Mt. Katahdin Maine

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A Trip Report


December 16-21 2009

It wasn’t long after Doug caught wind of the rule changes in Baxter State Park that I got a phone call from him. His question was a no brainier…….

I’d been wanting to go check out this mountain that is the size of Mt. Lafayette, but killer routes and (had?) more rules than the Catholic Church.

Doug did all the foot work required for our permit and we quickly tested the park staff by adding two more friends to the trip as our date got closer ( Ted Hammond & Brady Libby) with Brady being added six days before our arrival date. We also wanted to bypass Roaring Brook on the way in and go right to Chimney Pond if we felt like it. The park said no problemo..

katahdin-4Thursday morning December 17th.

As we get to the parking spot at 9am it’s totally bluebird but the temp. is -2 and the wind blowing hard. Getting the sleds ready was nasty…. I hate parking lots, they have the worlds worst weather.

The ski in was beautiful as Ranger Rob literally groomed it in front of us, he also mention the trail from Roaring Brook to Chimney Pond had only been walked in and out once and was bony. The cold really sapped us ( so did skiing 12 miles with a sled) and stopping at Roaring Brook was very appealing, Rob had no issues with that.

Friday December 18th

Sunny & cold again but the wind, though blowing, had lessened. Our only goal was to make the bunkhouse at Chimney Pond. The trail was as Rob said, rough. I would say about 15″ of snow was on the ground and most of the rocks, though snow covered, were sticking up. We switched to snowshoes for this portion and our legs and sleds were worked.

katahdin-10The first good views of the North Basin from Basin Pond were awesome and at Chimney Pond we were thrilled, the lines looked super cool and the Cilley-Barber was looking sweet. The weather set up for us was looking good with Sat. being sunny with less wind and Sun. starting to cloud up but a bit warmer, like 12*. We met with Rob that night and decided on Pamola’s Fury Left for Sat.

Saturday December 19, Pamola’s Fury Left:

We sign out at 8:15 and head in to PFL. The approach is short and the climb looked great. We soloed the first few hundred ft. of low angle ice & snow up to the crux, the ice was brittle so the ropes came out. Doug & Brady started up with Brady taking the normal line. Wanting to keep both groups moving, Doug headed right across the top of a big slab. We merged above and simul. climbed as two roped groups and covered ground fast. The upper portion was wind scoured revealing thin ice and bare rock.

The usual finish up a cleft left to the Dudley Trail was all rock so we continued up what the guide book describes as a low angled headwall. The climbing was harder than it looked with thin ice and rock moves, but super fun.

On top of Pamola the sun was warm and the wind light so we enjoyed the views for sometime. The descent down the Dudley Trail was something else. The boulders it wound through were huge and it had to have been one of the roughest “trails” we had been on.

After some food and a fair amount of whiskey we paid a visit to Rob to let him know of Sundays plan, the Cilley-Barber Route.

katahdin-34Sunday December 20, The Cilley-Barber Route:

The approach was straight forward and took about an hr. We were climbing by 7:30 with the same deal as the day before, two leaders run the ropes and then simul. climb ’till your out of gear. Short of the ice being a little brittle, the climbing was awesome. The starting 300′ was fat and about 50′ from the top the ice was super cool, being cauliflower in both form and colour. The snowfields between the next few ice sections were nice with some interesting wind sculpturing.

We got to the crux pitch which looked way rad (as in good) with it’s parasols guarding the top, Doug fired through it. Then the rest of us followed conga-line style. The climbing above ( we went R ) started out with 200′ of beautiful water ice to excellent hard snow and ice covered rocks for hundreds of feet.

We did the route in 6hrs./ 4 “pitches” :-). The walk over to Baxter Peak was beautiful as was the Saddle Trail down.

The Cilley-Barber is a gem of a route and it must surly stack up to anything in it’s grade & length anywhere.

That night we had company in the bunkhouse… I’m certain they thought we were a bunch of nut jobs!

Monday December 21st

katahdin-47We did the snowshoe/ski out in one shot, it was a long 8hrs. Though tired, the skiing was beautiful, we got to the car in the dark with the wind howling and it was snowing, perfect finish… Next stop, a beer store & food in Millinocket…



The Baxter Park Web Site

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