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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Goose Creek Meadows powder hunting

Ran up to Goose Creek after work for a quick lap to the top and back. The snow was coming down in waves so I expected to find abundant pow pow. I found some freshies but not as much as I had hoped for. The wind was blowing too hard for the snow to stick.
When you have the only skin track in that much snow, you know you are going to have a good time. 
This bad selfie shows the horizontal snow. Its the evening, but its not as dark as the camera flash makes is seem. Skiing in the backcountry by yourself at night is truly a unique, intrapersonal experience to any skier. 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Hyalite: The Fat One WI3

Sam, Terra and I had big plans to climb the Thrill is Gone, the Fat One and the Elevator Shaft all in one day. It turns out, when the weather is puking snow on you, plans change. The rock rack got left in the car so no Thrill is Gone. A bunch of other climbers were on the Unamed Wall and we couldnt get on the Elevator Shaft. So we waited for the Search and Rescue trainees and trainers to clear away from the Fat One. I lead it easily with only a couple of screws. I set up a top-rope and we hung out there all day. Towards the end of the day we walked over to the Elevator Shaft just so Sam and Terra could get a look at it.
The Bingo Cave.
The Fat one with climbers from Canada.
The Elevator Shaft.
Yup, its the mountains in the middle of winter!

Lick Creek Backcountry

It was so warm and sunny that being indoors just wasnt an option. I had picked up my new Gecko climbing skins earlier in the week and decided to put some miles on them. After applying a thick layer of sun screen, I went for a walk in the woods. The snow on the E face was excellent was the snow on the W face could use some help.
The main fork of Hyalite on the right and Flanders drainage on the left. 

In the few years I have been skiing Lick Creek I have never seen windloading like this let alone a cornice collapse! 
It actually ran a little ways after propagating across. 
Otherwise the turns were fantastic!

Trying to capture that evening glow on wind-swept terrain. 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Wednesday Night Ice with Prolite Crew #2

Met 'the boys' at G1 for another funky G1 party (and girls too). Big turn out. I was still a little fatigued from the big weekend in the South Fork but managed 4 laps. Manfred spectated and got all the pets as usual.
G1 in great shape. We put ropes over every square inch of that baby. The far climber's right candlestick is my favorite. 
A few friendly folks enjoying an festive Wednesday night!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

South Fork Ice: Trip 1

Lucas and I set out for the other Mecca of ice: the South Fork of the Shoshone River just outside of Cody Wyoming. This year is a banner year for their ice and just about everything is in and fat! I wish I would have done better at photo documentation. We showed up to the free Deer Creek campground Friday evening with enough time to shiver around a campfire and eat some dinner. We took a little tour of the valley Saturday morning to get a lay of the land and to decide where we should climb. We decided on climbing Cabin Fever 60m of WI4 to the WY Wave 4 pitches of WI3. So we did. I had not lead WI4 up to that point and that first pitch was pretty exciting. The ice was wet and rotten and thin. But 7 screws later I got to the anchor and brought Lucas up. Then I lead the next 3 pitches of WY Wave and Lucas grabbed the last pitch. We gained 1400ft total. Sunday we cruised around to find open ice and ended up on the Schoolhouse route 3 pitches; 1st WI3, 2nd WI4, 3rd WI3 with lots of ice bouldering in between. That route brought us 1800 vertical feet above the valley. The last pitch was wet! Water was pouring over it. It would fill up my sleeves while I was placing a screw and when I would lift my arms above my head it would all pour down my sleeve and into my torso. Thank god it wasnt too cold and that it was the last pitch! Had a pretty good party with some climbers from CO back at camp that night and a pair of whiskey hangovers might have played a role in us not climbing on Monday. 
The Cabin Fever WI4 pitch to access the WY Wave.

Climbs WAY harder than it looks.
Lucas beneath the 1st pitch of the WY Wave.

A text book example of a half-rope system if I do say so myself.  Thats me on top of the 1st pitch of WY Wave.
So I missed a photo of the second pitch but here is me on the 3rd.
And here is Lucas on the 4th.
Lucas across the valley. There is ice everywhere you look.
Looking up at Schoolhouse creek.

Ice bouldering: too short and easy for ropes.
This gully came after the first pitch which I think was the best chunk of ice we climbed all weekend.
This is Lucas giving it his all on the crux pitch which I ended up finishing.
Here we are sitting beneath the last waterfall pitch. Thats Schoolhouse Spire in the background.
Lucas didnt want to climb it cause it was so wet but if I had to climb it, he had to climb it. 
Looking down during the return trip. Looking across the valley gives you an idea of how high up in the mountains we got.
Packin' up
The Schoolhouse Route follows the main gully.  You can see our ribbons of ice.
Ice climbing in cattle country.
Some pretty cool erosive forces around here.

Are we really ice climbing? My boots and gaiters are nothing but mud! 

Lucas' custom motorhome. 

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Hyalite: The Elevator Shaft WI3+

 Lucas and I decided to party in Hyalite this particular Saturday evening. Hyalite weather looked gnarly from town and we hoped it would be; adds a little bit of intensity to the situation. It was actually pretty nice up there, until I started my lead. The groppel was insane! It was rolling down the ice gully as non-stop spindrift and I was forced to breathe it in and choke on it! Lucas cleaned the route then I TR'd it twice and Lucas got one more lap in. This was my first climb using mono-point crampons and I'm hooked!
We're not going there right!?
The Bingo Cave; hardest mixed routes in Hyalite are all right there. 
When the ice touches down, the route is called Bingo World. 
Some say this is the best route in Hyalite: The Thrill is Gone. Havnt climbed it yet but hope to this year. 
Looking across the valley at the Genesis area, Mummy Cooler area, Corner Climbs, and even Winter Dance.
The Elevator Shaft.
Looking down at my belayer after my best lead. I have already been lowered about half way down the route.
Lucas sending even though he wasnt feeling 100%.
Up into the dark abyss. Its a really cool feeling knowing that you are way up on some ice in the mountains and its dark but you are safe and warm and having fun.