Early March Adirondacks Ice Climbing

Once again I headed up to the Adirondacks this winter for more ice climbing.  This trip was with AMC.  Early on the objective was to give Gothics North Face another try.  Unfortunately as the date grew closer the weather started not cooperating.  The weekend prior the Dacks got about 2 inches of rain.  That switched over to freezing rain and sleet.  That then switched into two feet of snow.  Later that week more rain came, including on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday while we were there.  Not exactly the best of conditions.  To top it off temps were barely getting into the freezing zone at night. 

With this in mind Mark Sondeen as well as the rest of the AMC crew headed towards the North Face of Pitchoff Mountain.  This area has a nice back woods feel without the hours on the trail.  Only about 15 minute walk go us to the base of the climbs.  The afformentioned snow and rain slowed our pace from here.  With no broken trail we had an uphill slog to the climbs.  Saturday Mark and I climbed Arm and Hammer (WI3+) and Tendonitis (WI3-4) while these climbs are generally one pitch we split them up into two.  This gave me a chance to get my ice leading legs under me.  The routes had a fair amount of water on them and in many places water spouts formed after removing your pick.  Overall the ice was variable, slushy in some places, to soft, to nice and plasticy in some isolated spots.

Sunday we headed back to the same area to climb a multi-pitch route called Eye of the Needle.  The first pitch we free soloed since it was all snow with a short ice bulge.  Once at the steep ice we built and anchor and I tied into the sharp-end.  The ice was drier and a little easier than the previous day’s climbs.  Near the top of my pitch (100ft) there was a snow field with an ice wall at the back of it.  Here I built an anchor with three screws and brought Mark up.  From here he when up another 20-30 feet then headed left into the trees since our route ended.  Trudging through another snowfield we got to another 8-10 ft ice wall.  After rapping down we decided to head out so we could get home at a decent hour.

Good weekend and good what might be a culmination to my 2010-2011 ice season.  There is potentially one more trip coming this weekend, if conditions permit.