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Parasol Gully

WI2+ Steep Snow, Trad, Ice, Snow, Alpine, 400 ft, Grade II,  Avg: 3.5 from 11 votes
FA: Jeff Pheasant, Steve Schneider , Tad Pfeffer, 1976
New Hampshire > NH Ice & Mixed > . Northern NH > Dixville Notch

Description

Climb the 200+ft steep crusted snow ramp to the base of the ramp beneath the steepening wall. Veer right away from the multiple free standing pillars (crux) and finish route.

NOTE: Apparently most of this climb sometimes "comes in" as nearly all steep snow. However, in late Jan 2016 there were two full pitches of ice, including the "famous" parasol...an ice cave COMPLETELY FORMED BY ICE (as opposed to an ice cave formed by water freezing over a rock overhang). This amazing feature is formed when very cold, strong, updraft winds blow water 90-degrees out from the gully and the water freezes horizontally! The "parasol" was about 6 feet deep, 8 ft high, 10-12 ft across and had twisted icicles growing down from the ceiling! AMAZING (see photos).

Rick Wilcox's guide calls it "A beautiful route in a beautiful setting" and, when the "parasol" is "in" it certainly is! "Gunkswest" ranks it one of the top 10 ice climbs in New England [see comments], and he should know! When you consider the approach is way shorter than, for example, Shoestring or Pinnacle, the 1 1/2 hr drive from No. Conway doesn't seem so bad.

[italic added by R. Hall, Admin. with Bradley White's general permission to edit his submissions]

Location

Central south side of the notch. Parking is directly below the climb at a pull off parking lot. Walk down westerly or rappel from trees.

Approach: Park on the pull out on the south side (the 2nd pull out on the left, coming from Errol) and hike straight up the steep slope to the base. 10-20 min., depending on snow depth and previous pack-out of the approach.

Mountain-Project-User "Ben" suggests that if the climb is too short, it is an easy drive (probably about 1 hr) South/East on Rt 26 to Grafton Notch State Park (in Maine) which has some nice ice at about the same grade or slightly more difficult, some of which is very close to the road.

Protection

Ice screws. Belay at the trees above the climb.

In these conditions I thought the climb a bit more technical than "2+", and don't really know the difference between "2+ and 3-", so gave it a "3".

We ended P1 on the left wall where someone had bashed in a "beak/snarg[??]" and put a bright red sling on it (to rap from !!!???, perhaps mistaking it for a piton?!) Backing up the "beak" with 2 screws, the next pitch past the "parasol" was 200+ feet and a 60m might not reach all the way to the rap-anchor tree.

We Rapped the route, after trying to find the trail, which is quite far back at this point. If you rap you'll probably need a thread anchor as even 2 x 70m won't reach the base.

Mountain-Project-User "Ben" suggests there's a walk off that returns you to the base of the climb. See COMMENTS

Photos [Hide ALL Photos]

Up Close and Personal....inside the "Parasol" ( 1/30/16)
[Hide Photo] Up Close and Personal....inside the "Parasol" ( 1/30/16)
Looking into the "Parasol" ...AMAZING ! (1/30/16, Photo by RW)
[Hide Photo] Looking into the "Parasol" ...AMAZING ! (1/30/16, Photo by RW)
Looking up at the top pitch and the "Parasol"  (1/30/16)
[Hide Photo] Looking up at the top pitch and the "Parasol" (1/30/16)
P1 in ice conditions (1/30/16)
[Hide Photo] P1 in ice conditions (1/30/16)
Parasol Gully with "Parasol" 1/30/16
[Hide Photo] Parasol Gully with "Parasol" 1/30/16
Parasol Gully, 1/9/14, in "ice" condition with the "parasol" encased in ice .
[Hide Photo] Parasol Gully, 1/9/14, in "ice" condition with the "parasol" encased in ice .
Parasol Gully. Photo taken 4.14.2019
[Hide Photo] Parasol Gully. Photo taken 4.14.2019
The Balsams from the cave belay. Photo taken 4.14.19.
[Hide Photo] The Balsams from the cave belay. Photo taken 4.14.19.
Bringing Jackie up the 1st pitch. Photo taken 4.14.19.
[Hide Photo] Bringing Jackie up the 1st pitch. Photo taken 4.14.19.
Parasol Gully Photo taken 4.14.2019
[Hide Photo] Parasol Gully Photo taken 4.14.2019
Parasol Gully from the road. Photo taken 4.14.2019
[Hide Photo] Parasol Gully from the road. Photo taken 4.14.2019
Parasol Gully 1/19/2014
[Hide Photo] Parasol Gully 1/19/2014

Comments [Hide ALL Comments]

[Hide Comment] One of the ten best ice routes in New England. Fun climbing in a beautiful setting.

What are the ten you ask? Here's one person's list (in order of technical difficulty):

Parasol Gully (Dixville Notch)
Cinema Gully to Cauliflower Gully (Mt Willard; Crawford Notch)
Pinnacle Gully (Huntington Ravine; Mt Washington)
Waterfall Gully (South Basin; Mt Katahdin)
Black Dike (Cannon Cliff; Franconia Notch)
Dracula (Frankenstein Cliff; Crawford Notch)
Ragnarock (Smuggler's Notch)
Way in the Wilderness (K Highway)
Repentance (Cathedral Ledge)
Last Gentleman (Lake Willoughby) Mar 7, 2015
Peter Lewis
Bridgton, ME
[Hide Comment] That is a great list, Gunkswest! Jan 22, 2016
Robert Hall
North Conway, NH
  WI3 Steep Snow
[Hide Comment] Thanks for the list; GREAT ! Feb 1, 2016
[Hide Comment] I've done this route at least 20 times and never felt the need to rappel. There's a easy descent that takes you right back to the base of the climb. Head up and right a couple of hundred yards and drop into the obvious broad gully; bear skier's right once the climb is in view. Watch the snow conditions on the very last section of the descent, which has avalanched in the past, and stay in the trees to skier's left if needed.

I removed both the tied-off ice tool pick that people had apparently been using to rappel, and a "leaver" screw. If you really need to rappel, V-threads would work fine. Feb 1, 2016
Robert Hall
North Conway, NH
  WI3 Steep Snow
[Hide Comment] Ben,
Thanks for the Beta on the descent "gully".

We tried to find the trail, which is apparently quite a ways back from the "edge" in this part of the Notch. Feb 19, 2016
[Hide Comment] Note on first ascent credit: It was actually Steve Schneider, Dwight Bradley, and Tad Pfeffer (me), and the date was 1970, not 1976. Really a great find for us - like nothing we'd every seen before! (It was quite a few years before I made it to Hung Jury in Valdez). Sep 1, 2016
Northeast Alpine Start
Conway, New Hampshire
[Hide Comment] Climbed today, hero plastic ice! Full trip report: northeastalpinestart.com/20… Mar 6, 2018
[Hide Comment] Jackie and I climbed on hero ice on 4.14.2019! More photos and blog: hawaiigirladventures.com/20… Apr 17, 2019