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Central Gully Mount Washington

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Central Gully Mount Washington

Postby Hotoven » Tue Aug 24, 2010 3:42 pm

I planning a trip this Winter to head up north there and climb Mt. Washington by that route. I saw the Page on it here on SP but was wondering if there's any more additional information on it that you may have that may be of help. Thanks for your help in advance.
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Postby Autoxfil » Tue Aug 24, 2010 4:20 pm

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Postby nartreb » Tue Aug 24, 2010 5:07 pm

You'll find it pretty easy. Watch the avy forecast at tuckerman.org, bring a couple screws and a couple pickets, and be prepared for nasty wind when you top out.
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Postby Hotoven » Tue Aug 24, 2010 5:19 pm

Sounds good. I'm guessing running belays are whats best for the steeper sections? And will a genral Mountannering axe work or will I have to get more agressive tecnical ice climbing tools?
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Postby kozman18 » Tue Aug 24, 2010 5:26 pm

Hotoven wrote:Sounds good. I'm guessing running belays are whats best for the steeper sections? And will a genral Mountannering axe work or will I have to get more agressive tecnical ice climbing tools?


I was up there last February for 4 days and climbed North, Yale and Central. Central is mostly a steep snow climb -- a short ice section at the start, and some ice here and there along the way. Pickets and a few ice screws are sufficient. You don't need ice tools (but having two tools doesn't hurt). Running belays work fine after the first short ice section.

You can descend, easily, via the Escape Hatch (a gully that is south of Central), but it can be hard to find if the weather's bad -- bring a compass and be ready to descend via the Alpine Garden (that has large cairns and passes near the top of Central) and Lions Head Trails. If you plan to stay overnight, the Harvard Cabin is great (there's no camping in the ravine).

It's a cool place. Have fun.
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Postby Hotoven » Tue Aug 24, 2010 5:38 pm

Yale Gully, and Damnation Gully, look alot harder than Central. I would do them but my group is not as experienced as I. Would Yale be do able is everyone looked really good on Central? Just want your thoughts....

And there's no camping at all? That totally takes away from the fun of it. Do you think there are still spots left to reserve the cabin for Jan.? I'll have a group of 5 or 6. Or do you have to reserve really far in advance?

Thanks by the way for all the great information.
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Postby kozman18 » Tue Aug 24, 2010 6:14 pm

Hotoven wrote:Yale Gully, and Damnation Gully, look alot harder than Central. I would do them but my group is not as experienced as I. Would Yale be do able is everyone looked really good on Central? Just want your thoughts....

And there's no camping at all? That totally takes away from the fun of it. Do you think there are still spots left to reserve the cabin for Jan.? I'll have a group of 5 or 6. Or do you have to reserve really far in advance?

Thanks by the way for all the great information.


Yale is a little harder -- there are two ice bulges at the start (roughly side by side -- you can pick one) which involve about a half pitch of ice climbing. After that, it's mostly snow (like Central), with some small ice sections here and there. The route isn't quite a clear as Central -- it "spiders" at the top -- you need to stay south (we ended up off route by not paying attention). You could try Yale if things go well on Central -- if the group handles the first ice bulge they should be able to handle the rest. If not, it's easy to retreat (depending on conditions, I think you can actually climb around the initial ice).

The "hike" up to the base of the climbs from the ravine floor is steep, and the floor is rocky, so you need to be a bit careful on the way up, especially if icy. A fall on the climb up could be a bit dicey because of the rocks below. If people in your group do not have experience with crampons and/or self-arrest, you might want to have a practice session before heading up.

You can camp next to the Harvard Cabin, or just up the fire road at Hermit Lake (below Tuck's), but nowhere else in the Cutler River drainage, and not in the ravine itself (the Cabin is a 30 minute hike below the ravine floor). All of the camping is first-come, first-served. You "reserve" a spot by signing in at Pinkham Notch -- in the bottom of the building there's a warming room with a few tables where most climbers start (to sort gear, repack packs, etc.). In that room is a log book where you can see if there's space left at the cabin (I think the same book is for signing in for camping spots, but not sure). If you are arriving during the week, and get there early, you should be able to find room. If you arrive on a weekend, or late, you might run into space issues. The cabin is small -- 10 climber limit. Not sure about the camping space -- slightly larger if I remember.

Hope this helps. if you want some pics, I can PM them.
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Postby Hotoven » Wed Aug 25, 2010 1:49 pm

kozman18, You have been such a great help! I really appreciate it! If you in the area at that time your more than willing to join us! If you could send me those photos to my email that would be great! If not you can PM them to me. (Which ever is easier, I prefer email though).



Thanks again for your help! Will be in touch!
Last edited by Hotoven on Sat Feb 09, 2013 5:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Central Gully Mount Washington

Postby Meghdoot » Mon Jan 14, 2013 5:44 pm

Hi All,

Has anyone climbed up central gully recently? We are beginner climbers and want to go for Central.
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Re: Central Gully Mount Washington

Postby AlexeyD » Mon Jan 14, 2013 7:05 pm

Meghdoot wrote:Hi All,

Has anyone climbed up central gully recently? We are beginner climbers and want to go for Central.


Haven't been up there yet, but with the already thin snowpack and recent warm weather, I would imagine that once things freeze back up, it's going to be a much icier, thinner, and more difficult route than what one would typically expect in mid-January (i.e. possibly not the best choice for beginners).
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Re: Central Gully Mount Washington

Postby nartreb » Mon Jan 14, 2013 7:13 pm

This is Central as of yesterday:
Image

Source: http://www.mountwashingtonavalanchecenter.org/

For today they're worried about wet slabs slushing down Central (Moderate avalanche danger) but it will freeze hard starting tonight. I'd expect icier (and rockier) conditions than usual for several days. On the plus side, avalanche danger should be just about nil for a couple of days since everything will be locked solid and there's no new snow in the forecast. Watch out for ice chunks from climbers above you.

And I agree with Alexey, Central is going to be more like a sustained ice climb for a while, not the usual snow-gully-with-a-couple-icy-sections. If you're shaky on front points, come back another day.
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Re: Central Gully Mount Washington

Postby divnamite » Tue Jan 15, 2013 1:44 am

To be honest, no matter how sustained the climb is, Central is still WI2 at the hardest condition. Other than avalanches and climbing below another party, I don't see there is any problem. In terms of climbing skills, WI2 doesn't require much front pointing unless the ice is bullet proof.

On the other hand, why would a beginner go for central gully? Willi's Slide and Cinema Gully are way way better climbs than Central Gully anyway, and a lot less hiking.
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Re: Central Gully Mount Washington

Postby AlexeyD » Tue Jan 15, 2013 4:05 pm

divnamite wrote:To be honest, no matter how sustained the climb is, Central is still WI2 at the hardest condition. Other than avalanches and climbing below another party, I don't see there is any problem. In terms of climbing skills, WI2 doesn't require much front pointing unless the ice is bullet proof.


Ah, but I think it does matter, and a lot. Several hundred feet of sustained WI2 means that you have to plan on making ice-only belay anchors, so figure 4 screws (2 per anchor) just for the belays, plus however many you think you'll want for intermediate pro. In addition to the ice, you may be dealing with steep, hard-packed snow for which you may or may not need pickets, depending on whether you think self-arrest will be possible. Will a beginner be able to ask him or herself these types of questions before the climb, and be able to educate themselves properly on the conditions and then answer them accordingly? If the answer is no, then I stand by my original statement that Central is not a beginner-appropriate climb.

On the other hand, why would a beginner go for central gully? Willi's Slide and Cinema Gully are way way better climbs than Central Gully anyway, and a lot less hiking.[/quote]

Agreed, though be aware that Cinema is often very thin - something that a beginner would definitely want to verify beforehand. More pertinent, though, is the "a lot less hiking" part. The fact of the matter is that all of the Huntington gullies, Central included, should really be thought of more as alpine mountaineering routes with some (more or less, depending on the route chosen and conditions) degree of technical ice climbing, rather than pure ice climbs. So, if learning your stuff on ice is the goal, I absolutely think that starting with less committing, lower-elevation routes with less objective hazard is the way to go.
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Re: Central Gully Mount Washington

Postby nartreb » Sat Jan 19, 2013 5:42 am

Aaand... conditions changed again.

Yesterday a big party (four ropes of three) went up Central, at nightfall, with a "Moderate" avvy forecast. The top team triggered a slab avalanche that hit the other three teams. One team self-arrested, one rope snagged a rock, one team rode all the way down the gully (including the ice bulge) but stopped short of the rocks. Amazingly, no major injuries.

CORRECTION: one broken leg, apparently on the rope team that took the longest ride. The two other members of that team were also hospitalized. The trip organizer is stating that this was mostly a precaution.

http://www.mountwashingtonavalanchecent ... 1-18-2013/

Details still sketchy, but it sounds like the teams were all roped but not using any kind of belay.
Last edited by nartreb on Mon Jan 21, 2013 5:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Central Gully Mount Washington

Postby kozman18 » Sat Jan 19, 2013 6:59 pm

They were lucky. Personally, I wouldn't climb below multiple, roped parties like that (four teams on a relatively narrow gully). One goes, you can all go. And, if they weren't using fixed belays/running belays, then being roped up may have increased the chance for multiple injuries (although one team apparently self-arrested).

Glad they weren't seriously injured -- if they made it down to the boulder field it could have been a lot worse.

Here's the ranger's report:

Thursday night brought dozens of members of volunteer rescue teams to assist snow rangers with an avalanche incident in Huntington Ravine. Four rope teams of 3 climbers made their way close to the top of Central Gully, a grade 2 snow and ice climb. The upper team triggered a small avalanche (R2 D1.5) which swept 3 of the 4 teams off their feet and down the 45-50 degree slope. The rope of one of the teams hooked on a rock protruding from the snow, one team was stopped by a really fortunate self-arrest while the third team slid over the ice bulge, fortuitously stopping just before the boulder field. The forth team, which triggered the avalanche near the top of the gully was the only team to avoid a sliding fall. The team that took the longest fall was in the center of the gully while the others were along the rock face on the left. No snow anchors were in place and some, if not all, parties where moving simultaneously while roped up, though it isn’t entirely clear how many elected to use this technique. Rock protection is notoriously difficult to find due to the compact nature of the stone. This type of multi casualty incident has happened here before, as well as in other ranges in similar terrain, and taxes and potentially depletes available rescue resources. Fortunately, the injuries this party sustained were relatively minor compared to those who have taken this fall in the past allowing rescue teams to stabilize the situation and evacuate the party via the Forest Service snow tractor. Check the MWAC website for more details and an accident analysis in the near future. Thanks to our volunteer rescuers in helping with this incident!
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