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.