View Full Version : Ammonoosuc Ravine, Mt. Washington

12-01-2012, 09:58 PM
I climbed the main drainage up the center of Ammonoosuc Ravine today (December 1st). Just before Gem Pool, I left the trail and dipped into the river.

My route

The footing was a bit tricky following the river because it hadn't entirely froze and I was breaking through the thin ice at places.. but before long I was looking up at a giant icy gully.


The first few ice sections were very thin with running water so I bypassed them to the right without too much issue. Then the walls of the gully rose up on either side and the ice seemed to go on for a mile. YES.

About halfway up, I encountered some ice that was close to the limit of my solo comfort level. Since I was by myself and saw a do-able escape up the gully wall, I decided to bypass it. The thrashing was a full body workout. As I made my way back towards the drainage, the only way to get back down was to rappel! I was forced into more thrashing up the ravine until I found an entrance back in. The going was slow through thick shrubs. I missed out on a giant flow perched just above what I chose to bypass.. and all I could do was look at it with longing and take a picture.


But the disappointment ended quickly as I encountered countless ice steps with varied features that kept it very fun.

321 323 322

At the top of the ice section, beautiful formations hung down guarding the exit. What a cool reward.


Once the ice was over, it was a long slog up to the Westside Trail. Just when I thought it was about to get miserable, I noticed the cairn. The visibility was low above treeline, it was chilly and snowing but the winds weren't bad at all. I took a quick look at my map and decided I was closer to the Lakes of the Clouds hut then the Jewell Trail so I headed down to the hut and took the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail back down. I thought it was appropriate since Lakes of the Clouds are the headwaters for the 55 mile Ammonoosuc River. I turned my headlamp on once I got to Gem Pool again and had a warm, enjoyable hike out.

(click image thumbnails to enlarge)

12-01-2012, 10:31 PM
Nice Job! Any guess as to what grade the gully goes at (2+, 3-)??

12-02-2012, 03:46 AM
Nice job Courtney. You now know about what you thought of all last week!

Good photo's too.....

12-02-2012, 08:39 AM
Scott, I'd give it a 3. If the lower falls freeze up before the snow dumps in there, add a + to that.

12-02-2012, 09:21 AM
Nothing like some quality time alone in the woods in the winter...

Bet that was a satisfying day!

homeless junkie
12-02-2012, 03:17 PM
What an adventure!.. and a great read with lots of pics. lovin it.

12-02-2012, 09:55 PM
Great writeup Leaf! Digging the pics.... Looking like a cool place to explore :)

12-02-2012, 10:55 PM
Whoa! Who knew all that ice was back there? Looks awesome, definitely want to check that out. Nicely done!

12-03-2012, 12:42 AM
Thank you!

I recommend this route during this time of year, when the cold is consistent for a week or two and little snow has fallen. I was surprised how deep the gully was in some places.. there were cliffs to either side of me at times, making the route more committing than it already is. Yes, it is for those who have a healthy appetite for adventure and a full day to experience it.

Sometimes, and most times without effort, it is hard to get away from the 'bustle' of the White Mountains... like standing in line at the base of Pinnacle Gully.. So when I can plunge into rarely climbed places safely, I do. I had been watching the weather, climbing in other areas of the Whites for a few weeks now and I had a good feeling it was the right time to explore that side of Mt. Washington. It was a full on adventure starting with the simple fact that I had no idea what I would encounter. Being in a place tucked away like that gives me that remote wilderness feeling that I love, but that is hard to replicate each and every time I head north. This route was something I had wanted to do for awhile, so getting it done in those conditions and in the style I did was very satisfying. Climbing alone heightens every sensation, every movement and every decision. It is only then that I feel I am truly engaging with the mountains.

12-03-2012, 07:40 PM
That is so cool! Can't wait to lead W3 ... I've always had a gut feeling about Ammonoosuc. Great job documenting.

12-31-2013, 01:35 PM

Thanks for the great post! Was a nice read and very nice photos.

Just curious, do you think it will be too snowy now and thus not worth it? I was thinking of going this week if the weather works out.


01-11-2014, 07:00 PM
Climbed it yesterday. Was amazing! Thank you for the write up on this route. I can't believe it isn't in the guide book. Ice was good and fat all the way and not much snow at all between each step. A bit of river hopping at the start.

01-15-2014, 12:18 PM
Great post - thanks! Coming up from CT this tomorrow for a long weekend of climbing with my son and would love to take a look at this route. Do you have a recommendation for best place to park to do the route? Thanks!

01-15-2014, 01:49 PM
I just parked at the Base Station parking lot.

This page talks about the parking and the Ammonoosuc Trail (not the ravine).

01-15-2014, 02:54 PM
Hey Andrew! Sorry I didn't see your initial question on 12/31, otherwise I would have answered it. Glad you got on the route and it was in good shape! It's definitely a gem. I wrote up a longer article on the route here: http://neice.com/2013/12/new-hampshires-grade-iv/

I would recommend parking at the lot just before you get to the end of Base Rd / Cog lot. There's a big sign saying HIKERS PARKING ---> Then just walk up to the end of the road to the cog lot. The trail starts between the two little cabins up the hill. The Ammo trail has a dedicated lot, but it wasn't plowed out when I was there. Either way, don't park there.. that adds a half mile or so of needless trail.


01-15-2014, 03:17 PM
Yeah I was there on a weekday. We were the only car for the entire day as far as I could tell. I parked at the first parking lot when you reach the Base Station. I saw the sign you are talking about.

Oh and the trick as to when to head off the main hiking trail is when you hit Gem Pool which will be on the right side of the trail just before the trail starts heading up continuously, just before that pool is when you want to switch to the Ammonoosuc stream bed.

Picture of Gem Pool here:
Have fun! Becareful it has been quite warm and they've gotten a lot of rain recently.

You wouldn't by chance happen to know any other awesome hidden Gems? :-)

01-16-2014, 08:42 AM
That correct on the approach to the drainage.

And you'll just have to stay tuned to NEice... ;)