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Archive for the ‘Front Page’ Category

Happy Holidays from the Harvard Cabin

HArvidCabinChristmas

Happy Holidays!

I hope this message finds you well and in good position to share the holiday with Friends and Family. Marcia and I send our warmest wishes for you and yours this holiday season and our hope for the very best in 2014! Thanks so much for being part of our family over the last 4 years. It’s sure has been fun. We’re are looking forward another awesome winter filled with our Harvard Cabin Friends!

Mountain Conditions – A Winter/Spring Mix!

Well, what can I say? Despite this past weekends weather, it has been a great start to the season! While being a bit less mobile then normal, so far this month I’ve been able to enjoy a great day climbing the Tuckerman Headwall, another day in Pinnacle Gully, and a few fantastic powder days! It was full-on winter for about a week….super cold too! It was so good to have winter back again! But, don’t take my word for it. Check out this sweet little trip report authored by Harvard Mountaineering Club Member and grit stone climbing extraordinaire Dr. Dave Leonard. He very eloquently summarizes the wintry weekend of December 14-15, 2013!

It really should come as no surprise What a difference a week can make. It can be discouraging at times, but I’ve learned to appreciate my time at the cabin no matter what the weather brings. In the last 36 hours we’ve seen over an inch of rain combined with the mid-mountain warming layer that seems to be haunting us winter after winter. The combination of the two sent the ravines into Considerable avalanche danger rating across the board all the way back down to Low. Over this past weekend outside air temperatures at the cabin hugged the 40 degree mark at night while the lower elevations stayed at or below the freezing mark. Given the amount of rain and warm temps I’d say the trails did okay. However, for the near future you can expect very slick conditions on the Tuckerman Ravine Trail as the mercury heads back towards more seasonal temperatures.

Visibility hasn’t allowed for a recent glimpse into the ravine. Despite being only days away from our first avalanche cycle of the season, I’d expect lots of bare rock and very little snow left in the fan and gullies. Still, I’m sure the ice will be doing quite well and is going to continue to grow throughout the week. Once we dry out up here and get some well deserved Christmas sunshine, the ice climbing should be outstanding! Come willing to chop for good ice placements and be aware of the potential for ice dams to form in the immediacy of such a substantial rain event.

The John Sherburne is still skiable but you’ll expect late spring conditions for the time being. If it’s any indication, I hiked down to Pinkham today. With that said, I wouldn’t anticipate much uphill ski travel this week either. There is only some light snow in the forecast this week with the most potential not expected until Friday. Of course, we’ve been surprised before….keep your finger crossed, your skis waxed, and traction on your feet! One things fore sure, Christmas is looking like a Bluebird day!

Roof Avalanche – What Can We Learn?

Well, the warm-up did allow me to take care of some chimney repairs on the cabin over the weekend. Of course, this was after both sides of the metal roof avalanched within a few minutes of each other. It was a hazard made known to all guest and thankfully the super-saturated death slab that covered the cabin roof came down early on Saturday. Indoors, away from the perpetual rain, looking through the windows everyone took pleasure in observing the incredibly quick pace at which the slab crept over the eaves. With the steep pitch of the cabin roof, it was amazing to observe how far from the eve the overhanging sheet of saturated, cohesive slab could creep before failing. I have to say, I’ve seen this every season I’ve been at the cabin, but this time it was different because of the speed at which instability progressed, measuring from only a few hours prior when we had a very cold, relatively stable snowpack. While we were enjoying the observation of avalanche phenomena far from avalanche terrain on Saturday, it turns out that Lead Snow Ranger/Avalanche Forecaster Mr. Chris Joosen was doing the very same thing down in the valley. Of course Chris could offer-up color-commentary in addition to a wee bit more technical analysis. You can check out his expert review and summary, including video, by clicking here. Very Interesting!

Upcoming Events

New England Ice Festivals
Mountain Fest: January 18-20, 2014 – Keene Valley, NY
Smuggs Ice Bash: January 24-26, 2014 – Smuggler’s Notch, VT
Vice Fest: January 24-26, 2014 – Franconia Notch, VT
Mt. Washington Valley Ice Fest: January 31- February 2, 2014 – North Conway, NH

Eastern Snow and Avalanche Workshop – Continuing Education Series
A new program offered by the USFS Mount Washington Valley Avalanche Center and the Friends of MWAC. Free and open to the public the talks are geared towards recreational backcountry users who’ve already taken an avalanche course or who have significant experience traveling in avalanche terrain. Held monthly at IME and spearheaded by USFS Snow Ranger Jeff Lane. For more details Click here for a flyer .
We Hope everyone has a safe and happy new year!

Rich Palatino & Marcia Steger
Harvard Cabin Caretakers

 

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

 

We need a New Roof!

 

The Hut

You know, I run the whole show here, on my own, after work with the
help of a few trusted friends. NEice is not some large company with
huge budgets and resources. This is NEice.com, a community-based web
site built by Ice Climbers for Ice Climbers. But you know, as a group,
we Kick Ass!

I am often asked, “Do you make your living of NEice now?” Not even
close. If it were not for my real job, NEice would not exist. I pour
hundreds of my own dollars and hours into the site every year to make
it better and keep it going. I make the online space and the tools,
while everyone contributes information to the site. It is a great
system that I have refined over the years and is used by thousands of
Ice Climbers everyday. We are the biggest Ice climbing web site in
North America.

As the use of the site has grown, so have the costs. Now it is not
only server fees, but also software upgrades and consultants to keep
the server running and fix the myriad problems that come up each
season.

Well this year we were hit badly. First a cyber attack took the whole
site down. Next, we have been in upgrade hell. Every update (for
security purposes) breaks something else. And now, just the other day,
we blew up the server with all of the site traffic. NEice is a complex
platform with lots of data, and it takes a lot to keep it running
smoothly.

So I am asking for donations to pay the bills and update the site’s
infrastructure.

Look at it this way – I am the caretaker of this virtual Ice climbing
hut where we all gather to tell our stories and report on what we have
seen. Well our mountain hut has a problem: We need a New Roof.

It only works when everyone contributes.

If you can’t afford to donate, please contribute photos, conditions,
and information. This helps to generate page views for Google Ads,
which increases the funds we receive. Also clicking on ads never
hurts.

So be thankful for this great resource we have and Donate Today!

You can click the donation logo below to make a payment using PayPal. PayPal is secure and easy to use system for online payments.

Or you can also send a check payable to NEice.com to the address below

NEice.com

PO Box 360

Bartlett, NH 03812-0360

___________________________________________

A little incentive!

dust

Everyone that donates during the Fund Drive will be entered into a
raffle for a pair of Julbo Dust sun glasses with the Zebra lens. These
are the best sun glasses I have ever worn – you never need to take
them off, they adjust to all light conditions. They are perfect for
Ice Climbing!

Retail value – $160

Thank you for your continuing help and support of our online community.

~Doug Millen

Note: The photo above was taken from the internet,

it is not the NEice home base, which is my home.

Fund Drive – 2013

What would the ice climbing season be like without NEice?

Think about it!

It’s time for the year end Fund Drive.

December 18, 2013 – January 1, 2014

NEice is a community web site run by volunteers, but we still have hard costs to run and maintain the server and the related costs.  While sponsors and Google ads help,  it’s the viewer donations that make the difference and keep the site going.

If you like what we are doing and want us to expand our efforts and bring you the best there is in Northeast Ice Climbing. Contribute to the site and make a donation today.

 

Donate!

$10.00 / $15.00 / $20.00 or $25.00.  Or what ever you can afford.  More is greatly appreciated. Your donation will go towards the hard costs that keep the site going.

It’s Easy!

1. You can click the donation logo below to make a payment using PayPal. PayPal is secure and easy to use system for online payments.

2.You can also send a check payable to NEice.com to the address below

NEice.com

PO Box 360

Bartlett, NH 03812-0360

 I would like to thank this seasons sponsors and supporters

The American Alpine Club

Dry Ice Tools

The Mountaineer

Alpine Web

Black Diamond

Google

Members Donations

Thanks for your support!

~ Doug Millen

Big Wall Fun in Baxter

The Tabor Wall

The Tabor Wall – North Basin, Baxter State Park, Maine – 12/3/13

by Doug Millen

We arrived in Millinocket early Saturday evening with bare ground showing but woke to snow plows and about 2 inches of fluffy snow. Not good sledding snow to cover the gravel road that would take us to Roaring Brook. Sizing up the situation, as I filled my wagon tires at the gas station, Kevin ran across the street like a kid to buy a wagon at the tractor supply. Nothing was going to stop him from getting to the mountain and the wall he had dreamed about.

Early season in Baxter is a crap shoot. You never know what the conditions will be, for the road or the ice climbing. Most years the ice climbing is great, but the way in, not so great. How you get in is the question. Wheels are usually involved. Many times it is a ski in with a sled to Roaring Brook. Some years we have driven in. Mountain biking in before the snow covers the road is popular. We had sleds, wagons, skis, a mountain bike and Kevin Mahoney. Everything we needed to get to Chimney Pond and back. We were well-prepared.

P1020308

This year it was a mix. We were able to drive in to the game preserve gate, saving us about 6 miles of sled and wagon hauling. We dropped the gear at the gate and Kevin took the van out to the winter parking area with the bike for the return journey. We made short work of the 5 miles to roaring brook over about 1 ½” of snow. Kevin caught up with us after about an hour. Wagons or sleds, it was not much of a difference. They both worked well with the thin snow cover.

The modes of transport

Arriving at Roaring Brook early, we took advantage of our spare time and ferried loads up to Chimney Pond for our week-long stay. On our return to Roaring Brook, a light snow fell and the temperature was dropping. Our spirits were high and the liquor flowed in the cabin that night.

The next morning we brought the rest of our gear up to Chimney Pond…with foggy views of the north basin, our minds ran wild. What would this next week bring? Our proposed ice line up the wall looked in! Were we ready? Would it go?

We settled into our new home. We had the cabin all to our selves. Tools were sharpened and we readied for the battle ahead. At 4am the stoves roared and we packed for the day. Kevin and Michael broke trail over the newly fallen snow to Blueberry Knoll, and then we began the ¾ mile bushwhack to the base of the Tabor wall. The day was clear and still as the sun came up over the vast pine forest to the east.

P1020224With the sun peaking though the early morning clouds we could see the biggest alpine face in the northeast in front of us. Bayard said “good thing we get the foreshortened view from here.” This face was huge, over 1000 feet high, and we needed to get to work.

The ice did not come all the way down to the base so we looked for a way up to the ice. Bayard and Michael took a line to the left and Kevin and I took the direct line just to the left of the ice. The cliff was full of rime ice and reminded Bayard of Scotland.

P1020229

Kevin starting up the big wall

Kevin forced his way up and into a chimney. He was too big for this icy entrance that would take us higher. He removed his pack – not good enough. He removed the rack, then a layer. But the chimney was still too small, despite such determination to get up this climb. Looking for another way he climbed out onto the arête for some spectacular climbing on thin flakes to a good stance above. I followed the pitch. One down and how many to go we could only speculate. From this belay we could see the ice. It looked thick enough, but how to get to it? Kevin headed up a thin corner placing a single gold cam on the way. From there he headed up into no-mans land. Struggling for pick placements and protection, he finally got a small hook in a crack 30 feet up. With the pump meter going, he headed for the ice. Moving right on very thin friction moves, his feet cut loose and he was left hanging by only his tools. Struggling not to fall, he gained control and moved quickly and deliberately onto the ice.

He fell 20 feet in a blaze of sparks from his crampons and tools scraping over the frozen rock

The ice was not what it looked like from below. It was delaminated, dry and brittle. Every swing and kick just breaks the ice away. I see the determination in Kevin as he heads up and then down, taking the pulse of the ice and the risk involved. Kevin wanted this climb so bad. But the ice only got worse and no gear in sight. With good sense he made a plan to come down: “I am going to down climb as far as I can then jump.” OK, I said and prepared to catch his fall, wondering if the gear above would hold. Kevin down climbed until both feet cut loose and then his tools popped. He fell 20 feet in a blaze of sparks from his crampons and tools scraping over the frozen rock. Rolling over once and swinging towards the belay he landed just 5 feet above me with a smile saying “The hook held!”

With no other way up, we rappelled to the ground to regroup. There must be an easier way to the top. Kevin started up a ramp system to the left with easier ground. Fun climbing lead us to a stance near where Bayard and Michael were doing battle. They were not having much more success than we had. Bayard took 3 whippers on the first pitch alone. They forged another ½ pitch higher then rappelled to the ground. They had had enough for the day.

P1020233

Kevin climbing out of the chimney

Kevin and I committed to another pitch. Some fun climbing took us to easier ground, but with a steep head wall above, the end of daylight coming fast, and no real hope of getting to the top, we rappelled. As we hiked back to our comfortable home at Chimney Pond, we were treated with views of the cliff as the fog moved in and out. What a spectacular wall. That night we nursed our wounds with Scotch, Fireball, and Moonshine. We gave it a good a shot, as well as anyone, but the conditions were not right. We probably missed the window by a couple of days. No mater what, it was a good effort and great to be with friends in this special place with no one around for over 20 miles.

The next day we wanted something different. Bayard and I headed to the Pamola Ice Wall. Michael and Kevin had their eye on the ‘Cilley Barber”. At 9am when we signed out at the ranger’s cabin, they were already 9 pitches up. They were back at the ranger’s cabin in no time. 4 ½ hrs round trip. Rob the ranger commented, “they smoked that climb”. Kevin said they were greeted with 40-50 mph winds and blowing snow as they topped out and headed to Baxter Peak. True alpine conditions. This was Michaels first time on the Cilley Barber and first time summiting Baxter Peak. Does it get any better?

Bayard and I found some great ice on the Pamola Ice Cliffs. We climbed “Frost Street” and “Walk on the Wild Side”. Bayard made the grade 5 ice look so easy. But I guess, compared to yesterday, it was.P1020255

The next day was our last climbing day. The conditions had not improved but the boys wanted to give the Tabor Wall another go. I elected to take a rest day in preparation for the long journey out tomorrow. Let the young lads have at it!

P1020280

Bayard on “Walk on the Wild Side”

We partied late into the night (8pm ;-)) and consumed the remaining liquor. Bayard and Michael tried to sneak off to bed earlier but Kevin and I would have none of that for our last night at Chimney Pond. With a few choice comments about masculinity and heritage they felt the pressure and joined us for a night cap, and we all reflected on our trip and laughed into the night.

At 4am the routine began. Off they went for another adventure. I enjoyed being able to sleep in and spend the day doing chores around the cabin and preparing for the hike out.

The boys were back early. The conditions limited their 2nd attempt on the wall. They tried working a line right of the main flow. The warm weather and sun was just eating the ice making progress difficult. All and all they had a great day of mixed climbing and got to know the wall a little better. They vowed they would return!

P1020301

Big Loads

After some hot soup we packed up and started down with our heavy loads to Roaring Brook. The wind picked up and it started to snow. The trail was icy but snow covered and we made short work of it. 5” of snow lay on the road at Roaring Brook. Looked like a good ski out the next day.

In the morning we woke to rain and 2” of slush on the road. Again, wagons or sleds, it really didn’t matter. Kevin headed out an hour early so he could pick up the bike and ride out to get the van, another 6 miles. He is the man…taking several good diggers on the snowy, icy road before reaching the van.

It poured rain on us the whole way out and we hesitated to stop – the wet & cold kept us moving to stay warm. We were soaked to the core. We passed the gate and within 500 yards, Kevin showed up with the van, a welcome sight. We packed the van, and toasted with PBR’s:  A Great Trip. We will be back!!! Off to Millinocket and we were having breakfast before 10 am.

Photos by Doug Millen – Click to Enlarge

More photos from our trip

Photos by Bayard Russell Jr. Kevin Mahoney, Michael Wejchert & Doug Millen


Area Map

Interactive Map of Baxter State Park – Zoom & Pan. Click Icons for Info


The Crew

Doug Millen

Kevin Mahoney – Mahoney Alpine Adventures 

Bayard Russell Jr. – Cathedral Mountain Guides

Michael Wejchert – See his blog post of the trip 

* Many thanks to Ranger Rob Tice and Baxter State Park for all the hospitality and a well run operation.


Relates Stories

Early Season Luck On Katahdin

Katahdin Tales

Mt. Katahdin Maine – A trip Report

And Here We Go!

 October 26, 2013

Al-at-the-start

Alfonzo finds climbable ice in The Great Gully, King Ravine 10/26/13

All it took was a few days of cold weather to set the stage for the start of the ice climbing season. October ice is so sweet!

 

Joel

Joel Dashnaw climbing The Great Gully, King Ravine

Alfonzo, Katie Ives and I  figured the best bet for ice would be King Ravine. The aspect is perfect for early season ice. We were right. Not a lot of ice, but real ice climbing. Courtney and Joel also found good ice to climb in King Ravine.

DSCN2892

Odell’s Gully / Climbike

Climbike and partner climbed Odell’s Gully with “Psychological pro only”.  They reported climbers on Yale as well.

The Black dike was climbed Saturday by Max Lurie and Helon Hoffer under very marginal conditions.

Pinnacle gully was climbed Saturday by Gaddshady and partner, they found “tenuous ice and dry tooling”.

 

A few photos of The Great Gully, King Ravine.

Photos: Doug Millen

Lets hope things keep going. The forecast is for cold temps this week which will add to the ice conditions. Next weekend we bring in November. The ice is right on schedule and no warm weather in sight. YES!

 

~Doug Millen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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