Tag Archive for: Harvard 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 Open for the Season – 2015/16

A sure sign that the winter season has started! 


Greetings Harvard Cabin Mountaineers,

Bet you were wondering when you’d see another cabin update. I know because I found a few inquires in a dusty corner of my inbox…sorry I didn’t get to them sooner.

I’m sure you’ve been making plans to get up to the Harvard Cabin this season. You’re in luck, the Harvard Cabin opens for the season today. The 2015/16 ice season is off to a fine start with consistently cold temperatures and a fair bit of early season snow. I’ll have a better feel for conditions as the week goes on but, I hope you’ll come up and see for yourself…..we’ll be here until April!Come join us for our best season yet!

FYI, if there are any early birds heading up the hill, be advised we will be cutting-off the pad-lock at the cabin around mid-day. If you are out and about on the mountain and planning to spend the night at Harvard, feel free to stash your gear in the vicinity of the cabin. Rest assured, the cabin will be open and warm when you return.

Staying at the Harvard Cabin

As a reminder, staying at the Harvard Cabin is on a first-come, first serve basis. The rate is still $15 per person, per night. (US Cash only). Check for space available at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center before heading up the trail. You can find the Harvard Cabin Register at the Trading Post Front Desk or downstairs in the pack-up room after-hours. All guests need to arrive prepared – sleeping gear, toiletries, food, and other equipment as needed. The cabin is equipped with full-kitchen amenities, so bring fresh food and leave the stove and cook kit in the car. If you will be camping at the Harvard Tent-Site, we are happy to help you any way we can, but campers need to be fully-prepared for a winter bivy – tent/shelter, cook stove with fuel, adequate warm weather gear. The water source is the Cutler River, located behind the cabin. No need to melt snow. Due to it’s size of the facility, cabin amenities are to be used strictly by those guests who have signed-up to stay inside the cabin.

The best approach to the cabin from Pinkham Notch is to travel about 1 3/4 miles up the Tuckerman Ravine Trail to the Huntington Ravine Fire Road. If you are not certain of the way, be sure to ask a trail information specialist at Pinkham Notch.

You can find out more about the staying at the cabin at http://www.harvardmountaineering.org/cabin/

Rich, Marcia, and Sprinter Update

It’s been a hectic few weeks since Marcia and I returned to New England following a summer of skiing and climbing the the western US. Fortunately, we made it back just in time for the annual Harvard Cabin work weekend on Nov 14/15th. At that time, we delivered eviction notices to the summer “residents” and began hauling gear and supplies up to the Harvard Cabin.

As is always the case, it was wonderful to be back at the cabin. A couple of weeks before our return trip up the Tuckerman Ravine Trail, Marcia and I enjoyed a wonderful ascent of Mt. Whitney via the East Buttress. A week out, we were still enjoying Southern California and the shores of Malibu where I snapped this photo. Heading across northern Arizona and New Mexico we encountered a pretty sweet snowstorm. We would of broke out the boots and boards had we not made plans with family in the midwest. Soon after, we arrived back in the northeast. I’ve said it time and time again -There is no place like New England. We are so glad to be back at the Harvard Cabin for another season. Thank You to the Harvard Mountaineering Club for having us back for a 7th season!

Many of you may have heard of the stress we had been dealing last week. In the end, it turned out to be nothing more then a bizarre event. In trying to process what happened, knowing that we came really close to loosing everything we’ve worked so hard to obtain – a lifestyle more then anything -we were left looking for some higher meaning. We come up with a few far-out ideas, but simply stated we were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Thankfully, everything turned out okay. The Sprinter was recovered and all of our belongings were safe and sound. A crazy, stress-filled 18 hours. Thanks to everyone who reached out and offered support. Given the lengthy theft reports and insurance paper work we were dealing with at the police department, we hadn’t realized the extent of the response from the climbing community until after the van had been recovered. We were truly humbled. Thanks to everyone for your support and encouragement throughout. I’d like to thank my sister ,Tina, for being so pro-active after being awoken at midnight with the news. She really helped spread the word. If you have no idea what I am referring to, you can read about it here. But, please don’t mention it 😉

With that said, thanks for reading. We are hoping for a record breaking season in terms of overnight users. Thanks for making the Harvard Cabin what it has come to be. It’s constructed of wooden logs, but it is held upright by an amazing climbing community here in the Northeast! Let’s have another safe season on Mt. Washington. Come, enjoy a pinnacle backcountry experience at The Harvard Cabin!

Rich Palatino
Harvard Cabin Caretaker

Rich & Marcia

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

Mt Washington Valley Ice Fest Recap – 2015

They save the best for last. The biggest Ice Fest in the Northeast was incredible this year. My only regret was that there was not enough time to do all I wanted, and not enough time to be with my friends.

I left home with 10 gallons of soup and two Helicopters. I returned with no soup and two intact helicopters ;-). Soup is not a hard sell when it is 10 degrees and I had a great time at Cathedral Ledge Sunday dishing up hot soup to cold and tired climbers. The weather was not the best for flying and my time was tight but I did manage to get some good footage of the valley and Whitehorse Ledge.

Sarah Hueniken, Jonathan Griffith and Miron Chlebosz gave great presentation to a full house. Miron gave us a look at the incredible Tatras Mountains in Poland and Jon had the audience in stitches and kept it moving with spectacular images! Jon is also into Drones and we had a great time talking as we watched Peter work “Black Magic” at Cathedral Ledge.

Ice fests are like a family reunion to me and I am sad that this was the last one of the season. I am already looking forward to next year.

Many thanks to Rick & Celia Wilcox, Brad White,  IMEIMCS guides, Guest guides, the Ice Fest Planning Team and all the people that make the MWV Ice Fest happen. Thank You!

And a special thank you to Courtney Ley for her help at the Ice Fest and all she does for NEice.

Enjoy the photos and videos below.

~Doug Millen

Some Great Climbing

Photos by Doug Millen and Majka Burhardt

A Few Ice Fest Photos

Photos by Krissy Noel Carey

Valley and Ledges by Ardu

Mt Washington Valley / Whitehorse Ledge, North Conway NH

I managed to get some free time between Ice Fest duties and meetings to do a little flying. I had never flown at Whitehorse Ledge so I meet up with Scott Barber (scottbarberfilm.com} Saturday morning to show DSC01158Scott my machines and test some new settings. Scott is just getting in flying and we had a lot of fun. I was able to catch some good footage of the Valley and the Ledge on my test flights Saturday,  and while heating the Soup up that afternoon. I wish the weather was better on Sunday when I had more time, but single digits, wind and snow grounded the fleet.


Flight by Ardu, flying, filming and editing by Doug Millen

Black Magic

Cathedral Ledge, North Conway NH

Peter Doucette working out the moves on Black Magic (M9) during the MWV Ice Fest 2015. Peter sent it clean on Tuesday, ground up placing gear the whole way. Nice work Peter!

Peter Doucette / Mountainsenseguides.com

Photos by Doug Millen

Apres fun at IME


MWV Ice Fest Recap & Thank You’s!


 The Guides and Crew

“The 2015 Mount Washington Ice Fest was hands down our best ever, but it only happened with many helping hands, talent, and passion! Wow, we are still coming down from an awesome high, we had a blast this year!”

See the full Thank You From the Ice Fest Crew 

Harvard Cabin – Your Help is Needed – October 13th and 14th, 2012

Greetings Harvard Cabin Mountaineers

We hope everyone had a great summer and is enjoying the Fall. Bonne Action de grâce’ to all of our friends in Quebec! September was fantastic with lots of warm, dry rock for all to enjoy. A relatively dry Summer and early Fall left the foliage looking tired. However, the last couple of weeks have been very wet and the foliage is rebounding nicely. The explosion of colors is peaking this week and it looks like we might see the sun soon! Of course, all of this rain has us thinking about the aquifers that will be helping to grow the early season ice!

Your Help is Needed – October 13th and 14th, 2012 – Please Read Solar Electric Upgrade Below

In case you didn’t hear me say it last season, this coming winter marks fifty years at Harvard Cabin! The construction of Harvard Cabin alone makes for an interesting story. Let us not forget the historical significance it hold here in the White Mountains and the role it played in the pursuit of modern technical ice climbing! Most importantly, we can’t forget the memories we’ve all made at the Harvard Cabin. It is a special place for sure -an experience you’d be hard-pressed to match anywhere in the World!

I had the privilege of spending a weekend at the cabin this summer with Former HMC President Ted Carman (Harvard Class of 1963) and some of his family members. Mr. Carman was the prime mover in the construction of the cabin following the demise of the Spur Cabin, which was located on the John Sherburne Ski Trail. Ted had the great vision, the proper sense of urgency, the tenacity, and the resourcefulness to get the job done! It’s no surprise that following his service in the United States Navy, Ted went on to become a pioneer in running non-profit community development companies. He focused on affordable housing and revitalization projects throughout New England. The construction of Harvard Cabin is still listed on his resume in a long list of projects he has lead. Click Here for a photo of Ted visiting the cabin this August!


In conjunction with our 50th Anniversary, we have been working on a number of cabin renovations. Marcia, myself, and a handful of other volunteers have enjoyed many a pack-board trips up the Tux Trail over the last couple of months with new materials. Click Here for some photos of recent changes at Harvard Cabin.

Caretaker’s Den

The Caretaker’s Den has been gutted and will soon be reconstructed with all new framing, plywood, rigid-foam insulation, and a new window. The renovations will help to keep warm-air in and rodents out! The Caretakers Den has been an unusable, unhealthy space for the last few seasons due to high-moisture levels that lead to mold. Renovations will hopefully resolve these issues by reducing moisture and keeping warm-air in and rodents out!

Solar Electric Upgrade

Click Here or the link below to Volunteer to Haul!

In other exciting news, the club is planning an upgrade to our Solar Electric System. The purpose of this project is largely to increase cabin safety by increasing emergency radio time and allowing the club to replace the gas lights we all know and love. Besides being expensive and not very user-friendly, the lights produce Carbon Monoxide (CO) and present a burn hazard. The plan is to retrofit the gas fixtures with ultra-soft LED Lighting. We are hoping to maintain a color temperature that will mimic the soft glow of the gas lights.

As part of this upgrade, we need to build a mast to mount our new panels. The mast will be set in concrete…about 2000 Pounds of concrete to be exact. We need to set the foundation within the next three weeks, but first the cement mix must be brought uphill. This is where you can help. By volunteering to haul a 40 pound bag of concrete up hill, you can help get this job done quickly. The Annual Harvard Cabin work weekend is October 13th-14th. This year we are asking for some help from outside the club. We are calling for help from all people who know and love the Harvard Cabin! Come be part of preparing the cabin for another 50 years!

If you are available to help next weekend, October 13th or 14th, please take a minute to fill out this form. That way we can know approximately how many bags of concrete to have on-hand. We will be meeting in the Pinkham Parking lot at 10 AM on Saturday and Sunday. Volunteers are asked to bring a backpack suitable for carrying a 40 pound (18 Kilogram) bag of cement mix. Lining your pack with a plastic trash bag wouldn’t be a bad idea. Don’t forget food and water!

Sorry, our permit will not allow use to accommodate overnight guests, but feel free to spend the day at the cabin!

If you can’t make our work weekend, but will be in the vicinity of the cabin anytime in the next couple of weeks. Feel free to hike up a bag of cement mix. 40 pound bags of Quikrete are available at your local hardware store for about $3.00! Thanks for your help!!!

Thanks everyone and please let us know if you are interesting in lending a helping hand at the cabin. We could really use help hanging new windows and someone who is good with DC lighting. Perhaps someone who is familiar with marine lighting and circuitry.

Thanks again. Get after it and stay safe! As always, Think Snow! Hope to see you next weekend! Bring your friends!

Rich Palatino
Harvard Cabin Caretaker