Central Pennsylvania's First International Closed Invitational Ice Climbing Festival

March 6, 2006

Tom Mrotek of the Penn State Outing Club and Fred Marin of the Lock Haven Outing Club hosted an early moring ice climbing festival out at the Hidden Amphitheatre on March 6th. They neglected to invite anyone else. Tom neglected the fact that Fred had never ice climbed before. Fred neglected the fact that he had class that morning. It seemed the theme of the day (as it is with Tom's social life) was neglection.

Although the ice conditions had sucked up until this point in the season, the Hidden Amphitheatre was in. Tom led the first crux waterfall pitch. When offered the chance to lead, Fred grabbed the tools and screws and ran at the second thin ice pitch. Tom was a little worried for Fred as he remembered watching the legendary Dave Seasholtz struggle to place solid screws on the pitch only the day before. He immediately felt better when he remembered that Dave's mind was weakening with age (along with his hair retention) and had forgotten to sharpen his ice screws. Fred did a fantastic job until he got to the anchor. Upon girth hitching two ice screws that were "in as far as they would go" Fred asked how to equalize a cordalette. Tom reached the anchor and took off on the third mixed pitch. The pitch offered up a little of everything: water ice, dry tooling, turf sticking, tree hooking, and loose shale that threatened to obliterate Fred the belayer. Fantastic!

All in all, this three pitch alpine delight was done in impeccable style. No falls and no hanging on the rope occurred. In an effort to cut down on weight, only one set of tools and six screws were taken. Upon reaching the belay, the leader would unceremoniously chuck the set of tools down to the belayer. Tom loved this idea as the set of tools cost him more than he spends in annual food consumption. To top it all off, Fred made it to his 11 am class on time and Tom almost made it to work on time by driving twice the speed limit between Lock Haven and State College.

The two woefully acknowledge that this climb may mark the end to Central PA's crappy ice season. (Temperatures soared to the 70’s the next weekend nailing the coffin for this short season.) Next year, Tom and Fred will strive to get more participants to attend the closed invitational. The events planned include putting up Central PA's first WI6+ and establishing Grade V by sleeping in a portaledge halfway up the falls.

Fred enjoying his first experience on Central PA ice.

Tom during one of his milder moments.

Tom Mrotek in Ice Conditions, 3/16/2006 •

Late Season Opportunity, Hidden Amphitheater, Clinton County

March 5,2006

Tom Mrotek, Dave Eisenhower, and I took a chance to grab a bit of late season ice and were pleasantly surprised in the favorable conditions at the Hidden Amphitheater. The ice was in the best condition we have experienced this year. After an early season start in December, we had suffered with unseasonably warm weather from the last week in December through the first week in February. Winter finally came back to Pennsylvania the second half of last month and all of the Lock Haven / Renovo climbs are now currently climbable. With the weather forcast predicting temperatures in the sixty’s towards the end of this week, I am sure the ice will either be gone or at least unsafe by next weekend. I apologize for not getting a report on conditions last weekend as things were probably in. We took a road trip north to the Adirondacks to find reliable ice that past weekend.

Hidden Amphitheater 03/05/06

Tom leading the first tier, Hidden Amphitheater 03/05/06

Dave E. on second, Hidden Amphitheater 03/05/06

Grade 4 piller on second tier in, Hidden Amphitheater 03/05/06

Roadside Gully low angle approach finally climbable 03/05/06

Dave in Ice Conditions, 3/5/2006 •

Slow Recovery, Roadside and Gemini Gullies, Clinton County

February 11, 2006

February has given us more seasonable temperatures. With lows in the teens, the ice has finally started to reform. Tom Mrotek and Seth Timpano checked on the conditions at Gemini Gullies and Roadside Gully this morning. Tom reports the routes are not near in on the steep tiers, but they do have a good layer of seed ice. No ice has started to form where there is excessive open flowing water. It will take several days of single digit temperatures to solidify the those sections.

Roadside Gully, 2/11/06 (Tom Mrotek photo)

Gemini Gullies, 2/11/06 (Tom Mrotek photo)

Dave in Ice Conditions, 2/12/2006 •

Still No PA Ice

January 31, 2006

We are still experiencing warm weather conditions in Pennsylvania. A pitiful season. Roadtrips to New Hampshire, Vermont or the Adirondacks are necessary to get your ice fix. Tom Mrotek sums it up with his request to “please put one or two of our photos on your site to show that we're not all posers that take warm weather in Central PA. as an excuse not to go ice climbing!” Check out the pics from road trips to New Hampshire by Wayne Barnard, Randy Edelman, and Tom Mrotek. Hopefully, the typical seasonal winter weather will return to us in February.

Dave in Ice Conditions, 2/10/2006 •

Dismal Update, Roadside Gully, Clinton County

January 1, 2006

The warm conditions have been with us for over a week and a half with no change in the forecast for the remainder of this week. Several rain events this past week have wiped out the snow cover which has caused excessive runoff and eroded the ice. The low angle approach to Roadside Gully is completely washed out. The first steep bulge is gone and Thriller Pillar on the second tier looks detached from the rock. Glass Menangerie on the third tier is still hanging, but is probably ready to fall. It’s time to head north to get your ice fix. Hopefully things will turn around in the next couple of weeks.

Roadside Gully 01/01/06

Dave in Ice Conditions, 1/1/2006 •

Damage Report, Hidden Amphitheater, Roadside Gully, Clinton County

December 26, 2005

We are now experiencing our first thaw; so much for the early season climbing. The highs have been in the low forties since last Friday, and it rained on Christmas day. The forecast predicts much of the same weather pattern for the next week. I hiked up into the Hidden Amphitheater this morning to assess the damage.... not good. The first tier had open water flowing over the remaining ice. The crux steep pillar on the second tier has degenerated into a half pipe with an open waterfall flowing through it. The easier left side had already partially collapsed and/or melted away. The third tier was still holding strong except for a very thin topout. From the highway at Roadside Gully, similar dismal conditions were viewed. The low angle approach gully has melted away leaving open flowing water. The steep upper tiers look soft but still intact. I’m not sure how long they will last. Hopefully the current warm spell will soon leave us and the cold temperatures return.

Hidden Amphitheater 12/26/05

Roadside Gully 12/26/05

Dave in Ice Conditions, 12/27/2005 •

Little Four Mile Run, Pennsylvania Grand Canyon, Tioga County

December 19, 2005

Wayne from Tioga County has found what a novice thinks is pretty nice ice for close to home. It is along Little Four Mile Run in the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon, and is accessed from the Turkey Path Trail at Leonard Harrison State Park. He visited the area on Monday 12/19/05 and played a little on the ice. Since he had no partner, he didn’t do too much by himself but still had a good day out on vacation. He has noted that if anyone is interested in climbing this ice, he is still on vacation until Tuesday 12/27/05 and is looking for a partner. Please contact him by email at LTLLEADER@aol.com.

Little Four Mile Run Falls, 12/19/05

Wayne from Tioga Co. in Ice Conditions, 12/19/2005 •

First Sticks Of The Season, Gemini Gullies, Clinton County

December 18,2005

Wayne Barnard, Randy Edelman, and I took advantage of the early season conditions and visited the Gemini Gullies today. The 7 mile drive down river to the gullies was uneventful as the dirt road had recently been plowed since the last two significant snowfalls this season. The first pitch off the railroad bed has not yet formed and is very thin. Many mud sticks and rock hooks were necessary to gain the upper amphitheaters. Wayne led Left Gemini utilizing a steep thin column that ended just short of the top. Several mixed moves were needed to reach the trees. Stubby screws were necessary for protecting this steep gentle ascent. After we all reached the top of Left Gemini, we traversed over and rapped into Right Gemini. Randy then led a nice thin pillar just left of center in the Right Gully. Topping out proved the crux due to the mixed moves needed to finish the route. Stubby screws were again essential to protect this route. On the drive back home we noticed tracks leading up into Roadside Gully so we assumed another party had been enjoying the early season conditions there.

Left Gemini Gully 12/18/05

Wayne Leading The Thin Column, Left Gemini Gully 12/18/05

Randy On Second, Left Gemini Gully 12/18/05

Right Gemini Gully 12/18/05

Randy Leading The Steep Pillar, Right Gemini Gully, 12/18/05

Dave On Second, Right Gemini Gully 12/18/05

Dave in Ice Conditions, 12/18/2005 •

Campbell Run Falls, Pennsylvania Grand Canyon, Tioga County

December 17, 2005

Tyler Benelli reports: Both of the two main falls have their main flows almost solidified, but there is still a significant amount of water flowing above their cones. Ice columns on either side of the main flows are forming nicely and they were able to climb side pillars in the second amphitheater. The two side waterfalls are still flowing strongly and it will take a few more weeks of cold weather to solidify them. They had a great time snowshoeing in and climbing a little, but he expects it will take a few more weeks of cold weather to really open the climbs.

Campbell Run Main Falls 12/16/05

Tyler Benelli in Ice Conditions, 12/17/2005 •

Time To Climb, Roadside Gully, Clinton County

December 17, 2005

A quick recon this morning confirmed my prediction that the routes would be climbable by this weekend. On Monday and Tuesday evenings this week, Central Pennsylvania experienced near record lows with temperatures in the negative digits. This solidified the low angle approach into Roadside Gully so that it now only has a few small patches of open water. Also, the steep pillars in the upper tiers look much thicker than they were last week. I know where I will be tomorrow..... getting my first sticks of the season.

Roadside Gully 12/17/05

Dave in Ice Conditions, 12/17/2005 •


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