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Rumney Forest Fire
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By Jay Knower
Administrator
From Plymouth, NH
May 28, 2008
Technosurfing, Rumney. Photo by Seth Hamel.

There was a large forest fire at Rumney today. The area above Main Cliff and on the left side of Orange Crush is burning. The smoke can be seen from town and easily seen from the road. Here is a view of Main Cliff, taken at about 6pm this evening:

Rumney forest fire, May 28th. This is a view of Main Cliff from the road.
Rumney forest fire, May 28th. This is a view of Main Cliff from the road.


Main Cliff is visible below the smoke:

Rumney forest fire, May 28th. Main Cliff is visible underneath the smoke. The big slab on Jimmy Cliff can be seen to the left.
Rumney forest fire, May 28th. Main Cliff is visible underneath the smoke. The big slab on Jimmy Cliff can be seen to the left.


Here's the view from Highway 25:

Rumney forest fire, May 28th. This gives a sense of scale. The fire as seen from Hwy 25.  <br />
Rumney forest fire, May 28th. This gives a sense of scale. The fire as seen from Hwy 25.


I'm not sure what this means regarding climbing at Rumney in the near future. Right now, the fire department has Buffalo Road blocked off.


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By tradcragrat
May 28, 2008

Holy crap.


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By Ladd Raine
Administrator
From Plymouth, NH
May 28, 2008
Waiting for lift-off, Thin Air(5.6) Cathedral Ledge, NH

Wow, I only live 8 miles away but I had no idea. I hope that it burns itself out without much property damage so we can go climbing again soon.


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By Jake D.
From Northeast
May 28, 2008

Ahhhhh put it out put it ouuuuut. :blow blow:

hopefully they get a hold on it and things clear up soon.


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By M Sprague
Administrator
From New England
May 28, 2008
Lichen head. Me, with my usual weatherbeaten, lichen covered look from scrubbing a new route.

Peregrines aren't going to like that :(

Looks awfully like someone was smoking near the top of orange Crush. Tell me it isn't so, please. Any recent lightning there that could have left something smoldering?

Please keep us posted, jay. I had been planning on taking Thursday and Friday off and driving up early in the morning to work on a new route at orange crush before people arrived below. It's not looking likely at this point.

Poor Rumney, hope she's not too burned up.


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By M Sprague
Administrator
From New England
May 29, 2008
Lichen head. Me, with my usual weatherbeaten, lichen covered look from scrubbing a new route.

www.unionleader.com/article.aspx?headline=Burning+debris+cas>>>


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By Jay Knower
Administrator
From Plymouth, NH
May 29, 2008
Technosurfing, Rumney. Photo by Seth Hamel.

It's funny that the one firefighter told me that the fire was 100 acres big, and the Union Leader reported that it was at least 9 acres.

Kayte and I were climbing at New Wave all day and around 3 we started to hear trucks down on the road. We thought it was a rescue or something. When we hiked out at 5, we passed 30 or so fire fighters on their way up to the top of Orange Crush. We had no idea anything was burning, even though the smoke was blowing over the top of New Wave. I actually made a comment to Kayte, something like, "Those are weird looking clouds."


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By Justin Roth
May 29, 2008

uh oh. hope nobody was lighting their TP on fire. right, M Sprague?

M Sprague wrote:
Peregrines aren't going to like that :( Looks awfully like someone was smoking near the top of orange Crush. Tell me it isn't so, please. Any recent lightning there that could have left something smoldering? Please keep us posted, jay. I had been planning on taking Thursday and Friday off and driving up early in the morning to work on a new route at orange crush before people arrived below. It's not looking likely at this point. Poor Rumney, hope she's not too burned up.


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By seth hamel
May 29, 2008

Yow! Did anyone go up today to check it out? I'm wondering if it's closed right now, and wondering how bad it got the areas around orange crush.


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By M Sprague
Administrator
From New England
May 29, 2008
Lichen head. Me, with my usual weatherbeaten, lichen covered look from scrubbing a new route.

I called the ranger station and Rumney and the parking lot is now closed, as they are still fighting the fire. The ranger said they were hoping to be able to have Rumney open for the weekend. I couldn't get any more details, as she was busy dispatching firemen (so don't bother them with calls for now, please)

It is looking like rain for the weekend (good for the fire), so you might want to wait until next week to go there if you have to drive much.


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By Jay Knower
Administrator
From Plymouth, NH
May 29, 2008
Technosurfing, Rumney. Photo by Seth Hamel.

I just talked to the people hanging out at the Rumney parking lot (Forest Service and fire fighters) and, to reitterate what Mark said, Rumney is closed tomorrow. After tomorrow, when it opens back up depends upon how quickly things go up there.

The Forest Service woman gave me this web site to check for more information: www.fs.fed.us/r9/white. She said that they would post when Rumney opens back up.

The hill looks much better now, compared to last night.


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By NicoleKurth
From Londonderry, NH
May 30, 2008
.

this is so sad. do you really think that someone started this?


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By bbrum
May 30, 2008

Hi all, I just got the word from the USFS

Rumney is closed for the weekend, the fire which escaped the fire line last night has continued to spread north and west. they have two helicopters doing water drops.
they plan to expand their operation tomorrow.

At this point volunteering is not an option, they appreciate us spreading the word so they don't have to keep turning people away.

I have offered the RCA's help. they may take us up on the offer to help remove some of their gear when all is said and done.

I'll continue to post updates

think rainy thoughts,

Bob


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By Jay Knower
Administrator
From Plymouth, NH
May 30, 2008
Technosurfing, Rumney. Photo by Seth Hamel.

We can still smell the smoke here in Plymouth. I could see the plume of smoke from the Hannaford parking lot.

I never thought I'd say this regarding climbing, but I hope it pours tomorrow.


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By ajcormier
May 30, 2008

The most recent update (as I drove by about a half hour ago...) The flames are still shooting up in the darkness from the bottom of Main cliff all the way to Jimmey Cliff and westerly to the Hinterlands. The fires are way worse then they were when the previous photos were taken. The crews are headed back up Saturday morning. Looks like it's going to be closed for a while kids...


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By Kayte Knower
May 31, 2008
paralysis by analysis

As far as starting the fire, I think embers could have blown in from another fire in the area, but there is certainly a chance that this was started by climbers. We live in Plymouth, so everyone and his neighbor here has a different theory about the fire's origin's. There are even rumors of arson.

My favorite explanation is that a group of climbers spent the day scaling main cliff (with packs and haul bags naturally). Then they toped out and spent the night on top of the cliff. This theory is supported by the evidence that someone left a car parked in the climbers lot overnight. Case closed.

I wonder what kind of long term effect this will have on the routes at Rumney. At the Niagara Glen (limestone bouldering area) hikers love to build fires under the larger overhangs (cave-man impulses) and the smoke blackens the rock and slightly alters the texture. On day one most of the Rumney fire was high on the hill and above the rock. Now it looks like there is fire below the rock as well. What happens to schist when it is exposed to high temperatures and lots of smoke? Closure is one thing--damage to the rock another.


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By ajcormier
May 31, 2008

I'm headed back out to take a look in a about a half hour (2:30pm Saturday)... I'll update when get back!

Edit/Update - 2:52pm Saturday 05.31.08

I spoke with a representative from the NH Forest Service for a half hour today in person. She was very informative and assured me everything was going great. If you have any specific questions you can msg me back here or contact the appropriate people with the info listed on the bottom of the press release. Here is the said press release:



"Rattlesnake 2008 Fire Fact Sheet - May 21, 2008 -Day 4

The Rattlesnake fire is transitioning to a higher level Incident Management team lead by Chris Schow, from the Green Mountain National Forest. Additional resources have been ordered to assist in continued suppression and containment of the fire.

The fire is located on Rattlesnake Mountain, Rumney, NH and is approximately 50 acres [in size.]

Equipment and Personnel:
2 Helicopters
1 Bulldozer (en route)
3 Engines
Over 60 fire personnel currently on scene with additional firefighters en route.

Partners:
Rumney Fire, Police and Grafton County Sheriff; NH State Crew; US Fish and Wildlife Module (7 people); JBI Private contracted helicopter and NH Army National Guard Blackhawk helicopter; combined units of White Mountain, Green Mountains and Finger Lakes National Forests

Rumney Volunteer Fire Department is preforming structure protection duties on Buffalo Rd for private property and residences

Buffalo Rd is open to... residents and emergency vehicles only. Access to the transfer station is via Sand Hill Rd.

The peregrine falcon family nesting on Main Cliff has been observed in normal nesting patterns and the chick is doing fine! Monitoring of the peregrine falcons is ongoing and protection of the falcons is in the Incident Action Plan for firefighter and aviation operations.

Closure remains in effect for Rumney Rocks climbing area and Rattlesnake Mountain Trails due to hazardous conditions.

The incident management team wishes to thank the local initial attack forces from the fire departments, law enforcement and the support from the general public and local businesses.

Forest Service officials ask that anyone with information about the fire who may have been in the area on Wednesday afternoon contact Herb Karsten, WMNF Law Enforcement Officer at 603.536.1315, ext 4033 or your local law enforcement agency.

Public information officers will be available at 603.536.1315, ext. 4000# during the hours of 8:00am and 4:30pm. Please call 603.520.0103 outside the above hours."

I can say, being a local climber (the firefighters didn't really know what cliff they were on) that the fire is contained for now from Triple Corners right past Waimea, Bonsai, Monsters, Orange Crush, New wave and over past Pulse and Kennel Walls. The fire then extends down to the base of Main Cliff, Orange Crush, and 5.8 Crag up past Jimmey Cliff and just below Summit cliff to the right of Crows Nest. The Northwest Territories (Hinterlands, Asylum, NW Territories, Summit Cliff) seemed to have been spared. 50 acres is a lot of land on a steep hillside. The woman I talked to was explaining how hard it was getting up and down the steps/ladders at Orange Crush with all their gear.

Prayers and well wishes for the falcons and personnel fighting the fire.


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By Jay Knower
Administrator
From Plymouth, NH
May 31, 2008
Technosurfing, Rumney. Photo by Seth Hamel.

ajcormier wrote:
I can say, being a local climber (the firefighters didn't really know what cliff they were on) that the fire is contained for now from Triple Corners right past Waimea, Bonsai, Monsters, Orange Crush, New wave and over past Pulse and Kennel Walls. The fire then extends down to the base of Main Cliff, Orange Crush, and 5.8 Crag up past Jimmey Cliff and just below Summit cliff to the right of Crows Nest. The Northwest Territories (Hinterlands, Asylum, NW Territories, Summit Cliff) seemed to have been spared.


Man, that sounds like the whole hillside. This is a sad day.

Here's more info: www.unionleader.com/pda-article.aspx?articleId=616d94ee-76ee>>>


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By Vanessa Minery
From Concord, NH
May 31, 2008
me getting ready to climb the east buttress of middle cathedral in yosemite

Kayte Decker wrote:
What happens to schist when it is exposed to high temperatures and lots of smoke? Closure is one thing--damage to the rock another.


this is true. I'm also wondering what kinds of damage could happen to bolts with the high heat.

sad...


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By M Sprague
Administrator
From New England
May 31, 2008
Lichen head. Me, with my usual weatherbeaten, lichen covered look from scrubbing a new route.

A bulldozer... oh man, I wonder if I can use it a bit after they are done.


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By Blake Cash
Jun 1, 2008

So...

is everything still closed/burning? Is there a site with up to date info other than here?


this is truly a sad sad thing to be witnessing.


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By ajcormier
Jun 1, 2008

When I talked to the Forest Service lady, she was making it sound like a week or so of closure. They have to send in crews to remove "widow makers" and then another group is going in to check the damage done to the routes, rock and anchors.

My advice would be to find another crag for a few weeks until everything is sorted out.


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By bbrum
Jun 1, 2008

Hi all,

Just an update, I had the opportunity As a representative of the RCAto walk some of the perimeter of the fire today with Acting district Ranger Tom Giles and Fire manager Erin Smalls. (hope I got the titles right)

The good news is that it appears that most of the crags have been spared any damage. we walked up to the top of orange crush, where the first fire damage is evident, it spread across the top of the main cliff and back up to the ridge line.

we hiked the worm hole trail, across to the top of bonsai, this whole area is burned pretty significantly. the was some fire damage to the trees at the base of bonsai but the crag remains unscathed.

we then went down to Vader and up to Wiamea, this area is pretty green and escaped damage. the trail up to jimmy cliff probably got hit the hardest but again, the cliff escaped damage.

The Wiamea trail designates the western edge of the fire so everything beyond that trial I believe is unscathed...

The fire is still burning up above the crags, the parking lots are being used as staging areas, There are hoses running all the way beyond the top of the main cliff and they expect that work will be going on for the remainder of the week.
For now Rumney is still closed and the USFS appreciates our support in spreading the word.

so good news all in all,

Cheers,


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By Jay Knower
Administrator
From Plymouth, NH
Jun 1, 2008
Technosurfing, Rumney. Photo by Seth Hamel.

It's great news that none of the cliffs seem to be affected.


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By NicoleKurth
From Londonderry, NH
Jun 2, 2008
.

www.fs.fed.us/r9/white

(just reposting it)
this site will give you updates on the openning/closing...


gah, this is so sad.


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By Jeffrey LeCours
From New Hampshire
Jun 2, 2008

I've been pretty down since I had heard about this tragedy earlier last week... but this WMUR video shook me up and made me tear a bit.

www.wmur.com/video/16440271/index.html

James said it best: "it's like watching a home burn down".


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