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Archive for the ‘Conditions’ Category

Back to Business!


The Season is On!

Let’s take a look at the conditions and reports from this past weekend across the Northeast and go over what to expect for the coming weekend.

New Hampshire

In Tuckerman Ravine, we saw a couple of climbers lingering around as we headed up Hillman’s Highway.  It was a fun day and we climbed some great ice!  YES, enough to satisfy our hunger.. for now!  The headwall ice was coming in well.  Here’s some photos from the day.

Photo credit: Courtney Ley, Nick Yardley, Doug Millen

In Huntington Ravine, Pinnacle Gully was climbed by at least two parties.  They “found more ice then expected and in much better shape… Thin in some spots with running water, holes and some detached ice, but then again its still November! But overall WI2+ and able to accept decent protection.”

Conditions of Pinnacle Gully 11-9-14

Pinnacle Gully 11-9-14 – Photo by ralbert20

And over to Franconia Ridge:  Climbers headed up Lincoln’s Throat  Sunday and Monday to see what they could find.  The headwall was super thin, so both parties backed off and headed right across to the slabs and up. Alpineclimb noted the headwall “could have gone with a few stubbies and cams.”

What to expect for this weekend:

The weather forecast for the White Mountains is calling for a slight warming trend through Thursday, but temperatures dip back down to the low 20’s and high teens on the summit of Mt. Washington starting Thursday night.  That’s accompanied by some snow flurries into Friday and the wind will persist all week. The warming trend should add some moisture in the high climbing areas as the snow melts slightly and the cold will return just in time to lock things back up!

Don’t expect any climbable ice in the lower elevations this weekend, but if it stays cold that could change. Look high, climbs with northern aspects and in shaded areas for the best ice.

Are you looking for a guide? For a Mountain Washington adventure? Contact one of our local Ambassadors and they will be glad to help.  Cathedral Mountain Guides – Mooney Mountain Guides

Vermont

In Smuggler’s Notch, things are still pretty scratchy as temperatures just didn’t drop far enough to build thicker ice.  At least one party got out for some drytooling action though.  Tim Farr of PetraCliffs Climbing Center says “All in all, the Notch is coming along with ice slowly forming all around. It was just above freezing and ice wasn’t well bonded so I didn’t want to knock any of it down yesterday. Things in the Easy Gully vicinity are starting to form. Jeff’s slide has a consistent thin flow for much of it’s length as well.  The road is closed and has a thin layer of ice on it from melting snow as of yesterday. With the approaching cold snap, things should shape up quick in the Notch for some thin climbing.”

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Taking in the view in Smuggs! Photo by Tim Farr

What to expect for this weekend:

It’s looking like there will be more time to sharpen your drytooling skills as we wait for temperatures to drop below freezing, which doesn’t come until Saturday.  Even then, it’s a small window as the temperatures creep back up on Sunday.  There will be a rain/snow mix on Thursday night into Friday.

New York

In the Adirondacks, Ian Osteyee of Adirondack Mountain Guides reports: “No real ice yet. There have been lines of thin ice forming on all the usual suspects, but nothing that has survived the warm days. After tomorrow the temps will drop and I think we’ll see our first real ice to climb next week.”  Once things get going, look out for Ian’s Condition reports here!

Jesse and Emilie, owners of Cloudsplitter Mountain Guides in the Adirondacks, just got back into town and are getting ready for the winter.  Driving through Cascade Pass with temperatures in the mid 40’s on Monday didn’t raise many hopes, but it appears the early season skiers are enjoying some turns already on the Mt. Whiteface Toll Road.

While you are chomping at the bit up in New York, you can pass the time reading a recent interview in this fun article, Ladies we Love, about mountain guide Emilie Drinkwater.

For a look at the current weather, the Mountaineers Web Cam in Keene Valley will let you know if it is snowing or raining.

 What to expect for this weekend:

gothcis

Gothics North Face on October 30, 2013. Photo by Emilie Drinkwater

While the forecast in the valleys and passes will be similar to that of Smugglers Notch, the higher summits are looking at temperatures below freezing starting on Wednesday night and precipitation will fall as snow.  So while the chances at Cascade Pass and Chapel Pond might be grim, the climbs in the backcountry alpine areas could be promising!

– For some more early-season stoke and thoughts on ice climbing,  see these articles on early season ice.

Get out and explore!  You never know what you might find!  And whatever you do find, tell us about it here on NEice!

 

~Courtney Ley

Chronicles of the Overly Motivated

boots1

Mud and fall leaves typically found on the boots of the overly motivated

By Courtney Ley

I’ve been inflicted by a disease.  It leaves my muscles constantly sore, my body screaming for sleep and my family and friends worried about my mental stability.   I become antsy and unable to sit idle for too long. I prefer the trunk of my car to my soft bed and prefer pre-dawn hours to high noon. The worst of the symptoms seem to arrive in late fall when the cold begins to settle in.

“All I need is a few cold nights and my mind begins the activation process”

 It’s not too far off to say that I become inflicted with an energetic state similar to what most animals succumb to during mating season.  In summary, ‘Out of my way! I’m fit and ready to get some.’   My doctors say that certain tendencies can increase my symptoms exponentially. Such as, the habit of thinking positively – all the time. Well, I am doomed for the foreseeable future, so I thought it best to reach out to others who have similar diagnoses.

All I need is a few cold nights and my mind begins the activation process.  Like a slideshow stuck in fast forward, images appear and disappear in front of my eyes. The darkening skies, howling wind, freezing fog, ice crystals forming and snow falling.  Then dawn breaks and that yellow ball strikes that crisp blue sky with intensity but no warmth manages to penetrate the atmosphere. The mountains hold on to the cold of the night, despite the light revealing their sharp ridges and smooth valleys.  When the temperature drops, I find myself on the move.

P5020081

May Ice. Why Not?

Sometimes this behavior is rewarded.  When it comes, it feels sweeter than anything you’ve had before. Late last season in May, I hiked into Huntington Ravine accompanied by a friend with a similar ailment. We were pretty damn positive there would still be ice to climb, even if it took climbing a few hundred feet of wet rock and precariously placed vegetation to reach it…and it did.  I had a grin on my face for the entire 80 feet of ice.  Yes, that was it, 80 feet. We were motivated to savor the last licks and it was worth it.  But for the afflicted, the most delicious reward is that first ice of the season. And for me, this comes early, just as the last ice had come late.

Sometimes though, your plate comes up empty.  That doesn’t deter the overly motivated, however. We only get hungrier.  This past Sunday, with my usual high hopes, I packed my gear the distance into the rocky depths of King Ravine.  Sitting on the north side of the mountain, the shade lingers.  This Halloween weekend, however, I didn’t need the shade as a low cloud bank parked itself above the summits.  With those clouds also came hurricane force winds.  Even better, I thought. It’ll freeze any water molecule that decides to visit the alpine arena.  My mind envisioned the drainage of Great Gully just frozen enough.  The slideshow of winter images played themselves out in front of my eyes as I started the approach.  Water slowing, ice crystals forming and snow falling.   Right away I noticed winter had greeted the mountains.  Snow clung tenaciously to the tree branches.  Further up, it hid the withered and wrinkled fall leaves.  Even higher still, the white crystals coated the cool rocks. By the time I hit the ravine, I was negotiating the boulder strewn floor with an inch of snow blanketing everything.  I was fully in the grips of my disease.

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The cloud bank settles in low.

Being overly motivated and yes, overly positive has many advantages, in my opinion.  I travel miles in beautiful woods before most people had even woken up.  I am able to spend time alone in the mountains.  Really alone without encountering any others.  Whether it be the time of day (or night), or the place I’m in for that time of year, I can be in the mountains with only myself or the people I choose to accompany me. When I’m walking up the trail on those approaches during early season, my surroundings seem quieter and I feel more meditative.  My mind clears itself of distractions without any effort on my part and my focus is simply on my breathing and my immediate surroundings in that moment.  The wind up high snakes its way through the stunted alpine spruce and produces a sound not unlike a distant river.   I linger blissfully in the idea that few had thought to see of there is ice there to climb and fewer still were motivated enough to trek that far.  When the walls of the ravine rise on either side of me, I feel small and humbled against the forces that created the mountains so long ago and the forces that are presently making themselves known. The wind, the cold air and the rough terrain.

Of course, the best prize of all is capturing the ice you’ve been hunting for.  On this day however, I stood in the half-frozen drainage looking at slush on top of running water.  Damn!  What was it?  Was there more water flowing this year than last?  Were the clouds blanketing the ravine and keeping it warmer than usual?  It was clear that the few cold nights just weren’t frigid enough.  In the end, the disappointment was brief as the morning had been sublime.  I made my way back down the trail and the air of late morning fought off the chill.  The ground radiated heat and melted the snow off the leaves along the path. I returned to my car having enjoyed the morning, but a deep rumble in my empty stomach would urge me back to the mountains soon.

No dice

No dice

Ok, maybe I am guilty of being too positive about the conditions.  But I’ll allow my disease to take over and I’ll allow my friends and family to call me crazy.  My body was glad for the sleep that night and my muscles were feeling the hours of climbing over giant slippery boulders.  Soon my episodes will become more frequent until I can get a few millimeters of metal into some thin ice.  And from that moment of hitting rock bottom with my malady, I’ll realize that from there, I’m only going UP.


Baxter – Fall 2014

Conditions Report!

October 12-14, 2014

Some years you find ice to climb in October, other years you are hiking in your underwear. The weather started out cold on our trip and we were hopeful, but this was not an ice climbing year. We still had fun and explored some new areas to the Northwest of Baxter Peak. The Northwest Basin is simply amazing and worth the 8 mile approach. Below are a few photos from our trip. Enjoy!

Doug Plateau 2

Doug on the Northwest Plateau headed back to Roaring Brook after exploring the Northwest Basin. Yes, underwear time!

Alfonzo enjoying some early season ice two years ago on October 13th

Alfonzo enjoying some early season ice two years ago on October 13th


Photo Gallery

*Click Photos to Enlarge

- Doug Millen


September rime ice!

It was an excellent day above tree line on Sunday.  Cool temps with a bluebird sky above and an undercast below.  Not to mention, evidence of the first overnight freeze of the season!

There’s nothing like a little rime ice to feed the psych!

(click on thumbnails to enlarge)

Photos by Courtney Ley

 

 

 

 

Adirondack Ice: Back On the Mend

By Courtney Ley

Alex Wakeman

Alex Wakeman

I decided to head to the Adirondacks over the weekend to see how things were fairing after the recent thaw.  I wanted to do a lot of climbing, so it only made sense to hire Alex Wakeman as my climbing partner.  A young buck from Saratoga, he climbs night and day.  When you are done blowing your arms out all day on steep ice, it’s never time to relax for Alex.  It’s time to go blow out your legs on a nighttime alpine route.  Even after you’ve warmed up and had a good meal and a beer.  I’ve never spent time with anyone else that has his motivation to climb and I knew it would be tough to keep up with him.  There was no question that I’d have a great time with his company.  The question was, what would we find for ice conditions after a few days of temperatures the 40’s and 50’s.

Chouinard's Gully

Chouinard’s Gully

I arrived at the Chapel Pond parking lot at 5pm on Friday evening and caught a glimpse across the lake before darkness set in.  The pond was open water and the cliffs no doubt had seen some warm temperatures.  Once Alex pulled up, we wasted no time.  Ten minutes later with headlamps donned, we were on our way to Chouinard’s Gully.  The ice was great in the gully and the evening was warm and comfortable.

Jeremy Haas joined us the next day and we headed over to Cascade Pass, but unfortunately the Sisters were too lean and the Quarry was looking too wet and detached.  (Sorry, I didn’t take any photos!)  So back at Chapel Pond, we climbed Lions on the Beach center, left of center, right of center, left of left and every which way.

jeremy1 800x600    alex2 800x600  jeremy3 800x600

The scene was quiet, fun and relaxed with only a few of the seasoned locals and friends out for the day.  After awhile, it was my time to pull some weight, so we headed over to Crystal Ice Tower and I led some steep ice for the first time this season.  Crystal Ice Tower was good, as were the pitches above.

Photo by Alex Wakeman

Photo by Alex Wakeman

The evening rolled in, we said goodbye to Jeremy and it was time for dinner and a beer. I knew I shouldn’t get too comfortable because before long, Alex was plotting our next objective.  A nighttime ascent of The Cascade.  Even with a good burger in our stomachs and the fireplace roaring in the Ausable Inn, I found us later in the parking lot back at the cold and windy Cascade Pass ready to roll.  The prospect of a long WI2 ice line up a drainage, through clefts, slots and wooded ridges that all led to a summit tugged at my alpine heart and I couldn’t refuse.   Unfortunately, the route needed more time to refreeze and after climbing the initial step, we ran into a gushing waterfall at the top of the first pitch.

But things are on the mend and on Sunday as we drove through the Pass, I saw some climbers on the route and it looked much better than the previous night.  Even Roaring Brook on Friday was open water, but by the time I was driving home on Sunday, it was a lot quieter and slower.

Looking up at the first pitch of Cascade

Time to abort mission The aborted mission on The Cascade

It was 8pm when we were back at the car and it took some arm twisting to convince Alex -not- to climb any more that night.  I knew laps on Chouinards until midnight was on his mind.  Instead, we settled in for an early start on Sunday.  I was hoping Multiplication Gully was in decent shape so we went to check it out first thing the next morning.  But it wasn’t quite there yet so I just snapped a conditions photo and Alex drove us to the North Face of Pitchoff.  I haven’t spent much time climbing ice in the Adirondacks.  I grew up and spent the first 20 years of my life in New York, but I wasn’t introduced to climbing until I landed in New Hampshire.  I consider New York as my hometown still, and was psyched to get the tour and go to some ADK ice venues for the first time.  This included the North Face of Pitchoff.  We opted for Weeping Winds, which was in fine shape with a lot of options.

Multi Gully.  Not yet.

Multi Gully. Not yet.

Overall, things are looking up for late this week and into next weekend.  The weather is calling for cold temperatures and snow showers every day.  For the Keene Valley area, check out Ian’s latest condition post HERE and other NEice members reports on the conditions page and photo page.

P3 of Weeping Winds Photo by Alex Wakeman

P3 of Weeping Winds
Photo by Alex Wakeman

After I left Alex for the drive home at 5pm, I wondered if in ten minutes he’d be putting on his headlamp and going after the next piece of ice.

 

Photos by Courtney and Alex.  Click on thumbnails to enlarge.  Do it!

 

 

 

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