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JayB

[TR] Mt. Washington- Damnation Gulley 12/10/2005

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Climb: Mt. Washington-Damnation Gulley

 

Date of Climb: 12/10/2005

 

Trip Report:

This is a cc.com success story. Back in August I went trolling for East Coast partners in a most unlikely place, the cc.com partners forum. My PM box didn't exactly get flooded with responses, but there was one from a guy named Al in New York, who had just lost a longtime climbing partner after the said individual succumbed to the temptations of the mountains out West.

 

It took a while for my e-mail to surmount the mighty firewall that his employer's IT department had errected to weed-out spam messages from purveyors of Nigerian investments and herbal viagra and such, and once things started to cool off out here we started trying to figure out dates and destinations.

 

We chose Mt. Washington as Al has tons of water-ice within a half-hours drive, but not much of the alpine variety. The snowstorm that hit the Northeast the night before didn't make the driving to Mt. Washington especially easy or fast, but I managed to roll into the parking lot at Pinkham Notch before he gave up on me, and then it was off to the Harvard Hut, which had a startling number of vacancies - it looked like we might even have the place to our selves, as at least a dozen hearty souls chose to eschew the comforts of the hut and sleep outside in tents. Both Al and I had already spent a fair number of nights in cold-ass tents, and neither understood nor shared the compulsion that drove these folks to endure gratuituous hardships, but were glad to have the room in the hut.

 

1282Harvard_Hut.jpg

 

After dropping off the overnight gear, we were off to the gulley, and headed towards a narrow-looking gulley with what looked like a mixture of easy ice and a few rocky-patches that might provide some easy mixed ground to play on which, as luck would have it, is more or less what we found.

 

We climbed unroped up the firm neve until we were within about 20 meters of the first ice step, at which point Al lead until we were out of screws. I followed up and found that the ice was neither terribly difficult, nor terribly good, consisting of an inch-or-two of water ice over faceted snow.

 

1282Damnation_Gulley1.jpg

 

Al set a belay, I took the rack, and we set-off on our second running belay, which would take us all the way to the top. The climbing was a mixture of the odd ice-step, easy mixed ground, and a fair amount of turf - most of which provided much better sticks than the ice.

 

1282DamnationGullley2.jpg

 

I had just enough gear to get to the top, and briefly clambered to the top of the ridge and into sustained winds that, while evidently gentle for Mt. Washington, were nonetheless unpleasant enough to persuade me to retreat a few feet below the rim before setting a quick "belay" and yarding in rope while Al climbed the last stretch below the top. I think our total climbing time was something like two-hours.

 

By this point it was well after dark, but Al had done the descent(s) quite a few times, thus keeping any prospect of an epic nice and remote. The nearly-full moon also helped. In early season conditions the descent seemed to combine the best elements of the trail to the rambles and Asgaard Pass, and by 1/2 of the way down I had tweaked a knee pretty well and was working on a couple of purple toenails, neither of which made for a quick descent on my part. Thankfully Al is a patient guy - or at least he was doing a good impression of one on the descent.

 

After reaching the bottom of the Lions Head trail, we endured an hour-long mini-cluster while trying to find the right trail back to the hut - and then enjoyed good company and tropical conditions in the Harvard Hut.

 

 

Mt. Washington

1282WashingtonDistance.jpg

 

The Route - I think.

 

1282HuntingtonDistanceEdit.JPG

 

Gear Notes:

Early season conditions were fun, but the descent would have been faster and more pleasant if the escape-hatch were in condition.

 

Gear - a few screws, supplemented by some nuts and a couple of pins. One sixty-meter half-rope should suffice.

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Nice job, fun easy route. It was my first ice climb ever. We had a hell of a time on the route, complete with dropping a screw and breaking of an ice damn and drenching ourselves. We finished off day with 45 minutes of armpit postholing just to cover 100 yards from the base of the Escape Hatch to the cat-track. good times.

 

Now get on some real shit, like the Dike, hell it got climbed in October this year. That is a great climb. Fafnir right next to is also a stellar climb, though I almost crapped myself climbing 100 feet of near vertical detached scewless ice getting to the meat of the climb. Cannon is the place you want to be for alpine ice.

 

Actually for the best NE alpine ice head up to Baxter State Park, unless you got some serious time then you really want to go to Labrorador.

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Nice TR and photos, Jay. Good climbing with you. Ken4ord is right about Cannon and the Black Dike. Maybe later this season? thumbs_up.gif

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