December 2003: After our epic summer in Wyoming, Sean and I made plans to climb in South America the next summer. We had very little experience on ice and snow in the alpine realm, excepting a little bit on Gannett Peak in the Wind River Range. So in order to build some alpine experience, we decided to head to New Hampshire over Christmas break and climb some alpine gullies on Mt. Washington.
In New Hampshire, we met and stayed with Ron Shildge, who we had met in the Tetons the previous summer. Ron wasn’t as keen on alpine routes and was very anxious about avalanche danger in some of the gullies we had our eyes on…so instead we ended up cragging at Frankenstein and surrounding ares for a couple of days.
Sean worked on his ice leading, and pushed his luck to the max on a WI3/4 that was over his head. He pulled it off, but it was definitely a learning experience. I scored my first ice lead, firing off a 20 degree ice slab that I could have walked up without tools. It was a good intro to placing screws and trailing a rope on ice, though.
We had an ok time, but overall, the trip was a major disappointment. Sean and I both had greater goals than a bit of ice cragging – ideally Shoestring Gully and Pinnacle Gully – but we deferred to Ron and avoided the high alpine terrain. So we did not get the preparation for South America that we had anticipated. Maybe we would have died in an avalanche on Washington had we pressed our plans, though…so I guess that it is pointless to knock the experience.