White Mountains Adventure April 2001

One of the wildest climbs I was ever on was up gully in
Tuckermans Ravine in New Hampshire's White Mountains.
In theory the route was "just" a warm up or practice for Alaska...
But the weather can be pretty fierce any day of the year in the Whites.

April 14th, 2001 we started up a fairly steep
ice gully called Dodger's Drop.  While winds were very high, at least gale force, we discussed it with our guide, Alain Comeau and decided to give it a try anyway.

The route can be seen here in the photo to the left following the most prominent gully (just left of center).

The climb was mixed snow and ice reaching at maximum 60 degrees..

This gives an idea of the steepness of the route.
Wildcat ski area is in the background.

The other side of the gully. 
The cloud cap is blowing snow 
off the summit of Mount Washington.
We are anchored into a steep section 
of the route attached to several ice screws. 

Here is the view up!
Alain is leading the one of the steeper sections up to the rocks
where he will hammer in some pitons.  Matt is belaying.

We topped out the gulley, ending up on Boote Spur, around 5000 feet elevation.
Up here the wind was considerably stronger.  Notice the rope and how hard we are leaning.


The sky over Wildcat Mountain was unearthly.  The cloud formations we saw appear only
with hurricane force winds over mountains.  They are called "lenticular clouds"

It was wild up there!  A few minutes after these photos were taken, a gust lifted Matt Powell
(tallest of the team, in red) into the air for a dozen feet, landing in bush.
His ice ax became airborne, aparently lost for good.  Alain found it in Oakes Gulf,
about a mile and a half away, two years later!  The wind reduced us to crawling,
until we could get down in the shelter of the trees.

Oddly this was not the first somewhat extreme climb with Alain in the White Mountains.
January 22, 2000 Matt Powell and I joined Alain to climb Shoe String Gulley on Mount Webster
in what Alain said were "the worst conditions he had seen, high wind, loose snow, brittle ice.
Wind chill at the summit of Mount Washington was -100F.  Snow was like flour.  Swim up through
knee deep snow, working fast because of the cold.  Ice climbing and some rock climbing
brought us up 2000 vertical feet in about five and half hours.

This may be why Alain and I had the following dialogue on the steep part of Dodger's Drop.
Alain, "I'm getting a new phone number"
Greg, "Yeah? can I have it?"
Alain, "Maybe... in about five years!"

Still, we felt like the climb of Dodger's Drop was a major climb accomplishment.
The week following our climb, Alain did it again... with his dog.
Then he skiied down it.