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Saturday, March 29, 2014

Longest descent in Hyalite? NE face of Elephant Mountain..... try 1

Ever since I began chasing Hyalite ice, I have been driving by and gaping at this face. A couple of years ago I saw ski tracks down it and they were some of the post inspirational tracks I have ever seen. I just couldnt believe someone had the balls to go up there and ski it. Well, feeling pretty bold, Brett C. and I made a big push for it. The road above Hyalite Reservoir closed early due to poor conditions so we got to skin an extra couple of miles in. Once across the lake and pretty much due West of the Grotto Falls parking lot, we headed up. And up. And up. 4 hours after leaving the car, we got to a high point just before you get to the basin/bowl at the base of the face. I had to be in Townsend in an hour and we were spent from some horrendous bushwhacking so we called it good. The vis was pretty poor and we could tell it was windy up high but up to that point, zero red flags (besides the real time observations of the peak and the forecast of course). I think we got about 1500ft of turns down to Hyalite creek and then the long slog back across the lake. Brett definitely gets VIP of the trip for keeping such a positive attitude even though I knew he was running on empty. I was pooped and I have been out a few times; it was his first of the season! All in all I think we got about 10 miles of travel in. Needless to say I was a couple hours late arriving in Townsend. No, I didnt get it, but Im still stoked on it and cant wait to try again. Big time lines like that dont always happen on your first try. Knowing when to turn around is a valuable asset. The North face of Blackmore, less than a mile away as the crow flies, slid big time that same day.

Why getting up super early is always worth it. 
See those two beautiful lines coming off the summit directly above Brett's head? Yeah...

Hmm, we've been skinning for miles and it still looks a ways off...
Getting closer...

The return trip. Conditions obviously deteriorated on us throughout the day.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Hyalite: The Dribbles WI3

All my climbing partners were either out of town, hungover, or had girlfriends to attend to so I went up to Hyalite with the intention of soloing The Dribbles. I had never climbed it but I feel really comfortable on ice WI4 or less so I figured a solo could happen safely. I was booting up in the parking lot when I noticed another climber, Tod, by himself. He was heading to G1 for some solo laps so we decided to team up and climb The Dribbles cause he hadnt done it yet this season. We cruised to the climb in 60 minutes and I lead the first 3 out of 4 pitches including the crux 50M pitch. Awesome climb! Since I wasnt soloing, I was able to take the path of most resistance and turn it into a full value climb. We might have done half a pitch of WI5! Tod lead the last pitch into the trees. We did two rappels down Avalanche Gully and were back at the packs in less than 2 hours! The view of the canyon from the top of The Dribbles is one I had never viewed before; its breathtaking. I made a new friend and got to climb the biggest chunk if ice in Hyalite in glorious sunshine.... hope those hangovers were worth it!
Looking up at the climb, well, 3 out of the 3.5 pitches anyway.
Great exposure. Todd coming over the roller looks like he could have been climbing for thousands of feet!
Looking down some run-off creating a giant hidden waterfall behind a curtain of ice. Its hard to tell but we are looking down 20-30ft of waterfall.
Maid of the Mist.
Looking up the canon towards Hyalite Peak from the top of the climb.

Looking across at Cleo's and Twin Falls.

Upper Genesis Exploration

Sam and I, after a (Mc)Alpine start, broke trail up to G2 (WI3) for Sam's first time. G2 was quick, easy and fun. We then walked by The Golden Mean (WI4 M4-5?) but it was blown out. So we trudged up the hill to Through Four More (WI4 M4-5?). It was not touching down but I thought I saw a way up it. After pulling handful after handful of rock off, I was able to get a piton in. Since I had some gear in and I was feeling good, I made a big move to the ice and with one swing, broke a few feet off the bottom. Luckily Sam was able to dodge it. Defeated, I had Sam lower me off the pin, which decided to pop out when I was just a couple feet off the ground. Next, we hiked over to the Hangover (WI3) and sent it to the very top ~36M (my 70M didnt put one of us on the ground). We relocated the axe we dropped in the snow on the traverse over and headed home.
Looking down at Sam from the belay on top of G2.
The Golden Mean 
Just to give you an idea of how high up you get when you are marching around upper Genesis.
Through Four More. I tried to climb just left of the moss. This is before the attempt. The ice on the left side is now about level with the top of the rock in the center of the flow.
The Hangover is so big I think its a full grade easier.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Some more G1 Wednesday Night laps

Sam, Manfred, Travis and I spent a few hours climbing G1. We started on the climber's right candlestick which was as exciting as ever. Then we slowly moved left climbing two lines on the steep curtain. We finished on the easier column that has formed from an abundance of run-off. Earned the 'last ones out of Hyalite' award.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Pine Creek: Green Gully, a North American Classic

Sam, Manfred and I drove out to to Pine Creek hoping to climb one of the most classic chunks of ice in North America... and we did (60m WI3)! I have actually climbed it before, well almost. Lucas and I stopped about three-quarters of the way up last spring. After wallowing through knee to crotch deep snow, we got to the base. Manfred was NOT having fun. I sent it pretty easily using 7 screws. I set up a top-rope and we each got a couple laps on her. I pulled an old piton I found from far climber's left. Gorgeous day up there and we had the whole drainage to ourselves. Luckily I had some tire chains and a shovel in my Trooper; the only reason we didnt spend the night out there. We drove in on frozen snow and plowed through deep wet snow on the way out.
Manfred is doing a little better now. He has his fleece lined down doggy jacket on and is on his fleece blanky for a nap. Wallowing/trenching through the snow tuckered him out!
Sam climbing. For scale: he is right next to the knot connecting the two 70m ropes (i.e. he still has 35m to go). 

Never had any bad feeling about the avy danger. 

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Hyalite: Switchback Falls and some Dry Tooling

Sam, Travis, Manfred and I had a wonderful evening of climbing in Hyalite once again. We were originally heading to G1 but we decided Switchback Falls (WI3) might be more fun because of the dry-tooling routs immediately to the left of it. I lead it with one screw (all we had) and set up the top rope so we could climb either the ice or the rock. Travis and I got our pump on on the rock with a couple of ice laps while Sam ran lap after lap up the ice. Manfred spectated.
Travis is belaying Sam up the ice. The dry tool routes are just to the left of the ice. The fall line of his end of the rope runs over one of them.
Lights on
Lights off