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What's a good first winter alpine route?
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By Bogdan P
From Boston, MA
Nov 14, 2013
Titcomb basin, after climbing some practice cliffs

What's a good winter alpine route for someone that's never climbed winter alpine before?

I have some experience on water ice, but for the sake of this post, lets assume a first winter alpine route is something appropriate for a moderate multipitch trad leader with no mixed or ice climbing experience.

I'm thinking about alpine routes over the Thanksgiving weekend, or possibly later in December and have been looking around for some good ideas. Snow is settling in at higher altitudes already so I'm approaching this like the start of the winter climbing season (clothing wise + crampons and tools rather than rock shoes). I've never done a winter route before and nothing alpine outside of the Rockies, so it's probably going to be hit or miss for me. I don't know who I'd be doing this with. I have one longtime climbing partner in the area, who may or may not be available depending on work, but he's also new to the east coast and can't provide any guidance.

So I was wondering if I could maybe pick your brains for ideas.

One route that caught my eye was Henderson Ridge (grade III, 5.4, 600') on Mt Washington. Couldn't find much beta on it in winter though.


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By Josh Allred
From Salt Lake City, UT
Nov 14, 2013
Pfeifferhorn via North Ridge

Sorry to high jack your post but I am looking for suggestions as well in the Utah, Wyoming (Tetons), or California area (Sierras).

I have Nov 25th-29th off and would like to do something.


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By Ben Brotelho
From Albany, NY
Nov 14, 2013
Epic free solo with a pack on

There are a bunch in the Adirondacks that would be good first winter routes.

The Cascade is awesome...right off the road in Cascade Pass, offering 3-400 feet of ice interspersed with snow steps and slogging. Tops out on the summit of Cascade with a short walk on the trail back to the car.

Trap Dike is another easy climb, but 6 miles in into Avalanche Pass, so more committing. 2+ to possibly 3 ice and a lot of snow slogging in some conditions.

North Face of Gothics is awesome...definitely condition-dependent though.

Maybe go do the Case Route on Wallface during the winter...?


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By erik wellborn
From manitou springs
Nov 14, 2013
Top of Bridalveil, feelin good

I hear the Eiger is pretty classic:)


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By EDGE
From Boulder, CO
Nov 14, 2013
Puffin, Newfoundland, Canada

If you are in Boston, then the closest and best might be one of the gullies on Mt Washington like Central, Odell's, or North. All are longish, have short ice bulges, and you can kick off onto one of the adjoining buttresses if you want to up the anti a bit. Lots of lodging nearby, or check into hiking in and overnighting at the Harvard cabin to get an early start and the full experience. You can check avvy conditions online or by calling Pinkham Notch Camp ahead of time. Have fun!


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By Rick18
Nov 14, 2013

I would head to Mt Washington. Ditto on the Huntington Ravine -- Central is the best low/no ice alpine climb in the ravine. But conditions in late
November/early December could be sketchy. Check in at Pinkham Notch. If the gullies aren't in climbing shape, just climb Washington via Lion Head. If the wind is "up" (as it usually is) you'll get a good alpine experience.

Have fun.


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By Greg G
From SLC, UT
Nov 14, 2013
The route in it's entirety.

Oh em jee...


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By Mark Lynch
Nov 15, 2013

I would suggest a lesson and an avy class. Huntington ravine is not really the best spot for learning new skills. I have taken numerous lessons/classes to learn all sorts of new skills in life including climbing. Especially in climbing, I found it speeds up the learning curve and prevents a few epics or too. Or get an experienced and proficient partner. Have fun.


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By Nick Goldsmith
Nov 15, 2013

Epics are good learning experience if you live through them. hunnington ravine. central gully, Yale to Diagonal. Odels and North are quite a bit harder for a noob. have fun, Do Not F Up and Die;)


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By Ben Brotelho
From Albany, NY
Nov 15, 2013
Epic free solo with a pack on

Nick Goldsmith wrote:
Do Not F Up and Die;)


My dad's only advice to me about climbing and being in the mountains in general...good rule to stick to.

I agree that going up into the ravines on Mt Washington without someone who knows at least a little about avy conditions isn't a great idea. Either would be going into the Trap Dike on Colden. Always err on the side of caution when you're learning!


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By Eshaw
Nov 15, 2013

Shoestring Gully on Mt. Webster would be my advice. It's short but in a pretty cool location. It's also nice and easy so you can make mistakes and take a long time without having to worry that you'll have an epic.


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By Bogdan P
From Boston, MA
Nov 16, 2013
Titcomb basin, after climbing some practice cliffs

Hey, thanks everyone for the tips. I hadn't heard of some of these areas before and they seem like good contenders.

A lot of these are ice routes, which is not what I was looking for exactly, but unlike rock, I'm familiar with ice in winter conditions and where my abilities stand. Some of these suggestions may turn out to be a good alternatives if it turns out I'm underestimating the difficulty of rock in the winter.

More suggestions would still be welcome, but as a followup question, do you guys know what the weather patterns tend to be like in this part of the country? Are the whites any different from the Adriondacks? So for instance, say there's percipitation in one place, should I expect the same in the other? I know out west the climate can vary quite a bit from one range to the next, and it helps when planning for a climb to have beta for backups somewhere the weather patterns are somewhat different in case conditions don't work out with the main objective.


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By PatCleary
From Rohnert Park, CA
Nov 16, 2013

FYI, NEclimbs.com and NEice.com (or some variant of those) seem to keep pretty close track of the conditions in different areas. Teton Gravity Research (skiing) keeps pretty close track of the snow forecast all around the country. These three, coupled with one of the forecasting sites will likely give you a pretty good outlook. If you're still confused you can ask for info here or at one of the above (I'd hesitate to ask on TGR though).

Pat


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By mitchy
From nunya gotdamn business.
Nov 16, 2013

Just watch NECN before you go out, they have great weather reports. Also, depends on which way the front is coming or going. Either way, this time of year you can bet it's going to cold AND windy on Mt. Washington, you can also check out Mt.Washington.org for current suumit comditions, an example- 74 miles per hour was max wind speed in the last 24hrs.


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By Matthew J. Murphy
Nov 18, 2013
dojo

I would highly recommend Henderson Ridge in Huntington. It can be soloed in about twenty mins in the right conditions or you can protect the hell out of it. You will be relatively safe from serious avy conditions relative to the ravines proper. Everything in the mountains is condition dependent, but for this route. Bring a very light rock rack (nuts, tricams). If verglas is encountered, you might want to have an ice piton or two. And an ice screw or two might be helpful.

If you're looking for a "good winter alpine route", you need to be comfortable with ice, rock, and snow. All in one bag.

As for winter weather in the Whites. Pay attention to forecasts, but disregard them when packing up and prepare for the worst. and to reitterate...

Nick Goldsmith wrote:

Do Not F Up and Die;)


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By JohnnyG
Nov 18, 2013

Matthew J. Murphy wrote:
If you're looking for a "good winter alpine route", you need to be comfortable with ice, rock, and snow. All in one bag.


true.

And the easier routes up Huntington's (e.g. Central) are a great place to get this ice and snow experience.

Just getting to the start of Henderson's might entail some ice and snow climbing.


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By Brian Abram
From Columbia, SC
Nov 18, 2013
Brian Abram, leading pitch 2 of Dinkus Dog on the South Side of Looking Glass.  Kyle Sox is belaying.

Josh Allred wrote:
Sorry to high jack your post but I am looking for suggestions as well in the Utah, Wyoming (Tetons), or California area (Sierras). I have Nov 25th-29th off and would like to do something.


Casaval Ridge on Shasta? It's not the Sierras, but maybe worth it if you're willing to go to California. Need a decent amount of snow to make it worth it.


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By Nick Votto
Nov 18, 2013
Bolton, VT

Central on Washington, King Ravine, Shoestring in Crawford...all good and on the easy side


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By Pmucka
Nov 18, 2013
near the summit of Mt. Washington

Hey man,

I did a 3 day class last year with EMS, which was a good time. I am looking at objectives similar to what people have suggested in here so far. I am currently hoping to start out on shoestring or something similar for the season and progress to Pinnacle before the season is over. I have a partner as well, but he is more of a rock climber and I am new-ish to both ice and rock, but had no problems during the class I took. I'll post up when I get more things planned, maybe we can do some climbing together.

Patrick


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By Nate K
From Bozeman, MT
Nov 19, 2013
dirt bagging around cody

I did Central Gully on Mt. Washington on sunday and it was in decent shape. Mostly moderate snow with a few sections of low angle ice. Nothing harder than WI2. And it feels like your on a much bigger mountain because of the crazy weather. Definitely worth checking out for a first alpine climb


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By Elliott Crooks
Nov 20, 2013

Anything out of Huntington will be seriously alpine in winter. Once waited three days for the wind to drop from 100+ mph down to a mere(!) 40 mph. Only had worse weather on Denali.


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