Negatory Exploratory

Sometimes, the only information from a recon is negative. You find nothing. This isn’t a good outcome: not only do you return with nothing to show for your labors, but you cannot be certain you didn’t miss something. Years roll by, and you begin to wonder about those places again. Such was my frame of mind last Thursday, when I headed out to look over the Kibby Pond surroundings.

Rough depiction of the reconnaissance trip. Potential ice routes are marked with an “X”.
Map from Nat’l Geographic Topo! Software

Robin & I snowshoed out to Kibby Pond two years ago. I dimly recalled seeing some ice on the hillside across the lake, but couldn’t recollect a clear image of it. I returned to trailhead, hiked up to the pond (snowshoes weren’t quite necessary, but it was pretty close), walked northeast across it (discovering that is much easier to walk on the pond than on the far shore, btw), then bushwhacked up the marshy terrain at the head of the pond. I cut left, north-northwest, up the valley, then climbed a small ridge hiding the larger one behind it. From the pond, I had spied a few tendrils of ice on that conifer-topped outcrop, but up close, I didn’t see anything worth coming back for. That slope faces south/southwest, so the sun may have robbed it of otherwise stellar ice (there’s that “absence of proof is not proof of absence” thing for you); in any case, nothing stood out crying to be climbed.

I continued walking along the base of the steep slope as the snow began to fly hard. Soon, I could hear the occasional truck along Route 8, and then realized that to my left was a lot of recent logging slash. I was walking the border between State & private land. I hadn’t planned on coming quite this far northeast, but there it was: this ridge is the same one that holds the enticing ice line visible from near the Siamese Ponds trailhead. Unfortunately, as the map above indicates, this ice is on private property. I didn’t bother heading over to it. Instead, I cut across as quickly as I could to return to State Land and thence my car.

During the entire trip, I saw only one potential ice line on State land. It lies almost directly east of Kibby Pond from where the trail reaches it. It didn’t look particularly interesting: no grand hanging curtain or multipitch flow, just a fat patch of ice flowing over a steep wall below a slab. Not, IMHO, a destination worth reaching. If you want to camp out and do some exploratory ice climbing, this might be an OK choice, though even in that regard I can think of many better crannies in which to peek.

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