Of Central Pennsylvania Ice Climbing Conditions
04/01/05 - It's
over in Central PA. for another season. Thank you to all who sent in
ice condition reports this year. Even though we got off to a late start,
we had a pretty good season that lasted to the end of March. I did a
little ice bouldering below the falls on McElhattan
Run in Rosecrans on Sunday 03/27/05. My ice
farming project was still holding up, but we had heavy rain that
night and temperatures in the sixties this week. I believe that was
my last sticks for the season. Today, I cleaned up my ice gear for summer
storage and repacked my climbing pack with rock pro, shoes and chalk
bag. (The changing of the guard).
03/16/05 - Jeff Grant and I decided to push the season and trekked up into Roadside Gully to see what was remaining to climb. The low angle approach is in poor shape so we climbed to the left of the running water to the base of the first tier. The first tier is still holding strong but does have a few patches of open water. All the routes on the second tier are in very poor shape and are definitely not leadable with thin delaminated ice. Left Pillar is very thin and does not reach the top. To the right, Thriller Pillar is separated from the rock by at least a 20 inch gap behind the ice. We traversed off right along the base of the second tier and then climbed the dirt to the base of the third tier. WOW, the third tier is in stellar condition!!! From left to right, the mixed route, Scumbag, has a narrow pillar of ice along its entire route. Motorhead is in as good of condition as I have seen it in the past 20 plus years that I have climbed here. It sports two options for ascent and looks like it should hold screws well. It appears to be in grade 4+ condition. The Merrell Roof Project mixed route still awaits a first lead ascent. Glass Menagerie has just touched down and looked a little too sporty for me to lead, so I traversed to the right, climbed the dirt, and set up a top rope for Jeff and I to put in a few laps on the route. This was Jeff's first exposure to grade 4 and he found the route to be quite a challenge. Watch out for falling ice and rocks during these warm March days. We witnessed several rocks flying down the slope towards the road that must have cut loose because of the thaw.
03/12/05 - Dave and Jeanette Luber from Maryland spent Saturday morning at Rickett's Glen in the Ganoga Falls amphitheater. They climbed some of the steep lines off to the right of the falls. Both had a great time in the sun. Dave reports the ice seems to be holding in there, but is quite stepped out from multiple ascents this season.
03/11/05 - Enjoyed another day in the Gemini Gullies with Wayne Barnard, Dennis Younkin and his son Cody Younkin. Wayne and I soloed up to the base of the steep headwall in Left Gemini before setting the belay and uncoiling the ropes. Wayne then led the steep center pillar. The ice was solid and topping out proved to be the crux. We setup a top rope that Dennis used for instruction to hone Cody's ice climbing skills, rapped down, then traversed over to the right gully. In Right Gemini, Wayne led the steep pillar on the left side of the headwall. Again, topping out involved root snagging and dirt sticks. We traversed back across the top to Left Gemini, combined ropes and rappelled back to the railroad tracks. Not a bad day for the middle of March. Get it while you can.
03/07/05 - Lock
Haven: Went to the Gemini Gullies on Sunday, March 6th. with Jeff
Grant and my son-in-law, Dave Eisenhower. I led Left
Gemini and finished the steep
amphitheater on its left side and then up right along the ramp.
Topping out required a couple
dirt sticks and snagging the rhododendron. , I believe I have a
new partner with Dave,
he has just returned from active duty in Iraq and enjoyed the relaxing
day out in Penns woods. Conditions are still good in the Gemini's with
plenty of wet ice. Be aware that all the ice ends a couple feet short
of the top, and the leader will have to be creative to finish a route.
The other Lock Haven areas have not held up as well as the Gemini's.
Roadside Gully looks
pretty bad from the road with open water on the approach gully. Higher
up, the first two steep tiers look very thin and baked out. The left
side of the third tier still looks inviting, but I can't be sure from
the road. Hidden Amphitheater looks to be toast as viewed from across
the river on the approach road to the Gemini's. Temperatures on Sunday
started in the teens, but by the afternoon had warmed up to the forties.
02/20/05 - Dennis Yonkin reports he was out to the Gemini Gullies on Saturday the 19th. He soloed up Gemini left, ran out of ice, and crossed over to right. He ran into Bill Fritz and Dave Freed from the Williamsport area who were climbing the left side of the head-wall on Gemini Right. Dennis then crossed back over the the left gully to look at conditions there. Both upper amphitheaters have lot of water running and also a lot of hero ice. They are top-ropeable but he wouldn't recommend leading them. The top-outs are very iffy on both sides.
02/15/05 - Things are not looking good with the current weather conditions. I took a quick trip today up to Hidden Amphitheater to look for an ice screw I had lost there a couple weeks ago and discovered the whole second tier had crashed to the ground. I don't know how many tons of ice, but the rubble pile was quite large and right on top of where I assumed the screw would have been. Bummer. Be careful out there, in these warm temperatures things could let loose without warning. The Gemini Gullies still look good from Rt. 120, but I have no idea how the ice is higher up in the steep amphitheaters. I wouldn't want to be halfway up the Gemini's in it's narrow gullies if one of the upper pillars cut loose. No place to run. Thursday and Friday nights are supposed to drop into the teens and this may help solidify things back into a safe condition.
02/12/05 - Greg Anderson, Paul Warren and Chuck Stricker from North Carolina enjoyed a raid into yankee territory and climbed at the Dingman's Falls area of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. They climbed a route just to the left of Silver Thread Falls. The route was in but melting. Silver Thread itself was hollowing out very fast in the warm conditions and it had a lot of water volume flowing over the falls. Hopefully the next cold spell will return quickly enough to resolidify things before they are too far gone.
02/11/05 - Damage
Report: Things were holding strong until the heavy
rains on Wednesday. The low angle approach to Roadside
Gully is now completely washed out. I accessed the upper steep tiers
via a narrow gully to the left of Roadside and traversing over to the
base of the first steep tier. I ran into Ed Hosler and Damon Lowell
at the base of the steep stuff where they were top roping left pillar.
We combined ropes for the rappel back to the road. The first steep tier
is pretty beat up from the water and it forced me to back off my solo
to the base of the second tier. On the second tier, both Left
Pillar and Thriller Pillar still look leadable, but Left Pillar
looks a little thin and it ends a bit short of the top. A few mixed
moves will be needed to top out there. None of the routes on the third
tier have touched down yet but they may allow an ascent with a mixed
02/08/05 - News Flash: Ice Gear has gone on sale (20 % off) at Appalachian Ski & Outdoors in State College, PA. Black Diamond Vipers, hammer or adze, reg. $219.00, now $175.20. Petzl/Charlet Moser Quarks, hammer or adze, reg. $245.00, now $196.00. Black Diamond Bionic Crampons, reg. $159.95, now $127.50. Black Diamond Contact Strap Crampons, reg. $99.50, now $79.60. Black Diamond Raven Pro Axe, 65 cm., reg. $99.50, now $79.60. Black Diamond Turbo Express Ice Screws, 19 or 22 cm., reg. $52.50, now $42.00. Visit the store, call toll free at (800) 690-5220 or visit the web site at www.theadventuresource.com. This is just a shameless sales pitch for where I work.
02/06/05 - I checked out my little ice farming project today below the falls on McElhattan Run at Rosecrans near Loganton, PA. The ice has come in nicely and sports a nice steep pitch of ice approximately 25 ' tall. I did a couple rope solo laps on the route. It's just a short obscure pillar, but it holds longer than most ice in PA. On a good year, we have climbed here into April.
02/05/05 - I took a trip up the Renovo road to see who might be enjoying our local resources. The only climbing party I saw was in the Gemini Gullies. After soloing the first pitch of right Gemini Gully, I traversed over and took a few pics of Bill Fritz and Dave Freed from the Williamsport area climbing the steep headwall in the Left Gemini Gully. They had led Left Gemini then setup a TR to do laps on its steep center section. I rapped out with them. Driving home, I noticed a car parked at Hidden Amphitheater that I assumed was Dave and Jeanette Luber from Maryland. I hiked up and soloed the two first tiers of Hidden while taking pics of Dave and Jeanette leading the steeper right route. I enjoy running into the Lubers when they come up to climb the local ice. The Lock Haven routes are holding strong in this warm weather, in fact I saw evidence of fresh ice that had formed overnight from the freeze/thaw cycle.
02/05/05 - Dennis Yonkin took a trip to Montgomery to see how it was handling the recent warm spell. He reports it was "coming down hard... dodging chunks of ice... lots of water". Montgomery gets a lot of direct sun and these warm bright days are putting a hurting on the ice there.
02/04/05 - Dennis Yonkin and I visited the Gemini Gullies today. Things are in stellar condition. We traded leads in the Right Gully and finished on the left side groove with a little root snagging and a few dirt sticks. After topping out, we traversed over the top to the left gully, rapped down and savored the great ice there. The Left Gully sports a steep finish on a 25 ' vertical wall of ice. We are experiencing a warming trend for this weekend and the ice is wet in places, but I don't think it will take a big hit because all of the Lock Haven ice is in the shade. Come and get it kids, things don't get much better than this. The low angle approach in Roadside Gully has finally filled in and the steep stuff above looks good from the road. I may have to check that out tomorrow.
01/30/05 - Wayne Barnard and Randy Edelman spent a warm day at Montgomery. Randy led a climb in the right facing corner to the right of the former hanging pillar. (Check out the photos of this pillar in last years archive) Easy start with a steep ending. Wayne led a stiff climb a little further right which they don't think existed last year. They then hiked down the tracks towards the railroad bridge over the river to check out some longer climbs that are known to exist there. Lots of potential but not much in shape. After a steep approach, one ice axe to the head, and a large falling chunk of ice that nearly took both of them out, Randy led a stepped climb there that all of his screws melted out on (37+ degree sunny day). Mini epic, but still well worth it.
01/29/05 - 01/30/05 - Jim and Tom McCorkle and Jess Cratty from Butler, PA spent the weekend exploring the ice in the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon in Tioga County. They climbed Saturday along the west rim on a 60+' falls on Burdic Run. This was accessed by the Siemans Trail from the Painter-Leetonia Road to the south of Colton Point State Park. On Sunday they visited the Leonard Harrison State Park on the eastern rim and hiked down the Turkey Path (closed in winter) and climbed the waterfalls on Little Four Mile Run. Another long line (~90') was also climbed on the right side of the falls directly below the trail. The Pine Creek Gorge (PA Grand Canyon) has numerous waterfalls in most of the streams tumbling into canyon. Many opportunities exist for climbing ice in a wilderness setting here to those who like to do a little exploring.
01/29/05 - Christian Murray, Jeanette and David Luber, and Joe Luber made it out to the Poconos on Saturday and climbed Silverthread Falls in the Dingman's Falls area in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. Silverthread is a fun, easy climb currently in Grade 2 condition. The falls are in solid top to bottom. The first pitch is very easy and stepped. The second pitch starts out steep and eases off at the top. Beautiful day to be out.
01/23/05 - Dennis Yonkin took a recon trip to Montgomery this afternoon and reports that the routes are coming in nicely but they probably need another week of cold temps to bring them into stellar form. Also, the large hanging pillar that we enjoyed last year does not seem to be forming this year. Something must have changed with the hydrology above the route. Maybe the recent snow cover will help it along. This is a great area to visit but it does take a hit from the sun on warm days.
01/22/05 - Jeff Grant and I spent the afternoon at Hidden Amphitheater. We chose the middle route (grade 3) as it looked the best to hold screws. Topping out was a bitch with several mixed moves through a small rock overhang and lots of munge. The steeper right route (grade 3+ / 4) on the second and third tiers is not yet in with a large cascade flowing over the ice and bare rock at the topout. The casual (grade 2) left route also looked leadable. This was Jeff's first ice experience and I believe he is hooked. Stopped at Roadside Gully on the way home and it still has not come into condition on the low angle approach. The open water patches will have to be skirted around on the frozen dirt to access the steep upper tiers. The second steep tier's best option is Thriller pillar as the other routes are still quite wet. The third tier has not yet touched down and still consists of only hanging curtains. We just need more cold weather.
01/19/05 - After two plus weeks of above average temperatures and heavy rains, winter has finally come back to Pennsylvania. The ice is now coming back and we may have some favorable conditions by the weekend. We have had two nights in a row of single digit temperatures with this trend extending into the weekend. I took a quick recon trip to check on the ice in Roadside Gully (01/19/05) and Hidden Amphitheater (01/19/05) this morning. There is excessive runoff this season causing both climbing areas to still have open running water from this strong water flow. The weather forecast for the next several nights again calls for single digit lows. Hopefully this will help freeze up the remaining open water. Ice is also forming in many obscure spots in these gullies from small seeps because of the elevated ground water table. These may present the climber with many new opportunities for routes to climb. Visibility was poor this morning because of falling snow and I could not get a good look across the river at the Gemini Gullies. I suspect they are in similar condition as Roadside and Hidden.
12/31/04 - Things are looking pretty dismal in central PA. Unseasonably warm temperatures this week have put a hurting on the ice. Roadside Gully (12/31/04) has running water on the low angle approach and the steep routes in the amphitheater look soft and delaminated from the rock. There is ice visible in the Gemini Gullies but it also looks thin and melting. The ten day weather forecast indicates a depressing trend of above freezing temperatures with no freeze in sight. I am glad we took the road trip this past week to the Adirondacks to climb some quality ice. We will need a good week of single digit temps to recover. Pray for cold weather.
12/22/04 - After several days of very cold weather and reading reports on NEIce of ice being climbed in eastern PA, I thought I better check on the Lock Haven climbs. This morning I took a quick solo up the low angle stuff in Roadside Gully (12/22/04). Most of the low angle section is covered in ice but several of the steeper bulges were too thin for soloing and I traversed them on the left with a few dirt sticks. The steep amphitheater (12/22/04) has a good start for the season but still needs to fill in. The first steep bulge is good but only Thriller Pillar looks climbable on the second vertical tier. Left Pillar looks pretty grim and needs more cold weather to bring it in. On the third vertical tier, both Glass Menagerie and Motorhead have a good start but are not close to touching down. Surprisingly, the mixed climb on the far left of the third vertical tier, Scumbag, has a super thin pillar that appears to be touching down from my vantage point at the base of the second tier. This is a good start for the season . Unfortunately we are expecting warmer temps and rain on Thursday the 23rd. Another cold spell is expected this weekend and I hope the area recovers quickly.
12/18/04 - Cold weather has finally arrived in Central Pennsylvania. The local ice is finally starting to form and the weather reports look promising. Roadside Gully (12/18/04) has some ice forming along the edges of the low angle approach and ice can be seen forming on the upper vertical tiers. Hidden Amphitheater (12/18/04) has similar conditions. We have had a very wet fall season again this year and there is a large amount of runoff in the gullies. Because of this excess amount of water, we will need at least a week of sub-freezing temperatures to bring the area into condition. Hopefully there won't be any hacks in the gullies this next week knocking down all the "seed ice". Please wait until we have a good base.
11/15/04 - Nothing to report for this new season. It's still too early for Pennsylvania. We have had cold nights but the temperatures have been rising into the 40's and 50's during the days. The folks up north in Vermont and New Hampshire have been enjoying some early season ice. Sounds like it's time for a road trip. Check out the links below to view archives from the past two seasons.
Other sources of information on Pennsylvania Ice Climbing Conditions:
This page was last updated on 04/01/05.