Go North, Old Man!

A Trip Report

Parc National des Grand Jardins in Quebec

by Alden Pellett 

Ice the size of suitcases crashed down the face in the hot sun. I hunkered below a rock buttress, standing off to the side of 20 Below Zero gully. I had just gotten down off a neighboring route and the sun was increasing in intensity.  It was only the middle of November, but I was already climbing classic lines at Lake Willoughby!

At the same time around the Northeast, fellow climbers were also ecstatically sinking tools into early season classic ice like the Black Dike at Cannon cliff in New Hampshire, Grand Illusion in Vermont’s Smuggler’s Notch, and Chouinard’s Gully at Chapel Pond in the Adirondacks. The ice had formed excitingly fast over the past few days.

I stood chewing on a crushed peanut butter sandwich. My crampons scratched on the bare ground. Boom! An acrid smell filled the air as a toaster-sized rock crashed down the slope fifty feet away. It felt more like March than November. Now, right before my eyes, the season seemed to be deteriorating almost as rapidly as it started.  I quickly packed my lunch away, grabbed my gear, and hustled through the fallen leaves down to my car.

Back at home, a day had gone by. The forecast did not look good. It was clear that the temperatures at lower altitudes meant some of my favorite climbs hadn’t stuck around. I was given an amazing early taste of winter and was depressed at the thought of having to go back to merely dreaming of steep ice. I fired up the wood stove and sunk into my couch, aimlessly browsing social media. Trump, ‘snowflakes,’ North Korea, gun control, blah, blah, blah.  None of it seemed to matter. I wanted my ice climbing back, and my out-of-shape, old-man calf muscles from the past couple of days climbing weren’t helping me forget it.

The Mur des Crapaud Wall in Parc National des Grand Jardins in Quebec. Photo by Alden Pellett

The Mur des Crapaud Wall in Parc National des Grand Jardins in Quebec. Photo by Alden Pellett

Suddenly a glimmer of hope flashed across my computer screen. A Canadian friend to the north posted photos from his own weekend outing. The big crags in the background of some of his pictures had long runnels of shaded ice snaking over five hundred feet down the faces. In another image, steep yellow ice flowed several hundred feet down to talus and trees.  I had seen these classics in the ice guidebook for Quebec, but would the ice still be there?  Smiling faces in his warm, sunlit photos told me, ‘No,’ but hope flickered there. I checked the forecast. I sent a message. I read the guidebook. I sent another message. I got up and put another log on the fire and sat forward on the couch. His answer came. It was “Yes!” The climbs should still be there! My fingers working quickly, I sent one more message and my buddy Ryan replied. He had time off too and was game for heading north. We would escape this warm up by driving north of the border.

Ryan Stefiuk steps lightly on the brook crossing to reach Mont Gros Bras (Big Arm) in Quebec.

Ryan Stefiuk steps lightly on the brook crossing to reach Mont Gros Bras (Big Arm) in Quebec.

The Parc National des Grand Jardins (Great Gardens) lies about an hour north of Quebec City, traveling through farm country to the quaint tidy town of Ste.-Urbain. This 120-square mile park is loaded with boreal forest, wildlife, tundra, and scenic granite faces.

Wednesday morning, the alarm goes off at our Motel in Baie St. Paul. Ryan fires up the Jet Boil to make hot tea for the day ahead. We had arrived at 9 p.m. the night before, spending an hour sharpening tools and prepping gear before hitting the hay.  After wolfing down a speedy breakfast at the ubiquitous Tim Horton’s, we were chomping at the bit to hit the park and see if our chosen routes were still in. I point my old green Toyota van out Highway 138 and start out of the valley. Farms like patchwork dot the way. Dairy cows line up for morning milking, standing in a green hillside pasture grooved from decades of this daily ritual. Passing through the tidy town of St. Urbain, we take a left on 381, winding uphill toward the park. Encouragingly, the early light of day reflects off small ice flows in the hillsides. Straight ahead, our goal, the beautiful granite dome of Mont Gros Bras, ‘The Big Arm,’ comes into sight. Easily viewable from the highway, I slow down, and Ryan cranes his neck to look at the big face. It was Game On!  Now all we had to do was see if we dared climb the thinly iced corners.

  • You reach the start of the classic mixed routes on Mont Gros Bras by taking a trail across the road and slightly downhill from the Visitor’s Center. Microspikes are helpful right now for crossing the brook and walking uphill on the frozen, leaf-strewn path. The approach seems like it will take longer from the parking lot, but just ten to fifteen minutes of hiking should take you below the big corners and mixed lines there.
Ryan Stefiuk leading up pitch 1 of P'tite Tête, WI4+R,M6R, on Mont Gros Bras in Parc National des Grand Jardins in Quebec.

Ryan Stefiuk leading up pitch 1 of P’tite Tête, WI4+R,M6R, on Mont Gros Bras in Parc National des Grand Jardins in Quebec.. Thanks to thin ice, we found the guidebook rating was harder than the actual conditions we encountered. Easy mixed and thin ice at 4+R. Photo by Alden Pellett.

According to Guides des cascades de glace et voies mixtes du Quebec by Stephane Lapierre and Bernard Gagnon:

 

Mont Gros Bras

Notable winter routes:

“P’tite Tête,” WI4+R,M6R. 175M.

“Gaston et mademoiselle Jeanne,” WI4,M5R. 180M. Just to the right of the previous route.

“All Fine,” WI4+,M5R. 180M. This is the left-hand side of these obvious corner systems in the central part of the cliff.

“Hals und Beinbruch,” M6+. 230M.

 

Mur des Crapauds

Approach: Cross the road next to a yellow ‘500M’ truck sign, and look for orange contractor tape marking a route through the woods, crossing the brook, and then trending up the right of the talus field below the main cliff face. The woods above get fairly dense and steeper the closer to the cliff you get. This appears to be the easiest path to and from the cliff face. Trust me, we didn’t come down that way and it was a nasty bushwhack.

Notable winter routes:

“Convention Collective,” WI4+R. 90M

“La Retour des Crapauds (Return of the Toads),” WI5+R. 130M

There are a number of appealing corners of thin ice, turf, and mixed corners that have been climbed to the right of this route.

 

Alden Pellett leads up pitch 2 of the mixed route, "P'tite Tête,"

Alden Pellett leads up pitch 2 of the mixed route, “P’tite Tête,” on Mont Gros Bras in Parc National des Grand Jardins in Quebec.

Ryan Stefiuk heads up the crux headwall on "Retour des Crapauds"(Return of the Toads) WI5 on the Mur des Crapauds Wall.

Ryan Stefiuk heads up the crux headwall on “Retour des Crapauds”(Return of the Toads) WI5 on the Mur des Crapauds Wall.

 

Pitch one of the ice climb "Retour des Crapauds." WI5 (WI4R) in Parc National des Grand Jardins.

Pitch one of the ice climb “Retour des Crapauds.” WI5 (WI4R) in Parc National des Grand Jardins.

Where to eat and sleep:

There are places for lodging in St. Urbain but we chose to stay near the bigger town of Baie St. Paul for a better selection of restaurants and services.

Baie St. Paul

You can spend between $75 to over $156CDN per night.

Hotel des Cascades – Offers what is probably the most inexpensive night’s lodging. No frills but clean and right near downtown. Recently redone rooms.

Hotel Baie St. Paul – Much along the same vein as des Cascades. Inexpensive but fairly clean and near enough to downtown.

Hotel and Spa Le Germain Charlevoix – Pricey, but pretty inclusive. Restaurants onsite and more.

 

Tim Hortons for a quick breakfast, of course. it is just down the main drag in town.  There is a McDonalds, too. Check out a few of the local restaurants if you have time for a sit-down breakfast.

Joe Smoked Meat – Pleasant interior. Good inexpensive sandwiches on the menu plus a spaghetti plate with sauce. Get it with the smoked meat plate if you want a good but different-looking meal. 😉

There are a number of very nice eateries along the Rue Ste. Jean Baptiste in town like Le Cafe des Artistes. Check them out!

 


Area Map

* Zoom, Scroll and click Icons for Information & Driving Directions


You might also like this post by Ryan Stefiuk:  A Road Trip – Newfoundland 2015

 

pinnacle gully up close

Conditions Update! 11.10.17

New Hampshire

We had some eyes on the condition of two early season prizes in on Wednesday the 8th!  A close look at Pinnacle Gully revealed some unconsolidated and thin, but hopeful, frost and ice.  No rock pro options that morning led to a ‘No Go’, but with temperatures remaining frigid, it may be climbable soon!  I’m sure the motivated will head into Huntington Ravine this weekend.

Conditions - Pinnacle From Afar (11.8.17) . Photo: Brady

Pinnacle From Afar (11.8.17) . Photo: Gary Reuters

 

Conditions - Pinnacle Up Close (11.8.17) . Photo: Brady

Pinnacle Up Close (11.8.17) . Photo: Gary Reuters

No doubt Cannon Cliff will get a close inspection as well.  We have a ‘from-the-road zoom in’ to the dike area and Fafnir. Who will be enticed to take a walk up and peer around the corner?

Conditions - Fafnir (11.8.17) . Photo: John Mallery

Fafnir (11.8.17) . Photo: John Mallery

 

The Black Dike 11-10-17

The second follows the runnel pitch on an early season ascent of the Black Dike. 11-10-17 / www.facebook.com/CannonCliffFranconia/

Vermont

In Vermont, it’s currently snowing on the higher peaks and I know a few climbers who only need a millimeter of ice on the cliffs of Smuggler’s Notch to make it go.

New York

A look at our Instagram feed shows crampons to ice!  @willclimbz posted a sweet pic of Slide 1 on Whiteface in ‘Thin But In’ conditions.  Right on!

Slide 1, Whiteface. Photo: Will Roth

We certainly had some warm temperatures in October and my usual Halloween ice was far from happening this year. Now temperatures are remaining below freezing up high for a few days leading into the weekend.  Finally!  Hope to see some great photos and reports of ascents coming in.  Have a great weekend!

The Expected and Unexpected of Early Season

Splashing through the rushing water currents on the trail did not invoke confidence that anything would be frozen up higher.  Still, my climbing partner and I did not slow our pace into King Ravine.  We climbed over the countless snow covered boulders trying not to slip into the human eating crevasses as we picked our way towards Great Gully.  It was warm and wet.  By the time we started our final approach to the drainage in low visibility, I had already resigned to the fact that we would be just out for a hike inside the low lying cloud bank.  To no surprise, Great Gully was a mess of rushing water and soft snow.

The floor of the ravine in the clouds. (photo by Joel Dashnaw)

If you are like me, you can’t choose your days to go climbing.  I’m chained to a desk Monday through Friday and on some weekends I’m working my second job as a photographer.  This particular weekend, I only had Sunday free. So despite the rain on Saturday and rising temperatures, I found myself clinging to the desperate hope that the ice that existed a few days before would still be hanging on. It was a tradition for me to get out and climb ice on Halloween weekend.  Rather, get out and attempt to climb ice.


Related Post:  Chronicles of the Overly Motivated


I love everything that goes along with being back inside winter’s grip. Although nothing is as good as having your mind and body back on some frozen water for the first time, there’s always more to it.  It’s time spent with your climbing partners, or time spent solo.  It’s time spent preparing and getting the psych up.  It’s about throwing yourself back out into harsh elements.  It’s about being in the mountains.  On this day, we post-holed through upwards of three feet of blown-in snow as we neared the lip of the ravine. (The type of snow that has that layer of crust that may or may not hold your weight.) We stumbled, stammered and literally crawled our way upwards.  We weren’t going to climb an ice-choked gully that day, but we were determined to reach the top regardless.  As we were about halfway up the headwall, the clouds began to fade and a brilliant blue sky revealed itself.

Leaving the clouds behind us. (photo by Courtney Ley)

Any thought of ice I had was left below me inside the cloud bank.  We weren’t out there anymore to find ice to climb, or lamenting it didn’t exist that day.  We were thrilled to experience one of the most outstanding undercasts I’ve ever seen.  Most years, my early season tradition of just ‘going out there anyway’ finds a reward for me. Some years it’s ice to climb.  Other years, it becomes something completely unexpected.

Photographs by Joel Dashnaw and Courtney Ley

Pinnacle – 10-25-16

And here we go!

Pinnacle Gully 10-25-16

“Thin ice, delicate climbing, and the nastiest spin drift I’ve ever experienced made for a decent October solo of Pinnacle. Have at it folks. Just bring some fancy footwork.”

– Zac St. Jules

Source: Facebook,  Instagram

Solo's First Trip to "The Lake"

We have been waiting for winter and it is here! The ice is building and with very cold weather coming things are going to go OFF! Next weekend should bring great conditions to most climbing areas.

This was Solo’s first trip to “The Lake” and everything went well. He was not intimated by the size of the ice climbs and can’t wait to return.

Here are a few photos from our flights.

Solo flying high on his first trip to "The Lake"

Solo flying high on his first trip to “The Lake”

Solo flying high at "The Lake"

Solo flying high at “The Lake”

Solo checking out the unfrozen lake from the North

Solo checking out the unfrozen lake from the North

Solo checking out the big wall section

Solo checking out the big wall section

Weekly UPdate – November Rations

Early morning alpine glow in Huntington Ravine. October 19, 2015.

Early morning alpine glow in Huntington Ravine. October 19, 2015.

On the day of the Black Dike ascent on October 19th, I was in Huntington Ravine to scope out what, if anything, had formed after only two days of below freezing temperatures.  I chose a winding line up Yale Gully, avoiding the slab sections that had a coating of ice that was almost immeasurable to the human eye.  Thin runnels of ice over rocky grooves kept me engaged and deep snowy drifts clinging to the upper sections made for a great winter day in mid-October.  I wouldn’t say it was ‘first ice’ for me that day, but the adventure was well worth the effort.

Fighting a blast of wind-driven snow midway up Yale Gully.

Fighting a blast of wind-driven snow midway up Yale Gully.  October 19, 2015.

After that weekend, the brief shot of winter died off and the thermometer climbed back up.  For more than two weeks after, above average temperatures killed any hope for more ice.  Tools and spikes were sharpened and ready to go.  We all waited impatiently for that next cold spell.

Winter tried again to beat back this warm Autumn with another two days of bitterly cold weather and high winds this past Friday and Saturday.  And for those of us who went out on Sunday, we made that approach thinking it’s a 50/50 chance of climbable ice, at best.  Were we just a bunch of dedicated fools?  Perhaps.

I rolled the dice in King Ravine, usually a good early season bet.  Zac St. Jules walked alone into Huntington Ravine as Max Forbes with his team, Russell Frisch and Steve Rahr started their own approach into the ravine under windy skies and cold morning temperatures.  King Ravine was ready for me.  My first swing into the drainage ice of the Great Gully was thin but sticky.  Water was flowing underneath the ice, leaving a fountain at times where my pick had been.  The ice ranged from just thick enough to almost too thin for comfort but it was secure and a total blast to climb.  Above the ice, the snow began filling in the upper portion of the gully.  Solid winter conditions greeted me at the top and underfoot I crushed thousands of rime ice feathers.

The beginning of the drainage. November 15, 2015.

The beginning of the drainage. November 15, 2015.

The top of King Ravine., looking toward Mt. Madison.

The top of King Ravine., looking toward Mt. Madison.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Starting up the first ice.

Starting up the first ice.

Meanwhile in Huntington Ravine, the high winds were forcing Zac to fight through some nasty spray from the open sections of running water midway up Pinnacle Gully.  At the base of the climb, the party of three were about to head up the committing mix climb above them.

Pinnacle Gully. November 15, 2015. Photo by Zac St. Jules.

Pinnacle Gully. November 15, 2015. Photo by Zac St. Jules.

The first pitch was led by Russ Frisch, who placed two screws low and then quickly ran out of ice. Max Forbes took the next lead and  found himself having to cross a wide section of running water in the middle of the route.  He placed a knifeblade and began moving through the water course.  “Since there was not enough ice over the running water to support my weight, I bashed through it with my hammer exposing the running water and rock below. I stepped through the water and did a bit of a jump to get across to solid ground. I moved up a short ramp with 4 inches or so of relatively attached ice and moved up into a small corner to rest. I placed a .2 X4, one of the only solid pieces of the day, and then crossed back over the running water to reach the fixed anchor at the top of Pitch 2.” – Max Forbes

The final pitch.

The final pitch.  Photo provided by Max Forbes.

The last pitch was pretty moderate, exclusively mixed climbing with patches of ice and hard snow that provided a bit more comfortable stance.  More photos from the day here.

As for the rest of Huntington, Max reports:  “O’dells was filling well, and the first pitch looked climbable. Central looked full of mostly snow, some ice at the crux. Yale and Harvard bulges were in pretty fat, but the gullies above were not looking as good. The ice is definitely coming in though. North seemed to have filled in pretty quickly as well, but the start didn’t seem to be there. Hopefully it stays cold up there but it looks like conditions will hold and allow everything to continue to build.”


At the Pitch 2 Belay of Pinnacle Gully on November 15, 2015. by max-forbes

Twenty miles southwest of Mt. Washington, two more climbers were picking at the meager winter rations.  Noel Normandin and Ryan Ferry were perched high on the Black Dike, which was dishing out a 90% mix climb.  Noel describes the route:

  • P1 : Mostly well-bonded, thin unprotected ice.
  • P2: Thin ice going up to the rock traverse, then no ice in the hose for 40ish feet.  A little ice after the grade eases off, taking a stubby in places.
  • P3: Started out on ice, then after a short steep parasol capped headwall turned to mostly loose snow covered rock.

While starting the third pitch, another party was spotted below.  Winter is finally getting a hold of the mountains!  Keep those metal bits sharpened!

Click here for photos of the Dike.  Photos by Noel Normandin.

New Hampshire isn’t the only place where ice is forming.  I bet some things are going down in NY and VT this week, if they haven’t already!

A wintry mix is forecasted for the higher summits on Friday night with blustery weather and snow moving in over the weekend, the ice season is well on its way!  Check out the weather page for more info!

Special Thanks to Zac St. Jules, Max Forbes and Noel Normandin for their photographs, video and additional words.

 

Burhardt and Siegel Start off the Ice Season with Impressive Ascent

The first ascent of the Black Dike on Cannon Cliff each year has always been the herald of the new ice season.  This year, it came early and swift!

Yesterday morning, Majka Burhardt and Alexa Siegel worked their way up the route in lean and mean conditions, providing high quality early ice season stoke.  Burhardt led the route and the two were back in the sun at the parking lot at 1:00pm after a dozen good ice sticks, 40 times that of thin sticks and mixed moves, and two bouts of screaming barfies over three pitches (a piece).

View up the Dike, 7:45 am October 19th and the moment of “Oh yeah! It’s in.” Photo by Majka Burhard

View up the Dike, 7:45 am October 19th and the moment of “Oh yeah! It’s in.” Photo by Majka Burhardt.

Alexa follows the thin but in first pitch. Photo by Majka Burhardt

Alexa follows the thin but in first pitch. Photo by Majka Burhardt.

Pitch two was dry on the traverse, a bit of everything in the hose, and sticks up top. Alexa finishes it off, photo by Majka Burhardt.

Pitch two was dry on the traverse, a bit of everything in the hose, and sticks up top. Alexa finishes it off. Photo by Majka Burhardt.

Looking up the final pitch— which (surprisingly) gave the most thoughtful climbing of the three. Photo by Majka Burhardt

Looking up the final pitch— which (surprisingly) gave the most thoughtful climbing of the three. Photo by Majka Burhardt.

Majka Burhardt stemming out the thin ice on pitch three. Photo by Alexa Siegel.

Majka Burhardt stemming out the thin ice on pitch three. Photo by Alexa Siegel.

“Ice season is ON— don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.” – Majka Burhardt

Majka-Alexa-Black-Dike-October-2015aAlexa Siegel works year round as a climbing guide for Cathedral Mountain Guides, Mooney Mountain Guides, The White Mountain Climbing Camp and The Kismet Rock Foundation. Last winter, Janet Wilkinson and Alexa started a Ladies Only Climbing Series with Cathedral Mountain Guides teaching women of all abilities ice climbing and mountaineering skills. She is a grassroots athlete for Outdoor Research and a member of Mountain Rescue Service.

Majka Burhardt is an author, professional climber, filmmaker, and the founder/director at Additive Adventure. She is an ambassador/athlete for Patagonia, Osprey Packs, Positive Tracks, Petzl, Scarpa, and Julbo and an American Mountain Guides Association Certified Rock Guide.

Find Majka at www.majkaburhardt.com and follow her at https://instagram.com/majkaburhardt/ and https://www.facebook.com/majkaburhardtofficial

 

Back to Business, Round Two!

Adam-Bidwell on Cocaine, Frankenstein Cliff NH - Photo by Ryan-Driscall

Well things are shaping up, again. It has been two weeks since the major melt down and the ice climbs are forming and there is plenty of great climbing.  We now have more ice to climb than before the meltdown. There is plenty of ground water flowing and things are growing fast. With no warm weather in sight, I expect good to excellent conditions from Maine to the Adirondacks and South for the foreseeable future.

This weather is greatly appreciated as we enter the Ice Festival season. Every year it’s a crap shoot with the weather and we are lucky this year, so far. By next weekend there should be plenty of ice for the the 19th annual Adirondack International Mountainfest. January 16, 17 and 18, 2015.

So dress warm, get out, and get some!

 

Doug Millen

Adam Bidwell on Cocaine, Frankenstein Cliff, Crawford Notch NH
Photo by Ryan Driscoll

Frankenstein Cliff NH

You know things are good when the south face of Frankenstein Cliff has ice to climb. Below are a few photos from Adam Bidwell with Ryan Driscoll

Ryan-Driscall---Adam-Bidwell-climbing-Cocaine-Cover-Web2

Adam Bidwell climbing Cocaine

Adam---Ryan-Driscall-climbing-Cocaine2

Ryan Driscoll halfway up Cocaine

Bragg-Pheasant-Adam-Bidwell-2

Second pitch of Bragg-Pheasant. The strongest sun of the day bore down just as I was reaching the thinnest ice.

Bragg-Pheasant-top-Adam-Bidwell-2

Ryan Driscoll on the Final boney pitch of Bragg Pheasant


Beware of  the cold temps

When it’s this cold after a warm up, watch out for ice dams. Both on the climbs and in rivers and streams. Below are two posts that will make you think.

NEice.com – Hydrophobia at “The Lake”

An Ice Dam busting loose at Lake Willoughby Vt in 2010 – Photo by Dave Powers

Careful of that stream crossing!


Assessing Ice Conditions

glace-etude-resistance-13And don’t forget that drastic cooling followed by a period of intense cold leads to strong thermal contractions in the ice. See this great information for assessing ice conditions from Petzl – Waterfall Ice Study


Ice Guide Training

The American Mountain Guides Association Ice guide training course in NH is in full swing. The EMS guides are sending the steep ice routes at Frankenstein which are in good condition and building fast with this cold weather. – Art Mooney
Chia Direct 1-7-15 Art Mooney

Chia Direct

Chia 1-7-15 Art Mooney

Chia

Hobit 1-7-15 Art Monney

The Hobbit


Mount Washington

Conditions Update 1-8-15

by Rich Palatino, Harvard Cabin Caretaker

The Tuckerman Ravine Trail is nearly completely covered. While it is very hard-packed and slick there is very little water ice to speak of. Light Traction is nice, but not necessary in the least. That being said, full crampons on the trail wouldn’t be unreasonable, just not advised…or enjoyable.

The fire road is still in rather early season condition. However, it is mostly snow until you are above the Dow Rescue Cache where you will find a series of stream crossings. Again, nothing major. Access to the ravine is quick and easy and the rangers have been using snow machines to travel most of the road.

It’s goes without saying, the ice is IN! The Ravine is still filling in for the season. Run-outs are far from being fully-developed and in many cases descending will mean a walk down the Lion Head Summer Trail. The Fan is sporting a variety of snow conditions as you travel from gully to gully. Overall you can expect excellent condition for cramponing. However, along with long sliding falls, spatial variability can present a problem. Don’t travel with a persistent green light in mind even though things seem locked up solid. We’ve been getting nickled and dimed for weeks so you should be on the look-out for protected lee areas, wind slabs of varying strengths, buried weak layers, and I personally have been starting to worry about persistent weak layers. I’m really not sure how valid my concern for persistent layers is, but as a skier I’m suspect of the rapid heating and cooling we’ve seen over the last few weeks. I’m keeping that in mind as I travel in avalanche terrain until we see the next major storm/avalanche cycle. But, you really don’t have to take my word for it. Luckily you can hear what the experts have to say via the Mount Washington Avalanche Center’s website and it’s many social media outlets.


Get Out and Get Some!

It’s the Start of December

The time when the sun begins to rise, it’s nearly set.  The nights are long and cold and the days are short and cold.  It’s the best time to catch the mountain gullies with abundant ice and perfect snow conditions. This past weekend I joined a crew up Mt. Lafayette’s Escadrille Route.  The day was cold and windy and the alpine in New Hampshire is in great shape!  Here’s a few photos from the day.

In Franconia Notch, down much lower on Mt. Lafayette, Ace of Spades is looking ripe.

Ace-of-Spades

12/8/14 Conditions  Photo by Doug Millen

And across the street…

The-Dike

Black Dike Conditions 12/8/14 – Photo by Doug Millen

Omega

12/8/14 Conditions / Omega Wall –  Photo by Doug Millen

With some very cold rock, cloudy weather and mixed precip this week, I’m sure this cliff is being watched carefully by some!

 

 

The drips are forming in the low elevation climbing areas, and even when the ice runs out, Bayard Russell of Cathedral Mountain Guides keeps going!  Here he is on a mixed variation of Kinesis at Cathedral Ledge. cathedralIn the Crawford Notch things are shaping up. The Twin Mountain crew and guests climbed “Read Between the Lines” on the upper east face of Willard and reported good conditions. They said “Damsel In Distress” is very thin but building. They also climbed “The Snot Rocket” at the Trestle Wall with a delicate top column. Dracula is not quite in but building fast.

To note: The first General Advisories by the Avalanche Center was issued for Mt. Washington’s ravines.  That was followed by the first reported avalanche incident on Monday in Yale Gully.  Keep an eye on conditions as more wintery weather moves in this week!

Over to the Adirondacks, local climbers have been getting out at all the standard venues.  There is definitely ice and mixed climbing to be had!  Check out the Adirondack Mountain Guides condition report HERE.  And don’t forget about the awesome alpine climbing arena that the High Peaks have to offer.  Just keep an eye out on the snow pack conditions.  The Adirondacks are getting slammed with snow this week, so give it time for the weather system to move through and the snow to stabilize.

In Vermont, Smugglers Notch updates have been coming in on an almost weekly basis on the Conditions page.  And all you need to do is click on the Photo Page to see Nick and Alden’s climb of a “lean and mean” Promenade at Lake Willoughby.

Bottom line, Get Out and Get Some!

By Courtney Ley

Baxter – Fall 2014

Conditions Report!

October 12-14, 2014

Some years you find ice to climb in October, other years you are hiking in your underwear. The weather started out cold on our trip and we were hopeful, but this was not an ice climbing year. We still had fun and explored some new areas to the Northwest of Baxter Peak. The Northwest Basin is simply amazing and worth the 8 mile approach. Below are a few photos from our trip. Enjoy!

Doug Plateau 2

Doug on the Northwest Plateau headed back to Roaring Brook after exploring the Northwest Basin. Yes, underwear time!


Photo Gallery

*Click Photos to Enlarge

– Doug Millen