(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!
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.”
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!”
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.”
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.”
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.”
Photos of Pitch 1 and 3 by Adventure Spirit.
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.”
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.”
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.”
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!”
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
Check out this video made by some VT powder hounds at Jay Peak!
by Doug Millen
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
Condition Report – October 13, 2012
Mt Katahdin, Baxter State Park, Maine
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
Katahdin, Maine 10-13-2012
Photos by Doug Millen & Alan Cattabriga
The time is almost here! The days are getting shorter and the air colder. Snow has already fallen on the higher summits. The motivated, and perhaps overly-positive, climbers will be getting out very soon in hopes of taking their first swings into freshly formed ice. Some will luck out and find themselves at the right place at the right time. How can you increase your chances of finding early season ice? Here’s a few places that have seen ice form in late Fall.
Photos of Early Season Ice
So wake up before the sun rises and call in sick to work… Get into shaded ravines and gullies and check them out. You never know what you might find, and all your friends who laugh at you when you tell them you are going ice climbing in October will be jealous when you get some!
An October Ascent of the Black Dike
by Doug Millen
This was my obsession for years. I spent many days waiting and plotting for the right moment. Many times going only to find nothing, or being repelled from the climb. But after 5 years of trying, it happened! And it was less hazardous and more enjoyable than all the other attempts. We found good, well-bonded ice, and everything was frozen together (for awhile anyway). We nailed it on October 20th. But, by the time we topped out, it was all falling apart. The warm sun greeted us for the walk down. Timing and persistence made it happen and my quest was complete!
Early season on the Black Dike is not for the faint of heart. It is R and X climbing with everything coming apart. Loose rock that is normally frozen together become portable hand holds. The ice has water running under it and is not bonded to the rock. You put in protection and it comes out with the first test pull; screws are useless. My favorite pieces of gear for the route were Spectres. Some years the easy first pitch is the crux! Each pitch is different early season and each one has been the crux for me on my attempts. The rock traverse is easy compared to the rest of the climb in the early season. The spot I hate the most!? It’s when you finish the traverse, climb thin ice to a rock slab, have no gear and scratchy feet and a hard move to get into the chimney. You buy it here and you’re going for a long ride.
I have heard that Jim Shimberg got it one year on October 8th. It was colder back then, I think. It has been coming in very late the last few years. The Black Dike’s first ascent is the unofficial start of the the ice climbing season. When will it go down this year?
What I learned? Be patient, watch the weather, know the climb, know the area, and don’t be afraid to take the tools for a walk! And above all, be safe and climb smart. It’s not worth risking your life for an October ascent.
For some more early-season stoke and thoughts on climbing well before Smike’s official start to winter, see these articles on early season ice…
Finally, colder temperatures have arrived, albeit a bit colder than most of us would have liked to start with but ice has formed all over the Northeast now. Many of the classic lines are in and the season is solidly underway! Even the often elusive “Called on Account of Rains”, WI5+, at Lake Willoughby has formed and been climbed already!
Millen Machine and Alfonzo are up in Baxter State Park this week testing themselves and the new climbing regulations. We’re looking forward to a fantastic trip report and great photos as always from the duo!
Enjoy, send hard, be safe and stay warm!