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


September rime ice!

It was an excellent day above tree line on Sunday.  Cool temps with a bluebird sky above and an undercast below.  Not to mention, evidence of the first overnight freeze of the season!

There’s nothing like a little rime ice to feed the psych!

(click on thumbnails to enlarge)

Photos by Courtney Ley

 

 

 

 

Get Ready for a Thanksgiving Ice Feast!

(Featured image by rockytop)

Climbers are getting out there and posting ice condition reports and photos.  Here’s a quick recap of the latest from all over the Northeast.  Ice routes in the upper elevations are doing well and things down low are thin, but building fast.  Thanks to all the NEice members for sharing their experiences!

New Hampshire

Huntington Ravine

from 11.21.13 (mlynchdogger):

“Climbed O’Dells on Thursday 11/21. Found soft hero ice. The crux of the main flow looked thin on top and was open with running water but very doable to the right and was done by other parties just before me. Skirted up a thin snow gully right of the main flow and the steeper flow to the right. Atop of the ice went left. Plenty of snow to a few hundred feet to the top. Finished on a 5.5 crack. Parties in Pinnacle. Yale looked sun baked and thin down low. Damnation thin but possibly doable.”

yale

Yale Gully
Photo by leaf

 

 

from 11.23.13 (leaf):

“Yale Slab, a bit thin.  Middle of Yale Gully, the lower half after the slab is nice.  Then you’d need to work your way around the big dry rock ledges. No ice there.  Next up, there’s a ton of ice to enjoy after the gully constriction.  Very top, knee deep loose snow.  The deli counter was open taking numbers for all those wanting to wait around for Pinnacle!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tuckerman Ravine

from 11.17.13 (ajcormier):

“Got up to the headwall and decided to go straight up. “The Book”, to the right, was pouring water. We solo’d the first 1/2 pitch and roped up for the next two. Lots of undermining and more like late spring climbing.”

from 11.22.13 (mlynchdogger):

“Climbed the left ice flow high up left of left gully with DG yesterday. The separate flow to the right looked fun but thinner. Broke the climb up into two pitches but could be done as one. The first being fat with great ice. took up to 19’s. The second being short but steeper – stayed left. Found fat blue hero ice. Walked off and down into left gully.”

from 11.23.13 (JGassel):

“Hiked in to check out conditions and ended up at the Open Book pitch, which looked like the fattest from a distance. Up close, things didn’t look that good imo. There was lots of water running down behind a small amount of ice that was formed on it.”

2013-11-23 tucks

Tuckerman Ravine Headwall
Photo by JGassel

Frankenstein

from 11.24.13 (JGassel):

There was some ice on Frankenstein on Sunday 11/24, making a few of the routes climbable. I wouldn’t say anything is in by most people’s estimation though.”

2013-11-24_dracula

Dracula
Photo by JGassel

2013-11-24_standard

Standard Route
Photo by JGassel

The Black Dike

from 11.25.13 (Adventure Spirit)

“With the exception of a few chances to sink a 16 or 19cm, it was mainly 10-13cm territory. The mixed middle pitch was mainly dry and went on gear up to 0.75 and used no pins.”  

11.25 black dike            pitch 3

Photos of Pitch 1 and 3 by Adventure Spirit.

Vermont

Lake Willoughby

from 11.24.13 (Broken Spectre):

“The tablets are taking screws (stubs) at the 100′ level. before that you get nothing. Found some nice steeper pillars high on the tablets that almost felt fat at times. Otherwise nice plastic 1-3″ thick ice. Building very fast. 20 below may be in shape by tomorrow.”

Smugglers Notch

from 11.23.13 (tfarr3):

“Conditions up by EHG are coming along. O of I is almost there for early season, Watership Down is trying to come in. EHG is probably good but thin. Ragnarock – 1st pitch goes, 2nd would go. 3rd not yet. EHG South Face could be a scratchy adventure.”

Ragnarock
Photo by tfarr3

from 11.23.13 (rockytop):

“Blind Fate amphitheater. All climbable but no real gear on lower parts, maybe an occasional stubby? Not really “in” yet. The top column on Blind Fate was a wild wind-blown formation. The left-hand line with the free-hanger is about as good as it ever gets.”

“Grand Confusion in somewhat thin conditions. Climbable but rotten, narrow and detached in spots, fresh plastic in others. Crux up high would be protectable with stubbies.”

“Jeff Slide – Good recovery after the warm spell. Would probably take stubbies in places.”

Blind Fate Amphitheater
Photo by rockytop

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maine

Grafton Notch

from 11.21.13 (suunto):

“Drove by Grafton Notch for a short hike today.  The ice is coming pretty well.”

 Mt. Katadin, South Basin

from 11.22.13 (lukecushman):

“The stars aligned for a one-day car to car ascent of the Cilley-Barber. Four of us took Friday and the opportunity to see if there was any ice up on Katahdin yet this year, and found C-B to be in pretty ideal conditions. All ice sans about 10 meters at the start of the crux pitch and the hike off the top. Could not have asked for a better day!”

Cilley-Barber Route
Photo by lukecushman

New York

Trap Dike

from 11.22.13 (TrevorK):

“Went up and climbed the trap dike yesterday. Its amazing how little snow there is everywhere up in the high peaks. The climb was in but thin. There was a bit of water running but much less than I expected. Compared to later in the season, when it is mainly snow, the dike is mostly all ice. The upper slabs were very thin and basically snow free. As for protection, there’s not much yet. If you wanted pro, I’d say bring some rock gear.”

______________________

With this new onslaught of freezing rain, sleet and snow, I’d get ready for a great Thanksgiving weekend of ice climbing!

And I heard rumors of a photo contest in the near future.. so get your cameras out and continue to post photos and condition reports.

Make sure to check the Conditions Page and Photo Page for more.

 (As always, click on images to enlarge)

 

 

By Courtney Ley / NEice.com

 

 

For the skiers: A November to Remember!

Check out this video made by some VT powder hounds at Jay Peak!

Driving up Hillman’s Highway

by Doug Millen

Fred on Hillmans Highway

Ever since Irene,  Alfonzo and I have been wanting to catch this drainage, in that perfect moment. We’ve scrambled up Hillman’s in the summer,using it to access the rock ridges of the Boott Spur.  The movement of earth and boulders caused by that massive rain event were impressive. We wondered what it would be like frozen and finally last  Saturday we were given that moment. The climbing was excellent.  A ribbon of ice with steeper steps running for 1000′. Winter is coming and the ice was building during the day…I look for more building during the week and good early season ice climbing this weekend,  in the high ravines. Here are a few photos of our “Drive up Hillmans Highway” on Saturday November 9th 2013.

 

The Black Dike, Early Season by Erik Eisele

AAC Logo

It begins each year with the first frost. Around the time the calendar flips to October, I find myself sneaking glances at the high peaks forecast and pulling out my screamers. Rock season is still in full swing, but I start calling a few ice partners to sort out schedules. Three days, we tell each other, it only takes three days of freezing temperatures.

The calls go out to limited people — a devoted cadre of climbers with a passion for the unofficial opening act of ice season, the seasonal first ascent of the Black Dike. Ryan Stefiuk, Michael Wejchert, Peter Doucette, Elliot Gaddy — all strong climbers, all solid partners, who become competitors and co-conspirators as we all jockey to be the first to reach the top.

Three days (and more importantly, nights) can transform the rotten, black chimney on Cannon Cliff into the most famous ice climb in the North East, and we all know it. The Dike in early season fully lives up to its reputation. Every member of this team of rivals knows what they are in for. The first pitch will be covered in half-an-inch of ice. An eggshell-like layer covers the rock, and often the only gear is a cam less than halfway up. The next pitch is scratchy chimney climbing with only a handful of ice sticks, all of them thin. Launching off the belay is still the crux, but unlike mid-winter you never get the respite of a buried pick. The third pitch may or may not have enough ice to keep it safe. Some years there won’t be a screw placement on the entire route. Even in good years 10cm is as good as you’ll get.

Every year is a reaffirmation. Thin, terrifying sticks have a reassuring way of letting you know THIS ISN’T SPORT CLIMBING. It is winter again. Time to get ready, ice season is here.

This year the starting gun fired on Election Day. Ryan drove three hours to meet me, and we found eight screw placements, several of them solid. Michael was close on our heels the next day — he soloed and rope-soloed his way to the top before driving to Mount Washington and climbing Damnation. Two days later he and Ryan tried Fafnir but found it lacking.

Last year Peter and I found extremely thin ice days before Halloween. We left the parking lot at 5 a.m. and were back down by 10 a.m. Two days later Elliot and Michael found sections barely frozen in place. Two years ago Ryan and Michael made the first ascent, and a day later the three of us gave Fafnir a try. Four years ago Ryan and I stood atop Cannon first.

This tradition isn’t a race. Any one of us would happily join any other team member for opening day. It’s about extending the season, it’s about sucking the marrow out of winter, and it’s about ticking the Black Dike when its ripe. In October or November the Dike is an alpine nightmare, and climbing it required every ounce of skill and concentration. After a long summer of clipping bolts and whipping out of cracks, mixed climbing above tenuous gear is a wakeup call. The Dike is a cold reminder of why we love the sport, and each year it demands you get your head in the game. There is no option to lower off, no yelling “Take!”

Every one of us will likely climb the Dike later in the season, maybe with a client or friend in tow, but we migrate to Cannon each fall because of what it offers. For one ascent each year the Black Dike represents the outer limits. It is the hardest ice climb in the North East again, if only for a few days. It serves as a reintroduction to the sport, and each year we clamor over each other for the chance to get reacquainted.

If you want to join the team start watching the weather next October. And if things look good make sure to give me a call.

—Erik Eisele, Bartlett, NH

Posted on: November 13th, 2012 by the AAC – New England Section

P.F. Flyer and More!

The Head Wall – King Ravine

It was a great weekend for ice climbing up on the “Rock Pile”. NEice team members found plenty of early season ice.

Team member Courtney Ley and partner Joel Dashnaw reported thick ice on Pinnacle Gully. Courtney said “it was taking 16cm screws” and the water flow was not bad at all. Look for her photos here.

Lori Crowningshield finda "FAT" ice in Damnation Gully

Lori Crowningshield finds “FAT” ice in Damnation Gully

Team Member Emilie Drinkwater and partner Lori Crowningshield climbed “Damnation” and found good ice also. “It was a little scrappy at the top in the sun”, but very enjoyable and a beautiful day to be in the ravine. On Sunday, Emilie and Jesse did “Shoestring Gully” in Crawford Notch and found it thin but climbable and a little slushy at the top.

Ted Hammond nearing the top of the Mullet slab

Alfonzo and Ted Hammond climbed the Mullet slabs on Mt. Lincoln in Franconia Notch and had a great day out. Look for some of his photos in the photo post section soon.

P.F. Flyer

Google Map

Google Map

Fred Bieber and I headed in to King Ravine to see what we could find. We found plenty of ice and set our eyes on ” P.F. Flyer”. I have always wanted to climb it but the conditions have never been right. Today they were. That side of the ravine never gets sun this time of year so conditions and timing were ripe. It was good to do it before the snow gets too deep. As it was, we were thigh deep in snow at times.

Let’s hope this warm up does not do much damage.

Below are some photos of the climb. Enjoy! (click to enlarge)

Doug Millen

Fred coming up on the lower section

 

The crux of P.F. Flyer

 

Great ice higher up on the climb

Fred topping out on the last bit of ice climbing

 

Early Season Luck On Katahdin

Game ON!

Condition Report – October 13, 2012
Mt Katahdin, Baxter State Park, Maine

Alfonzo enjoying great early season ice on "Piggy-Wiggy", Katahdin, ME

Alfonzo enjoying great early season ice on “Piggy-Wiggy”, Katahdin, ME  10-13-2012

You never know when it will happen….so be ready!

And we were!

Alfonzo made reservations at the Roaring Brook campsite over a month ago knowing it is hard to get campsites over consecutive days this time of year. We were planning to rock climb, but with the forecast calling for cold weather, the ice tools were packed along with the rock gear. You never know when you might need your ice tools.

We arrived Friday night to light snow showers. Rock climbing still seemed possible to some with the forecast . Our friends Mike & Cassy packed for the Armadillo. Alfonzo and I packed for ice. We had a good feeling about the conditions leading up to Saturday.  And with the forecast calling for low teens at 4000′ overnight we committed to ice climbing and packed light to move fast.

We were greeted with clear sky’s and temps in the 20’s Saturday morning. As we walked up the trail, the ground became more frozen and signs of solid ice were everywhere…our pace quickened for we knew climbable ice would be found.

As we walked into the Chimney pond area, the grandness of the South Basin with a winter look welcomed us. There was ice everywhere. Better than we expected and better than last years trip in early December. And the Cilley-Barber was in! All the planets had aligned. With pure luck we had impeccable timing, creating the perfect early season situation.

After checking in with Mark the ranger at chimney pond we headed UP! We chose the biggest moderate line we could see. This was the start of the “Chauvin-Cole” route up to “Piggy-Wiggy” and then to the ridge. The gift of early season ice was given again, for in the winter most of this climb would be a snow slog. We had water ice, tail to tip.

We climbed about 1500 ft of good and sometimes challenging water ice on a spectacular day. This was the best early season ice I have ever climbed. We were so lucky!

Many thanks to Baxter State Park,  a great park with excellent hospitality. And special thanks to Ranger Rob and Mark for being so excited about early season ice climbing.

~ Doug Millen

Photos by Doug Millen & Alan Cattabriga

 

Early Season Luck On Katahdin – 1

Piggy-Wiggy

Katahdin, Maine 10-13-2012

[nivoslider id=”10739″]

Photos by Doug Millen & Alan Cattabriga