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Archive for the ‘Ice Climbing News’ Category

21st Annual Polartec® Challenge Grant Recipients Announced

(Lawrence, Mass.) – Polartec is pleased to announce the recipients of its 21st annual Polartec® Challenge Grant. Six separate expeditions will receive funding and support from Polartec for 2012: a first ascent attempt in the Indian Karakoram, an attempt of a climbing double header in Pakistan, a first descent attempt in Alaska, a new route attempt in Alaska, a first ascent attempt in Alaska, and first ascent attempts in Antarctica.

“The Polartec Challenge encourages the spirit and practice of outdoor adventure,” states Polartec North American Marketing Manager, Allon Cohne. “The 2012 Polartec Challenge Grant recipients exemplify Polartec’s commitment to expanding our perception of what’s possible, and we’re proud to help them.”

 Northeast Climbers score BIG!

  • Peter Doucette and Silas Rossi will attempt a new route on the southeast face of Mt. Bradley in Alaska. On their proposted route, the two-man team expects to find significant mixed climbing for the duration of the 4,500′ ascent.
  • Freddie Wilkinson and Mike Libecki will travel to an area in Antarctica previously unexplored by climbers to climb first ascents on the Earth’s southernmost and most remote spires and big walls. Wilkinson and Libecki will take advantage of the continuous daylight during the winter solstice and attempt first ascents of as many spires as possible during the expedition. Libecki also recieved a Polartec Challenge Grant in 2011 for a climbing expedition to Franz Josef Land in Russia, which has been extended to 2012.


Source: Facebook,, Polartec

Smuggs Ice Bash 2012 – Drytooling Comp WINNERS!

WINNERS of the Drytooling Comp

Friday night at Petra Cliffs, Burlington VT!

Jake List of Hinesburg Vermont takes 1st in the Men’s division

Jake clipping to win the 2012 Mens drytooling comp

Jake clipping to win the 2012 Mens drytooling comp during the Smuggs Ice Bash held at Petra Cliffs, Burlington VT – Photo by Doug Millen

Jake ListClimbing to Win! (slide show)

Andrea Charest takes 1st in the Women’s division

Andrea Charest stretching for the log

Andrea Charest stretching for the log, to go on and win the women’s division – Photo by Doug Millen

 Click photos to enlarge



1st – Jake List

2nd – Ivan Tish

3rd – Kevin Ryan


1st – Andrea Charest

2nd – Janet Bergman

3rd – Melisa McNeill

Many thanks to Petra Cliffs for hosting the dry tooling comp, Bert Severin of  Sunrise Adventure Sports  for putting this event together and for the great food and beer at the comp. Sterling Rope & La Sportiva put up the prize money of $250 for the men’s and women’s winners of the indoor drytooling comp.

More on this event coming soon…….

Report and photos by Doug Millen



Harvard Cabin Update – Happy Holidays!

Santa Claus FA. "Tinsel & Mistletoe" WI 4 Somewhere Near the North Pole – Photo by Cramp!, NEice Photo Gallery

Seasons Greetings,

Just a quick holiday greeting as Marcia and I are about to head back up the trail with our annual Christmas Ham. Cabin visitors over the next few days may get to enjoy some left-overs! Sorry, no guarantees!

General Conditions

Conditions are improving ever so slightly. Weather is still extremely variable. For example, I enjoyed the my first frosty beard in O’Dells on Friday while climbing with HMC President Peter McCarthy. Then on Wednesday, it was a glove-less day in Pinnacle Gully. Even still, it was about the best ice I’ve climbed this season!

So, without getting into too much detail, it is slowly but surely starting to look and feel like winter on the Rockpile. Hermit Lake Caretaker Dave Weston and I were able to make about 30 linked turns on a powdery summit cone on Sunday, December 17th. As is normal, South-Easterly aspects make for nice catch, even when snow-fall is minimal. Of course, not too long after that we saw temperatures rise again along with the return of mixed and liquid precipitation.

Of course, the precipitation and relatively thin snow-pack,  is making for some interesting conditions on higher-angle terrain, thus prompting the season’s first General Advisory to be posted for Tuckerman Ravine. You can read the Advisory and see recent photos taken in the Ravines at

Traction Required

As you’ve probably guessed, the unstable weather has made for some interesting trail conditions. Just short of needing to pitch-out the Tuckerman Ravine Trail, for now traction is REQUIRED!  Of course, crampons will work but lighter forms of traction like Micro-spikes, Yak-Traks, Stabilicers, etc would be ideal. To be clear, the Tuckerman Ravine Trail is locked in Ice from Pinkham to Hermit Lake, so please be careful, especially with heavy packs. Exercise extra caution if you are using your crampons while traveling on hiking trails.

Harvard Cabin Registration

Just a reminder, if you are planning on staying at Harvard Cabin, registration is first come, first serve. The Harvard Cabin Register can be found at the Front-Desk at Pinkham Notch Visitor Center from 6:30 AM – 9:00 PM. After hours, 9:00 PM – 6:30 AM, you’ll find the register downstairs in the Pack-up room. Please take time to read all instructions and information and to complete the registration process. This will ensure everyone’s stay at Harvard Cabin is comfortable and enjoyable!

I’m hoping for a busy holiday week. If you’re coming up for New Years…..bring a tent, just in case it gets a little too “hot” in the cabin!
Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy New Year and Happy Climbing!

Time to get this pig up the trail. See you soon,

Rich Palatino
Harvard Cabin Caretaker
Rich@powder-hound.comNOTE – 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 April 1st each year. Specific instructions for staying at the cabin can be found online at

Pole Dance

Frankenstein Cliff, Crawford Notch NH

Pole Dance- NEI 5

FA: December 17, 2010
Kevin Mahoney, Bayard Russell & Matt McCormick

“After an exciting afternoon on the ground dodging missiles in the south facing sun, “Pole Dance” went down. This new route at Frankenstein is right of the Bragg-Pheasant in a spot I had never seen any real ice before. The oblique afternoon sun cooled things off and we went for it. We all had a chance to lead the easy first pitch, but it was Kevin Mahoney’s turn when we finally had a chance to do the pitch that mattered.” – Bayard Russell Jr.

More at:

Source: Matt McCormick & Bayard Russell
Photo: Matt McCormick following the business part of the climb – Bayard Russell

Harvard Cabin Report – 12-15-11

Greetings Mountaineers,

Well, Ladies and Gentlemen, it seems that Mother Nature and Jack Frost have a lot to sort out these days. Just as things start to appear green and spring-like again, old man Jack decides to sprinkle just a little bit of his seasonal specialty across the mountain. Not too much, not too little, but just enough to give the ever so subtle impression that winter is looming. No sooner, the old maid decides to make her rounds and sweep-up in an attempt to keep her grip on the lush, spring-like forest. A slight exaggeration, maybe? But, really, When will this power struggle be resolved???I’ve stopped thinking about snow at this point, we can’t even seem to get two consecutive days of temperatures conducive to ice formation. For example, last Sunday, I spent most of a frigid, got-to-keep-moving day in Tuckerman Ravine on and around The Open Book. The ice was in, it was young, it was soft, and it was promising. I returned with a partner on Monday hoping to gain access to the steeper ice on the headwall in an attempt to finally enjoy a day of true alpine ice in Tuckerman Ravine. In a normal year, the ice season in Tux is somewhat short-lived. There is usually only a few days of high quality, fun, curtain-to-curtain ice climbing in Tux before it is all buried by snow. Timing is everything and I’ve been determined not to miss the choose-your-own-pillar adventure in Tux this season. I’ve been ready and waiting for those magical few days. While it’s normally come and gone by now, still I wait.

Variable Conditions, Peeks and Valleys

Having enjoyed the coldest day of this Fall on Sunday, I was able to set my first V-Thread of the season and rappel down to the base of the Open Book. Happy to return to the cabin, I set fire to the wood stove and, much to my disappointment, watched the temperature OUTSIDE exceed the freezing mark. Returning to Tux on Monday morning in what was very near T-Shirt weather, my climbing partner and I decided it wasn’t even worth setting screws. We enjoyed the thickest ice down low. Nearly bomber only a dozen hours earlier, it was now significantly thinner, detaching, with much more running water behind it. We climbed high and fast, hoping to gain access to the large ice formations in the center of the Headwall. However, the snow quickly turned to mashed potatoes, with tear drop, point releases of snow above the Sluice (south facing aspect), and abundant ice fall, we decided to bail onto the Tuckerman Ravine Trail high-up on the headwall. Making the most of our day, we rock-hopped up and over the Alpine Garden and were able to enjoy some astounding views while standing on the summit of Mount Washington. Warm and wind-less, it was Mid-December in the high-peaks of New Hampshire and layers were coming off like it was a day to work on that good ol’ New England Farmers-Tan. Thanks to a group from the Dartmouth Outing Club, what would have been a rather mundane and somewhat depressingly warm summit day, proved to be very worthwhile and memorable, indeed!

On Tuesday, it was time to check out conditions in Huntington Ravine. I wish I had better news to report, but the ravine is looking rather summer like. While the approach and top-out resemble early fall conditions, there is some decent ice in Odell’s. If nothing more, at least you’ll stay mostly dry. I can’t say as much for Pinnacle, though it was been climbed more then a few times in the past week. Yale slabs are looking sketchy. As of yesterday, I could envision a catastrophic collapse of the entire slab. I’m not saying that is likely, but it is something to think about. In any case, there isn’t much ice above the slab. Harvard Bulge remains tempting but equally suspect. I did confirm a party climbed it on Monday, but it is definitely sun-baked, metamorphosized ice at this point. As for the north side of the Ravine, from the top of Odell’s I could see that there is some continuous ice in the middle of Damnation and North gullies, but it is bone dry leading up to and above these sections. Not really making them attractive objectives at this point.

Snow and Ice is coming….

I don’t mean to fill your inbox with Doom and Gloom. I am actually very excited for the impending season. However late, Winter will arrive soon and Harvard Cabin is the place to be. The cabin was full inside this past weekend with and additional 6 teams camped outside! As always, Harvard Cabin provided a perfect setting for climbers to gather and celebrate a new season. This past weekend stands to prove that there is ice to be climbed. That being said, a trip to the summit and a night at Harvard Cabin isn’t too tall a price to pay even if ideal conditions do not prevail. There isn’t any ice in the valley and it’s too cold and wet for most rock climbing, so you might as well take the gear for a walk and spend a day or two on the Rock Pile! I’d love to see you!

We are expecting some snow accumulation over the next couple of days. The mercury isn’t going to respond like we’d all like to see, but it is going to be quite windy over the weekend. The forecast is calling for clear and windy conditions. This will definitely transport snow, bringing you anxious skiers closer to some of the first turns on the rock-pile this season. I should mention there are some nice patches of snow high up on the summit cone, just below the fuel farm, in what is known as the Eastern Snow Fields. The snow has remained soft and fluffy since it fell last week. I did sight a skier in the snow fields on Monday. I’m fairly certain it was a Mount Washington Observatory employee as it would be a long walk for a few linked turns, but if you are feeling desperate, they’d be quality, nonetheless.

A Word from the USFS Snow Rangers….

The Snow Rangers have returned to the higher elevations! No doubt, they’ve made good use of their time giving the lack of winter conditions on the rock-pile this December. The post-Irene forest has kept the Rangers very busy in other parts of the White Mountain National Forest. While the Rangers are winter fanatics, they are also skilled foresters and administrators. Their expertise is wide and varied and their value and contributions extend far beyond snow-filled ravines. While they have been busy elsewere, they certainly kept on eye on conditions and activity in the Cutler River Drainage. I was excited to learn that there were Rangers in the ravines on Tuesday. What better indication that the mountain is changing seasons, if only little by little. Following their assessment of current conditions on Tuesday, the Forest Service hasn’t posted an sort of advisory yet, but they Rangers shared their findings in a conditions update available at I would encourage everyone to take a few minutes to read this update and be sure to get dialed into some of the great and useful Social Media Outlets that the Forest Service/Snow Rangers will be utilizing this season!

Mount Washington Ice Fest 2012

The Mount Washington Valley Ice Fest 2012 promotional materials have gone to press! If you look closely, included in the amazing list of sponsors, you’ll see the Harvard Mountaineering Club Logo. As I mentioned last week, the club is proud to be among a group of non-profits helping to sponsor Ice Fest this year. Our goal is to help promote safety in and around the Ravines by making sure that all climbers, newbies and veterans, are aware of the cabins location, function, and purpose. It is a great resource for all mountain travelers, not only guests. We are hoping to overcome any confusion about the cabin or misgivings that currently exist. Ice Fest is going to be a blast and HMC is excited to be a part of it! If you haven’t seen the poster, you can check it out by Clicking Here! You’ll also find recent photos from the Ravines featuring Ragged Mountain Equipment Gear Expert and Alpine Super Model, Max Lurie.

That’s all for now folks. Wish I had more exciting news. In any event, I’m hoping for another crowded weekend at the cabin. Stay motivated people, be patient, and stay safe….it’s coming!!!

Rich Palatino
Harvard Cabin Caretaker
Rich@powder-hound.comNOTE – 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 April 1st each year. Specific instructions for staying at the cabin can be found online at

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