Smuggler’s Notch conditions 12/10

December 11, 2010 § 1 Comment

I took a walk up in Smuggler’s Notch today for a bit of exercise and to check on conditions. It was 8 degrees when I left the house…Burr! There is quite a bit of ice in the Notch at the moment. Things were obviously building well before the cold snap, but there was very little running water today. Everything was locked up tight by the cold, yielding somewhat thin, brittle conditions. The South Wall routes looked to be in excellent shape, with several good 2-3 pitch options. The hard classic Ragnarock was “in” for some. It looked lean and mean for sure! Hidden Gully was alternately good ice and waist to chest deep wallowing. There was a ton of wind transported snow in Hidden, making for pockets of touchy windslab. Probably best left alone for a day or two to settle.

Next, I headed over to Easy Gully and learned where all the snow piled up in Hidden Gully had come from! Easy was mostly rock, and it’s clear that the winds have been scouring it and dumping the snow over in Hidden. Verglasssed talus with occasional pockets of deep snow made for awkward cramponing down low, and chest deep snow required rugged work higher up! Poster Child was in with the mixed start, but looked unusually steep and thin. This is one of my favorite pitches in Smuggler’s Notch, offering excellent rock climbing to start, and a thrilling step right on to a steep runnel of ice. Very cool!
Grand Illusion looked good, with recent tracks leading up in to the approach gully. Looks like somebody gave it a go! This picture is severely foreshortened. The obvious leaning ice chimney is a full pitch, and often thin. When it’s too thin for ice screws, you can reach back over your shoulder and clip fixed pitons on the wall behind you! While most rap from the top of the chimney, there are also a number of stout finishes above.
The Dominatrix wall was trying hard, with thin ice top to bottom on Dominatrix, the upper half of French Tickler well formed, and Scream Queen glazed up in proper Scottish fashion. All in all, I’d say conditions in the Notch are decent, with a number of options, and will improve dramatically and quickly when the cold eases a bit!
-Derek Doucet, MMG

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