A Solo Winter

Winter came late, and not the best of winters, but I had a ton of fun flying my new drone. Here are some of my best video clips that I shot last fall/winter with my new Drone, “Solo!”

Solo at The Lake


Solo climbs the Last Gentleman, Promenade and China Shop on a sunny day in January. “The Lake” always delivers.

A birds eye view of “The Lake” and The Last Gentleman amphitheater, like you have never seen before! – View Full Screen for the best experience

Video, editing and flying by Doug Millen

By Tooth and Claw

A new climb in the remote Panther Gorge, Adirondacks NY

by Kevin MacKenzie

By Tooth and Claw (WI4)

Panther Gorge, Adirondacks NY

Date: January 30, 2016
Climbers: Kevin MacKenzie, Bill Schneider & Devin Farkas
Duration/Mileage/Elevation Gain:
 15.75 hours /18+ miles /5,300 feet
Approach: 8.5 miles from the Garden Trailhead, Keene Valley

The first views, Panther Gorge

The first views, Panther Gorge

I needed my Panther Gorge fix and the warm January temperatures in the valley prompted me to consider how much ice might have formed up in the gorge. The low snowpack made it even more tempting given the 8.5 mile-long approach. Panther Gorge veteran Bill Schneider and Devin Farkas, assistant director of the Outdoor Program at St. Lawrence University, jumped on board. It’s nice to have friends that like to suffer! We met at the Rooster Comb parking lot at 5:00 am to sort gear and drive a single car to the Garden Trailhead. Temperatures hovered at 15F though they were forecast to rise to the mid-thirties in the valley.
We hoped to have a firm crust on which to bushwhack from the Phelps Trail to the climbing walls. It was 10:00 am. when we stepped off trail at the Marcy/Haystack col. I sank to my knees in snowshoes…so much for easy. I broke trail to the Panther Den wall while dodging snow bombs from the balsams. Bill and Devin emerged soon after I crawled out of the last, particularly dense section. This was Devin’s first visit to the “promised land”—God’s country—and he wasn’t disappointed based on his reaction.
A large right facing corner, usually wet during the summer, held ice though it was thinner than I expected. Haystack was decorated with fat ice flows from nearly every ledge. Linking them could be an interesting route for the future. We continued lower to southern end of the Panther Den wall. Continuous tiers of ice led up to the vertical wall that Bill and I climbed this past summer when we put up Cat on a Wet Tin Roof (5.8). Enticing as it appeared, we wanted to explore deeper in the gorge.

Looking up pitch 1 from a tier or two up the route.

Looking up pitch 1 from a tier or two up the route

Bill broke trail to the Feline Wall where Devin took over. A smear touched down though it was partially delaminated and thin. The line was fatter in November when Adam Crofoot, Allison Rooney and I spotted it while bushwhacking along the Haystack side. Longer days of sun on the black rock had taken a toll. A nearby gully held interesting possibilities.
We climbed up along the left side of the Feline Wall; Bill and Devin continued down to the Agharta (NOT pronounced AgarTHa) Wall where the Agharta ice route was fat and tempting. There were no options for a new independent line so we re-ascended to the aforementioned ice at the Panther Den Wall (44°6’49.4”N, 73°54’23.9”W). The approach and exploration had taken seven hours. It was 12:15 pm and time to climb.
The first strikes of Bill’s tools shattered the ice. It was very dry. We’d hoped that the recent rains at lower elevations might have kept the water moving up high. Apparently the precipitation was snow at 4,000 feet in elevation. Yes, it gets colder with elevation, but temperature inversions have been common lately. Moderate winds swirled the snow as Bill climbed out of sight. I considered the possibilities as he climbed—would it be more of a snow/ice mountaineering route or consistent ice? The gorge is a roll of the dice, summer or winter so I hoped this would turn out to be a good choice and go the full length. About an hour later he set up an anchor and pulled up the slack.
I started via a short vertical pitch into a narrow gully and up to a tier of thick white-yellow ice. The tiers continued to a large right facing corner. Another higher vertical section led to the belay station 150 feet from the base. Any concerns about the quality of the line evaporated. It was interesting, consistent and had a killer view.
Valley temperatures in the 30s Fahrenheit didn’t make it warm on Marcy where the ambient temperature was probably around 20. Strong winds accompanied the ascent and dropped the wind-chill to somewhere around zero degrees. Devin followed and we regrouped on the spacious terrace. An ice filled chimney (a mossy dripping mess in the summer) sat in a huge corner on the left side of the terrace—the money pitch.

Bill in the crux chimney, about 170 feet up

Bill in the crux chimney, about 170 feet up

Bill led again. Delicate strikes kept falling plates to a minimum. The wind strengthened and cleaned nearby snow covered ledges. Smaller pieces of falling ice combined with the spindrift and took flight to the south. Devin belayed while I photographed and studied the ice flows on Little Haystack. It would be a war to get to them, but a couple could be worth the effort.
It was impossible to hear anything except Devin who was only a few feet away so three tugs on the rope from Bill signaled that it was time for me to climb again. A series of awkward moves in the chimney led to another terrace. A lightly iced corner led to a committing step up and left to lower angled ice below a right facing corner. Twenty more feet led into the krummholz and into a talus cave, Bill’s man-cave. He’d found a protected nook about 30 feet deep and was belaying from a pinch-point between two pieces of talus. The 250-foot By Tooth and Claw route was up.
Two rappels later found us back at the base at 4:30 pm. Only a bushwhack out of the gorge and 8-mile walk back to the trailhead stood between a hot dinner, cup of coffee and comfortable bed. The steep climb out of the gorge was in sync with a setting sun and still-increasing winds that whipped through the pass. The previous effort of trail-breaking paid dividends during the exit; it had consolidated into a supportive trail. The best adventures begin and end in the dark and this was no exception. We arrived back at the trailhead at 9:05 pm, 15 ¾ hours after starting—about average for day trips to the gorge.


Prior Panther Gorge Explorations:

  1. Grand Central Slide (w/Mark Lowell)
  2. Grand Central Slide Descent, up the Margin Slide & Skylight Bushwhack (w/Greg Kadlecik)
  3. Marcy to Haystack Bushwhack with Great Range Traverse-Great DeRanged Traverse(w/Greg Kadlecik)
  4. Marcy East Face Circumnavigation (w/Ranger Scott van Laer)-2013 Aug 24
  5. Marcy: Ranger on the Rock-East Face Slab Exit via a nighttime climb of Haystack from the south (w/Anthony Seidita)-2013 Sep 6
  6. Haystack Slides and Haycrack Route– 4 days camping in the gorge (w/Anthony Seidita)-2014 June 1
  7. Haystack: All Things Holy (w/Adam Crofoot)-2014 Jul 12
  8. Marcy & Haystack: New Routes on the Agharta Wall & a Pillar on Haystack-Wreck of the Lichen Fitzgerald & For Whom the Lichen Tolls (w/Adam Crofoot)-2014 Aug 16
  9. Marcy: New on the Agharta Wall-CrazyDog’s Halo & Watery Grave (w/Adam Crofoot)-2014 Sep 27
  10. A Snowy Panther Gorge Bushwhack (w/Adam Crofoot)-2014 Dec
  11. Marcy: A New Ice Route – Pi Day (w/Adam Crofoot & Anthony Seidita)-2015 Mar 14
  12. Haystack: 3 New Routes in a New Area (the Ramp Wall) (w/Allison Rooney and Adam Crofoot)-2015 May 30
  13. Marcy’s Panther Den Wall: Cat on a Wet Tin Roof (w/Bill Schneider)-2015 Jun 14
  14. Rumours of War: Opening a New Area —the Huge Scoop (w/Hunter Lombardi)-2015 Jul 11
  15. New on the Feline Wall: Kitten’s Got Claws (w/Justin Thalheimer)-2015 Aug 1
  16. Not Every Trip to the Gorge is Perfect –No Route, but a Good Day (w/Bill Schneider)-2015 Aug 16
  17. Marcy: The Pride (w/Bill Schneider, Adam Crofoot)-2015 Aug 30
  18. Marcy: Promised Land (w/Dan Plumley)-2015 Sept 19
  19. Tour de Gorge—North to South Exploration with a Nighttime Climb of Marcy (w/Adam Crofoot & Allison Rooney) 2015 Nov 21


On Mountainproject: http://www.mountainproject.com/v/byt…claw/111600381
Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M4ZVdSkyDsk
Photos: https://picasaweb.google.com/1043263…42016January30


Last Call


“Last Call”

FA: Peter Doucette & Travis Weil

Jan 22, 2016

WI6, M6+, 30m

Peter Doucette and Travis Weil did a what they believe is a new route on the South Face of Frankenstein Cliff, Crawford Notch NH. It is to the right of Bayard’s and Josh Hurst’s line “Strippers” and Left of Wrath of the Valkyries.

It was first tried by Bayard Russell last year. Bayard and Matt Ritter tried it again, with reports of some pretty proud whippers on the pins up there. 

It was a cool technical ice climb, sustained throughout”

It formed differently this year and there was a mixed sequence leading left to an ice exit through a thin curtain. “It was a wild pull over the lip with an important heel hook between two small pillars under the roof”.

A stack of stubbies in thin ice up to the middle of the climb gets you started. 2 pins right from previous attempts protect the next section. The pins are 12 and 15 feet to the right when you pull the crux. There is a decent thread under the roof that was the key to protecting the route. A heel hook gives you time to get established on and above the curtain.

“We named it “Last Call” to go with the Indecent Exposure, Cocaine, Nosebleed, Strippers, Pole Dance themes previously established in the area. It was a cool technical ice climb, sustained throughout”- Peter

It has been a tough week for any routes that get sun. Frankenstein’s South Face went from really good, to non existent in a weeks time.

Information & photos provided by,

Peter Doucette
AMGA/IFMGA Mountain Guide

[email protected]


The South Face of Frankenstein Cliff  1-22-16


The lower half of the climb


Looking Down the Climb


Time to clean the gear

Related Articles:

Flying High over the 20th ADK Mountainfest

Solo had a great time at the 20th ADK Mountainfest and captured some spectacular images. His first trip to the Adirondacks and he can’t wait to return. Many thanks to The Mountaineer and Rock and River for all the hospitality.

Also see a Photo Recap of the 20th Mountainfest from The Mountaineer


Photos by Solo, flown by Doug Millen


AMGA – Steep Ice Tips

Peter has ticked off many new tricky ice and mixed climbs in the Northeast over his career. He has a good sense of where and when things are happening and the expertise to climb them.

To find out what clinics Peter will be teaching at the 2016 Mt. Washington Valley Ice Fest, go to The MWV Ice Fest Blog. They have an incredible offering of Instructional Courses for all levels of experience, and a list of guides that just can’t be beat, in the northeast.

Related Stories on Peter:


Flight into Emerald City

The First winter ascent of “Flight into Emerald City” M7+

The Washbowl Cliff
Keene Valley NY

Location: Upper Washbowl Cliff, Keene Valley NY
FA: Kevin Mahoney, Nick Bullock & Matt McCormick 1-20-2016

Kevin Mahoney on his way UP! - Matt McCormick

Kevin Mahoney on his way UP! – Matt McCormick

The Upper Washbowl Cliff 1-18-16 / Doug Millen

The Upper Washbowl Cliff 1-18-16 / Doug Millen

Kevin Mahoney on his way to the first winter ascent of “Flight into Emerald City” ( M7+) Yesterday (1-20-16) at the Upper Washbowl, Adirondacks NY. It was an amazing day racing the sun at one of my favorite spots in the Adirondacks with Kevin and visiting climber Nick Bullock who grabbed the 2nd ascent shortly after”. – Matt McCormick

When you get great climbers and rare conditions together, this is what happens! What a spectacular climb. Great work Kevin.

It’s early in Nick’s East Coast Ice Fest Tour and he is wondering “How the hell did this happen all over again and so soon?”…see his blog for more

Photos by Matt McCormick & Doug Millen



Smuggs Ice Bash 2016

10th Annual Smuggs Ice Bash: January 22-24




Kick-off party | Drytooling Competition | Clinics | Slideshows & Speaker Presentation | Raffle | Camaraderie!

Free gear demos from the industries leading brands, clinics for the beginner to advanced climbers, multimedia slideshows by sponsored athletes, dry tooling competition and kick-off party, huge raffles and immense camaraderie in Vermont’s premier ice climbing destination, Smuggler’s Notch!

The goal of the Smuggs Ice Bash is to promote the sport of ice climbing, to educate climbers, to exhibit and demo new gear, and to share a weekend of fun, challenge, and inspiration with other winter enthusiasts in one of Vermont’s most amazing places, Smuggler’s Notch.

The raffle proceeds from the Smuggs Ice Bash will be going towards a much needed new rescue cache at Lake Willoughby. Last season the Rescue Cache on the South end was destroyed by ice. CRAG-VT has partnered with the AMC for a dollar-for-dollar match up to $400. Head over to the Cragvt.org to learn more or to donate. We’ll have loads of great prizes for Friday and Saturday’raffles so don’t miss your chance to win while supporting a much needed cause.

The KICK-OFF party

6th Annual Comp Poster

The Presenters

“Nick Bullocks presentation at the ADK Mountainfest was the best slide show I have seen in a long time. Nick was just bursting with energy, and so funny” – Doug Millen

If you missed him in the Dacks, be sure to see his show in Smuggs.

Guest Presentations copy 1_zpsrirtdnjq

The Smuggs Ice Bash is managed by Petra Cliffs Climbing Center & Mountaineering School 105 Briggs Street Burlington, VT 05401 802-657-3872  www.petracliffs.com

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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

Arethusa Falls

Plenty of water, all we need now is some cold. Please!

Arethusa Falls
Crawford Notch NH – 12-6-2015

At nearly 200 feet high, it is the highest waterfall in NH

Flight by Solo
Pilot: Doug Millen