Vermont’s longest route on one of the shortest days of the year!

December 18, 2010 § 1 Comment

I was back in Smuggler’s Notch today to climb with Eben and Frank. We chose the classic Hidden Gully for its length, varied climbing and awesome ambiance. Today it offered some good ice, some funky ice, and some great steep snow. A bit of everything in the course of Vermont’s longest alpine route!

Here, Eben has just surmounted a nice ice bulge on the second long pitch.

Frank and Eben moving in to the second belay.

Some easy snow climbing and a third pitch of ice brought us to the second snow field.
There are a number of finishes leaving the second snowfield, from a full 60m of steep blue ice on the left to more moderate gullies in the center and right. From this spot, it’s still 3 pitches straight up to the skyline!

Our reward for this long ascent was stunning alpenglow on the northern Green Mountains, seen from the south rim of the Notch. As gorgeous as the views were, with the solstice fast approaching on one of the shortest days of the year, we quickly headed down. This was prudent, as the descent from the south rim is rather notorious, having benighted many. It certainly involves some tricky route finding and very cool surprises!

Here, Frank makes his way through the key to the descent, an amazing cave with a well hidden entrance through which we traversed to reach our rappel anchor.

Eben peers back in to the cave after hacking out our exit through the ice curtain on to the spacious ledge above Easy Gully. From the ledge, it’s two full raps, some snow downclimbing, and then a long walk down to the Notch Road!
A gorgeous waxing moon, and yes, we were down before dark! A fine day in the hills.
-Derek Doucet, MMG

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