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Archive for the ‘Featured Stories’ Category

Scottish Winter

Arch Enemy – Scottish V,5… it should be pretty moderate with good gear. 2 hours, 150 feet, one stopper, one shitty spectre at 80 feet threatening to torque out of the crack if it takes a fall, and a hard-fought hex at 110′ or so… Steep sugary powder, shitty sticks, feet threatening to disintegrate and send me tumbling, and that questioning feeling of “is this going to fucking hold?” with every swing and every kick. I climb at least half the route blind, alternating between glasses on and off at least 15 times as my face is sandblasted by 40mph winds and spindrift.

Where's the gear!?!?!?!

Where’s the gear!?!?!?!

Welcome to fucking Scotland!

It’s no wonder the Brits kill it in the greater ranges. The approaches are long, the ice quality is shit, the pro is hard-fought, and the weather absolutely blows. And this is on the nice and easy days!

Scottish Winter

article by Patrick Cooke
 

I was in Scotland this past week  to take part in the the BMC’s International Winter Meet, an event held every two years to bring climbers from around the world together to experience what winter climbing in Scotland is all about. For six days, I’d be paired with British climbers and have an opportunity to see what Scottish winter climbing is all about.

It’s important to note I didn’t say “ice climbing” here, because my first day out, and the whole trip in general, highlighted that Scottish winter climbing is NOT ice climbing as we know it. You’re not going to find waterfalls to rival the Lake or Poko in Scotland. Instead you’re going to find verglassed rock, rime ice, turf, and good old-fashioined mixed climbing. In essence, you’ll find a bit of everything you’d find in the greater ranges, all packed into Scotland’s short, yet impressive mountains.

Day One: The Obligatory Visitor’s Sandbag

The first day was about introductions – getting to know Stuart, my host, and getting a feel for what climbing in Scotland would be like. With high winds and some dangerous avy conditions forecasted, we decided to stay local and hit up a relatively new crag in the Cairngorms called Cha No. From the onset I knew I was in for it… as we ascended and turned a corner, the wind just tore at my face. All I could think was “I really wish I hadn’t shaved my beard!”

This doesn't bode well...

This doesn’t bode well…

Rapping into Cha No gave us some respite from the wind, which we of course wasted by turning the corner and starting up Arch Enemy. Nearly 2 hours of groveling ensued, eventually digging through the cornice and secure ground only to be entirely in the path of the wind. I really wish my goggles weren’t securely stowed in my pack at the top of the rap-in point.

The rest of the day was cake: We stayed out of the wind, climbed some cruiser moderate lines, and made it back to the cars just before dark. First at the cliff, last to leave – a sign of a good day of climbing!

Finding more reasonable protection on Chimney Rib

Finding more reasonable protection on Chimney Rib

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day Two: Don’t Trust the Locals

One of the unique things about Scotland is that you need to earn your climbing. Approaches of an hour and a half are short in Scotland. Day two saw us driving to Glen Coe (some 2+ hours from the Glenmore Lodge where we were staying) to head up to climb at Stob Coire nan Lachlan (I doubt this is how you spell it, but another thing about the Scots, they don’t speak the same language as we do!). It’s about a 90 minute uphill hike into the “Corrie”, unless you head up the wrong valley first!

Fortunately, we didn’t get too far up the wrong valley and only added about 40 minutes of walking to our day. Once in the proper Corrie (probably around 11am), we found parties on nearly everything, but we timed it well enough not to have to wait too long for one of the classics in the area – Scabbard Chimney. Unfortunately, we didn’t really find the chimney – too much snow and ice! Instead of pushing ourselves and seeing how Scottish grades really related to what I was used to here in the US, we just had a quick romp.

Where's the chimney? Stuart Lade finds cruiser climbing on Scabbard Chimney

Where’s the chimney? Stuart Lade finds cruiser climbing on Scabbard Chimney

We then did another classic line – Ordinary Route. Again, deep snow and a lack of gear added a little bit of spice to the occasion on otherwise quite straight-forward climbing.

 

Day Three: Best Laid Plans

There is one mountain in Scotland that does NOT involve a long approach: Meall Gorm. Two and a half hours of driving saw us at the base with only a 15-minute approach between us and the cliff.

NOT winter conditions

NOT winter conditions

Unfortunately it also saw temperatures at about 5 degrees celsius and nearly a complete lack of winter conditions on our intended lines. Up the soggy gully it was to make sure we got some climbing in!

Nothing like climbing liquid mud and loose rock...

Nothing like climbing liquid mud and loose rock…

 

 

 

 

 

How you salvage a day... drytool soloing!

How you salvage a day… drytool soloing of course!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day Four: Plan B

For the second half of the week I’d be climbing with a new host, Martin. We met up Wednesday night after Nick Bullock’s hilarious slideshow (of which his exploits on Cathedral last year were a big piece) and Martin had a brilliant plan in store: the Central Buttress of Ben Eighre (pronounced “Ben-A”… have I mentioned that the Scots can’t spell?).

It’s a two and a half hour approach up to the Central Buttress. Here in the Northeast that would constitute a remote backcountry crag. We were the 7th party in line to get on the Central Buttress!

Conga Lines on Ben Eighre

Conga Lines on Ben Eighre

Off it was to the classic moderate West Buttress route while the the masses waited for the lead party to finish a 3-hour lead on the crux pitch of Central! Suckers!

From the top of the West Buttress

From the top of the West Buttress

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day Five: Have I Mentioned that Scottish Weather is Crap?

Forecasted 90-100 mile winds across the Scottish mountains, and rain. What is one to do?

6 meter route... 4 meter fall...

6 meter route… 4 meter fall…

Drytool of course! Nothing like a 4 meter fall on a 6 meter route to get your day started! Or to lose grip on your tool, have it fall, hit you in the helmet, and then tumble 100′ directly at your belayer who is tied into a tree! Good thing for gri-gris! And who invited the jackass American to the crag?!

Day Six: Pay Day

Somehow, my crampons nearly skewering his neck and my tool nearly eviscerating him the day before didn’t convince Mark that I was a liability, so he invited Martin and I to join him and his guest for our final day out on the Meet. Our goal, a four-star ice route in the Ben Eighre area called Poachers’ Falls.

Sunrise heading into Poachers' Falls

Sunrise heading into Poachers’ Falls

Poachers’ isn’t particularly hard, but true waterfall ice is somewhat rare in Scotland, and what it lacked in steepness, it made up for in setting: 3 pitches of fun climbing overlooking Ben Eighre, the mountains of Torridon, the North Atlantic, and the Hebrides. Combine this with a great partner, and another party of good people on the route, and you have a great cap to an amazing trip.

Views coming off of Poachers' Falls

Views coming off of Poachers’ Falls

*****

 The International Winter Meet was a fantastic opportunity to meet other climbers from around the world, share in a common love of winter and suffering, and learn a thing or two about how this crazy sport we all love came about. If you have a chance, head over to Scotland: the ice is crap, but man, the climbing is awesome, and the local climbers are a blast to share a rope with!

Mount Washington Valley Ice Fest 2014 – Highlights

Everyone comes out for this fest!  And for good reason.  This year’s Ice Fest was a huge success.  Saturday night for the main presentation, the Theater in the Wood was at capacity.  The biggest Ice Festival in the Northeast keeps getting bigger and better.  Around 245 people were there for the Friday evening events, 420 folks came to the Saturday evening events, 310 guided ice climbing clients, 39 guides, around 25 sponsors, a live band performance!.. not to mention a burrito truck.. Need I say more?!

I will..

ime after party

Upstairs at IME!

This was a full three day weekend with clinics and demos happening all day Friday as well as Saturday and Sunday.  It brought out the big names of both guest guides and local guides.  The major climbing gear and clothing manufacturers were there and they all converged at the after-clinic party which was held at the mothership, IME, in the evenings before the slideshows. NEice supplied the hot soup, Tuckerman Brewing Company supplied the beer, the American Alpine Club supplied the wine and everyone was already well stocked on good conversation and good times.

Friday night was Barry Blanchard’s presentation and as Bernie Mailhot puts it, it was a great retrospective presentation with gusto, spicy anecdotes, and good humor (with great microphone sound effects).  He is always humble and giving much deserved praise and gratitude to his climbing partners.  Opening that act was Jeff Longcor talking about his expeditions to Kirgistan.

Climbers, both in clinics and going out on their own, were at the crags, cliffs and alpine nooks and crannies all weekend.  Being out there climbing myself, I can’t say enough how awesome the camaraderie is amongst climbers during an event like this.  Some people go out of town when there’s an ice festival, thinking all the ice routes will be packed with people and climbing will be a miserable experience of waiting in line.  But from what I experienced, there was plenty of ice to go around and everyone was friendly and accommodating.  People were just stoked to be out!  And to top it off, the weather was really pleasant all weekend.

majka

Majka Burhardt on the stage.

Saturday night, Majka Burhardt gave props to New Hampshire climbing during a refreshingly lively presentation.  I think the ice climbing community is psyched to have her as a NH resident.  She opened for Tim Emmett, who is a someone that needs no introduction.  From his crazy base jumping, wing suit flying, and WI11 climbing, there wasn’t a dull moment.

On Sunday, Cathedral Ledge was busy.  Repentance and Remission were in  great shape and were being climbed.  Tim Emmett, Jason Kruk and the usual suspects, Bayard Russell and Kevin Mahoney were making work of the thin ice smears that were found all over the cliff.

The NEice choppers took to the air this weekend and took some of the best and most stable footage so far.  At year two of this project, it’s exciting to be able to see the product of all the hard work that’s been put in.  We decided to take some long and high flights to capture some of the big picture of northeast ice.  Here it is!


Cathedral Ledge has had some good conditions lately and the visiting climbers took full advantage. Below are a few photos taken at the ledge Sunday during the event. Including Tim Emmett (in red) sending  “Jack on Ice”.

NEice would like to give many thanks to the group that puts this shindig together.  Anne Skidmore Russell, Naomi Risch, Michael Wejchert, Ashley Link and Hanna Lucy on the planning committee.  And of course IME, IMCS, all the guides and sponsors. Without them, there would be no Ice Fest. Thank you!

Photos by Doug Millen and Courtney Ley. Cover photo, Andrea Charest on Remission.

CATSKILL ICE FESTIVAL 2014

AlpineEndeavors

 

Join the 16th Annual Catskill Ice Festival

February 7, 8, 9, 10, 2014

This year again there will be multiple clinics on all the skills and techniques you need to get out on ice – from basic skills, to dry-tooling, to glacier travel techniques.
Slide shows on Friday & Saturday evening.  Slide shows will be held at Rock and Snow at 8pm.

The demo gear will be located at Rock and Snow – so you can try out the latest Harnesses, Ice Tools, Crampons, and clothing from the best companies. You know them – Black Diamond, Petzl, La Sportiva, Outdoor Research & Rab.

Slideshows

Friday Night: Catskills Aerial

Join local guide and guidebook author, Marty Molitoris as he shows you an aerial view of the areas we all know and love, and some new ones as well…
Held at Rock & Snow, 8pm

Saturday Night: Kevin Mahoney

Northeast climbing in the winter, and first ascents in Alaska and Nepal.
Held at Rock and Snow, 8pm

NEice.com will be there with hot soup and Doug’s Helicopters will be taking aerial video of the climbing. Hope to see you there.

More here…

 

 Feature Photo: Brinton Price climbing in The Black Chasm – RAS

Smuggs Ice Bash 2014 – Recap

Smugglers Notch Ice Bash kicked off with an awesome evening at Petra Cliffs!  There was an great line up of competitors ready to crush the route set by Matt McCormick and Peter Kamitses. There’s no where else in the Northeast you can go to see this kind of show!

The winners of the 2014 Smuggs Ice Bash Indoor Comp. at Petra Clif

The winners of the 2014 Smuggs Ice Bash Dry Tool Competition at Petra Cliffs

The Dry Tool Competition Winners

Womens

womens-1b

1st – Alexa Siegel

2nd – Andrea Charest

3rd – Lindsay Fixmer

Mens

Whit

1st – Whit Magro

2nd – Will Mayo

3rd – Roy Quanstrom

The-Competors

womens-1

Will-Mayo

P1020426

Photos: 1.The competitors  2.Alexa Siegel 3.Will Mayo 4.Andrea Charest


Video Recap of the Competition



 

There for the festivities was the American Alpine ClubFurnace IndustriesUS SherpaOutdoor Gear Exchange and Health Warrior. Before and after the comp, Dry Ice Tools and tools from Black Diamond and Cassin were available for demos on the climbing wall.  To top it off, raffle prizes were given away, sponsored by Crag-VT!

a6

Hot beverages and hot soup!
Courtesy of NEice and Outdoor Gear Exchange

NEice was proud to sponsor a women’s beginner clinic on Saturday led by Andrea Charest.  The clinic was free to all participants and judging by this photo, it looks like everyone had a blast!  And of course, hot soup was waiting for everyone who came down from the notch after a day of climbing.  There were great clinics offered all weekend from Steep Ice and Mix climbing to Alpine Climbing to Double Rope Techniques by guides including Tim Farr, Steve Charest, Mike Bauman, Matt Bressler, Mark Puleio and Michael Wejchert.  Guest guides this year were Whit Magro and Lindsay Fixmer!  Demo gear from all the major manufacturers were there and Smuggler’s Notch Inn was packed with people checking out the gear.  By the end of the morning on Saturday, -all- the ice tools on -every- table were headed out for the day.

P1260053

Michael Wejchert gives some mix climbing tips during Sunday’s clinic.

Once the demo gear was out, the reps and guides were psyched to get out and climb.  Kevin Mahoney and Michael Wejchert spent their Saturday on Dominatrix (WI4+/5 M6), put up by local hardmen Alden Pellett and Dave Furman in 1998.  It was one of the hardest mix routes during the late 90’s and sent with straight shafted tools at the time.  Hats off.  Lindsay got her first taste of Vermont ice with Steve Charest as her tour guide while Matt McCormick and I decided to head to the Blue Room. When we reached the top of the notch, we were greeted by strong wind gusts and snow.  It was definitely a full-on day!  It was great to see everyone out, climbing or snowshoeing and skiing the road and embracing the Vermont winter.

michael2

Kevin Mahoney on the Dominatrix.
Photo by Michael Wejchert

Saturday night, Lindsay Fixmer showcased a little of her singer/songwriter talent and entertained the crowd with a song about women in climbing and the guiding world accompanied by photographs.  It’s not often the guest presenter brings a guitar!  That was followed up by Whit Magro.  He presented a slide show about climbing at home, traveling to bigger places, then heading back home to climb after those experiences.. and then doing it all over again.  More great raffle prizes were handed out and Smuggs Bash teeshirts thrown into the crowd.  We all love free swag!

P1250038

Lindsay Fixmer and her guitar Saturday night

a7

Climbing clinic at the Mystery Wall.

On Sunday, the temperatures plummeted, but mere -7 degrees wouldn’t stop this festival.  I headed up the notch with Lindsay for a women’s clinic along with Jess Jablonski.  Despite the cold temperatures, these women spent the day laughing, climbing and learning.  It was a great group of gals and I feel lucky to have had the opportunity to teach and climb with them. This year was big!  And it will only get better and better with Andrea and Stephen Charest running the show!  With that said, NEice extends the biggest of thanks to Andrea and Steve for all they do, not just for the Vermont climbers but the entire northeast climbing community and making the Annual Smugglers Notch Ice Bash a huge success.  We love being apart of it!

michael1

Photo by Michael Wejchert

More photos of the event on the Smuggs Ice Bash facebook page.  LIKE them to make sure you are ready for next year!

- Courtney Ley / NEice.com

Featured story cover photo by Sam Simon Imaging. Competition photos by Doug Millen. Other photos by Courtney Ley and as noted.

 

The Mount Washington Valley Ice Fest 2014

Coming This Weekend!

The Mount Washington Valley Ice Fest

North Conway, NH

Jan. 31st-Feb. 2nd, 2014!

A weekend filled with clinics, demos, guest guides, apres climbing party, evening presentations, live music and MORE!

This is the biggest Ice Festival in the Northeast! No where else can you find so many top guides in one place. Truly the cream of the crop. So come up, have some fun and learn from the best. NEice will be at IME on Friday and Saturday for the apres climbing party with hot soup and our latest Helicopter. We look forward to seeing you there.

It’s Not too Late to Sign Up for Clinics!

2014_IceFestival_Poster_WEBsize

* Click to Enlarge

The weather forecast could not be better, some real cold to bring in the ice and mild weather to climb in with a little snow.

Weather Ice Fest

 

Clinics include: Ice Climbing 101, Ice Climbing For Rock Climbers, Thin Ice, Mixed Climbing with Tim Emmett, Snow & Alpine Skills & MORE!
And don’t forget about the killer evening presentations that are hosted just 4 miles from IME at Theater In The Wood!

Friday evening will be opened up by Jeff Longcor and the featured presenter is legendary, Barry Blanchard.

Saturday evening has Majka Burhardt opening up the evening and the featured presentation is by the infectiously energetic Tim Emmett!
Don’t miss it, spread the word, and we hope to see you there!

More information can be found here www.mwv-icefest.com

and the latest news here on NEice. MWV-ICE-FEST-North-Conway-New-Hampshire

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