The Gorge on the west ridge of Mt. Lincoln

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fthurber

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Does anyone know about the gully that runs north off the west ridge of Mt. Lincoln? This exposed gorge is clearly visible from the Agonies along the Old Bridal Path up to the Greenleaf Hut and from the hut. This is not the Throat on Lincoln, or the other slabs on the west slope of Lincoln (which Guy Waterman called “Lincoln’s Shaving Nicks”), but rather a flume-like slice into the northern slope of west ridge of Lincoln.

This gully is choked with snow and ice in the winter and might present an interesting climb. In the summer it might be a cool, interesting flume (or a dark, slimy, impassible fissure). I am especially curious about what it is like in the summer.

As far as I can tell it was first explored in 1880 by Charles E. Fay who descended down it from the untracked west ridge of Lincoln. He called it a precipitous “sunless gorge”. There is no easy access to it that I know of, but in 1897 Frank O. Carpenter cut a trail up the west ridge of Lincoln, but this trail was obliterated by subsequent logging.

I would think that the way to access this gorge would be to follow Walker Brook up to its major fork. There may be old logging roads in this area, but I have heard conflicting accounts of these. Take the south branch of Walker Brook (toward the Throat) and look for the base of the gorge on the right (well before the Throat). In this way the gorge could be accessed without damaging the alpine vegetation on the upper west ridge of Lincoln.
 

Becca M

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Not really sure where I was, but, when I tried to hike Lincoln's Throat a few years back (summer!), I reached a point where I could go no further so I cut up left into the woods. I was probably to the left of where you were describing, anyway where I was, trees were horrendously thick (I was unlucky I guess) with vegetation and blowdowns... took me forever and I lost part of my pole (another $100+ set gone - cause I don't have spare parts - I do now HAHHA). I am just saying it's nasty in that general area....

Getting up Walker Brook was not a problem - there are lower logging roads and you can relatively easily follow the brook. Above that, it's a different story.
 

Jazzbo

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If you're interested in off-trail navigation you should visit Steve Smith's Mountain Wanderer blog. He has a blog post for just the area you're interested in Walker Ravine dated 1/20/2015. There is a search function in the upper left hand corner. Just type in Walker Ravine. Unfortunately there is a Walker Brook on Moosilauke so search will bring up his explorations there also. It is useful for SAR to know their way around Walker Ravine because hikers often end up in there when they lose the trail around west slope Lafayette. In the blog they follow an old logging road for a time.
 

fthurber

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Here is a picture of it from the Greenleaf hut. The Throat is in the middle, above my son. The gorge is on the right.

gorge.jpg
 

fthurber

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Here is Fay's description of his rather bold and dangerous descent of this gorge. I have probably made mistakes transcribing this so please refer to the original account in the May 1881 Appalachia journal for the most accurate account:

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In making the ascent of Mt. Lafayette, on the 12th of September, 1880, Professor Cross and myself, during our halt for lunch just beyond the lakes, noticed, as we looked across the broad intervening ravine, a narrow dark shadow running for some distance down the precipitous northerly slope of the great west spur of Mt. Lincoln. It began perhaps a hundred feet, measured on a vertical, below the crest, and somewhat to the right of a noticeable protuberance of rock on the ridge-line, -- just to the right also of the upper part of the broad expanse of precipitous ledges that form so prominent a feature on the northwest slope of this mountain. It extended perhaps half-way down the remaining distance to the ravine bottom. A good opera-glass failing to determine its nature, we decided to explore it, and to return to the Profile House by the untried way of the ravine. This plan we successfully accomplished.

We found the mysterious shadow to be caused by a sunless gorge, which if not so remarkable a natural feature as we had hoped to find, seems to us a worth of a visit from such sure-footed pedestrians as should find themselves on Mt. Lincoln. A half-hour would afford time to obtain a general idea of its character and return to the summit but for a thorough exploration (such as we were unable to make) one should be provided with a long rope, and allow more than an hour. Time will also be saved if, when ascending Lafayette, one carefully notes the point on the crest ling below which the shadow begins. Descending too soon, we were forced to make our way several hundred feet through dense scrub growing on a treacherous and precipitous slope.

Reaching finally the proper point, we found a very steep, irregular, rocky gully, down which, during rains, a considerable quantity of water doubtless finds its way to the brook below, and where the drainings of the previous day’s rains were still trickling. We undertook to make our way down it, but found this by no means an easy task. At one point our simplest course was to remove some large stones that lodged in a broad crevice which began abruptly at the base of the a steep rock, and to let ourselves down through the hole thus made to its steeply inclined bottom some six or seven feet below us, thence under the sky again. A few rods farther brought us to a place beyond which it seemed imprudent to venture without proper appliances. From here, so far as we could discover, there was an almost vertical descent of perhaps seventy–five feet. Much caution was requisite in abandoning our chosen path, as it was necessary to take advantage of a few widely separated projections of the rocky wall as footholds, and to choose discreetly upon which of the shrubs rooted in the wet, mossy soil we would rely for our grasp. On reaching higher growth, we made our way rapidly down the rocky bed of the main stream.

We had intended to make our way to the lower end of the gully, and investigate it from below, but our time was quite short…..With our most earnest endeavors, this did not prove possible…
 

fthurber

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Not really sure where I was, but, when I tried to hike Lincoln's Throat a few years back (summer!), I reached a point where I could go no further so I cut up left into the woods. I was probably to the left of where you were describing, anyway where I was, trees were horrendously thick (I was unlucky I guess) with vegetation and blowdowns... took me forever and I lost part of my pole (another $100+ set gone - cause I don't have spare parts - I do now HAHHA). I am just saying it's nasty in that general area....

Getting up Walker Brook was not a problem - there are lower logging roads and you can relatively easily follow the brook. Above that, it's a different story.

I am not sure of your compass orientation, but for me the gorge would be on the right when going up the south branch of Walker Brook. I don't doubt that it could involve a horrendous bushwack to get to its base and then the real difficulty would start (the gorge is probably technical and wet in places). Good news about the logging roads along the brook. I have seen some accounts and even a picture of these roads but it is good to know that they are still acessible
 

Salty

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Bingo! It was hard to find due to sun angle on various sat. photos, but this one made it clear and I can correlate boulders and such to the actual pictures.

LincolnGorge.jpg
 

fthurber

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Bingo! It was hard to find due to sun angle on various sat. photos, but this one made it clear and I can correlate boulders and such to the actual pictures.

View attachment 6127

Ah, very nice.

I noticed a lot of faint linear features in this image that are roughly parallel with the main slide up to the Throat; I wonder if those are old logging roads....
 

NHClimber

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How difficult is it to get to base of Lincoln's Throat? Looks like it is mostly rock hopping up Walker Brook. I've done some slide hikes (eg, Webster, Whitewall). More difficult?
 

NHClimber

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fthurber

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A LIDAR map of the area would be really interesting. LIDAR can penetrate the forest canopy and might show ground features such as old logging roads.

I am not sure if LIDAR maps are available for the Franconia range, but it seems as if other areas of the Whites have been mapped according to this UNH site: http://lidar.unh.edu/map/
 

sierra

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That gully looks horrendous. I imagine its loose, wet and very unstable. I wouldn't attack without helmets and full rock climbing gear.
 

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