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New Hampshire/Vermont ice conditions late December

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Jameshew12 Hewitt · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2016 · Points: 150

How are things shaping up?

I am coming to Vermont/NH to ski and climb ice/alpine December 20th-2nd and am unsure of what to expect. I've never been before but I've heard the weather is more fickle than out west. What areas in NH will be the best for casual alpine and honing ice skills on TR or leading WI3 around those times? Or are most areas somewhat in by then?

Jorden Kass · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2014 · Points: 0

The best place to check is NEClimbs . Typically the first things in are the ravines (Tuckerman's/Huntington) of Mt Washington, which have been climbed. If things stay cold with precipitation then a good amount will be in, if it warms up then not so much...

Kris Fiore · · Burlington, Vermont · Joined Sep 2014 · Points: 1,577

As of now it's best to assume Vermont has nothing. I went up to Smuggs this last weekend and it was more or less wet rock climbing with ice tools. Some ice in the morning but it was gone by the afternoon and it's been in the 40s since then.

Not to say it won't get good by the end of December but for now there is nothing.

If Smuggs gets even 4 or 5 days of 10-20 degree weather in a row there will be climbing so check the forecast. 2 or 3 days of sub-zero temps will do the same.

The Bolton Quarry and Willoughby take a bit longer. I wouldn't rely on either to be ready unless temps really drop.

Nick Goldsmith · · Pomfret VT · Joined Aug 2009 · Points: 440

Could be amazeing or there could be nothing... that's ice climbing ;)

Jameshew12 Hewitt · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2016 · Points: 150

The extended forecast isn't looking great. Should I head out west instead? I was hoping to not have to drive that far for some snow and ice... How is the snow?

Jameshew12 Hewitt · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2016 · Points: 150
Dave Schultz wrote: LOL. sorry, still laughing. The snow is bad, maybe bring a snorkel for the next day or so. After that bring your ice skis. In all seriousness, the snow pack is thin. I thought it was pretty good, until I saw Mount Washington is at about half its normal November snowfall; the rest of the east coast is probably just as bad. It does seem great, though, compared to last winter. Compared to 2014/2015 it is bad, just appears good because 2015/2016 is closer to recent memory. Your late December dates should be fine for the NH ice. The ravines will yield some decent snow, but remember the ravines are famous due to the amount of snow that blows in from the alpine garden, which takes a more significant effect the later in the season you wait. If you CAN go west, what is the objective? Ice or snow (skiing)? If I was traveling (i.e. to the NH area or to the west coast), I might go west in the late December window as the west might be more reliable. But again, it depends on your true objective and what you mean by "west." I am personally going to Washington for two weeks to ski (12/9-12/22). I could just as easily stay here and climb ice, but I will be able to climb ice the rest of the winter, while (IMO) the skiing out here (on the east coast) sucks all season (compared to PNW).
That's what I expected from all I have seen with the rain and 50*. I am over in Michigan (where we had a 75 degree day 2 weeks ago) so it is either drive 12 hours to Vermont or 19 out to colorado for "west". We have from December 20th-January 4th and were hoping to get some skiing and ice in in a close radius together. That's when Vemont/NH came on the radar. Then I started seeing the weather. I have never been so I have no idea what to expect with weather or cold timing
Dharma Bum · · Glen Haven, Co · Joined Jul 2008 · Points: 585

Colorado ice is about a month later than usual this season. Most of the climbs that are ";in"; right now are high altitude. We had a very dry autumn so there is not a lot of moisture. The forecast is for cold weather next week and with the recent snowfall things should come into shape soon. The ski areas are all open.

JulianG · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2009 · Points: 130

With the hottest year on record it will be a very short ice climbing season. Not to mention it is dry in Colorado.

Kevin Heckeler · · Upstate New York · Joined Jul 2010 · Points: 1,411
Dave Schultz wrote:If you are driving, you can decide your destination pretty late notice.
In the Northeast this is ALWAYS my strategy. Weather can flip within days, and the forecasting lately has been via a dart-board (it literally rained when they forecast none and was fine when they forecast rain for the 4 days around Thanksgiving). They had also botched the snow forecasts for our first two storms this year and another rain event that yielded 3-4 times as much rainfall than they predicted literally WHILE it was occurring. /vent

IMHO it's impossible to plan anything more than a few days out in the Northeast. I don't even bother anymore.
Patrick Cooke · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2011 · Points: 40

Projecting out for the NE at this point isn't really realistic. Right now it's about 50 in the Whites, but cold is about to hit and there'll be climbable options this weekend. Will there be low-elevation options? Probably not.

Over the last 4 years, on xmas day in North Conway/Franconia region I've:
climbed ice on Cannon one year, climbed ice at Toko Crag (lower elevation) the next, dry-tooled in the Cathedral Cave in 50 degree rain the next, and then last year didn't bother since it was 60 degrees and rainy.

Each of the last two years, I've managed to climb ice on Willard, Webster, and Cannon, within a week of Xmas. Skiing though, you may be $%#@ed even if you can find climbing.

AWinters · · NH · Joined Apr 2007 · Points: 5,120
Huntington last Saturday but it's been warm since
Huntington last Saturday but it's been warm since
Eric Engberg · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2009 · Points: 0

You won't get and don't need any precise beta until December 19th. Be flexible.

JohnnyG · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2009 · Points: 10
Eric Engberg wrote:You won't get and don't need any precise beta until December 19th. Be flexible.
Jameshew12 Hewitt · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2016 · Points: 150

Thanks for the info guys. I'm not from the NE so I didn't know just how varying your weather can be (but Michigan is not much better).

What are some of the areas to look at that are higher elevation/are in earliest for the highest probability of ice? We're looking for a mix of ~WI4 top rope, leading ~WI3 or fun WI2 or WI3 alpine.

Patrick Cooke · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2011 · Points: 40

I'd check out Huntington and Tuckerman Ravines on Mt. Washington, as well as Lincoln's Throat on Mt. Lincoln for true higher elevation alpine offerings in that range. Mt Webster's Shoestring and Landslide gullies are a bit lower, but usually climbable even when the lower stuff is not quite built up enough. Kinsman Notch is easily top-ropeable once stuff forms up a bit.

Mike Hazard · · Ballston Lake, NY · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 175

Anyone been up to Tucks this week to comment on conditions? Was planning a trip there today for some ice this weekend but getting conflicting reports.

Harvard cabin on Tuesday:

It's no secret, the ice IS IN here in the northeast. Ice climbing in Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines has been enjoyable for nearly two months now and is only getting better. Currently, the mountain is experiencing the dreaded mid-mountain warm layer. Temperatures this morning are around 40 degrees F (4.5C) around ravine elevation. If memory serves, this is about as warm as it been since about Nov 17th or so when the summit of Mt. Washington experienced two record-breaking warm days in a row. A bit of an anomaly that had to do with the lack of snow on the ground in central Canada. But, it's been consistently cold for most of the Fall up until yesterday arrival of a warm-wet air mass that is providing plenty of liquid moisture.A bit of a let down but there are a couple of positives. First, the system has arrived a couple of days early this year and it looks like we will avoid the opening day monsoon we experienced last season. -Glad for that! Second, with plenty of cold in the forecast all of this water is going to lead to some explosive growth of quality alpine ice just in time for the weekend.

NE climbs report from yesterday:

Almost 3 inches of rain in 3 daze and waterfalls are everywhere. WOW!!! Needless to say there isn't any climbable ice anywhere in the lower elevations, and IMO probably nothing that's safe to climb on Mt Washington. That said there is a ton of water in the system that will surely provide some great climbing as soon as it cools down. Stay tuned folks...

Report from Pinkham Notch visitor center this morn said it hasn't rained there, just snow. 6 inches in Tucks in past few days. Said the ice was probably thin but climbable and to bring rock gear.

Anyone been up or heading up?

Patrick Cooke · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2011 · Points: 40

Check out for some good weather reporting on Mt. Washington...

Is anything going to be "IN" in fat shape? No. Will there be something climbable this weekend? Depends on how good/bold you are. I'll be up there Saturday.

I'd imagine Sunday there'll definitely be something with another day of cold.

I like Al's report on NEClimbs... he tells me what's OUT and I go climb it. YMMV

Mike Hazard · · Ballston Lake, NY · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 175

I am headed up too, all the weather indicates that it's been cold enough at the ravine elevations to not melt out. Will definitely be bringing some rock gear too though. Let me know if you want to meet up Dave, we have a party of 3 at the moment. Had 4 originally but one is on the fence. Would prefer two teams of 2 to one team of 3.

JohnnyG · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2009 · Points: 10

Huntington's is a pretty sure bet to have climbable ice. You probably know it's a bit of hike, with avalanche potential, and it can be wickedly cold, but the place is totally sweet...especially for grade 2 to 3 ice!

june m · · elmore ,vt · Joined Jun 2011 · Points: 43

Was skiing at stowe , so got a good view of smugglers notch, ice is starting to form, but I wouldnt say its in.

Kris Fiore · · Burlington, Vermont · Joined Sep 2014 · Points: 1,577

Actually ice in the notch is coming in nicely!

I climbed Grand Illusion in fat conditions on Thursday as well as Poster Child. PC had a few mixed moves and GI was straight ice. After the last few days and this week of sub 20 degree temps I'd say the notch is officially on.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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