Mount Washington Ice Fest

From Rossland, Cathy and I went east to North Conway, New Hampshire. Friends from the area—Maddog, Elliot, Peter, Majka—hooked me up with Anne Skimore and Michael Wejchert, organizers of the Mount Washington Valley Ice Festival. At the ice fest I taught a one-day ice rescue course and a two-day avalanche course. Then I climbed with Anne Gilbert Chase, Jimmy Voorhis and Peter Doucette. Each amazing climbers and inspirational people. 

Anne Gilbert Chase on Super Goofers at Cathedral Ledge. She made this brittle and vertical climb look easy. It wasn't easy. Gilbert is from Bozeman where she is a nurse and climber. At the ice fest she worked as a Patagonia athlete and instructor. 

Gilbert attempting The Roof at Cathedral Ledge. The cracks were verglassed and hideous.

Jimmy Voorhis on the first pitch of the North Conway ultra-classic Repentance. He backed off the de-iced crux 15 feet higher up. I also led this first pitch, but was unsuccessful at talking Gilbert into leading the impossibly hard crux. 

Jimmy on Dropline with Austin taking photos. Steep and pumpy!

Peter Doucette leading Great Maddness on Mount Willard. This route has a New England Ice grade of V when fat. It wasn't fat. These New Englanders are good climbers. 

Me leading Gully 1. I finished in a snowstorm on the right corner. 

Peter fluffing my ego by acting like he is concentrating while following my corner finish to Gully 1.  

Peter leading Thinking of Jane. Overhanging smears of ice, dry-tooling dirt-filled cracks, thin protection.... The route finished through icicles to the top.  

Looking up through Peter's overhanging icicle finish to Thinking of Jane. 

Pumpy for Joe!

Local guide Craig Taylor demostrating the Chauvin Lower, a paradigm shift in lowering technique while belaying in guide-mode. Simply clip a biner from the master point to the loaded strand. This prevents the device from locking and provides a smooth lower. Too simple to be true! To clip the loaded strand, the victim must momentarily unweight the rope or you can do a load transfer with a cordelette. 

The other lowering methods include the normal re-direct to the shelf or a ratchet. The release hole is no longer used for lowering since it is all or nothing and results in accidents. 

Craig demonstrating the ratchet lower. With each crank of the gold biner, he can lower the victim an inch. A good way to get a small amount of slack. 

Peter demostrates the transition from guide mode to a re-direct lower. 

  1. Clove off brake strand (this becomes the re-direct).
  2. Rig the brake strand hands-free to a prusik loop at your waist for backup. 
  3. Rig cordelette from a munter-mule-overhand at the shelf to a prusik on the loaded strand. 
  4. Transfer load to cordelette by ratcheting the auto blocking biner. 
  5. Rig device to lower mode (clip in grey biner and unclip gold biner). 
  6. Change brake strand from a clove to a re-direct. 
  7. Release and remove cordelette. 
  8. Lower. 

My avalanche awareness course on Mount Washington. We visited with forecaster Jeff Lane, in green, who told us about current conditions and the avalanche history of Tuckerman Ravine.  

Wind was actively loading Tuckerman's, so we stopped at Lunch Rocks. This is the hardcore zone in the East. The crew I was with was so passionate about Tuckerman's that it put the feature in a regional perspective.

Thanks for a great week Cathy, Majka, Peter, Gilbert, Jimmy, Austin, Michael, Anne and Brad!