McElhattan Run, Rosecrans

March 10, 2007

Time was tight this weekend, so Saturday morning Wayne Barnard and I visited a small area in southern Clinton County near his home. This small 25 to 30 ft. flow has been one of our ice farming projects in past years, but we have not had the opportunity to visit it since 2005. Conditions were very lean this year and only one thin pillar was worth sticking a pick in. Due to the small diamater of the pillar, I suggested we just toprope the skinny thing, but Wayne, always the style purist, said no way and racked up his lead gear. I must say this tiny thing was a delicate bold lead.

Rosecrans Pillar 03/10/07


Rosecrans Pillar 03/10/07

Central PA conditions note:  Even though we experienced cold winter conditions this past week, temperatures rose into the 50’s on Saturday with light rain in the evening. Sunday was warm and sunny and this is causing the snow pack to quickly melt. The weather forecast calls for temperatures in the 50’s and 60’s extending through Thursday. I hate to say it, but it may be over folks!

Dave in Ice Conditions, 3/12/2007 •

Damage Report, Roadside Gully, Hidden Amphitheater

March 4, 2007

With temperatures pushing 50 and a large rain event this past Thursday night, I assumed the worse for our local central PA ice climbing areas. After receiving a report from David Tandberg and Shawn Dorius Saturday, I was surprised that the Lock Haven / Renovo climbs were not a complete washout. Their report of the Gemini Gullies and the accompanying photos showed the Gemini’s are holding strong with only the top 15 ft. of the routes degraded. I took a quick trip up Rt. 120 this afternoon to personally assess the conditions in Roadside Gully and Hidden Amphitheater.

Roadside Gully appears to be holding strong with only a couple holes eroded through the low angle approach to the steep upper tiers. The upper tiers seem to be still intact, but I assume they are no longer bonded to the rock and open water will be flowing behind the ice. Good judgement will be needed to decide if the routes are safe enough to climb in these warm soft ice conditions. Be advised, the approach gully will become a bowling alley in the event that something above cuts loose. Remember, gravity always wins, so don’t become a statistic!

Roadside Gully 03/04/07

Hidden Amphitheater took a big hit from the runoff and snow melt in Greens Run. All three tiers are washed out with only the left lower angle ice on the second tier holding on. In the past, I have seen this second tier completely crash to the ground, so climbing here is not recommended. Being this is now March and it would take several weeks of COLD weather to bring things back in, Hidden Amphitheater is done for this year.

Hidden Amphitheater (RIP) 03/04/07

Dave in Ice Conditions, 3/4/2007 •

Gemini Gullies, Bucktail Canyon

March 3, 2007

Good conditions were not completely wiped out from the rain event this past Thursday into Friday. A report from David Tandberg and Shawn Dorius today: “A couple of us from State College hit Lock Haven this morning and had a great time. We checked out Roadside and Hidden but both looked kind of sketchy as a result of the recent rain and warm weather (thin soft ice with lots of water running). We ended up climbing Gemini. The ice was fine until the last 10 or 15 feet of the final wall. Beyond that we felt comfortable placing screws and got good tool placements in the somewhat soft ice. Based on what we saw we don't think there are many more ice climbing days left in the Lock Haven area!” Thanks for the report Dave and Shawn! I will be doing a recon trip up Rt. 120 to Renovo tomorrow to assess the conditions and take a couple damage report photos of Roadside Gully.

Dave Tandberg midway up Left Gemini Gully 03/03/07 (Shawn Dorius photo)

Shawn Dorius working up the headwall in Left Gemini Gully 03/03/07 (Dave Tandberg photo)

Dave in Ice Conditions, 3/4/2007 •

Hidden Amphitheater, Bucktail Canyon

February 25, 2007

The warm days and light rain this past week did very little damage to the Lock Haven / Renovo ice routes. We have been blessed with six solid weeks of climbable conditions - a complete contrast to last year’s washout. It has been great to get my ice fix without having to travel farther than 45 minutes from home. Wayne Barnard, Randy Edelman, and I took a quick trip to Hidden Amphitheater this morning. Conditions are basically the same as last week. Randy had never climbed in Hidden before, so we let him get the full experience from the sharp end of the rope. It was also good to get Wayne out as he has been tied up with work related schedules and travel this season.

Randy starting the second tier, Hidden Amphitheater 02/25/07.


Second tier, Hidden Amphitheater 02/25/07.


Pulling for the top, Hidden Amphitheater 02/25/07


Third tier, Hidden Amphitheater 02/25/07.

Dave in Ice Conditions, 2/27/2007 •

Hidden Amphitheater, Gemini Gullies, Bucktail Canyon

February 24, 2007

Dave Luber made it up from Maryland to the Bucktail Canyon on Saturday 2/24/07 for a little Central PA ice. Dave reports: “We climbed first at Hidden Ampitheater - experienced similar conditions as those reported by you and Ozana. I led the steep middle line on the 2nd tier - always a blast. From there we ventured over to the Gemini Gullies. The 7 mile dirt road approach was fine that morning. I do not have a 4 wheel drive vehicle and had no issues. The ice was in great condition. We opted to do the left gully and the climbing was great. The topout is a little sparse with the classic frozen turf and Rhododendron hooks.” Thanks Dave for the report and condition photos.

Gemini Gullies 02/24/07. (Dave Luber photo)


Looking up into the steep amphitheater in Left Gemini Gully 02/24/07. (Dave Luber photo)

Dave in Ice Conditions, 2/27/2007 •

Roadside Gully, Hidden Amphitheater, Bucktail Canyon

February 24, 2007

Ozana Halik from the Potomac Mountain Club made the road trip from Washington DC on Saturday to central PA. Ozana reports: ”I'm sending you a couple of photos of Roadside and Hidden. The conditions were good, not too wet, but water was running under the ice. Also, some ice was falling (melting) down from the right side of Roadside Gully. Hidden was also holding good but we didn't get to Gemini Gullies. We had a great time.” Thanks for the report and photos Ozana!  The Potomac Mountain Club has a great informative web site. Check it out at

Low angle approach, Roadside Gully 02/24/07. (Ozana Halik photo)


Steep upper tiers, Roadside Gully 02/24/07. (Ozana Halik photo)


First tier, Hidden Amphitheater 02/24/07. (Ozana Halik photo)

Dave in Ice Conditions, 2/26/2007 •

Roadside Gully, Bucktail Canyon

February 21, 2007

I received a mid week report from Ed Hosler,  Lock Haven YMCA Climbing Director. This was very valuable to assess the damage from the warm temperatures and light rain that fell on Tuesday. Ed reports: “Amber Young and I were at the Roadside Gully yesterday. Unfortunately we only were able to climb a small amount of route due to getting on the ice later in the day. Conditions at Roadside are good. There is a hole in the ice about 30 ft. up, but I still think we have some time left this season. We only played around on the bottom section, Amber got her first picks in and was feeling good. From what I could see all the upper tiers are still good. Most of the bottom is still snow covered, which makes for some cool tooling on the scramble up to the first tier. As always, be safe.” From the report and photos, ice conditions don’t look like they took that much of a hit from the warm weather. Thanks for the update Ed!

Roadside Gully 02/21/07. (Ed Hosler Photo)

Amber on the low angle approach, Roadside Gully. (Ed Hosler Photo)

Dave in Ice Conditions, 2/23/2007 •

Hidden Amphitheater, Bucktail Canyon

February 18, 2007

My son-in-law, Dave Eisenhower, and I gave Hidden Amphitheater a go this afternoon. All three tiers are in thick and conditions are great. The second tier’s right side still needs to grow and touch down to bring in the true grade four pillar.

Second Tier, Hidden Amphitheater, 02/18/07

Because I am not as comfortable leading as I used to be, I stayed on the lower angle ice on the left side of the second tier.

Did I mention I don’t enjoy the sharp end as much as I used too?

Dave E. pulled his first lead on the third tier on the right corner variation. Before rapping back to the base, we did several top rope laps on the steep right side of the second tier. It’s currently pushing grade four in difficulty.

Dave Eisenhower topping out on the third tier, Hidden Amphitheater 02/18/07

Currently, there is 10 inches of fresh snow on the ground from the large storm last week. We have been enjoying full on winter conditions for the past month.  If you visit the eastern side of the river, please let me know the road conditions to access the Gemini Gullies. My best guess is that it is now only passable by 4wd vehicles.
Update Tuesday 02/20/07: Starting today, weather conditions have turned for the worse with temperatures soaring to 45 degrees and light rain. This warming pattern is to extend through the end of the week. I will post a damage report this weekend.

Dave in Ice Conditions, 2/20/2007 •

Roadside Gully, Bucktail Canyon

February 17, 2007

A party from the Pittsburgh area visited Roadside Gully on Saturday. Broxton Bird reports: Climbed Road Side Gullies. Conditions were good. The first long pitch was covered in snow, about 1-2 feet, with the steeper sections exposed. For the most part, the ice was good on the low-angle bottom pitches, except for the upper part where it became rocky. The first tier ice was solid and thick, good climbing. The second tier was also great. I led the left pillar and it was awesome. Good gear placements, good pick placements. The top was a little thin and scary. The third tier is coming in nicely and would have gone, but we were there late in the day, and since it was getting dark we bagged it. I think it is thick enough for a solid lead now though. Can't wait to get back before it warms up and lead it! This was my first experience climbing ice in PA and I must say that I was pleasantly surprised. I can't wait to get out and check out the rest of the areas!

Dave in Ice Conditions, 2/19/2007 •

”The Beast” gets first lead ascent!

February 11, 2007

Although this in not exactly Central PA, Rob Ginieczki (Griz) and Brint Price pulled off a long awaited first ascent of “The Beast” on the Secret Cliffs II in Western Pennsylvania. This route has been a long sought gem with much top rope activity, but the boys from south eastern PA finally put this route to rest with an unrehearsed on-site lead. Check out the pics of this 200 ft. grade 5+ route! (Be advised, this is private property, see the “Ice Climbing Pennsylvania” guidebook for details.)

Looking up The Beast! Griz pulling lead. (Ray Burnsworth Photo)


Griz near the top, The Beast, Secret Cliffs II, Western PA (Ray Burnsworth Photo)


Griz on The Beast, Secret Cliffs II, Western PA. Many more lines await first ascents! (Ray Burnsworth Photo)

Dave in Ice Conditions, 2/19/2007 •

Hidden Amphitheater, Hyner Amphitheater, Bucktail Canyon

February 11, 2007

After climbing Roadside Gully today, Tom, Fletch and I hiked up the base of Hidden Amphitheater to check on the conditions there. Hidden had at least three parties climbing on it this weekend and conditions could not have been better.

Hidden Amphitheater, 02/11/07

All three tiers are in FAT and the steep right side of the second tier has filled in completely to give climbers a taste of grade 4 ice. I took a couple photos of a party from State College enjoying the steep second tier. Tom was in Hidden Amphitheater yesterday and rigged a permanent rappel anchor at the top of the third tier. This allows a single rappel to the base using double ropes.

Climber On Steep Second Tier, Hidden Amphitheater 02/11/07

Mitch Lebold from State College took a solo trip up into Hyner Amphitheater on the eastern side of Bucktail Canyon. (This is the site we climbed the first ice of the season). Mitch reports:  Not much change due to the sunny days but it is rare to see it this good condition. The column to the right of the amphitheater on the rock buttress is still very thin at the bottom.

Hyner Amphitheater 02/11/07 (Mitch Lebold Photo)

Dave in Ice Conditions, 2/11/2007 •

Roadside Gully, Bucktail Canyon

February 11, 2007

Tom, Fletch, and I got first sticks into Roadside Gully today. Conditions are stellar due the the week of single digit temps we have experienced. We soloed the low angle approach on thick wet ice.

Roadside Gully, 02/11/07

Fletch took the sharp end of the rope on the upper amphitheater’s first steep tier and belayed us up to the sloping ledge.

First Steep Tier, Roadside Gully

Fletch decided to give Thriller Pillar a go ( please understand I did not sandbag him into his first lead onto this 3 + pillar, it was his idea ).

Fletch Beginning Thriller Pillar, Second Tier, Roadside Gully 02/11/07

Tom and I held our breath while Fletch cruised to the top. Quite a bold first lead on leashless tools. He found it quite exciting!

Flech in the middle of it!

Left Pillar on the second tier is also in fat enough to support a lead. We decided to toprope it and each took a lap on it. Good Steep Ice!!!

Left Pillar, Roadside Gully 01/11/07

On the third tier of Roadside Gully, Knee Scum and Motorhead are not yet touching down, but Glass Menangerie looks like it could support a gentle lead. We decided to save it for another day and not possibly bash it to the ground.

Glass Menangerie, Third Tier, Roadside Gully, 02/11/07

After setting two new permanent rappel stations, we rapped out on double ropes with two rappels to the road. The one new rap station is located on the ledge between the second and third tiers near left pillar, and the other is mid way up the low angle approach gully on its left side. Look for the double green perlon slings.

Dave in Ice Conditions, 2/11/2007 •

Gemini Gullies, Bucktail Canyon

February 4, 2007

Ice is coming in now in Bucktail Canyon between Lock Haven and Renovo. The temps were in the single digits last night through today and the Roadside Gully’s low angle approach is now filling in nicely. The steep tiers up high still look like they may not be touching down, but the weather forecast for this week will support fast growth.

Roadside Gully, 02/04/07

Kim, Fletch, Tom, and I  (All Appalachian Outdoors Staff) decided to give the Gemini Gullies a go. The drive in is still passable by car as there is only around 2 inches of snow on the ground. Both gullies have improved since last week.

Gemini Gullies, 02/04/07

We started out with two leads but ended up finishing with all of us in the left gully because the right gully was too thin to support a lead to the top. Tom led the left gully’s steep amphitheater following the right corner route. The ice was as hard as boilerplate and the climbing was a lot harder than it appeared because of the COLD temps. Tom pulled off a bold lead as topping out was pretty tough. (I popped off on the last move)

Tom wondering what I talked him into.

Gunning for the top.

Fletch on second and Kim waiting to go next.


Tom rigged two rappel stations in Left Gemini Gully. Double earthtone 8mm perlon slings with rappel rings were set on the left side at mid height and on the right side at the top of the amphitheater. This allows decending the gully in two rappels with double ropes. We will continue to rig permanent rappel stations in all the gullies this season to facilitate easy pulldowns and to save the trees along the routes.

Dave in Ice Conditions, 2/4/2007 •

Daytrip to the Catskills

January 28, 2007

Since the local Central Pennsylvania conditions were less than stellar, we decided to pull off a day trip to the Catskills. We climbed Buttermilk Falls in Kaaterskill Clove. A long but enjoyable day.

Dave in Ice Conditions, 2/2/2007 •

A Good Start But Not Quite In - Bucktail Canyon

January 27, 2007

Conditions are improving, but the main Lock Haven / Renovo areas are not ready. Roadside Gully’s low angle approach is now forming, but is still quite thin and has several areas of open flowing water. The steep upper tiers are slowly coming in, but are still thin and poorly bonded to the rock. Another week of cold weather should have this gully in climbable condition by next weekend. The seven day weather report is still favorable with lows in the teens. (If you would like to see what the low angle approach looks like in a good year, check out the 2002/2003 Archive on this site)

Roadside Gully, January 27, 2007

Hidden Amphitheater shows similar conditions as Roadside Gully with thin poorly bonded ice and patches of flowing water. Another party had hiked up into Hidden this morning, but decided to let it grow for another week. Thank you for not bashing it to the ground in it’s fragile state. It should also be ready by next weekend.

Hidden Amphitheater, January 27, 2007

I noticed a party across the river starting up the Gemini Gullies. I suspect this was the same party that had done the recon of Hidden. Later, I learned it was Tom Mrotek from State College. Tom reports:  Both right and left Gemini Gullies have solid ice on the low angled section. The upper tiers were not fully in, they were thin with some running water. The curtains looked unstable and were about 8 feet short of touching the ground. In fact on Sunday, two people (whom I will leave anonymous) were climbing in the left gulley and a section of the curtain collapsed and hit the belayer’s foot (slight injury resulting). They should both be in this weekend.

Dave in Ice Conditions, 1/27/2007 •

First Sticks, Hyner Amphitheater, Bucktail Canyon

January 20, 2007

This past week we have finally started to experience winter weather. ( It has been unseasonably warm since the second week of December). We decided it was time to head to Lock Haven / Renovo to see if the ice was forming. The conditions in all three of the main areas, Roadside Gully, Hidden Amphitheater, and Gemini Gullies, are far from in due to the large amount of runoff from last week’s rain event. Seed ice has started to form along the sides of the gullies but open water flows in all three areas. We will need many nights of very cold temps to slow these flows and solidify them.

Roadside Gully 01/20/07

Hidden Amphitheater 01/20/07

Gemini Gullies 01/20/07

I did get first sticks of the season on ice formed on the avalanche fence that protects the railroad. This has formed at the base of Loner Gully just south of the Gemini Gullies from water splashed up on it. At this point we will take what we can get.

First Sticks of the Season! Notice no crampons.

We did notice that the main gullies were not in due to excessive water. In contrast, other new areas had formed from seeps of water trickling between the rock’s bedding plains. We bushwacked up to one site ( Hyner Amphitheater) that looked promising on Hyner Mountain several miles north of the Gemini Gullies. I had never climbed at this small amphitheater, but had noticed other climbers had explored the site in years past. Hyner Amphitheater is two hunderd yards north of the obscure Shoestring Gully that sometimes forms into a long grade two route on this section of Bucktail Canyon. The amphitheater today offered one short steep pillar and several mixed opportunities. The conditions were a bit too thin to lead so we opted to toprope the route. (Sorry Wayne) Not what we had hoped to find today, but still a fun day out in Penn’s woods.

Hyner Amphitheater

Tom Mrotek comtemplating the mixed finish on this pillar.

Dave Eisenhower getting his ice fix.

Dave in Ice Conditions, 1/20/2007 •

Ice Climbing Pennsylvania Guidebook

December 22, 2006

Rob Ginieczki’s long awaited new Griz Guide, Ice Climbing Pennsylvania is now out! Pick up a copy at or your local climbing retailer. Ice Climbing Pennsylvania contains the most comprehensive coverage of the popular and the elusive ice and mixed routes throughout the state. From the chossy shale cliffs along the Delaware River to the steep sandstone quarries of the Laurel Highlands, this book has got the beta!

Pennsylvania Ice Climbing by Rob Ginieczki (Griz Guides)


The format of the book takes on a dual personality; first as an informative and detailed ice climbing guidebook and second, a historical document for ice climbing areas throughout the state. Covering over 200 routes/areas, this book is sure to show climbers some new terrain. For many, you'll be stoked to have shorter travels to reach some fun ice. With over 300 black and white pictures to drool over and super-accurate information, this guide will get you to frozen fun, fast! This is a must have for those who search out frozen adventures in the Keystone State. Pick one up today!

Dave in Ice Conditions, 1/20/2007 •

Early Season Teaser

December 9, 2006

Winter has finally showed its face to Pennsylvania. After a very unseasonably warm November, we have experienced the first blast of Winter temperatures. Ice has started to form in the Lock Haven / Renovo gullies. Unfortunately, this colder trend is probably short lived as the highs for Sunday are to push to 48 degrees. Bring on more cold weather!

Roadside Gully, December 9, 2006

Dave in Ice Conditions, 12/9/2006 •

Please Submit Ice Conditions

November 13, 2006

Your help is needed to keep this site up to date. If Ice Climbing in the Central Pennsylvania area, please post a conditions report using the link to the right and I will add your comments to this page. If you have any current Pennsylvania ice climbing photos that you would like to share, please email them with descriptions to me at Thank you in advance...Dave Seasholtz

Dave in Ice Conditions, 11/13/2006 •

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