New England Ice Climbing – Huntington Ravine

by Ian Maclellan

To me, ice climbing looks slow, dangerous, fickle, painful, gear-intensive, and cold. I don’t really get why so many people do it across New England.. This winter I’m starting a photojournalism project on why people ice climb in New England and I had my first trip of the season up to Huntington Ravine on the side of Mount Washington.

New England Ice Climbers

We all met up in Pinkham notch around 9:30PM to organize gear before heading up to Hermit Lake. We were alerted that there was a lost hiker somewhere in the area and were told to keep a look out by the Notch staff. The man’s family was waiting for his return in the same room we were readying for our trip up the mountain.

Hiking up to Hermit Lake Shelter

People got creative on how they were going to carry gear up to our campsite. I went for a giant external frame pack, Sam “European Vacationed it” with a backpack on front and back, and Josh and Andrew decided a sled would be the best way to carry gear. The sled fell over a lot and didn’t do well with any bumps on the trail, but they managed to make it.

Playing Magic Cards in the shelter

Jimmy and JLo finished the night off with a game of Magic cards after our hike up.

Huntington Ravine Trail Sign

We had a leisurely 9AM wake up and probably didn’t start the approach to Huntington Ravine until 10:30AM. We aren’t exactly morning people it seems.

Hiking up Huntington Ravine

Jimmy checking out the ice climbing conditions up above.

Gearing up for O'dells Gully

Racking up for the first climb of the trip.

Ice Climbing O'dells Gully

Jimmy led up O’dells Gully, which I’m told had more steep vertical ice sections than normal. As Jimmy started to climb a search helicopter circled around the Presidential Range.

Ice Climbing O'dells Gully

Sam getting in his first ice climbing of the season on O’dells Gully.

Winter treees

Anything that gets you outside on beautiful winter days like this is good in my book.

Winter camping at Hermit Lake Shelter

The inside of the shelter at Hermit Lake sparkling in ice.

Sitting in the shelter winter camping

Approaching Huntington Ravine

Since I wasn’t ice climbing, the approaches and descents were probably my favorite part. Once you start moving, your body warms up instantly. It’s amazing how sweaty you can get with only a fleece on in 20F weather.

New England Ice Climbers

Approaching Central Gully

Andrew climbing to the start of Central Gully in Huntington Ravine.

Ice climbing Central Gully

It can be really hard to read how thick the ice/snow cover is. Here Andrew easily broke through to the waterfall below with just a light step.

Ice Climbing Central Gully

Josh looks determined as he follows up Central Gully.

Ice Climbing Central Gully

Packing up in Huntington Ravine

Climbing Pinnacle Buttress

JLo starting a mixed climb up Pinnacle Buttress.

Descending Huntington Ravine

Starting the descent from Huntington Ravine to Pinkham Notch. I borrowed ice climbing boots to hike around in all weekend and boy do I regret that decision. The boots were far too narrow for me and by the end of the last day I could barely lift my feet up to walk, preferring to just shuffle. When I took my boots off in the parking lot, my feet were so raw that snowflakes burned my skin and I didn’t even ice climb! This project is definitely going to toughen me up a bit.

We were happy to hear that the hiker was found!