finished the bottom hem edge with an overlock stitch. Then folded the bottom hem up 1 inch and using a zigzag stitch, I finished off the bottom hem.
  2. Using an overlock stitch, I sewed up the inseams.
  3. Fold the serger tail up and using a small, narrow zigzag stitch, "tack the tail" making certain to sew on the serger stitches. Trim excess serger thread.
  4. Turn right side out - finished hem.

Since these bottoms are going to be used for ice climbing and winter hiking, I wanted to add a crotch gusset so that I wouldn’t pop any seams. I used the free Gusset pattern and tutorial at EYMM Modern Designs.

The tutorial is super easy to follow! Inserting a gusset into your leggings will change the order of construction from the pattern directions. So if you want to add a gusset into the bottoms, just follow the EYMM Modern Designs tutorial. Then finish off using the Kwik Sew pattern directions for the waistband and pant leg hem. If you don’t want a gusset, then just follow the Kwik Sew pattern directions. 

Maxi-Lock Stretch Serger Thread
Works perfectly with Fleece and knits. It’s stretchy and will have more “give” in stretchy and knit fabric than polyester threads. If you don’t have a serger/overlock machine, you can still use this thread. Just buy one cone and wind some thread on a bobbin to use in your regular sewing machine. If you’re finishing off the hem edge with double stitch, then wind the thread onto two bobbins.

Suppliers/Resources & Notes:
Polartec Power Stretch Fleece: Mill Yardage (New Hampshire)

Kwik Sew #K3636 Pattern: Kwik Sew (Kansas)

Waistband Elastic and Apparel Sew-In Interfacing:  Joann’s Fabric & Craft

Crotch Gusset Pattern & Tutorial

My Sewing History
I spent many years sewing my own clothes….that’s what you did after your mom sent you to sewing lessons for the summer when you’re 14 years old. Over the years I handmade Halloween costumes for my daughters as well as prom dresses and figure skating costumes complete with beadwork all done by hand. Living just 12 miles from Malden Mills, I outfitted my family with handmade polar fleece jackets, pullovers, hats, mittens and pants. We still use polar fleece blankets that I had made years ago! And I even had a small biz selling Polar Fleece Skatewear to figure skating teams – I contracted a small manufacturing company in New Hampshire do to all the sewing in order for me to focus on the sales end of the business. I stopped sewing for several years but now am back at it again. This time for making my own outdoor gear to be used while out climbing and hiking!