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Archive for the ‘e-guide’ Category

A Fool’s Paradise

It’s the ice fest weekend. During this event many think every route in the White Mountains will be crowded. This is not the case, that is if you know what to do and when. The rains came just 24 hours before the official start to the fest, and once again many were lamenting.

Shoestring Gully

However, with the impending invasion of low temperatures, my friends and I saw the opportune time open up for many routes.

The Canadian air arrived Thursday night, with Friday dawning sunny and cold. We decided on Mt. Willard, totally alone excellent ice was found.  Knowing Saturday would be busy we went for the dawn patrol mission of Shoestring Gully on Mt. Webster. The cold was doing it’s work on the mountain.

Upper Hitchcock

The ice on Mt. Webster was in fine shape. Now it was Sunday and time for something long, adventurous and completely new. Starting at the same spot as Central Couloir and taking off left, the line of Fools Paradise fit perfectly. Enjoy the slideshow below of this wonderful route. Suffice it is to say, the start is rarely in, but it is now.

Cheers!

 

~Alan Cattabriga

 


Photos from  ” A Fools Paradise”

02/03/2013

Mt. Webster, Crawford Notch NH

 

 Photos by Alan Cattabriga & Doug Millen


Map


New rules to access La Pomme d’Or

La Pomme d"Or

La Pomme d”Or – Fred Maltais

 

La Pomme d’Or

Every winter, skilled climbers take on the  Pomme d’Or, a spectacular and perilous rock face along Rivière Malbaie. For permission to climb this ice wall in the park, you’ll need an access permit. Refer to Reservation Terms and Conditions for all the details.

Climbers must be in excellent physical condition and totally independent, since the ice wall is about 30 km from the closest telephone and off the park’s network of roads and trails. Under good weather conditions, it takes a full day of snowshoeing or off-trail skiing to reach the site.

If you are independent, climbing the Pomme d’Or requires a minimum stay of 3 days in the park.

  • Day 1: 30 km of snowshoeing or off-trail skiing to get to the foot of the cliff;
  • Day 2: climb the ice wall and return to base camp;
  • Day 3: 30 km of snowshoeing or off-trail skiing to return to your car.

We strongly recommend bringing a satellite telephone or a SPOT-type emergency message device. There is no emergency telephone on the site in the winter and the cell phone network does not serve the park’s territory.

http://www.sepaq.com/pq/hgo/index.dot?language_id=1

 

Location

La Pommed D’or is located approximately 2.5 hours east of Quebect City. The nearest decent sized town is Malbaie, Quebec. You enter the Parc de Haute Gorges I believe and drive as far as they will allow, before you begin your ski approach.

Administrative Guidelines and Obtaining a Backcountry Access Permit

It is mandatory to hold an Access Permit to climb the Pomme d’Or. To get one, you must apply in writing by filling out the appropriate form.

Applying for a Pomme d’Or Access Permit for Stays of More Than One Day

Once your itinerary is ready, you understand the associated risks and you consider yourself ready to assume them, you must fill out the Backcountry Access Permit Application form. Each member of the group must individually fill out the form. However, all applications for the same expedition must be sent in one mailing to the administrative office of the Parc national des Hautes-Gorges-de-la-Rivière-Malbaie.

Each application is analysed to make sure that the expedition respects instructions related to the mission of the national parks and that it will take place in the targeted sector. If your application is in order and the reception capacity has not been reached, a confirmation will be sent.

Allow for a 7-days waiting period from the time we receive your Pomme d’Or Access Permit Application. The cost is $10 /pers./night (maximum 8 nights), in addition to the park entry fee. These fees must be paid in full by credit card or cheque prior to your stay.

Modifications

If you wish to modify the stay dates or replace members of your team, you must do so at least 72 hours prior to arrival by directly contacting the administrative office of the park concerned.

Cancellation

If you want to cancel your stay, you must do so at least 72 hours prior to arrival by directly contacting the administrative office of the park concerned. No refunds will be granted for a cancellation made less than 72 hours prior to arrival.

Contact Information for the Administrative Office

Your Safety, Your Responsibility

Before submitting an application for authorization to climb the Pomme d’Or, you must be aware that help is far away and that your safety is your responsibility. Adequate preparation is required. First ask yourself if you have the skills, abilities and fitness level to undertake this kind of expedition. Climbing the Pomme d’Or involves certain risks, and it’s important to know what they are so you can prepare for them and be ready to react appropriately.

We invite you to consult our tip sheets about activities and stays offered by Société des établissements de plein air du Québec (Sépaq). The Fédération québécoise de la montagne et de l’escalade can help you plan your stay and your activities safely. Don’t hesitate to contact them.

No patrols are made at this time of year in this part of the territory. Emergency services are far away and access to the Pomme d’Or is particularly difficult. For incidents requiring immediate care or evacuation, wait time can be very long (sometimes several days). The isolation of this sector means that there is no cell phone service. A first aid kit and knowledge of how to apply first aid in remote areas are essential in emergency situations.

Costs related to search and rescue operations are solely the responsibility of the recipient. We strongly recommend checking whether or not your insurance company covers these costs. Otherwise, some private companies, such as Airmédic, offer the possibility of benefiting from such services by becoming a member of their organization.

No verifications will be made as to your return. It is your responsibility to give someone you trust a copy of your itinerary, making sure to indicate the date and times of your return and instructing the person to contact emergency services (911) in the event of your absence.

In Harmony with Nature

Minimizing our impact on the natural environment is a duty. The behavior you adopt during your stay at the park must constantly be guided by the desire to preserve the integrity of nature and our surroundings so that other climbers can fully enjoy the same privilege.

Parcs Québec considers the application of Leave no trace principles as the reference for behaviours in the national parks.

Number of People in the Group

For safety reasons, it is recommended to go in groups of a minimum of 3 people. To minimize disturbance and impacts on the natural environment.

Campfires

It is prohibited to make fires in the back country. Bring a camp stove for cooking.

- Source: PARCS QUÉBEC / PARC NATIONAL DES HAUTES-GORGES-DE-LA-RIVIÈRE-MALBAIE


Map


A Local’s View of the Devil’s Kitchen

Do the Catskills have any WI6 ice?

What do grade 6 ice routes even look like? For a long time I didn’t think I knew what WI 6 ice routes were. I think we northeasterners have been very modest about our grading of hard ice routes. The definition of grade 6 I found on the Alpinist website is “WI6: A full ropelength of near-90 degree ice with no rests, or a shorter pitch even more tenuous than WI 5. Highly technical”  A quick perusal of the current Catskill guidebook does a pretty good job of convincing one that there is no WI6 in the Catskills as well. I’m not so sure any more.

Lucho Romero leading “Judgment Call”, a seldom climbed route between “The Advocate” and “Dan and the Devil”.

I began coming to the Catskills to ice climb in 2004, while I was still living in Vermont. During the previous two winters I’d spent nearly all of my free time climbing ice at Lake Willoughby. I’d climbed most of the classic routes there and felt really comfortable leading steep ice.

During my first ride through the Catskills I was impressed by how much steep ice there was. None of the pitches were long, but most of the pillars were dead vertical, leaving the leader feeling like they were climbing overhanging terrain the whole time.

Jason Hurwitz on the sustained vertical ice of “The Advocate”, WI5+.

By 2005 I’d moved to New Paltz. I set about leading many of the steep classic ice lines during that very warm winter, when most routes were quite lean. Everything in the Catskills was new to me, and I was blown away by all of the climbing hidden in the steep, wooded hillsides, obscured from view by enormous hemlock trees. Still though, I missed the long, sustained cruxes found at places like Lake Willoughby.

Of all the Catskills areas I climbed at that winter, one area stands out above the rest. That venue is the Devil’s Kitchen (aka the Black Chasm). The Kitchen is a cool place. Take the crux pitches from half a dozen Willoughby routes and place them side by side in a deep, shady, backcountry Catskill ravine and you have the Kitchen. It’s easily one of the best single-pitch training grounds for hard ice climbing on the east coast. It’s also the only spot in the Catskills where you can chew your tongue off on a long, challenging pitch of ice. I’ve climbed there many times since the winter of 2004-2005, and every trip impresses me more than the last. Many locals wait several seasons before working up the gumption to lead routes in the Kitchen. Lots of folks walk down the steep hill, stand beneath the intimidating pillars and promptly turn around. Toproping in the sunnier Hell Hole seems like a better idea to them.

Instant Karma during lean conditions. Photo courtesy of Joe Vitti

The Catskill ice guidebook doesn’t really do this very classic and understated place the justice it deserves. All of the routes are given a WI4+ or WI5 rating, with the exception of the few free-standing pillars like Devil Dog, which are rated WI5+. Having climbed many of the northeast’s hard classics, I can confirm that the guidebook grades are incorrect.

Here is my “local’s” synopsis of this very amazing Catskill climbing venue and it’s outstanding routes.

Dan and the Devil, the leftmost distinct route climbs 40′ of scary thin 80-degree ice before gaining a short, overhanging, free-standing pillar. This might be the hardest WI4+ on earth (with the exception of Crazy Diamond at the Lake). Classic routes like Repentence, Positive Thinking, and The Black Dike, which are often called WI5- are all technically easier than this route.

Judgment Call, a seldom climbed hard route, links patches of ice between Dan and the Devil and The Advocate. Following this route to the top usually requires surmounting an ice overhang on brittle ice near the top. WI5+ usually feels like an understatement on this hard route.

The Advocate, WI5, a tannin-stained and intimidating 100′ tall dead-vertical pillar is easily as long as the vertical cruxes on routes like Called on Account of Rains and The Promenade, which are typically rated WI5+.

Mephisto Waltz promises engaging and unique climbing. Photo courtesy of Doug Ferguson.

Mephisto Waltz, WI4+/WI5, is a spectacular route that almost always forms with some sort of ice roof and climbs overhanging ice mushrooms for 50′ before gaining a vertical runnel. Expect funky “WI6-ish” ice on this one.

Hydropower, M9- WI5, established a few years ago, stands as the hardest mixed line in the Catskills and is one of only a handful of routes M9 or harder in the northeast. A long pitch of overhanging mixed climbing reaches an arm-busting crescendo just before the ice. From there a short section of WI5 tests your commitment.

Matt McCormick gains the ice on “Hydropower” during the first ascent.

Devil Dog, which almost always collapses under it’s own weight, is  a 100′ tall free-standing pillar. I don’t think there’s another pillar like it anywhere else in the northeast. When it touches down think WI6. If it’s candled and hard to protect you might have to wrap your brain around WI6+. Most of the time it’s laying on the ground at the base of the cliff.

Instant Karma, one of the finest routes in the northeast, is completely underrated at WI5. Bolt-protected mixed and thin ice climbing gives way to challenging overhanging bulges and a thin creaky pillar at the top. During lean conditions, which is most years, you’ll have to chimney behind the final pillar and carefully climb onto it’s front near the top. Each crux on Instant Karma is short, but demands one’s utmost attention. Many climbers are intimidated by this route and some wait their whole ice climbing career before leading it.

Doug Ferguson leading a challenging Instant Karma

Of all these routes, Instant Karma is my favorite. I’ve climbed it as a perfect cylindrical 3′-wide 100′-tall vertical pillar with good rests and soft ice, and I’ve climbed it several times when it’s lean and I felt like the top pillar, which was only 3” thick at it’s base, might collapse with me on it. To me, this route epitomizes hard Catskill climbing. If you swing too much down low on the route there won’t be enough ice left to climb. If you don’t manage rope drag you might pull yourself off on the brittle upper pillar. Swing too hard up top and the pillar just might fall off and cut your rope in the process.

Nowadays, many of the routes have bolts to protect the unprotectable sections of ice. They’d all been climbed with traditional protection though, a proposition that seems unfathomable to all but the best ice climbers. It’s good not to forget this when climbing in the Kitchen – local hardmen have been climbing here forever.

Isn’t it time you paid this dark, shady place a visit? In a land full of 100′ tall vertical “WI5″ pillars, does the mythical northeastern WI6 exist? It’s clear I’ve made my decision – go see for yourself and decide.

Valley Vertical Adventures

Ryan Stefiuk / NEice Ambassador

Valley Vertical Adventures

http://www.valleyvertical.com

ryan@valleyvertical.com

The Spirit of Adventure, Franconia Notch

Cannon, The Common Thread

When most climbers think of the climbing in Franconia Notch, one route immediately comes to the forefront of thought and discussion. This route has earned the reputation, colorful descriptions and epics that it has induced. In 1971 the trumpets were blown signaling the call to arms on this shadow shrouded line before it’s first ascent in December of the same year. Declared as one of the last unclimbed plumbs on the East Coast by the ice master himself, Yvon Chouinard, the reputation had started.  “A black, filthy, horrendous icicle, 600′ high, unclimbed.” To this day, it is still touted as the “measuring stick” of the aspiring climber.  The route is the Black Dike and everyone knows of it. The Dike is surely one of the most aesthetic routes in the Northeast. This climb has developed another purpose for many, that of herald to the on coming ice climbing season. Cannon Cliff is in easy view and dominates the notch. When the ice adorns the cliff’s streaked gray walls high above the notch, it is something truly inspiring and something to behold.

The Ghost & One Drop of Water

Even the most seasoned climber will feel the awe when rounding a corner on the highway. Then right before your eyes appears the line of Omega in full.

Omega

A ribbon colored in a hue of burnt yellow to orange, running from top to bottom. This route will surly get anyone excited regardless if you are aiming to climb it or not.  However, besides Cannon Cliff and the well known Flume Gorge, there are other areas that tend to be over looked. Meanwhile, across the notch up high, lay alpine gems, and they come in early.

 The High Country

Sunset, Mt. Lincoln

Guarding  the East Side of the notch lay a venerable mountain ridge over 400 million years old. The arctic alpine zone along the Franconia Ridge, though not as vast as the Presidential Range, has a unique feeling when one climbing there. A lost emotion is awakened by this place, brimmed with wonderful and wild remoteness. Getting to the routes can be scrappy affairs, visible slides with their huge iced slabs and choked corners, though easy by pure grade, are backcountry climbs and demand respect and commitment.  The wondering that has been instilled in us as we have looked from the comfort of the car far below, can only be realized by way of plunging over deeply forested ridges, eskers and up trail-less drainages.

Franconia Notch

In Franconia Notch, the game is on right from the moment one leaves the car. It does not matter if your destination is to the East or West side. The talus of Cannon, though short can be epic. And the deep climbs on Lincoln & Lafayette are committing. Packed trails are followed for only a short distance.

Woodman / Dorcey, Mt. Lincoln

 

Deep snow on the approach, even for the well prepared can be an exhausting affair. But this is part of the flavor found on these peaks. Getting too the climb, then topping out on the summit is a physical crux and one not to be taken lightly. One other fact that is quite unique to the northeast, these climbs end at the summit of the peaks they are on.

Mt. Lafayette, Fly Boys, Escadrille, Center & South Slide. Mt. Lincoln, Serpentine, Throat & Mullet

 

Mt. Lincoln, Serpentine, Throat & Mullet (L to R)

 

Taking the early season plunge into both Lafayette and Lincoln will be a rewarding alpine experience. In  November of this year while Huntington was getting hit by sunny, cloudless days, the Mullet Route on Lincoln with it’s NW aspect was alpine perfection.

The Mullet

 

The Serpentine Line

 

Lincoln’s Throat

Every year I am lucky enough to experience these mountains with their thought provoking climbing challenges. Clear feelings of awe and purpose are rediscover time after time. Moving through the higher ground of scrub fir and spruce, the journey to and attaining the clean, pristine summits, takes some of the weight of the world away.  The approach to the climbing on Mt. Lafayette is longer and much more of an endeavor than those on Mt. Lincoln. If the weather is not so savory, this location is only for those totally ready to throw down the gauntlet and take the plunge. Suffice is it to say, both mountains require the spirit of adventure.

Topping out, Lafayette Escadrille

 

Roadside Attractions

Across the road from Profile Lake, on the broad flank of Lafayette two excellent climbing areas reside. The steep Ace of Spades with its satellite routes nearby offer difficult climbing after a steep hillside is ascended.

Ace of Spades

A short distance to the South is the old landslide scar of the Big Slide, home of many interesting options. The first landslide to start the creation of this was about 1915. Several others followed with the last being in 1959.  In the center of this slide is Short Stack. This route, followed to the slides top is long and much better than it may appear from the road. Within the slide there are hidden creases that carve into the mountain and run upward over very long distances. Before they fill with snow, these slices, headwalls and open slabs provide fun climbing.  The seldom seen views that end with the climbing, high on Lafayette, will thrill the mind and stir the soul.

High in the Short Stack Area

The Flume and Echo Crag are justifiably popular. They are close to the road and have almost every type of climbing one can desire. The Flume Gorge, deep, narrow and filled to the brim with ice. It’s unique setting coupled with accessible mellow to extreme lines help create a place that has no peers. At the utmost north end of the notch is Echo Crag. Here one will find a fantastic spot for leading, for both new and experienced climbers. The long cliff system has chimneys, corners faces and mixed lines. And also protection options ranging from screws, bolts and passive gear.

The Echo Crag is the northern start of the complex Hounds Hump Ridge. This area has many routes along its western side. Further south up the Hump, near the Eaglet is the home of the Garcia-Vega. A rare to form route, but when climbable, it’s a beauty. The 180′ of climbing is well worth the hike up and right up there with other climbs of the same nature. Also there is a wide chimney to the right on the same wall that is quite hard. I did what I thought had to have been a first ascent of this gash in the early ’90’s. Only to find out later, two very rad guys did it two decades before. With the gear of that time, it must have been savage. Hats off gents for the route, Fire & Ice.

There are still many more climbs and areas worth exploring. My point was not to name them all,  just a few and bring to light the mystery and beauty of the Notch.

I recommend  Secrets of the Notch by Mr. Franconia himself, John Sykes. I’m unsure if this book can still be found, but have heard a new book is coming. Maybe it is out or perhaps I just dreamt it.

 

Cheers and enjoy the Notch.

~Alfonzo

Words & photos,

Alan Cattabriga

Concord NH

 

 

 

 

 

Early Season Luck On Katahdin – 1

Piggy-Wiggy

Katahdin, Maine 10-13-2012

[nivoslider id="10739"]

Photos by Doug Millen & Alan Cattabriga
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