Shoestring Gully

Page Type
New Hampshire, United States, North America
Route Type:
snow/ice gully climb
Time Required:
Half a day

Route Quality: 3 Votes

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Created On: Jan 24, 2006
Last Edited On: Jan 24, 2006


Driving from the Conway area, take route 302 West. After you pass Frankenstein Cliff on the left, and enter Crawford Notch State Park, there will be a sign for the Appalachian trail, and a small parking lot on the left. Either park there, or continue driving for no more than half a mile more, until you reach a small pullout on the right, just after a small bridge. From here, Shoestring Gully should be directly across from where you are. Either way, you will end up walking the exact same distance, as the normal descent is via the Webster Cliff Trail which puts you at the AT parking lot.

If you park at the AT lot, you can either walk along the road towards the pullout, or, you can walk a bit up the Webster Cliff Trail, cross the river, and then take a small trail left which traverses the base of Mt. Webster. For those who have not done the route before I would recommend walking along the road because that gives you a much better view of the gully.

Route Description

From the pullout, cross the Saco on rocks & logs, then head up, aiming for the gully. If you are lucky there will be tracks; if not, start heading up the slope, and soon enough you should find yourself in the gully (it's pretty obvious). The approach to the actual climbing is pretty long; be patient. The gully climbs steadily, gradually increasing in angle as you go up. At some point, you will want to put on crampons, but don't rush roping up: you'll know when you reach the technical part.

The upper gully is a deep, shaded couloir bounded by high rock walls. It has an alpine feel without the extreme conditions often experienced higher up in the Huntington gullies. Usually, the ice is not sustained, but rather consists of numerous short bulges interrupted with sections of snow. The ice climbing is very moderate: if you take the easiest line, the difficulty does not exceed grade 2. The technical portion is probably about 4 full ropelengths long, but because of the nature of the route, it probably makes more sense to simul-climb it on a shortened rope.

There are several finishes: the easiest line is up the gully proper, trending slightly left, up easy snow into the woods. There are also a number of mixed and pure rock finishes if you go right, which may require some rock gear depending on ice conditions.

The easiest descent is to go to the top of the ridge until you reach the Webster Cliff Trail, and then turn right and follow it down to the base. Conceivably, you could bushwhack/glissade down the mountainside on the side of the gully, but I wouldn't do it except in an exceptionally snowy winter.

Essential Gear

two ice tools (one mountaineering axe and one tool will work too), rope, standard ice rack, small selection of nuts/cams if you do the rock or mixed finishes.

Miscellaneous Info

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Shoestring Gully

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