An Ice Gripping Time

The weather man was calling for perfect conditions over the weekends 17th annual Mount Washington Valley Ice Festival in North Conway, NH. I was headed up there for work and really wanted to climb Washington’s Central Gully. I still had a couple days left to chug down at the office, so I shot Baked Potato an e-mail telling him I has headed up there. Soon after we were making plans on meeting up to go climbing. “I’ve been looking at Huntington Ravine since I moved back to Vermont in August” I told Potato. He’s an old high school buddy I have been climbing with over that last few years, with epics on most climbs we’ve done. “I wondered if I could do it, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to find out, I figured you would be interested.” I told Potato, who is an Audio Technician in New York City. He’s not your typical city slicker. He sleeps in his recording studio, hiding his thermarest and sleeping bag from his frequent visitors and clients. When he’s not making and producing music he’s in the mountains and traveling as much as he can, which makes him an easy go-to climbing partner. He is always up for getting out of the “shitty”.

Potato and I, after getting harassed by the cops for stopping on the side of the road to shut a door, headed for Pinkham Notch. Both of us were tired after a long Saturday of ice climbing in Crawford Notch. It was dark when we arrived at the visitors center, and the parking lot was packed. I was looking forward to climbing Washington but not looking forward to the lines the townies were informing us there would be. Lines or no lines we grabbed our bags from the car and bivyed under a brightly lit starry sky. The temperature was hovering around zero but sleeping bags kept us warm and away from the treacherous wind.

We were up at four a.m. and climbing Tuckerman Ravine Trail shortly after. We arrived in Huntington Ravine as the started to rise, showing orange against the snow and lighting the sky with an array of mystical morning colors. I had expected people to be up there already but there was not a single person, in fact nobody showed up in the ravine until our last pitch of the climb, the whole morning was ours in Central Gully.

The first pitch of the climb got me to the top of the first ice bulge, were I setup an anchor to belay Potato from. The whole approach the sun was out and the wind mild. Once we started the ascent into the gully, Washington’s notorious winds picked up and the clouds and snow rolled in making it an ice gripping time.

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Every pitch was fun and presented its own challenge, and with the weather it made it that much more interesting. We rented some equipment that we lacked from IME. We needed to get another pair of ice axes for the ascent. We had a nice pair of Petzl Aztarex ice tools already so we decided to rent a pair of Petzl Snow Walker Axes. The Snow Walkers were a good choice and a great axe for the approach but not for anything more technical. I was having issues sinking the pick into the ice.

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After five pitches we finally topped out out the gully and made our way through the Alpine Garden by following the cairns to the Lion Head Trail and down off the mountain. The views from the Alpine Garden were amazing, wind blown clouds over distant peaks, snowy ridge-lines, they views made for a great climb out. The whole trip took about 8 hours to complete. Next on the list is Yale Gully.

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This article was written and composed by contributing member David Crothers, all rights are reserved and copyrighted. If anyone wishes to repost or use the following articles, a proper format is mandatory, and a proper link stating clearly where the article is from is necessary.

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Thanks the Climberism team

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