Ice Climbing Willey’s Slide and Frankenstein

Yesterday Charlene, David, and Sam returned for an Ice Climbing 201 Course. A few weeks ago they went through our Winter Climbing 101 course and I posted that trip report here. With the basics out of the way we made our way to the famous Willey’s Slide in Crawford Notch.

EMS Climbing School
Leaving the parking lot ready for anything
EMS Climbing School
Willey’s Slide is a II Grade 2 ice climb, 4-6 pitches in length. Average angel is about 40 degrees but steeper bulges keep it interesting

After practicing some self arrest we roped up and made our way up the right hand side for 3 full pitches of snow & ice climbing.

EMS Climbing School
Sam won the award for best color coordination. (She also climbed quite well!)
EMS Climbing School
The left side was busy with multiple parties
EMS Climbing School
At our high point we built a V-thread and rapped three times back to the base

I’m looking forward to my next day with these three in late March when we make an attempt on Mount Washington. David’s heading back to Rainier in August and I can’t wait to hear about his trip!

Today I had a day off, so long time friend and climbing partner Tom C., store  manager for EMS Nashua, met me for a day of cragging at Frankenstein. We headed toward Standard Route.

Bluebird everywhere today!
EMS Climbing School
Tom gets us up Standard Right all the way to Penguin P2

My first time on Penguin this year and the crux is definitely the first steep bit. A little brittle and awkward but once you reach the upper pillar the climbing is fantastic. Plastic fresh ice and bomber gear brings you to the top.

EMS Climbing School
Tom tops out Penguin

We headed down the descent trail, which is in the most technical conditions I have ever seen it. No snow in the gully makes the “gully proper” look like a valid grade 2 ice climb in its own right. I think the easiest down climb leaves the ridge a bit early rather than working down to the weird step down with great dry tool placements. YMMV.

We moved over to Dracula which had a party finishing the left side and a strong climber firing a steep line far right while a photographer on rappel snapped away. Once the left side was clear we cruised a very fun line in less than 20 minutes.

EMS Climbing School
First screw for me near the ice encased pin anchor then 5 more up steep, but hooked and easy to stem terrain

I lowered Tom and dropped the rope for him to coil while I hustled back down the descent gully. We considered hitting Pegasus Rock Finish on our hike out but our growling stomachs beat our motivation and we retired to the brewpub after a quick drive through the notch to check on other route conditions.

EMS Climbing School
I’ve eyed this line (to the right of Elephants Head) for years and it looks quite reasonable right now… but food & beer won out… if it lasts a couple more days I might be able to get on it

The ice is in fantastic shape right now, except for those south facing routes (Bob’s Delight is DONE)…. warmer temps bring softer (aka easier) ice climbing conditions, but keep your wits about you on anything getting baked above you.

See you in the mountains,


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