Kancamagus Dream’n

On the Drool of the Beast & Sheer Elegance

Footloose and crowd-free on two New Hampshire classics

Mt. Kancamagus (L) & Osceola’s East Peak flank the Mad River Notch, the home of On The Drool of the Beast.

It was Icefest week end here in New Hampshire. Many people shy away from areas during these times, thinking every piece of frozen water will be wedged with humans…. If one knows where and when to climb, this is not the case.

The Kancamagus is an east-west highway. It slithers like a snake through the White Mountains and gives access to many popular climbs.  The most sought after is Way in the Wilderness on The Painted Walls. And right next door is The Rainbow Slabs. On the other side of the road, in a slice on the side of Mt. Chocorua flows the heavily hit Champney Falls. These are the places that will surly be busy. But there are other climbs that will not be

On the Drool of the Beast  II 5

For a backcountry area, the ice in Mad River Notch and the amazing line of The Drool are quite easy to get too. One just has to commit to an easy 2.3 mile walk and a wee ‘lil bushwhack. I have done the route three times with the first being in’93 and had sung of it’s aesthetic beauty to many friends over the years. The Drool is one of those routes that lives on the peripheral of thought for most. Lurking with its back to the road.  Not visible without hiking in, with the more noticeable ice almost always taking precedence over it. But I had one friend that wanted it bad and was willing to take the chance on it being climbable even on a short day. If it was not in,  little time would be left for something else.

I met Emilie Drinkwater in the Greeley Pond parking lot and though the trail was packed, we decide to ski in. We had two different reasons for this. My reasons, not being a very good skier, the approach and descent would be just as exciting as the climbing. Emilie wanted too because she claims to hate walking and getting out would be quite fast. I also think she knew with my skiing skills, I would provide some good entertainment. And I’m pretty sure I came through on that.

We stop at the spot where one can get an obstructed view of the climb. Emilie had been wanting to do this route for years and had the same reaction I had with my first sight of its line. “WOW!” then,  “That is only one pitch?”  The route looked pretty good, with the exception of one section down low that we could not see. Once up close it all was there, however it was thin.

The beautiful ribbon of The Drool and a lean version of Aye Karumba! (R)  photo-Emilie Drinkwater

Emilie was her usual, humble self and while racking up, made some silly comment about if she did not make it I could finish it.  I said sure and reminded her of the schooling she doled out with the Rollies at Sozt’s during Mountain Fest.  After the first few pieces of rock gear were placed at the start, the rest went like clock work for her, what a surprise.

Emilie working the thin start

The Drool has everything a climber could wish for. Its location and the impeccable nature of the climb suffer few rivals. Good rock & ice gear, stemming, chimney moves, corkscrew weirdness and pure straight on ice for the finish.  All in a remote mountain setting with spectacular views across the Greeley Ponds to the layers of mountains stretching out to the southeast.

In no time at all Emilie had topped out and I was climbing.  The typical thought “I’m glad I’m seconding”  entered my mind right from the start and stayed with me through the steeper than it looked from below finish.  Once back on the skis, the  trip out was fast, with minimum damage to my coccyx.  Along the Kancamagus we stopped near the pass for a look back west  to Mt. Huntington. Ted Hammond had mentioned Sheer Elegance, the stand out route on it’s huge southeast face was looking good. And it did indeed.

Sheer Elegance II 4+ 5.6

Anyone driving on the highway has seen it. As one drops over Kancamagus Pass towards Lincoln, Mt. Huntington tries to block your passage.  Its bulky southwestern shoulder with its massive wall will fill your vision.  In the winter an amber like sheet of ice trailing off to a slender ribbon, cascades down the chocolate coloured slab. Always tempting, always dismissed…. except by a few.

Mt. Huntington and the line of Sheer Elegance

 

Sheer Elegance (center) and other beautiful climbs to the left.

A few years ago a good trail was established by Chuck Woodman and others while putting up some of the rock routes on this complex cliff system.  This trail, if one knows where to find the start offers an very cool, easy way to the cliff.  Ted Hammond and Mark Casale packed it out going into the routes on the left end of the cliff. And while doing so got a first hand look at the start of SE.  The report was a big grin.

A view of the route from the approch

The day dawned clear and cold but the sun could compromise the ice if one gets too late a start. A semi late night after the dry tooling comp did not put much of a damper on our departure time. Freddie Bieber , Ted, Mark and I were at the cliff  with Fred racked and rolling by 9.

Freddie engaging the elegance

When Fred got to the start of the crux the scale of the steep section really showed.  And though he had not been on any steep ice this year, Freddie cranked out an excellent lead.  After the crux the ice kicks back for a bit to a snow & ice ramp that leads right. After that a huge sheet of soft, amber leads to the trees.

Ted Hammond coming up the finishing section

The day was absolutely  brilliant. Good friends sharing an amazing route none of us had done, totally alone.  And that is a rare gift. The rating is a bit old school and I’m not looking to change it.  However I found the crux to be similar to that of Repentence when it is in good.  Narrow, barndoor-ish and in the grill a little longer, but then easier.  We did the route in one long pitch with double 70’s.

Sheer Elegance and On the Drool of the Beast are beautiful gems.  These lines are total classic’s and I feel very lucky to have done them this year. Both routes require cold and cloudy weather to form. Keep the eyes open, Sheer is right in plain view. If it looks good from the road go for it! As for the Drool…. take a chance and a walk, if it’s in your be smiln’, I guarantee it.

Good job to Emilie & Freddie for their nice leads and for dragging my butt up two great routes.

~Alan Cattabriga

 

 

 

Ice Climbing Nova Scotia

Where will your next road trip be heading? Ouray? Canmore? Norway?  If you’re looking to break out of that NH/NY/VT routine but don’t want to drop the coin on a flight out west or to Europe, why not check out the climbing in Nova Scotia?  It may be 12 hours by car from Boston, but battling the tides and the maritime climate provides an adventure setting unlike anyplace else in the northeast.

Roger Fage, a Nova Scotia local, has just put out the second version of his ice guide for climbing in Nova Scotia. The original version is available in the traditional, printed format, but Roger has something else in mind for this version of the guide.  Instead of sending it off to be printed, he’s come up with the following plan:

“So here’s how it works, we’re on the honor system.  You can download it at your ease, and then, depending on your level of happiness (from the quality of guide) and current income, donate to the sponsorship fund on a sliding scale.

If you’re poor/student in debt (but let’s be realistic if you’re poor/student you probably can’t afford to ice climb) pay what you can.  If you’ve got more, the guide costs 0.01% of your total income.  ie your net income is $100,000 the sponsorship fee is $10…and so on!  Or just download it and be indebted to me for life/pay when you can.

Please do not print off the entire guide.  Put it on your iphone and bring it with you, or print off individual pages on scrap paper.
Paper = Less Trees = Warmer Earth = Less Ice = Sadness.

Siren Song WI5 – FA Roger Fage and Matthew Peck

The guide is available for download here: Ice Pirate’s Guide to Nova Scotia.  Should you download the guide, please be respectful of the work Roger has put into compiling this great resource and contribute what you can.
Roger’s work was made possible by Climb Nova Scotia.  Be sure to check out their page for information about the 2012 Nova Scotia Ice Climbing Festival!

Fluffy

Go back Mountain, NH

Fluffy – NEI 6 X 60m – FA: Josh Hurst, Ian Austin

 

Start: Immediately left of Valhalla in the Valhalla Amphitheater

Protection: Stubbies, Screws, .5-3 Camalots

Descent: Rap route

Extenuating Circumstances: Ice was 1/2″-2″ thick at start for the first ascent, first good protection was a Camelot behind an excavated flake at 80′.

Fluffy
Notes: Incredible, sustained, scary, incomparable; longer than Valhalla by 25′, finish to the trees on top.
Photos by Ian Austin

New M8 at “The Lake”

Tiny Dancer

Lake Willoughby, VT

FA: 01-21-11 Ryan Brooks and Josh Hurst

“Tiny Dancer, It’s between Plug and Chug and Call of the Wild.  It’s a modern mixed route that deserves to see a lot of traffic due to it’s accessibility, reliability and rock quality” -Josh Hurst

tiny-dancer-3a

tiny-dancer-1aP1: M7  Climb 20′ of Plug and Chug than diagnal right on ice blobs to the center of the overhanging rock.  Take the weakness up and right to more ice blobs on the mid-cliff ledge.  Belay on left in the ice.  It is possible to take ice blobs directly up to the rock in some years.

tiny-dancer-2aP2: M8  Start up the flake system to a small roof.  Trend right, crux, to a shallow corner system.  Once behind the icicles take the line of least resistance to the top.

Rack: 5-8 ice screws, standard rack to 2″, no pins needed, 12 quickdraws

Photo’s by Ryan Brooks.

Endangered Species

Poko-O-Moonshine – Adirondacks,  NY

01/14/2011
Adirondack Mountainfest 2011

Story Up-Date 1/20/11 from Bayard Russell

True to Mountainfest tradition of establishing new climbs, Bayard Russell, Matt Horner & Matt McCormick established – “Endangered SpeciesM6+ NEI5+ R. The climb is just to the right of Jeff Lowes legendary line “Gorillas in the Mist”.

“It’s so cool that, after all these years, the Northeast continues to generate some of the most exciting winter climbing in the country” – Dougald MacDonald

The 2 Matts having a go on Gorillas In The Mist. No tools left this time. Photo by Smike

The 2 Matts having a go at Gorillas / Endangered Species earlier that week. No tools left this time. Photo by Smike

We were treated with photos and a video of the ascent Sunday night at Matt McCormick’s slide show.  A very impressive climb by some very motivated and committed climbers. Well done.  See the video..

Matt Hornor,s tools on Gorillas in the Mist. - Photo by Jessew

Matt Horner’s tools on Gorillas in the Mist, 2008. – Photo by Jessew

Many attempts over the years have been made on this section of cliff . Lack of good ice has always blocked the way. Back in 2008,  Matt Horner tried the climb in an after-work ascent where he ended up lowering off his tools in the dark, that was the best anchor he could build in the thin, candled ice (see photo).

See Fifty favorite climbs: the ultimate North American tick list By Mark Kroese  for information on Gorillas in the Mist

The Big Wall section of Poke-O. The thin strip of ice is the new route "Endangered Species" (Horner/McCormick/Russel). Photo by Jim Lawyer

The Big Wall section of Poke-O. The thin strip of ice is the new route “Endangered Species”. Photo by Jim Lawyer

More on the NEice Forum

Source: Matt McCormick, Matt Horner, Bayard Russell, NEice Forum, Facebook & Climbing.com

Story Up-Date 1/20/11

 

“There are a couple of things that we did do, and a couple of things that we didn’t do; here’s the deal” – Bayard Russell


Mahoosic Notch, Maine

Off the Beaten Trail

by James Paradis

MahoosucNotchFeb14-2010Over the past several years, Dan Cousins, Dave Custer, Jim Paradis, and Susan Ruff have extensively explored the ice climbing in Mahoosic Notch on the Appalachian Trail at the border of New Hampshire and Maine and climbed some 40 pitches of ice there. We find the ambiance in Mahoosic Notch in winter conditions to be unique in its wildness and big mountain scale and hope that the area will continue to foster a sense of adventure in those who choose to make the considerable effort to get there.

Mahoosic Notch Ice Guide  by Dave Custer

__________________________________________________________________________

Get A Job – 1/3/10

Matt-Mccormick-get_a_job_1-3-09b

Matt McCormick on “Get a Job”. Poke-O-Moonshine, Adirondacks NY  1-3-2010
Photo by MGB-VT

New winter rules for Katahdin

Baxter State Park, Maine

Baxter_south_basin-AOCSolo climbers allowed, no minimum group size

Great news! I am packed and ready to go. Maybe I can find some ice up there.

See the park web site for more information. winter rules and regs and the NEice forum for discussion.

Source: post by greenmtnboy

Photo: South Basin from Chimney Pond by AOC

More info from apaulcalypse:

I just got off the phone with Baxter State Park (not sure if it was a ranger, just whoever picks up the 207.723.5140 phone line). According to the woman I spoke with,

a) There is no ‘gear inspection’ on arrival. You do not need to, say, have every item on a checklist, and the rangers will not deny you climbing based on what’s in your pack.

b) Climbing on Katahdin CAN still be closed down in bad weather. I asked for some examples of what constitutes ‘bad weather,’ and she listed wind chills significantly below 0, whiteouts, high avalanche danger, “things of that nature.”

c) Yes, you can climb any route as a party of two. There is no longer a minimum team size.

d) As far as she was aware, there were no designated start / end times for climbs; that is, you can climb whenever you want. She did caution that is inadvisable to be out climbing after the sun goes down, though.

e) Ropeless, technical, free-solo climbing IS allowed. If you want to hike or climb alone, there is a winter solo camping and climbing form to fill out, along with an itinerary. You can climb ropeless alone or with partners. There is no specific hardware rack required, just gear appropriate to the terrain.

– Also see the article By Steve Prettyman Winter Climbing on Mt. Katahdin


Resources for Climbers

The American Alpine Club provides new electronic
resources for climbers

(GOLDEN, COLO.) – The   American
Alpine Club (AAC) today (Aug. 11,2003) announced the launch of a
powerful new web resource that provides outdoors
people with access to the catalog of one of the
world’s largest outdoor libraries.
The new on-line accessible database allows access to
18,200 books, journals, guides, and instructional
videos. It offers several search options including
browsing through the entire collection, or by specific
authors, titles, and subjects.
For example, entering in
the word “Yosemite” brings up 143 listings, with
hyperlinks to more detailed descriptions about
available books, videos, and journals. With the AAC’s
long-distance lending privileges, AAC members may use
the online search option to find items that they can
then have sent directly to their door.
The American Alpine Club
Henry S. Hall, Jr. Library has one of the most
extensive collections of mountaineering books, guides,
videos, and journals in the world. Currently there are
18,200 items, including rare books, one-of-a-kind
maps, and frequent new additions. The AAC Library is also
available for mountaineering or climbing research
questions. The Library’s strengths include Mount
Everest and the Himalayas, a diversity of guidebooks,
the Alps, and mountaineering history.
“The new searchable
database allows anyone to search the catalog of the
AAC library and discover sources of knowledge to help
them plan their next climb, trip, or expedition,” said
AAC Executive Director Charley Shimanski. “It makes it
easier for you to find titles in our library in Golden
than to find them on your own bookshelf.”
This new resource is
part of a redesigned website. The new site is easier
to navigate than the previous one and is full of
useful information on AAC grants, benefits, huts,
policy, publications, and rescue insurance.
Advantrics LLC
generously donated their time and resources to develop
the AAC’s new website. Advantrics is leading
the development of multimedia-based products and
designs for enhancing the presentation of information
on the Internet. Since 1998, Advantrics has acquired
and developed products and services to help its
customers find the right Internet solution.
About The American Alpine Club
The American Alpine Club
is a national 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that
has represented climbers for an entire century.
Founded in 1902, The American Alpine Club is dedicated
to promoting climbing knowledge, conserving mountain
environments, and serving the American climbing
community. The AAC currently has 7,200 members
throughout the U.S. and across the globe.
Contact: Jessica Meinerz

(303) 384 – 0110 ext. 18

[email protected]

AMERICAN ALPINE CLUB
LIBRARY

Madison Gulf

The Presidential Range, NH

Of the UP! & Ova…….. aka; Holy F*%*!

by Alan Cattabriga

Madison Gulf from the approch

Madison Gulf from the approach

After leaving a car at the Appalachia parking in Randolph, Tim, Ted, Doug and I are on the Great Gulf Trail in Pinkham Notch by 7am. The plan is to hike into Madison Gulf, climb the route, “Point”, then continuing up to Adams summit and down the other side via the Airline Trail to Appalachia.

Temps are in the upper 30’s but the trail is packed and hard. We decide to leave the snowshoes at the car. ( big mistake ) We figured the only place we would need them would be for the bushwhack from the Madison Gulf Trail to the ice. The approach is packed & the descent would be for sure.

The day is bluebird. The trail nice but all too soon, about halfway in, the sweet trail conditions go south fast. Once on the Madison Gulf Trail it was no longer packed. There were savage spruce traps, very little good footing and to add more to it, we kept losing the trail. The snow is so deep you are up higher in the tree branches, where trails are not trails. Blazes were non-existent.

Our good pace went to a crawl. In some places, literally. Hours slipped by as we lost the trail, again & again. Back-tracking every time to where we knew we were on it and trying again. At last we were in line with the ice and could see it good… we made the straight plunge. 7hrs. had passed since our departure at the Great Gulf trail-head to the base of the routes. Holy crap…

Madison Gulf MapAt the ice wall the sun is warm, the ice is huge and beautiful. My feet are soaked. Sitting on a rock, I wring out the socks and let my boots air out for a bit. Next we have 300’+ of ice, another bushwhack to the Buttress Trail then up the open summit of Adams. The ice is pure fun, the bushwhack above, because of the deep, hard-ish snow, is quite easy.
At the Buttress Trail we split up, I head up awesome snow to Adams and the others for the Star Lake Trail & Madison Hut.

The Airline Trail from Adams summit is in excellent shape, and it’s “knife edge” section bare rock & alpine plants. I lounge here for awhile wondering if I’m ahead of the gang. I decide ( mainly due to soaking wet feet) to book it down.

11hrs. 50mins after leaving, we are all down…. what a day! I’d go back in a heartbeat too.

 

Photos by Alan Cattabriga, & Doug Millen.