Shawn Bunnell and Phil Schuld climbing “Called On Account Of Rains” IV 5+ (M4 R) on a bluebird day at Lake Willoughby VT
Poke-O-Moonshine – A flight by “Angel Eyes” 12.01.18
We had some eyes on the condition of two early season prizes in on Wednesday the 8th! A close look at Pinnacle Gully revealed some unconsolidated and thin, but hopeful, frost and ice. No rock pro options that morning led to a ‘No Go’, but with temperatures remaining frigid, it may be climbable soon! I’m sure the motivated will head into Huntington Ravine this weekend.
No doubt Cannon Cliff will get a close inspection as well. We have a ‘from-the-road zoom in’ to the dike area and Fafnir. Who will be enticed to take a walk up and peer around the corner?
In Vermont, it’s currently snowing on the higher peaks and I know a few climbers who only need a millimeter of ice on the cliffs of Smuggler’s Notch to make it go.
A look at our Instagram feed shows crampons to ice! @willclimbz posted a sweet pic of Slide 1 on Whiteface in ‘Thin But In’ conditions. Right on!
We certainly had some warm temperatures in October and my usual Halloween ice was far from happening this year. Now temperatures are remaining below freezing up high for a few days leading into the weekend. Finally! Hope to see some great photos and reports of ascents coming in. Have a great weekend!
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!
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.
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.”
“”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. We 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.”
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
Found winter…after a 13 hour drive and lots of rain in southern Quebec. Plenty of time to read, and by read I mean decipher the French guidebook. A post shared by Keith Sidle (@capt_crabwalker) on
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.
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.
Some Information from Around the Web:
Be careful out there – February 24, 2017
February 27, 2017
Today I shared a rope with @klocktower on Pinnacle Gully, Huntington Ravine. #nemguides #findingwinter #whitemountains #mountwashington #huntingtonravine #tuckermanravine #iceclimbing #northeastice #optoutside #getoutsidenh #mountainstrong #rei1440project #igersnh #petzlgram
A post shared by mattybowman (@mattybowman) on
February 28, 2017
Usually in February we see photos similar to this one, only built from ice screws or threads. Seems pretty strange to be climbing warm, dry rock in February. In the North East. Sun’s out, gun’s out I guess. I hate climate change. Winter please come back. #hirecertifiedguides #seekqualifiedinstruction #raggedmountainguides #traprock #climbct
A post shared by Ragged Mountain Guides (@matt_shove) on
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.
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!
Winter is HERE! Big Time.
A few photos that caught my eye this week.
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.
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.[supsystic-gallery id=1 position=center]
Photos by Doug Millen
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
More on Peter Doucette, and The Black Dike