Matty Bowman on the wet and thin Black Dike Traverse. 2-23-17

Unprecedented February in The Northeast

Where are we and what’s next?

Remind me? What month was that?

February or April? The month started off great! Plenty of snow and ice to climb. But, right after some epic snowfalls and great skiing, things went south. It started to feel more like April than February. A day or two of warmth is normal, but a week and a half of record warmth and rain took its toll. Spring came early and devastated the ice climbing in many areas. Winter temperatures are returning this weekend but it may be too late for most climbs to recover. Keep an eye open for the rare visitors. “Omega” on Cannon cliff has been found in great shape even in April. It’s time to follow the weather, look in the shaded gullies and up high. Be ready! This is the Northeast, and we are not done yet!

Damage Report!

Adirondacks:

Tendonitis - Feb. 26, 2017 - Uploaded By Brandonian / NEice Photos

Tendonitis – Feb. 26, 2017 – Uploaded By Brandonian / NEice Photos

Ian Osteyee, owner of Adirondack Mountain Guides says, “Everything is so fat; it’s all still there.” The back side of Chapel Pond and the North Face of Pitchoff are both areas that still have ice to climb. Routes like “Chouinard’s Gully”, “Crystal Ice Tower”, and “Tendonitis” are still in. Osteyee did caution climbers about crossing Chapel Pond though, after this warm spell, saying, “areas next to the shoreline may be open or have thin ice where you could break through.” So, even if temps drop to zero, people should check ice thickness before just walking across to climbs on the other side of the pond.

Catskills:

Mountain guide and owner of Alpine Logic, Silas Rossi – “I’m as close to 100% as I can possibly be that there won’t be any ice to climb in the Catskills for the rest of the season. Time to rock climb in the Gunks!”

The White Mountains:

Mountain guide at Northeast Mountaineering, Matty Bowman – “I’m finding ice quality to be very mixed. In places it’s building, like early season, and other spots, it’s dry, brittle and rotten. The bottom of Parasol ice was plastic, while the top was brittle, with lots of channeling from the thaw.”

“Huntington was in good condition. We found good ice on the first pitch of Pinnacle and great snow climbing up higher. Lots of water channeling on the upper pitches, including some thin eggshell sections over running water and large holes from the thaw. Other gullies looked good. We saw parties in Damnation, Odell’s, etc.”

Frankenstine2

The Frankenstein Amphitheater last weekend. – Matty Bowman

“”Frankenstein” is pretty much out. I guided there last Saturday and we canceled Sunday. The ice was undermined and top-outs were horrendous. We could not see anything on the walk in, but walking out the amphitheater was completely falling apart. Pretty grim.”

IMCS – International Mountain Climbing School – “We’re getting into my favorite month on Mount Washington: March! Lots of snow up high, milder temperatures, and longer days transforms the little cirque into a skier or alpine climber’s paradise. It seems like March goes quickly and we only get a month of prime conditions. IMCSWe had a great mountaineering course this week; here are daughter Brandi and mother Melissa descending the East Face snowfields. We glissaded to treeline. I’ve got some BIG plans for the rockpile these few fleeting weeks: how’s about you?” – IMCS, Facebook

“This was unlike any other Feb thaws in that it was a full re-set in most areas,” said Doucette, owner of MountainSense Guides in New Hampshire, who described the damage done due to the prolonged warm spell. ““Dracula” and “Standard,” some of the last to go, were not what I would call a safe bet these last few days.” But, he added, “Now it’s cooling off again, I’d go for supported features at elevation on cooler aspects – north and east-facing.” Now that it’s March, the sun will have increasing effect and that‘s something climbers need to keep in mind, emphasized Doucette.

Doucette encouraged people to look at Mount Washington, Smuggs and Cannon as probably the best bets aside from a few north-facing crags for a while. “If folks are mixed climbing, I’d bring a full rock rack and expect to anchor with that, or gun for the trees! There may also be a lot of verglas in cracks, so favoring stoppers, pins, and hexes over cams for their reliability. Any times conditions change rapidlym you have to be that much more prepared for the unexpected.”

Vermont:

Conditions were rough last weekend in Smuggler’s Notch. The rain and 50 degree temperatures this week has that area basically starting over, and it will mostly be dependent on whatever forms in the coming cold snap.

Lake Willoughby flows are hurting, to say the least. Parts of “Mindbender,” WI5+, lay in the ditch by the road Sunday morning.  But, surprisingly by early Tuesday morning, things were starting to look exciting as a couple lines that rarely form, like “Five Musketeers” and “Aurora,” had come in overnight with the cooler temps and lots of water flow.  Unfortunately, they fell down just as quickly as the strong morning sun came over Mount Pisgah, and baked the dark rock.  By that afternoon, the thermometer was at 42F, and I listened to ice and rockfall echoing loudly as I safely skied the woods on Mt. Hor across the valley.

While there is some ice hanging around still on upper parts of Willoughby routes, it’s all detached and dangerous.  After temps drop in the next day or two, who knows? Some cool stuff could form quickly again. If you decide to head there, bring your rock rack, all of your stubbies and a good dose of courage. – Alden Pellett

Quebec:

Newfoundland:

It may well be worth the drive up if you have time, and are still in the ice-climbing mode. There is still plenty of ice up there to climb. Check out “Climbing a Dream in Newfoundland,” Joe Terravecchia, Will Mayo and Anna Pfaffs’ new mega-ice route.

Also, check out “The Unseen Sun” by Nick Bullock, where he and the b’ys find adventure, friendship, and hospitality in Newfoundland.

Weather Forecast:

Cold weather is headed our way. So cold, it’s going to hurt after these 50 degree days. It may bring in some rare visitors if you can brave the chill. Running water is everywhere, but it may be too late for a lot of climbs. The sun is high and warm this time of year.

d87c7661-72a0-46b2-6a7a-f8eb8f1a1c92

March 2017 temperature outlook. Areas not shaded have an equal chance of above- or below-average temperatures. (The Weather Company, an IBM Business)

March 2017 temperature outlook. Areas not shaded have an equal chance of above- or below-average temperatures. (The Weather Company, an IBM Business)

Some Information from Around the Web:


Be careful out there – February 24, 2017


February 27, 2017


February 28, 2017


When all else fails, get ready for rock climbing. Jon Sykes new guide book is out. Pick up a copy and get ready for some rock climbing adventures.


Mike Pelchat on the wet and thin Black Dike Traverse. 2-23-17

Featured image: Matty Bowman finding wet rock and just enough ice on the traverse of the Black Dike, Franconia Notch NH – Photo: Mike Pelchat

Have you been Naughty or Nice?

Merry Christmas to All

This has been the best start to an Ice Climbing Season in recent memory. Seems like most climbers have been “nice” this year. Thank you Santa!

@zacst.julesclimbing Started the day getting shut down by Omega. Finished the day on Fafnir. All around good day with @pgcooke. Thought Id share this fantastic photo of the sun lighting up Omega. .

@zacst.julesclimbing – Started the day getting shut down by Omega. Finished the day on Fafnir. All around good day with @pgcooke. Thought Id share this fantastic photo of the sun lighting up Omega. 12-20-16
.

Cathedral Mountain Guides December 21 · Ice climbing is back! It's looking pretty good up in Crawford Notch - Frankenstein, Mt Willard and Mt Webster are all pretty icey right now. Here is CMG's Jake Job on a pretty steep, early season Dracula. Yeah!

Cathedral Mountain Guides – December 21, 2016
Ice climbing is back! It’s looking pretty good up in Crawford Notch – Frankenstein, Mt Willard and Mt Webster are all pretty icey right now. Here is CMG’s Jake Job on a pretty steep, early season Dracula. Yeah!

The Amphitheater ice in Grafton Notch is in well. Even the steep curtain is touching down. Acadia Mountain Guides Climbing School #maineiceclimbing #neice.

The Amphitheater ice in Grafton Notch is in well. Even the steep curtain is touching down. Acadia Mountain Guides Climbing School #maineiceclimbing #northeastice.

Scott Lovell leading Crazy Diamond up to the cave. The finish pillar wasn't in. The roof system beside the pillar on the right now sits on the ground. Maybe 20 tons of rock cut loose this fall. It's the same roof that many climbers have thought a wild mixed finish might go through. Well I thought it would go, and it did.Then we did Twenty Below Gully. It didn't rain over there like it did here. The lake is not going off yet.

Scott Lovell leading Crazy Diamond up to the cave. The finish pillar wasn’t in. The roof system beside the pillar on the right now sits on the ground. Maybe 20 tons of rock cut loose this fall. It’s the same roof that many climbers have thought a wild mixed finish might go through. Well I thought it would go, and it did.Then we did Twenty Below Gully. It didn’t rain over there like it did here. The lake is not going off yet. – Jon Sykes

@adventurespiritguides@zebblais keeping things straight on Mindbender. @mammutna @mammut_absolute_alpine #runatribe #neclimbs #northeastice #lakewilloughby

Adventure spirit guides@zebblais keeping things straight on Mindbender, Lake Willoughby VT.
@mammutna @mammut_absolute_alpine #runatribe #neclimbs #northeastice #lakewilloughby

Here it is. Poster for the 11th Annual Smuggs Ice Bash! Psyched for a great weekend climbing and celebrating with you all.

Here it is. Poster for the 11th Annual Smuggs Ice Bash! Psyched for a great weekend of climbing and celebrating with you all.

Warm temps and soft ice in the Catskills right now! A fair bit of water running but plenty to climb right now in Devil's Kitchen. #alpinelogic #catskills #iceclimbing @arcteryx @sterlingrope @petzl_official @julbousa - Silas Rossi

Warm temps and soft ice in the Catskills right now! A fair bit of water running but plenty to climb right now in Devil’s Kitchen. #alpinelogic #catskills #iceclimbing @arcteryx @sterlingrope @petzl_official @julbousa – Silas Rossi – alpine-logic

EMS guide @dmarshallphoto chasing the sunshine on the classic route Fafnir at Cannon Cliff. #emsguides #shreddingthegnar #northeastice @petzl_official @scarpana @lasportivana 📷 @80percenter

EMS guide @dmarshallphoto chasing the sunshine on the classic route Fafnir at Cannon Cliff. #emsguides #shreddingthegnar #northeastice @petzl_official @scarpana @lasportivana 📷 @80percenter

Doug Ferguson - Martin enjoying the type 2 fun with the perpetual calf burn of NFOP — at Pitchoff Mountain.

Doug Ferguson – Martin enjoying the type 2 fun with the perpetual calf burn of NFOP — at Pitchoff Mountain, Adirondacks NY – Mountain Skills Climbing Guides

Matthew Horner With Bill Schneider at Chapel Pond.

Matthew Horner With Bill Schneider on “Power Play”, Chapel Pond, Adirondacks NY

#skadidog test fitting her new Rex Specs!!! Bring on the blower pow!!!! #chistmascameearly #rexspecs #skidog — at Petra Cliffs Climbing Center & Mountaineering School.

#skadidog test fitting her new Rex Specs!!! Bring on the blower pow!!!! #chistmascameearly #rexspecs #skidog — at Petra Cliffs Climbing Center & Mountaineering School.

The business on Notched in Stone. A Tom Yandon and Joe Szot route, up and left of Moss cliff. #adirondacks #iceclimbing #northeast #winterfun — in Wilmington, New York.

The business on “Notched in Stone”. A Tom Yandon and Joe Szot route, up and left of Moss cliff. #adirondacks #iceclimbing #northeast #winterfun — in Wilmington, New York. – Matthew Horner

Doug Ferguson shared Stephen Pucci's photo — with James Matalvin Tullos. Yesterday at 5:30am · Pucci tang scored this nice shot of me yesterday in Cascade Pass. Thanks Pucci!

Doug Ferguson shared Stephen Pucci’s photo — with James Matalvin Tullos. Pucci tang scored this nice shot of me yesterday in Cascade Pass. Thanks Pucci! – Mountain Skills Climbing Guides

Joe Vitti at Catskill Mountains. December 21 at 5:11pm · Instagram · Here's a beautiful route on the west side of Stony Clove called Spiral Staircase. Troy climbing strongly through the steep crux. The ice was a bit delicate today, not perfectly bonded to the rock, there were some hollow thuds and some missiles, but the climbing was so cool! #catskilliceclimbing #frozenwaterislife #blackdiamondequipment #vittimtguides

Joe Vitti at Catskill Mountains. December 21, 2016 
Here’s a beautiful route on the west side of Stony Clove called Spiral Staircase. Troy climbing strongly through the steep crux. The ice was a bit delicate today, not perfectly bonded to the rock, there were some hollow thuds and some missiles, but the climbing was so cool! – Vitti mountain guides

@inphinitelyripped Gettin the goods on Mt. Cannon today with @kob6... Third pitch of the Black Dike 📷 @kob6

@inphinitelyripped Gettin the goods on The Black Dike, Cannon Cliff. NH today with @kob6…Third pitch of the Black Dike 📷 @kob6

Ice Revolution

Ice Revolution from Granite Films ~ Jim Surette on Vimeo.

“My main climbing partners were John Bragg, John Bouchard and Henry Barber…” Rick Wilcox narrates the ice climbing revolution of the Northeast in the 1960s and 1970s.

Conditions 12-15-16

Winter is HERE! Big Time.

A few photos that caught my eye this week.

CMG guide Alexa Siegel digging deep

Cathedral Mountain Guide Alexa Siegel digging deep for an early season glimpse at the Mt Washington snow pack. We’re already miles ahead of last year. — Bayard Russell Jr. and Alexa Siegel.

No Parasol, and very little ice, in Parasol Gully. - Matty Bowman 12-14-16

No Parasol, and very little ice, in Parasol Gully. – Matty Bowman 12-14-16

Black Dike 12-13-16

New crux on the Black Dike, Silas Rossi plowing up the last 200′ to the base. We used the rope and rock gear to mitigate the avalanche hazard on that last 200 feet. – Marc Chauvin / Chauvin Guides 12-13-16

Roaring Brook 12-15-16

First blood and first trip of the season, up the not so “in” classic, Roaring Brook falls today. -12f temps tonight and cold temps tomorrow should help. Lots of running water and chandeliers on the first pitch, and shell over most of the route. Still fun only different:) Matt Horner 12-15-16

 

Karen handles -40 wind chills at tree line on Mount Washington today - David Lottmann 12-15-16

Karen handles -40 wind chills at tree line on Mount Washington today –  Northeast Mountaineering Guide David Lottmann 12-14-16

DEC Ranger ADK

Two lost hikers found just below the summit of Algonquin Peak in the Adirondacks this week. Photo: A DEC Forest Ranger hikes through three-foot deep snow on Algonquin Peak during the search. Wright Peak can be seen in the background. – NYS Department of Environmental Conservation

Yeah, the powder isn't too bad in the Vermont backcountry right now. ;) #petracliffs,

Yeah, the powder isn’t too bad in the Vermont back country right now. 😉 Alden Pellett with Stephen Charest of Petra Cliffs 12-14-16

The 2017 Mount Washington Valley Ice Fest poster is complete!

The 2017 Mount Washington Valley Ice Fest poster is complete!

Cole 12-15-16

So cold, “Even Cole’s tiny penis had ice on it” 😳 – Alton Dadekian 12-15-16

Source: Facebook

Doug Millen

 

 

 

It’s about Time, Where have you Been?

Winter is finally headed our way

Last weeks warm weather took it’s toll. On Saturday conditions looked worse than the week before. But on Sunday, with a night of below freezing temps the ice is starting to form again. There is plenty of water flowing and a dusting of snow to feed it. The forecast calls for below freezing temps all week and mostly cloudy weather with snow showers. The perfect conditions for forming ice. The water is cold and the climbs should build fast. This next weekend should provide some of the best conditions to date. Not fat by any means, but it should be better than anything we have seen so far this season.

The Forecast

http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/predictions/610day/610temp.new.gif

https://weather.com/weather/tenday/l/Mount+Washington+NH+USNH0154:1:US

7 Day Forecast for Latitude 44.15°N and Longitude 71.69°W Elev. 3720 ft

More Weather links here: https://www.neice.com/weather/

Crawford Notch NH – 12-4-16

It does not look like much now, but give it a week! Nothing builds ice like Cloudy, Snowy weather below freezing.

Photos by Doug Millen

[mappress mapid=”12″]

 

The Black Dike 10-26-16

The Dike – She GO! 10-26-16

The Black Dike

Cannon Cliff, Franconia State Park NH
October 26, 2016

Peter Doucette and Keith Sidle found just enough winter on Cannon cliff today to climb “The Black Dike”. They found thin, wet and bonded ice with just enough gear to get up the climb. Peter always seems to be in the right place, at the right time. October ascents are so sweet. Great work guys!

This is believed to be the first ascent of the season, and Pinnacle was climbed yesterday. Let the games begin!

*Photos by Doug Millen – Click to enlarge

The Black Dike 10-26-16

Peter approaching the 2nd belay

The Black Dike 2

Keith belays Peter on the 2nd pitch

The 1st pitch

The 1st pitch

The Dike 3

Keith leaving the 1st belay

Approaching the 2nd belay

Keith approaching the 2nd belay

Keith on the last pitch of the dike

Keith leading the last pitch

More on Peter Doucette, and The Black Dike

Peter Doucette
AMGA/IFMGA Mountain Guide
Mountain-Sense-logo-300x95mountainsenseguides.com
peter@mountainsenseguides.com
603-616-7455

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

Harvard Cabin Report 3-17-16

March 17, 2016

Harvard Cabin Mountaineers,

Happy St. Paddy’s Day!

In celebration, The white mountains have been turned green! But, don’t worry, there is still plenty of skiing and climbing to be had before we let all the ice fall down. Sure, it’s been raining like the Emerald Isle, but with what little luck we have had this season we are psyched for this weekend’s forecast – SUNNY AND COLD! This might be the last time, if not the first time, you will have felt ol’ jack frost all Winter. So, why not try your luck at a chance for thescreaming barfies? Come defy the winter that wasn’t, grab the fat bastard and file away a seasons worth of anticipation, come climb and ski some of the last snow and ice remaining in the northeast.

With superfluous amounts of water draining from the mountain along with plummeting temps, you might even consider scratching around a buttress or two this weekend. This will be a fun few days on the mountain. Right now, it looks like we could have a 72+ hour reprieve from the persistent melt-out we’ve been dealing with over the last two weeks. We could even pick-up a few inches of snow over the next couple of days, which would help to cover up all of the green decorations.

Snow and Ice Conditions

  • O’Dell, Pinnacle – In
  • South, Escape, Yale/Harvard – Out
  • Damnation, North – Possible with Re-Freeze, but not recommended

With the low snowfall this season and above normal temperatures, Trails on Mt. Washington look like you might expect in May. Tread-way on the lower 1/3’rd of the Tuckerman Ravine trail between the trail-head and Hermit Lake is comprised of mostly mud and rock.

The remaining 2/3’rds is mostly melting ice and snow. TRACTION IS REQUIRED! The ice has become much more manageable in recent days as temps have soared. This is an improvement over the nearly bullet-proof and contiguous sheet of protectable ice that has made the Tux trail a viable water ice adventure for most of March. No exaggeration, V-Thread practice was possible on the the Tux trail some weeks. Think I’m kidding? A couple of weeks ago, Snow Rangers felt the need to perform technical lowers of snow machines in order to get them safely back to their summer berths. It’s been a tough winter, but Spring has sprung and conditions are improving as they degrade. Come enjoy what remains!

The Huntington Fire Road is mostly snow covered and should be so through the weekend and beyond. The fan hasn’t really changed too much from what is has been most of the season. Travel towards your gully of choice remains mostly summer like. Snowfields do still exists on the upper portions of approaches to O’Dell, Pinnacle, Central, and the Yale Buttress.

As far as ice conditions – O’dell and Pinnacle are hanging tough. Ice/snow above the first pitch of Pinnacle has really taken a beating in the last few rain events. There are climber-sized holes in the snow and ice caused by excessive water draining on-top of the ice during monsoon-like events. With the potential for new snow fall tonight, Friday, and Sunday, I would be mindful of possible snow-bridging that could occur in the gully, particularly above initial steep-ice pitch. Slipping into a water-fall thanks to a hidden manhole could be unpleasant.

Portions of Pinnacle above the main ice flow will become more difficult to protect over the next two weeks. Thankfully, I believe melting will slow significantly over the weekend. If you were hoping to climb Pinnacle before the season is out, I would consider doing so in the next week.

Thanks to Eric Winter and Jake Kenealy for the great photos taken earlier today in Pinnacle. Eric and Jake live and work in Vermont and are totally stoked for skiing and climbing in the East. Sure hope to see more of these guys in the future!

Pinnacle Gully - March 16, 2016 - Click to Enlarge

Pinnacle Gully – March 16, 2016 – Click to Enlarge

Spring Skiing

While I’m not definitely not one that welcomes the crowds that come with a spring snowpack, we are definitely in the period of persistent isothermic snow. In other words, the spring corn cycles have begun. Besides the obvious ski lines over in Tuckerman Ravine, there are some manageable turns to be earned in Huntington Ravine at the moment. The forecast return of freezing temps might keep skiers out of the steeps this weekend, but once we begin to warm up again the experienced ski mountaineer might find some worthy turns in the upper stretches of O’Dell, South, and maybe Escape. None of which, are offering top-bottom skiing, unfortunately. As always, there are plenty of turns high-up on the summit cone, but don’t expect to make it down to the ravines without first removing your skis. Better luck next year.

On Wednesday (March 16th), I had the pleasure of making a very vegetated approach into Diagonal Gully (Huntington) for a very nice snow climb followed by a fantastic ski descent. It certainly wasn’t the best conditions I’ve ever experienced in Diagonal, but it skied about the best I can remember as a result of the stable snowpack. It was quite pleasant to charge hard! I was skiing with Sarah, Hermit Lake Caretaker, a super stoked skier and climber! We are looking forward to having Sarah in the drainage again next winter again, for sure!

After some tight turns in Diagonal, it was time to boot back up to the ridge and head over the Tuckerman for a surprise two-ravine day. I wasn’t sure it would happen this season, citing mountains condition and motivation problems. We considered dropping into Right Gully, which has been fun this season, but it never really filled-in the way it normally does. As Sarah pointed-out as we wandered across the Alpine Garden, “Skiing Right Gully would be like voting for Trump; Doing so probably wouldn’t effect the election, but it would be a crappy thing to do.” Coincidentally, we decided to head over to LEFT Gully, where we launched off the top and skied some truly hero snow all the way to the mouth of the ravine. That run alone seemed to make-up for an extremely painful and frustrating season. Not only that, it put a the wrapper on a fantastic day on the mountain! I predict we have only a few more similar days left in the season. It’s already skiing like May, so you better hurry-up and get here. Come prepared and stay safe! Keep an eye on the  avy report for daily condition reports.

Tuckerman Ravine 3-17-16 / Photo by Jake Kenealy

Welcome Back Ted Carman, Cabin Visionary

As a reminder, Ted Carman will be spending the weekend (March 19 & 20) with everyone at the Harvard Cabin. In no uncertain terms, Ted is the Father of the Harvard Cabin. He built the place. He got the permission, he did the fund-raising, he had the itch that had to be scratched. He drew up the plans, literally, in his dorm room. He then went on to recruit volunteer labor and got the supplies uphill. Not bad for a  college kid. Following his time as a Naval Officer, Ted went on to a career in non-profit community development. It’s no surprise that the construction of the Harvard Cabin is still listed on his CV.

I was hoping the mountain would be more winter-like for Ted’s return. Luckily, it does seem like the forecast calls for the most winter-like weather we’ve seen in weeks. You can help fill-in the gaps by bringing along a rope, rack, a partner, and your love for the Harvard Cabin. Please consider coming up and spending the weekend with Ted. If you can’t make the overnight but are on the mountain – Please stop-in and introduce yourself to the guy we all owe a great deal of gratitude, if you don’t mind my saying. As you might have guessed, he’s a pretty interesting and lively fellow. Click Here for the complete story of how the cabin came to be.

Hope to see you this weekend,

Rich Palatino

Harvard Cabin Caretaker

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-Ow0kjRFKsHI/VbrSBKBRUAI/AAAAAAAAeaA/2k3Gp6CnfQs/s288-Ic42/Chautauqua.jpg

Rich and Marcia – Cabin Caretakers 2015/16

NOTE – Harvard Cabin is not affiliated with the Appalachian Mountain Club. Harvard Cabin is maintained by Harvard Mountaineering Club for use by the general public. The cabin is operated under a special-use permit granted by the USDA Forest Service. Cabin space and tent-sites are available on a first-come, first-serve basis between December 1st and March 31st each year. Specific instructions for staying at the cabin can be found online at http://www.HarvardMountaineering.org/cabin

Harvard Cabin Report 3-3-16

March 3, 2016

The Harvard Cabin, Huntington Ravine, Mt. Washington NH

Harvard Cabin Mountaineers,

How’s everybody doing? I’m sure you’re all equally as frustrated with the yoyo-like weather we’ve been dealing with here in eastern North America. It seems like there have been more storms in Texas this winter then here in New Hampshire. No, that wasn’t a political statement, but damn near reality. But, before you just give up and wait for the warm, dry rock to return let me just say; While snow and trail conditions are stuck in December, the ice conditions in Huntington Ravine are already looking like April. The ice climbing right now is phenomenal! No sense in waiting for it to get better, don’t take the chance. Not this year.

Trust me when I say it, the climbing is really good right now. So much so, we’ve been having tons of fun swinging tools in the “back yard”. The lack of snow this season might have a lot to do with my increased joy and pleasure in climbing waterfall ice. Also, I realized I can stop waiting for the fan to “fill-in”. Three quarters through the season, it’s probably not happening this year! But, If not for the lack of snow or deciding not to be lazy, it could simply be the great ice conditions that have gotten me into steep terrainwithout my skis!

Pinnacle is so fat and plasticky right now, that “stick, stick, kick, kick” is as joyful and efficient as skiing a thousand feet of beautifully linked powder turns. My point is I think you should come to Huntington Ravine soon. More importantly, you should spend some time at the Harvard Cabin! It’s good up here!

As odd as it may sound, we just enjoyed our first weather event of the 2015-2016 season that I would categorize as a snow storm. Tuesday into WednesdayMt. Washington collected about 8″ (20cm) of new snow. At times, it fell with the intensity of the multiple super-soaker type events we’ve dealt with this season. It was hope-inducing for sure. We dodged rain for just enough time, that I was able to make it to Hermit Lake for a top-to-bottom run on the Sherburne Ski Trail, my first of the season! It was thick and sticky and not so much fun for making turns, but the snow was over our boot-tops and a desperate bunch of powder-hungry skiers and riders were happy just believing winter was happening, even if it was just for a moment. By the time we made it to Pinkham, precipitation began to switch over to snow/rain mix. A couple of hours later temperatures plummeted, winds began to rage, and the heavy, wet, tracked-out Sherburne would become an ugly two-miles of nasty, frozen mashed potatoes.

Snow and Ice Conditions

In case my intro didn’t make things obvious, the ice is in and well-worth climbing even if the approaches are less then ideal. Without being crass, travel through the “bowels” of the ravine can be described accordingly. Still, things have much improved. Despite still following the summer hiking trail for much of the way, the trail is well-packed. Some pretty dense, wet-slab debris that cleared out all gullies during the last rain event (1.75″ Rain on Feb 24/25) has settled between many of the large boulder fields that still sprinkle much of the fan. This has helped to fill-in the ravine a bit and provide better “catch” for the snow that followed. Point is, while wide-spread slope stability concerns are absent across much of the lower ravine area, crampons are still useful and provide somewhat speedy movement towards your intended climb.

Snowfield development is still severely delayed down low. However, slopes are starting to come into season in the upper stretches of gullies, particular those with a northern aspect (Escape Hatch, South, Odell, (Hillmans Highway, Left Gully in Tuckerman Ravine). This past week, such gullies have begun to offer the possibility of a descent option other then Lion Head. While many climbers have made the bushwhack necessary to climb these routes, there is much better climbing to be had elsewhere in the ravines.

Central and Diagonal Gullies have also made fantastic descent options given proper conditions. They have also been pretty scary to even look at some days. Central was awarded a danger rating of High only yesterday. I’m sure today’s wind event will have cleaned central bringing it back into condition for the weekend. Come on up, the weekend weather outlook is favorable. Bundle-up and stay attached, it’s going to be windy!

Love For Landen

Truth be told, this has been a tough season for Marcia and I. Besides the lack of winter, our 8 year-old nephew started experiencing unexplained seizures on December 1st. Long story short, symptoms persisted which led to the the discovery and resection of a 4.5 cm tumor from his brain on Jan 11. Two days later, we received just about the worst cancer diagnosis one could get – Stage 4 Glioblastoma Multiforme. After reaching out to cancer centers around the country, Landen began receiving radiation therapy in Hartford, CT. He is now into his fourth week of a 6.5 week course.

I’ve spent an abnormal amount of time away from the cabin this winter. I spent my birthday moving Landen’s medical records around New England only to realize how overwhelmed with pediatric patients cancer treatment centers are. Talk about depressing. At a glance, it can seem like gaining treatment for certain types of cancer becomes competitive. This whole experience has been surreal. News and nervous phone calls from the fire road. Long walks down the trail in pouring rain so you can help your sister deal with a life-threatening diagnosis. For two months, I’ve been wanting and needing to be in two-places at once. Suffice it to say, it’s been difficult to keep the stoke factor high this winter. Sorry if that has been evident in my updates, caretaking, or cabin life..

Landen, Audrina, and Uncle Rich – March 2013
Thank You….

On a personal note, Marcia and I have been able to balance the needs of the cabin and family life. Thankfully, we’ve been able to maintain our responsibilities at the cabin without interruption. I was uncertain of how the season would unfold. At one point, we were considering the possibility of needing to find a new caretaker in order to be closer to Tina and the kids. It’s been difficult. I can’t imagine how my sister is dealing with all of this. My heart goes out to her and all of those who’ve ever dealt with cancer in any capacity. It’s been really hard to go out and have fun this year realizing more fully that at any given time millions of people are dealing with this terrible disease.

At the same time, it has really made me ever thankful for the Harvard Cabin and the lifestyle and relationships and “struggles” it has brought into my life. All good things. I am forever thankful and never take it for granted. Climbing in general has given me something that I can never stop being thankful for. Appreciating the terrain in which we are able to move and enjoy. The great climbing community of which I feel a part of. I am really fortunate. So much so that I feel guilty at times. Often left searching for ways to make sure I am putting more good into the World then I receive. That is the ultimate struggle.

While I am thankful and appreciative of how my life has evolved, for the first time I am left wishing I had played my cards a little differently so that I could better support my sister at this moment. She is a single mom with two amazing children. She has been a strong example in my life of what is means to persevere, to stay the course, and to always demand excellence of yourself and those around you. She worked hard in college and continued to educate herself as she built her career in early-childhood education. As of late, she is employed as a social worker providing early childhood intervention for families with children with learning disabilities, but she is currently out of work on medical leave. Given the aggressive form of cancer, Landen’s treatment is intense and requires daily hospital visits. Following Radiation, Landen will begin receiving chemo therapeutics as part of a clinical trial at Sloan Kettering on Long Island, NY.

If you interested to learn more about my sister Tina and my niece and nephew, Audrina and Landen, you can click here.  Thank you for letting me share this part of my life with you.

Welcome Back Ted Carman, Cabin Visionary

To end on a more upbeat note, I’m pleased to announce that I’ve been contacted by Mr. Ted Carman, the President of the Harvard Mountaineering Club circa 1962-63. To my great delight, Ted will be spending the weekend of March 19th, 2016 with us at the Harvard Cabin. In no uncertain terms, Ted is the Father of the Harvard Cabin. He built the place. He got the permission, he did the fund-raising, he had the itch that had to be scratched. He drew up the plans, literally, in his dorm room. He then went on to recruit volunteer labor and got the supplies uphill. Not bad for a  college kid. Following his time as a Naval Officer, Ted went on to a career in non-profit community development. It’s no surprise that the construction of the Harvard Cabin is still listed on his CV.   I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Ted on a number of occasions. In August 2012, I spent time with with him and members of his family at the Harvard Cabin in celebration of the cabin’s 50th Anniversary.


Cabin Construction

In his words, Ted is looking forward to seeing the cabin in its winter habitat. With a little bit of luck, we’ll be  in the clutches of winter come March 19th. While we can’t control the weather, we can ensure the cabin is full of alpine ice climbers and true winter mountaineers which is when the cabin in full-glory and serving its intended purpose. Let’s help show Ted the great effects and affects his vision and tenacity as a twenty-something have had on the east coast climbing community. Please help show Ted what a great institution the Harvard Cabin has become over the years. Let’s fill the cabin with technical climbing teams!  Come be part of share in the camaraderie that keeps me coming back season after season! Come meet the guy that has made a huge impact on everyone reading. If you never read the store of the cabin construction, you’ll appreciate the article Three Sweaty Months on Mount Washington. The writing, as does the cabin, requires your full attention and appreciation. It is amazing!

Think Snow,

Rich Palatino

Harvard Cabin Caretaker
https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-Ow0kjRFKsHI/VbrSBKBRUAI/AAAAAAAAeaA/2k3Gp6CnfQs/s288-Ic42/Chautauqua.jpgRich and Marcia
Cabin Caretakers 2015/16

NOTE – Harvard Cabin is not affiliated with the Appalachian Mountain Club. Harvard Cabin is maintained by Harvard Mountaineering Club for use by the general public. The cabin is operated under a special-use permit granted by the USDA Forest Service. Cabin space and tent-sites are available on a first-come, first-serve basis between December 1st and March 31st each year. Specific instructions for staying at the cabin can be found online at http://www.HarvardMountaineering.org/cabin

Harvard Cabin Conditions Report 2-12-16

Harvard Cabin Mountaineers,

Hope life finds all of you well. Thanks to all of those who visited the Harvard Cabin Table at the 2016 Mount Washington Valley Ice Fest. Once again, the organizers have put on a world class ice climbing festival. No surprise, given the fact that this is the land where this whole crazy sport grew-up! I’m sure we all agree. Thanks to IME/IMCS, all guides, sponsors, and participants. I’m looking forward to MWV Ice Fest 2017!

Marcia and I continue to enjoy cabin life as Winter ever so slowly tightens its’ grip on the Presidential Range. We are going to be feeling that squeeze this weekend for sure. Last night, temperatures at cabin elevation dipped a few degrees below zero (-20 C) while summit temperature plunged to -27 F. Given the week that concluded the 2016 New Hampshire Primary Election, it is fair to say that a lot of hot air has left the State. It is very cold outside and could be getting colder over the course of this holiday weekend.

Snow and Ice Conditions

As a whole, there isn’t much new to report from the rock pile. The ice is as in as it has been for weeks! Climbers have been enjoying the usual go-to adventures in O’Dell, Pinnacle, Yale. There have only been a few climbers in the northern gullies this winter, given their still talus-filled approaches. For a peek into Hungtinton Ravine this week, Click Here.

A Feb 3-4th warm-weather event has left the snow pack with an almost uniform bullet-proof ice/crust. While we did receive 10+ inches of new snow this week densities didn’t allow for a great improvement in over all snow conditions. New snow that fell was what skiers and snow geeks call blower smoke! Super light snow made of perfectly formed stellar crystals. It really is millions of little tiny miracles leeching out of the sky. While we certainly welcomed the the new snow, the less the 5% water content didn’t do much for our base as much of the snow was transported out of the gullies.

This combo of hard ice layer and low-density snow resulted in “dust and crust” conditions. This has made mountain travel in steep terrain difficult with long-sliding falls being the most concerning hazard at the moment. There have been a few close calls reported this week that have proven “eye opening” for some new climbers moving around in the Alpine. There was also an evacuation of one such climber injured after experiencing a long sliding fall while approaching Central Gully. Thankfully Injuries were non-life threatening.

Of course, any snow is favorable trend. Last night (Feb 11), as wind velocities were on the increase, it was easy to see snow moving from North to South – From Nelson Crag to Lion Head and from Boot Spur into the Gulf of Slides. My view point from Conway today also showed continued snow transport across the range. Point being, natural avalanche activity was almost certain in the ravines today and hopefully that will help in bringing the Huntington Gullies and the “Fan” a step closer to their winter glory.

While the summit of Washington was in and out of the clouds all day, it was easy to see the wind battered summits below 6000 feet. It was cold, clear, and BRUTAL up there today. This will continue to be the case for the remainder of the weekend.

We’d sure enjoy your company this weekend but, we might suggest bringing a V-Thread tool and staying out of the Alpine Garden. Given wind and temps, the notches of Northern New Hampshire could prove to be less hospitable then usual, so why not come up and enjoy some quality alpine ice and show your love for the Harvard Cabin this Valentine’s Day. Retreating to a cabin warmed by the rare day-fire might not be so bad. The trail to the cabin is snow covered. Skis and Skins are suitable for those so equipped. While the John Sherburne Ski Trail is still far from ideal, it has also seen significant improvement this week. For what it’s worth, I actually had fun skiing to Pinkham today.

What ever you do this weekend. Stay safe, stay warm, and THINK SNOW! We’ll look forward to seeing you sooner then later if not this weekend.

Rich Palatino
Harvard Cabin Caretaker

NOTE – Harvard Cabin is not affiliated with the Appalachian Mountain Club. Harvard Cabin is maintained by Harvard Mountaineering Club for use by the general public. The cabin is operated under a special-use permit granted by the USDA Forest Service. Cabin space and tent-sites are available on a first-come, first-serve basis between December 1st and March 31st each year. Specific instructions for staying at the cabin can be found online at http://www.HarvardMountaineering.org/cabin

Harvard Cabin Report 1-21-16

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January 21, 2016

Harvard Cabin Mountaineers,

Howdy, y’all! I trust everyone is enjoying the political climate developing in the lead-up to the 2016 US Presidential Election. After seven years of mildly entertaining (boring, maybe even depressing) politics in the good ol’ US-of-A, we’ve returned once again to another unforeseen period of American political excellence! Could we have ever imagined another leading political figure as entertaining as the former “Decider-in-Chief”? More so, you say? Not in a lifetime would I have thunk it possible. Talk about a trump card! You can’t make this stuff up!

SnowmanGood news! If it is not the political climate you’re yearning for, don’t worry, New Hampshire is still the place for you. Finally, it seems winter has settled in for the season. Now that is one party we can all get behind! Many of you should know by now but in case it’s not obvious, I really enjoy politicking so long as we are able to enjoy the free, open, and peaceful exchange of ideas. That said, this go-around I think it possible for anyone, anything, or any idea to gain a podium spot at the next Republican Presidential Debate and so I am encouraging you, my fellow North Americans -Citizens, Immigrants, Illegals, and other variously labeled Earthlings – Vote for Winter 2016, It’s gonna be HUUUGE!

Snow and Ice Conditions

Huntington Ravine ICE is IN!

We’ll folks, we are inching little by little towards full-on winter. Right now, we have a solid 15 inches (40 cm) of settled snow pack from Pinkham Notch all the way to the ravines. Thanks to what has been a relatively snowy and WINDY week, the Tuckerman Ravine Trail and Fire Road are both snow covered. After a busy MLK Jr weekend, trails are packed out and fast moving. Some light traction or skis and skins will make for a speedy approach to the cabin.

Temperatures over the last several days have ranged from -10 to +15 Degrees F (-23 to +10 Degree C) preserving snow and encouraging the continued growth of climable water ice. The explosive growth of frozen waterfall ice can be largely attributed to what is known as the Arctic Oscillation Index finally entering a negative phase. In simple terms, high pressure over-took the arctic zone, pushing very welcomed cold air into the middle latitudes. The opposite was true for all of December. Low pressure dominated the polar region, allowing for a strong and consistent east-west jet stream to dam-up arctic cold air.

Thanks to this change in AO, the dam was finally breached between January 10 & 11, 2016. The metaphor is appropriate given the 1.4 inches (3.5cm) of rain that fell on the summit of Mount Washington on January 10. The tropic-like monsoon brought thigh-deep water to some parts of the fire road and the Cutler River seemed to become a tributary of the Tuckerman Ravine Trail. The latest gully-washer of the season was followed immediately by the sudden rush of arctic air that brought the first substantial winter weather of the season. It’s been cold ever since!

Weather
If you are interested, you can read more about Arctic Oscillation HERE. I’d also like to take the time to admit that I learned only this week of the existence of a National Snow & Ice Data Center. Where the hell have I been?

Travel in Huntington Ravine

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Huntington Ravine – January 20, 2016 – Click to Enlarge

While the veil of winter is a welcomed sight across the Presidential Range, it should come as no surprise that we are still dealing with quite a snow deficit here in the Northeast. Thankfully, last weeks’ snowfall has made most travel on the mountain feel like it should given the time of year. Unfortunately, the lack of snow thus far has kept travel through the lower portions of Huntington Ravine very summer like. You can expect plenty of boulder-hopping, alder-cursing, and longer then usual approach times into your favorite gully. This weeks winds have been the major culprit. Velocities peaked on Tuesday night reaching 127 MPH (~205 KPH). With recent snowfall I would have expected improving travel conditions in lower portions of Huntington Ravine (The Fan), but as winds raged most of the snow was transported to treeline or below. The upside being, once you make it to your intended climb, the ice is what you would expect it to be for late January! So, come and get it, there is plenty for everyone!

Avalanche Conditions

5-Scale Avalanche Forecasting has begun for the 2015-16 Season.

AvalancheLadies and Gentlemen, Skiers, Climbers, and Mountaineers – WE HAVE AN AVALANCHE SEASON! On Monday, January 18th the first 5-Scale Avalanche Forecast was issued for Tuckerman Ravine. Snow safety concerns in Huntington Ravine remain within the context of a General Bulletin. However, with the implementation of 5-Scale forecasting Rangers will be in the drainage daily and will keep a steady eye on changing conditions in Huntington Ravine. Until then, be sure to continue reading daily updates posted by the snow rangers. This will help keep you up-to-date with the developing snowpack and key weather events that will result in unstable layers to be of concern in coming weeks.

Even with the disparity in snow conditions, human triggered avalanches have been reported in both ravines this week. An obviously “upside-down” snow-pack kept climbers on their toes in Huntington with a few close calls being reported. An avalanche accident occurred in Tuckerman Ravine on January 17th, 2016 when two mountain travelers triggered an avalanche in the area known as “The Chute”. A total of 6 people from multiple parties were effected by the slope failure. Injuries were all non-life threatening, but one victim was transported from the ravine to Pinkham Notch where an ambulance was waiting. You can read more about this avalanche on the Incidents and Accidents portion of the MWAC Website.

Avalanche Advisories and MWAC Website – Know Before You Go!

You can receive the daily avalanche advisories through several social media outlets. Of course, I find it easy enough to browse over to the recently remodeled MWAC website at http://www.mountwashingtonavalanchecenter.org.

Once there, you can read the latest advisories, check out recent photos from the ravines, get in-depth insight into the snow-pack as snow rangers blog from “The Pit”, and share in a wealth of news and resources relating to snow, weather, and safety on Mount Washington. Oh and don’t forget Rangers are looking for your snow-pack observations from across the White Mountains this Winter. Observations can be submitted via the MWAC Website at this link.

Plenty of Winter Ahead…

This year, Martin Luther King weekend was back to normal in terms of mountain travelers. Last year, the same weekend was absurdly quite. It probably had a lot to do with super cold temps and plenty of winter weather south of the White Mountains. Fortunately, this year MLK weekend came just after the first real dose of winter here in New England. The right combination of precipitation (snow), temperatures, wind, and sun made perfect the recipe for playing in the mountains. The Harvard Cabin filled to capacity on Thursday night (as well as the tent-sites) and remained so throughout the weekend. It was a much needed change of pace and we are looking forward to continuing the trend this coming weekend. Plenty more sunshine in the forecast for the weekend without much in way of weather.

If you need a little extra motivation, it will be a good weekend for a true alpine start. Not only will you get a good view of mountains but, you’ll also have a great shot to 5 of our planetary neighbors. If you haven’t heard, for the next couple of weeks in the wee hours of the morning the planets Mercury, Mars, Venus, Saturn, and Jupiter will be on display in the eastern sky. The 2016 Planetary Conjunction should look great from Mt. Washington!

If you are in the mid-Atlantic states, I’d consider jumping in the car right now. If you don’t waste anytime you’ll miss the apocalypse and things will be all cleaned up by the time you return. In the mean-time, you would have enjoyed a few great days in the Alpine and helped carry-on the fine tradition that is The Harvard Cabin! We hope to see you!

Upcoming Events:

2nd Annual Backcountry VE Session @ The Harvard Cabin
HAM Radio Exam Session – Feb 20, 2016

EventOkay…well, many of you know that Marcia and I are shameless promoters of the hobby that is Amateur Radio (HAM Radio). Many of you also endure the endless harassment that goes with our promotion of the utility of radio, especially among all of you – our mountain friends! The White Mountain Amateur Radio Club will once again be hosting a Volunteer Exam Session at the Harvard Cabin this Winter. All License Class Level Exams will be offered this year. So, weather you are new to the hobby or an “old fist”, if you spend time in the mountains, we’d sure love to have you stop by for our 2nd Annual Backcountry VE Session. Click here for photos of last years session!

If you are interested but, not sure where to start, fear not. You too can join the increasing number of backcountry travelers who have joined the ranks of radio operators. There have been many who caved to the Marcia’s persuasive wit and so far haven’t any regrets except for not having done it sooner! The utility of radio is not only fun, it is also a great way to increase safety for yourself and your group. But, don’t take my word for it. Read this short White Paper presented as part of the International Snow Science Workshop 2012 titled TALKING THE TALK:Human Factors, Group Communication, and the Next Frontier in Snow Safety.
Ham RadioThe Ham Radio License Manual, published by the American Radio Relay League, is all you’ll need to pass your test. The book may be available at your local bookstore or library. Check there first or order from Amazon by clicking here.

Study time is about an hour a day for a week. Then you take a 35-question, multiple choice test. Get 26 correct and you’ll be issued your own callsign and have instant access to the Harvard Cabin from anywhere in the world…I kid you not! Pricing for high-powered, light-weight, handheld transceivers begins ~$30 US. Click here to browse!
Smugg’s Ice Bash – January 22-24, 2016
Mount Washington Valley Ice Festival – February 2-7, 2016
Adirondack Backcountry Ski Fest – March 5-6, 2016

Rich Palatino
Harvard Cabin Caretaker
Rich and Marcia
Cabin Caretakers 2015/16

NOTE – Harvard Cabin is not affiliated with the Appalachian Mountain Club. Harvard Cabin is maintained by Harvard Mountaineering Club for use by the general public. The cabin is operated under a special-use permit granted by the USDA Forest Service. Cabin space and tent-sites are available on a first-come, first-serve basis between December 1st and March 31st each year. Specific instructions for staying at the cabin can be found online at http://www.HarvardMountaineering.org/cabin

Our mailing address is:
Harvard Mountaineering Club
Student Organizations Center at Hilles
59 Shepard St #73
Cambridge, MA 02138