Hanging Gardens

Its like the North End of Cathedral, but tilted up side down. They are both on the far right, in shady little, protected nooks that you have to walk right past on your way down from most routes at the crag. As a guide who spends a lot of his winter days cragging on the world class ice at Frankenstein, you tend to know know the conditions at the Hanging Gardens intimately; seeing the wild daggers and pillars that form here after every trip up Standard or Dracula.

I’ve been busy guiding over the past two weeks, and have been watching this one pillar grow, and grow and… It just looks really cool, coming out of a Jared Ogden route called Something About You Makes Me Wild, begging for an ascent that ended on a massive free hanger on the top of Joe Josephson’s hard classic, Within Reason.

My wife Anne is making a short film with local ice climber, alpinist and all around great guy, Kevin Mahoney. Kevin keeps pulling the right size straw when it comes time to leading the goods this season, the next time I loose rock paper scissors I’m gonna have to throw some elbows and grab the rack first and go!

Anyway, courtesy of Anne Skidmore Photography, here are some stills pulled from yesterday’s footage. Enjoy! See more of Anne’s outdoor photography at and

It’s all Coming Back Around, Sort of…

Not quite sure how, but all the ice I’ve seen over the past week up in Crawford Notch has come back around. All the usual stuff is good to go at Frankenstein, including most of the sunny and high water volume routes routes in the amphitheater that got really hammered over the New Year (with the exception of the regular, pillar finish on Pegasus). This past Sunday, I went into the amphitheater for the first time since the melt out with a couple of great clients and did the direct finish to Chia, which I was pleased to find in great condition; including a newly reattached top out. Chia had looked pretty bad since those warm, muddy days around the 1st of the month.

Everything at Texaco, from the amphitheater over to Embargo is growing, something I just can’t quite account for because the dry ground doesn’t look like it should be capable of feeding anything other than squirrels and turkeys. I have heard from north country local, Paul Cormier, a reliable source if there ever was one, that things were looking really good up in Grafton Notch as well. Lake Willoughby looks to be pretty fat from some photos posted on NEIce recently, so it seems that things are looking good, you just have to get into, or north of, the mountains to enjoy it. Cathedral Ledge is pretty bleak, with the exception of the North End, which can somehow hold ice in it’s shadey grip through any mid-winter thaw, and often later than I would like into the spring.

We have up tp 8″ of snow forecasted for the valleys in NH on Wednesday, more in the mountains, followed by good, cold temps; so I see a good outlook for continued ice climbing conditions’ improvements. Great news, I would love to get some climbing in at Cathedral.

This just in: Eric McCallister, of McCallister Photo, reported doing Remission on Cathedral Ledge this past weekend with Jim Ewing and found it “surprisingly good and wet”. He also mentioned that Repentance was not in good shape, calling it, “brittle”, “dry” and making it sound scary, a conclusion I have heard repeated a few times in the last few weeks.

Pole Dance

South Face of Frankenstein

Pole Dance, NEI 5-ish, gains the attractive pillar hanging over the roof in the upper right of the photo. Kevin Mahoney lead the business on the first ascent on December 17th.

After an exciting afternoon on the ground dodging missiles in the south facing sun, Poledance went down. This new route at Frankenstein is right of the Bragg-Pheasant in a spot I had never seen any real ice before. The oblique afternoon sun cooled things off and we went for it. We all had a chance to lead the easy first pitch, but it was Kevin Mahoney’s turn when we finally had a chance to do the pitch that mattered.


What looked like M7 from the ground revealed itself to be NEI 5 or 5+ up and out a corner/roof and onto a hanging pillar, or pole – the route’s namesake. Classy swings into an iced up crack, a good stance right where it mattered and a beautiful upper tube of bubbling, blobby steeper-than-it-looked ice climbing made this thing really fun to climb. I would say, “go and do it”, but two days of sun and temps hovering around the freezing mark must have taken a toll.

Fun to break a streak of early season, getting-it-back-together shenanigans on a great new route with two great friends. Here are some shots of Matt McCormick following the business, and one of me up on the route’s upper “pole”.

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