Cinema Gully

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 44.20380°N / 71.413°W
Additional Information Route Type: Mountaineering, Ice Climbing
Seasons Season: Winter
Additional Information Time Required: Half a day
Additional Information Difficulty: WI 2 (WI 3 for Rt. Variation)
Additional Information Number of Pitches: 4
Additional Information Grade: II
Sign the Climber's Log


Cinema Gully is classic ice climb on the South Face of Mount Willard in Crawford Notch State Park, New Hampshire. It is named for a cinema project on the route many years ago.

This is often an early season ice route, that gets thinner as the season progresses. It is South facing, so it occasionally offers a sunny outing. In my several trips to Crawford Notch, it is usually cold and very windy.

The approach is only about 10 minutes of flat walking. This, the classic rating, the length and the moderate nature of the route make it a popular route. It is a somewhat thin climb that takes a little finesse.

Getting There

To reach Cinema Gully, you must first find your way to Crawford Notch State Park in New Hampshire. The park is located on U.S. Highway 302, in northern New Hampshire, between Bretton Woods and Bartlett (a 30 minute drive North of North Conway).

There is a large plowed parking lot at the top of the notch on the east side, about 300 meters south of the AMC's Highland Center lodge. Park here, and proceed south on the railroad tracks for 500-600 meters, crossing a trestle or 2, until you are below the South Face. Cinema Gully almost reaches the tracks and will be obvious on your right as you walk south "gully".

The route starts about 15 meters above the tracks. Wallow through this snow to get to the start of the route.

Willard South FaceThe South Face of Mount Willard in Winter. Cinema Gully (II WI2) is the most prominent snow/ice field just right of center. Several other ice climbs are visiable to the left of Cinema.

Route Description

Lower snowfieldClimbing the lower snow/ice field to the top of P1.

Pitch 1:
Climb the moderate angle thin ice and rock through the lowest rock bulge to get onto the large lower snow/ice field. The first 20 meters of the route is usually quite thin. Small to medium rock gear can be found if the ice is too thin for the shorty screws. Once through the thin section, a 60 meter rope will stretch through the first snow/ice field to the bottom of the first bulge. A secure ice screw belay can be set here. (60m)

Pitch 2:
Climb 15-20 meters directly over the first bulge (WI2/2+). After this, you'll find the second snow/ice field. 60 meters above the first belay will put you 20 meters short of the next bulges. After the inital bulge on the pitch, the terrain is much less steep and can be practically walked. Pick a belay spot anywhere you can find snow or ice that suits you. A quick simul climb can put you at the base of the final bulges for either of the alternate finishes. (75m)

Pitch 3:
The standard finish climbs another bulge trending left (WI2). There is also a variation finish on the right that goes at WI3. In 60 meters, both of these will bring you to just below (or to the bottom of) the tree covered ledge. (55m)
Right VariationThe WI3 Right Variation is in the middle of the photo. The standard WI2 finish climbs the slabs on the far left.

Pitch 4:
Climb moderate snow to reach a secure spot on the tree covered ledge. (50m)

Traverse right (North) on the tree covered ledge for about 200 meters. Staying near the wall at the top of the ledge is the path of least resistance. Once you traverse just below the East Face Slabs, descend into the notch atop lower Hitchcock Gully where rappel anchors can be found in a tree. Rappel from here into lower Hitchcock and follow it down back to the railroad tracks.

The East Fce Slabs or Upper Hitchcock both make excellent addendums to Cinema if you want to keep climbing after Cinema.

Cinema Gully RouteCinema Gully from the highway below.

Cinema Gully P1The start of the route.

Cinema Gully - Belay Atop P1Belay Atop P1, just below the first bulge.

Essential Gear

Ice axe + a tool; or 2 tools
60 meter dry rope(s) - longer ropes will give you more opportunities in finding belays
Standard (thin) ice rack + small rock gear (couple pieces up to 1.5")
Full winter clothing (you are in the White Mountains here and the weather can be pretty mean, even if the route is moderate).

External Links

A trip report with lots of pics.
Cinema Gully pic from IME
Mooney Mountain Guides page including Cinema Gully
Chauvin Guides conditions page



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