Mt.Webster, more than easy Gully's

Trip Report

Crawford Notch,  NH – North Conway Ice Fest Weekend

By Alan Cattabriga

I spent four days in the Saco River Valley last wk. and climbed on Mt. Webster everyday, it’s an awesome, complex climbing area with ton’s of fun options and hidden walls of ice.

After getting shut down by “considerable” avy conditions Thurs. morning at the Harvard cabin board I booked it down to Webster. The hike up to Shoestring, the climbing and the trail down were in some of the best conditions I had ever had there. While on top I notice I had a good time going so I totally ran the trail down and logged in my best car to car time yet.

approachingI hung out with with Doug, who just happened to be driving by as I ran the road and hydrated while I waited for Brady Libby to show up for my afternoon session on Webster’s cliffs just north of Central Coulour. By early afternoon Brady & I were hiking up for a recon of a golden flow on the north end of the cliff band that forms Central’s left side. We climbed a long (~300′) slab of ice to get to this section and were totally psyched with the ice we found.

The cliff is overhanging with beautiful, yellow ice all over it and a huge curtain with a window in it coming over the biggest part. This has a super cool looking route that would start behind the curtain with a tough mixed move then tunneling up a hollow tube and out the window onto the sheet.

Many other climbs could be done here, after spending some time checking the place out we traversed over towards Central and passed another wide flow on our way. We finished the day on Central, with daylight waning, traversed off right and down.

cauliflowerFriday Emile Drinkwater, Doug Millen & I had a great time soloing up Cinema and the awesome Cauliflower Gully, Doug did not have much time so he headed to Frankenstine Cliff for a quick solo of Chia and Bobs and then to IME to get his delicious soup ready for the Ice Fest. Emilie and I headed off to do Central to the big ledge. It was fun climbing and the rock above with it’s big gashes was glowing orange in the setting sun.

brady-gallery-3Saturday Doug, Brady, Dave Rioux, Ted Hammond, Todd Shafer & Tim Gotwols  went back to that cliff Brady & I had checked out on Webster, we were exited to show it off to our crew. Brady did an excellent lead of the Gallery route we had looked at and Dave did a cool looking mixed line on the cliffs left side.

There is also a sweet soloing all over the left end and a unusual low angle chimney line that exits thru a curtain that Todd had chopped a hole thru to get out! It was sunny and somewhat free of wind there…. what a wonderful climbing spot.

todd-landslideSunday was a bit nasty out so we all, with the addition of Courtney Ley, who for some reason wanted to join this crew of misfit toys, did the conga up Landslide Gully… Like I found on Shoestring, every bit of it was excellent!

The gullys on Webster are great fun, Central’s finishes are totally classic but there is so much more there… wonder up to the north slabs and climb something… I’m sure others have visited the yellow wall, we could not have possibly been the first…. I mean holy crap, it’s a roadside crag!


Alan Cattabriga

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Mt. Katahdin Maine

Petzl_logoThe Power of Light

A Trip Report


December 16-21 2009

It wasn’t long after Doug caught wind of the rule changes in Baxter State Park that I got a phone call from him. His question was a no brainier……. Read the Full Report

Mt. Ruapehu

North Island, New Zealand


Graham Johnson climbing Ice on Mt. Ruapehu.

Photo by: F. Stephens

Crushing it in the "Can Rocks"

by Robert Ginieczki

There are few words that can describe the Canadian Rockies, especially along the Icefields Parkway corridor between Banff and Jasper. I guess the word ‘core’ and ‘dramatic’ are about all that come to mind for now, at least in the English language. So this story goes, my buddy, Stanislav, and I make some plans to head north to get on some ice, ice that’s bigger than the 2 full pitch laps we’ve been running on routes like Bridalveil and Ames here in Colorado. It was time for my bitchin’ to stop and buck up for a trip to the looming limestone walls of Canada.

Link to Story (PDF)

Photos from the Trip

Source: Robert Ginieczki

Adirondack Mountain Guides Nepal 2009 Trip Report

By Ian OsteyeeSherpa_Bridge
Porters crossing a foot bridge enroute to Namche.

On this season’s trip to Nepal we traveled through London, Delhi, and then on to Kathmandu.
Our goal – to climb the 700-meter water-ice climb, “Losar “,  WI5, VI, in the Khumbu region of Nepal.

Our travel left the ordinary flow immediately as a 62- year old passenger had a heart attack between Newark and London, leaving myself and a former British Army medic as the two most qualified personnel on board. We managed to stabilize the unlucky fellow and turned him over to paramedics in Heathrow. Then, to add a bit more to the trip’s flavor, somewhere between London, Delhi, and Kathmandu half of our bags were lost.
Despite the bumps in the road, we arrived in Kathmandu happily met by Kami Tenzing, a Sherpa friend of mine. Kami is the man who made it possible for the blind Erik Weihenmayer to reach the summit of Everest. I met Kami while guiding Erik in the Khumbu previously, and Kami spent a few weeks visiting me in Keene this past summer. Kami is one of three Nepalese to have met the president of the U.S. – the King, the Prime minister, and Kami. Kami organized everything on the ground for us, and always had the answers, even to lost bags.
After celebrating the New Year in the ancient city, we flew up to the Khumbu and walked for two days up to Namche Bazar while acclimating to the thinner air at 3800 meters. The Khumbu region’s most famous ice route, “Losar”, was on our list of goals for the trip. Having done it the season prior, I was looking forward to climbing it yet again with the four other climbers in the Adirondack Mountain Guides Nepal party. As we came up the steep slope toward Namche, our first view of “Losar” revealed a thin, but continuous line of unknown quality. The following day’s approach to the base unfortunately revealed a waterfall not yet frozen, but trying. “Losar” was not in, but undeterred, this freed us up to start looking at other first ascent projects that I had scoped out the year before. Fortunately, our bags caught up to us in Namche thanks to the ultra-speedy Dzo-cow express and Kami‘s expedition magic. A Dzo-cow (“dzo-kyo“) is the hairy beast that you get when you cross a male yak with a cow. Things were gaining momentum as we took in the views of stunning peaks like Ama Dablam.


Loading up the Dzo-cow (“dzo-kyo“)

Moe Corrigan, Chonba Sherpa and I spent a day probing around in the forest on Kwongde, the same mountain “Losar” is located on. Right of Losar flows an obvious line that drops almost 2000 feet into the valley. The terrain leading up to it was steep and covered in bamboo. We worked our way upward through it, eventually finding a decent approach and a reasonable camp site. Tents were pitched and dinner served. A cold night followed in the forest on Kwongde, letting us get a good start as Tom Drake, Steve Smith and I headed up the long approach looking for the world-class ice ribbon we had seen. After a short scramble up through a rock slot and several hundred meters of “Bamboo 5” we found a boulder-filled, rock-walled drainage leading to the ice. It was incredible to come out of the slot and find the steep, long flow towering above. It looked dry and sublimated, but inviting. Excited, I starting up the line, testing each swing, It was hollow in many places. Traversing back and forth, trying to find the well-attached line, I gained ground. The arid nature of the environment made the ice very dry and brittle. I was thankful to have the Camp Awax tools in hand, the thin picks which make quick work of that type of nasty ice. The pitch seemed to go on and on and never let up. I was running out of shortie screws and hadn’t found enough ice for anything longer. From below I heard Tom yell, “ten feet”. Thankfully, with my 70m Bluewaters run all the way out, I looked up and there was a bulge that luckily took 16cm screws and it was “off belay!”. Starting off the day with a full 70 meters of 85 and 90 degree ice, often not thick enough for shorties, had us all feeling a little on edge. Nothing to do about it but continue upward. A glance up showed the second pitch was to be more of the same but easing off higher up on the route. Another 70 Meters of thin ice dancing and tentative stubby placements led us up as the angle eased and the climbing became less demanding. We laughed as remaining pitches cruised ever upward never getting harder than WI 3+. Pure joy in the climbing, gaining altitude up the massive mountainside. Success!


View of “Shaugdro”, WI5R, at center, with Losar, WI5, at left, viewed from near Namche Bazaar, Nepal.


Tom and Steve follow the steep lower pitches during the probable first ascent of “Shaugdro” WI 5R, 500m. Osteyee photo.

That evening back at the teahouse, Kami Tenzing assured us that the route had never been climbed. Just the same, we’ll call it a possible first ascent, and for the sake of a name, call it – “Shaugdro” WI 5R, 500m, ACB (As Climbed by) Ian Osteyee, Tom Drake, and Steve Smith.

While we were across the valley on “Shaugdro”, Mark Arrow and Moe Corrigan had already headed up to Lhabarma and were climbing in Phulebuk. Phulebuk is a great feature just out of the way from the main trail system. It is full of 400+ foot ice climbs that are all at about 15,000 feet, and until the last couple of years have gone unclimbed. We joined the duo the following day, and I enjoyed watching from a comfortable grassy spot as the two different teams went to work on their respective new routes. Mark Arrow and Moe Corrigan excitedly returned to the meadow after soaked up the bright warmth during the first ascent of “Desconnor”, WI 4, 150m, a steep flow that invites basking in the sun. A kilometer south, on their chosen flow, Tom Drake and Steve Smith worked their way up “In Sickness and in Health”, WI 3+, 150m, a more shaded route starting with a beautiful column, then cruised upward on stunning ice amid surrounding peaks like Thamserku 6608m and Kangtega 6685m. Up the valley stands Cho Oyu and across the valley are Arakam 6423, Cholatse 6335, and Taboche 6367. These ice routes are solidly placed in one of the world’s most beautiful places to climb. Tom, Steve, Mark, and Moe couldn’t have been more excited.


Tom Drake works his way up “In Sickness and in Health”, WI 3+, 150m. Photo by Steve Smith.


“Desconnor”, WI 4, 150m.

The following day Tom Drake and Steve Smith headed up to Goyko Ri (5360m), and Moe Corrigan, Mark Arrow, and I headed back down to Namche hoping to find “Losar” in better shape. Unfortunately, “Losar” was still a waterfall. Out of time for other big approaches, we went out scouting for future trips. While on our scouting trip, we did find one small route that we had time to do near the village of Thesho. It was an hour walk from Namche, but worth the trek to get one last new climb in. Located over yak pastures and small, stone dwellings, this small route,“Bolognesse” WI 4- , 30M, was a great way to finish the trip. It was named for the meal that sustained us on the journey more than any other; yak meat, watery tomato sauce, and noodles.


Osteyee leading up the small route,“Bolognesse” WI 4- , 30M. Somewhat reminiscent of a route in the Catskills or Pennsylvania but with a decidedly more mountainous view from the route.

Our trip was full of adventure – climbing and otherwise, but it was not over. Leaving Namche and back in Kathmandu, we discovered that Indian Air had cancelled our next days flight out of Nepal. Gathering our gear, we headed to the airport to see what we could figure out. Four hours of hustling, through crowds of the Hindu faithful there for a very special festival, along with some fancy talking got us on a flight that afternoon. Then another boring twenty hours of waiting in the Delhi airport when an excited airline employee hurriedly scrambled us to a different gate for our flight which still barely allowed for the baggage to be transferred to our Virgin Atlantic flight to Heathrow. Thankfully, without further delays we arrived back home, everyone satisfied and full of stories to share with friends for years to come.

Special thanks to Blue Water Ropes and Camp. The Blue Water Excellence ropes stayed dry and manageable through repeated uses in wet places, without any time to dry. The Camp Awax tools and Vector crampons performed flawlessly on some of the most dry, brittle and difficult ice conditions.

– Ian

Editors note:  Ian Osteyee is owner of Adirondack Mountain Guides in Keene, N.Y., and AMGA-certified guide with over 25  Years experience.  In 2008, Osteyee guided famed blind climber and Everest summitter Erik Weihenmayer and Rob Raker up the huge ice route, “Losar”,WI5, VI, 700M, in Nepal.