Ice Climbing 201

Today I had the pleasure of taking former AIARE student Ben, and new climbers Ian and Brian out for a day of multi-pitch ice climbing as part of their 3 Day Accelerated Mountaineering Program. Knowing popular routes would be a bit crowded with the ongoing Ice Fest in town I choose a slab route on Willard just to the right of the recently popular Left Hand Monkey Wrench. This slab is just over 200 feet in length and is probably 3-. The first half was lower angled bullet proof ice but the 2nd half was steeper growing plastic ice.

East side of Willard

East side of Willard

In the above photo you can see Left Hand Monkey Wrench on the left side, and the slab we climbed is right in the center, directly under The Cleft. This climb deserves way more traffic than it sees, and is actually more aesthetic and interesting than Left Hand Monkey Wrench. It has the added bonus of being fed directly from run-off of the amazing “Cleft” climb, and in the current low snow conditions you could pretty much follow water ice from the slab all the way to the start of the Cleft, with a couple bulges just before the gully proper. It isn’t that hard to find either. During our hike up from the tracks I had to grab a photo of some of the 5mm Surface Hoar growing around some rocks. Those who know me understand why 5mm SH is kinda a big deal ;)

Surface Hoar

Surface Hoar

Ian and Brian on the unnamed slab

Ian and Brian on the unnamed slab

A climber from an AMC group pulling the crux of the Cleft

A climber from an AMC group pulling the crux of the Cleft

Looking down the geologically impressive Cleft

Looking down the geologically impressive Cleft

Brain and Ian on the summit of Willard

Brain and Ian on the summit of Willard

Brian, Ben, and Ian at the top, Mt. Webster in the background

Brian, Ben, and Ian at the top, Mt. Webster in the background

Tomorrow these three are heading up Mount Washington for their final day and while I will not be joining them I am optimistic that they are well prepared with very favorable weather and I’m certain they’ll have a great day. I hope to climb with all three of them again soon!

About David Lottmann

David grew up skiing in the Whites and started climbing at a summer camp just north of Mt. Washington when he was 16. Those first couple of years solidified climbing as a lifetime passion. From 1996-2000 he served in the USMC, and spent the better part of those years traveling the globe (18 countries). After returning to civilian life he moved to North Conway to focus on climbing and was hired in 2004 as a Rock and Ice Instructor. Since then Dave has taken numerous AMGA courses, most recently attaining a Single Pitch Instructor. He has completed a Level 3 AIARE avalanche course, is a Level 2 Course Leader, holds a valid Wilderness First Responder and is a member of Mountain Rescue Service. When David isn't out guiding he enjoys mountain biking, kayaking, hiking, backcountry skiing, trying to cook something new once a week and sampling new micro-brews. He lives in Conway, NH with his wife Michelle and son Alex.
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