White Mountains Ice: Prevalence of Double Rope Rappels


Original Post
Dylan Weldin · Nov 30, 2016 · Athens, OH · Joined Dec 2010 · Points: 865
Greetings,

I'm headed to the Whites for a week in January for the first time. My partner and I are interested in a variety of destinations and routes in the North Conway region.

He has a single 9.something 60m dry rope. We will lead on this as a single line. Do you all regularly employ an additional 60m line to use for full length rappels? Or on most days are you walking off features or descending on one cord?

I understand each route will vary, just trying to gain an understanding of the theme of the place.

Thanks for your assistance, and thank you for any route/ area recommendations for my first visit to the region. What's your favorite way to spend 6 consecutive days in crampons swinging tools in the Whites?

-Dylan Weldin

(WI3 to WI5- and mixed terrain to M6 at Huntington, Frankenstein, Willard, Webster, Cannon, etc.)

Looking forward to some Franken-time!
Dropline

Nick Votto · Nov 30, 2016 · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2008 · Points: 80
Regarding Mt Willard, double ropes are definitely useful...The Cleft, Upper Hitchcock, East Face Slabs, Cinema

Having said that I've only climbed there with a single rope:)
(Although I was lucky another climber encouraged me to borrow a rope before heading up Upper Hitchcock)

pgcooke Cooke · Nov 30, 2016 · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2011 · Points: 0
Dylan,
Having a rap line would be useful in a few of the venues you mentioned. Most of the stuff at Frankenstein is walk-off. Huntington you are hopefully walking off. On Cannon usually you'd walk off from the Dike/Fafnir, though it's possible to rap w/ 2 ropes if no one is behind you (or you want to link routes!). Willard can be finagled w/ a single 70, but you'd be better off with 2 ropes if you wanted to rap and link multiple routes. You can finish the day by climbing out on the Cleft or Upper Hitchcock, and walk off on the Mt. Willard Trail.

January can be hit or miss on conditions down low, but assuming things are in decent shape, I'd spend a day at Willard, a day at Frankenstein, a day on Cannon, a day on Mt. Washington, and then fill out the other two with repeat visits, or visits to other less well-known cliffs depending on conditions.
-Pat

john strand · Nov 30, 2016 · southern colo · Joined May 2008 · Points: 1,575
Some of the walk offs can be pretty time consuming.....IMO a second rope would almost always be welcome and in some cases essential.

pgcooke Cooke · Nov 30, 2016 · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2011 · Points: 0
But John, you haven't experienced the joy of the Northeast until you've slogged down the WG/BD descent trail... ideally in slightly frozen, slightly icy, not quite snow-covered, "I want to kill myself because I didn't bring microspikes" conditions!

Bill Kirby · Nov 30, 2016 · Baltimore Maryland · Joined Jul 2012 · Points: 40
pgcooke wrote:But John, you haven't experienced the joy of the Northeast until you've slogged down the WG/BD descent trail... ideally in slightly frozen, slightly icy, not quite snow-covered, "I want to kill myself because I didn't bring microspikes" conditions!
On top of that I'm with someone who can do the approach or descent or both quicker and than I with no traction devices. So by the time I get back to the truck I'm in cardiac arrest. Just had to keep up with on the approach and terrified I'm going to get lost or left on the descent... in the dark.

I know I'm going to get flamed for this but... if you take a rest day after three days. The shops are great. There's IME, EMS, Ragged Mountain and LaHoot's in Lincoln. The Moat for drinks and the Frontside Grind for coffee. There's lots of Outlets too.. if you like that kinda gear.

Smear is one of the only routes I use doubles on. I mostly use a 9.1mm 70M for a party of two.

Dropline and Dracula are good weekday objectives. I feel like every time I'm there on the weekend I get snow dropped on me from the hordes coming off Standard...

john strand · Nov 30, 2016 · southern colo · Joined May 2008 · Points: 1,575
pgcooke wrote:But John, you haven't experienced the joy of the Northeast until you've slogged down the WG/BD descent trail... ideally in slightly frozen, slightly icy, not quite snow-covered, "I want to kill myself because I didn't bring microspikes" conditions!
Actually I have had this "pleasure"..that's why i stopped ice climbing a LONG time ago

Make sure it's almost dark as well

Robert Hall · Nov 30, 2016 · North Conway, NH · Joined Aug 2013 · Points: 11,181
Most of the above comments pretty much sum things up. I'd say on Willard & Cannon it would often be nice to have at least a 7 or 8mm "tag" line along in case something happens that you don't make it to the top.
Regardless of what crag you're at, if there's only one rope along, a 70m is often much better than a 60m. (and while you're at it, you might measure your 60m; if it's been hard-used and/or gotten soaking wet it might now be shorter.)
On Frankenstein some of the "walk offs" have a short (single rope) rap, depending on snow/ice conditions and the climber's willingness/ability to solo easier snow/ice.
On Willard, I think the raps off the climbs by Buttress#1 (i.e left of Cinema Gulley) are all double rope raps. From the "Big Tree Ledge" the first (usually the only) rap down Lower Hitchcock is much nicer with a 70 than a 60, but clearly can be done with either.
Shoestring on Webster is very definitely a walk off, down a popular hiking trail. Other stuff on Webster isn't done as much, due to distance-from-road (I think).
You didn't indicate your experience level, but Cannon is the most serious of the areas you listed...probably by a factor of 2, maybe even 3, over the others.
Believe the ranger's postings for avalanche conditions in Huntington Ravine, quite a few accidents have been due to avalanches up there. If it's "Extreme" or "High", best spend the day somewhere else.
As for favorites: Pretty much look for the multi-stared routes on MtnProject, or in the guidebook (now reprinted, available from from the author at International Mtn Equipment "IME", North Conway; or from other shops), or "ask a local" at IME or EMS. There's also quite a few excellent guide services around, if there's something you want to do and aren't quite up to leading it.
Parasol Gully up in Dixville notch might be worth considering, maybe on an "iffy" weather day. It's just a "Neat" place, very alpine ,considering the short approach from the road; check the photos on MtnProject (NH / Ice and Mixed Climbing / Dixville Notch.)

pgcooke Cooke · Nov 30, 2016 · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2011 · Points: 0
John, I KNOW you have... what I meant to say was "If you haven't"

And don't forget to leave your headlamp at home when you do it in the dark!

christoph benells · Nov 30, 2016 · tahoma · Joined Nov 2014 · Points: 55
walking off mt. washington down lions head trail was possibly the worst experience of my life. 6" of new snow covered all the rocks and ice puddles so it looked like a nice smooth surface. it is not.

the next time i climbed up there i downclimbed central gully, (v-thread rap off ice bulge, no climbers on route) much preferred by me, and if you go that route you could do 2-3 routes in a day.

Frankestein walk offs aren't too bad.

Bill Kirby · Nov 30, 2016 · Baltimore Maryland · Joined Jul 2012 · Points: 40
Hey Robert,

I've always wanted to check out Parasol gully but never see a boot pack above Cimena gully to follow. Plus Cimena hasn't been in the last couple years and last year there wasn't any snow to create a boot pack. Can you tell me how to get to the base?

Christopher, The walk off from Standard, Dropline etc last year was scary... no snow :(

Edit: Thanks Chris, you got me to look up Parasol. That looks like a great day trip from North Conway with the wife.

Anyone know the way to Cauliflower gully? Haha..

christoph benells · Nov 30, 2016 · tahoma · Joined Nov 2014 · Points: 55
youre thinking of cauliflower gully bill.

Ksween · Nov 30, 2016 · Wakefield, RI · Joined Jul 2011 · Points: 15
Dylan,
I agree with what most people here said before. Most places like frankenstein, webster, Cannon and Cathedral, a walk off is gonna be better than rappels. For willard, if you want to get multiple routes in 2 60m ropes would make you more efficient, but you can typically find trees or use V-threads to make it happen with a single 60.

jdejace · Nov 30, 2016 · New England · Joined Sep 2013 · Points: 0
You can get to Cauliflower gully by climbing Gully #1 then hiking up from there, as seen here.

https://www.mountainproject.com/v/109997731

john strand · Nov 30, 2016 · southern colo · Joined May 2008 · Points: 1,575
Dylan- the most important thing is to be flexible. places like Frank's get really heavy use, there are a ton of climbs so look around. Same with other areas, if condition are good (or not) many folks will be out

Nick Goldsmith · Nov 30, 2016 · Pomfret VT · Joined Aug 2009 · Points: 15
If you are going to canon, smuggs or The Lake doubbles or a tag are manditory INMOP in case something happens and you have to bail @ canon and because the walk off at The Lake is not practical and you might have to bail there as well. most other places you can probobly get by with a single though if that was my choice it would be a 70m.

june m · Nov 30, 2016 · elmore ,vt · Joined Jun 2011 · Points: 3
Personally I do all multi pitch climbing summer and winter with double ropes that way anything you can climb up you can Rappel down.

Mark NH · Nov 30, 2016 · 03053 · Joined Feb 2013 · Points: 0
Almost 40 years climbing in the Whites:

Huntington - always doubles, never know when it might get bad. Escape hatch if you top out and it's nasty

Frankenstein - single, can walk off everything for the most part

Willard - numbered areas and Great Madness - doubles for raps. Right side - right side, single if doing one route to top and walk down Willard trail. Doubles if you want to play on upper tier for raps and if you want to rap to lower to head back on RR tracks.

Webster - single as you walk down Appalachian trail

Cannon - always doubles just like Huntington

Hope this helps along with all the other feedback.

Nick Goldsmith · Dec 1, 2016 · Pomfret VT · Joined Aug 2009 · Points: 15
best way to do hunnington is without ropes unless you have a sherpa ;)

Matt Shove · Dec 1, 2016 · Ragged Mountain · Joined May 2007 · Points: 95
Most climbers around here employ a single rope at Frankenstien, Webster, Cathedral, Huntington Ravine. Double ropes are helpful at Cannon and the Lake. I think there is limited value bringing 2 ropes in to the ravine unless you are climbing in a party of 3.

Contrary to what Dave wrote, the routes in the Ravine are quite fun, not terribly difficulty, and long. Venture out onto the buttresses if you want a more challenging outing.When the conditions and weather is good, it's a great place to spend the day.

Have a great trip!

june m · Dec 1, 2016 · elmore ,vt · Joined Jun 2011 · Points: 3
Dave's done a lot of climbing out west and I think what he meant was that there's so much hype about Huntington and he just expected it to be a lot more than what it is. I personally felt the same way about Pinnacle buttress as a rock climb.a long way to go for not much climbing that was hard enough to bring a Rope for. I know I should have done mechanics route.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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