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Sunday, November 30, 2014

First backcountry tour of the year to Pioneer Falls

People were not around, the temperature was below zero but the sun was shining and I wanted to get outside. Being me, I picked someplace I had never been before. I knew Pioneer Falls as a really short ice climb so I figured I would skin up there, solo it, and skin back. So thats just what I did, with Manfred of course. As much as I like to portray that dog as tough, and he is, but he would not have made it without his puffy doggy sweater! The falls was blown out but still pretty. I bumped a cow moose off the trail and then spied 4 more cow moose from the road on the way out! I dont think I have ever seen 5 moose in a day. Maybe on Skalkaho pass but that was a while ago. It was amazing having such a magnificent place completely to myself with only the crunch of the cold snow and the squeek of old bindings and leather boots to listen to. Music to my ears!
My Basset plows through the snow! 
The life giving sun 

Manfred's Houndtex sweater is freakin awesome! He doesnt fight it a bit. In fact, I think he likes it! 

The original Spark Blazes are still crushin it. 
How many moose can you see?

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Hyalite Ice: Flanders; Champagne Sherbert

Sam and I got to climb the quintessential WI4 classic that is Champagne Sherbert. I had skinned up Flanders a few years back when I first got my splitboard but didnt do any climbing. So this was pretty much our maiden voyage to another Hyalite area. It was pretty easy to find and get to. I lead it and got a proper cold shower. By the time we were on rappel, the cold front had moved in, the snow started falling and the drips quit dripping. We called it a day, a mighty fine day. We tried to find High Crimes and Misdemeanors on the way out to no avail.
Champagne Sherbert is tall!

Sam following.
Traversing over to High Crimes, nice gloves Sam. 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Hyalite Ice: Gensis area pre-work free solo mission

I squeezed in some laps before work. I have climbed G1 a million times but I had never lead it or solo'd it, until this Thanksgiving eve. I stayed on the tall part of G1 and got to the top with no problem. Then I trudged up to G2 and ran up it easily. Next I got to put the boot pack in to the Hangover and solo'd it to the top. I was hoping to add Lower Greensleeves to the day but there were folks on it and it didnt have much ice. I love my new Nomics! The 12 inches of snow went from pow to slush and I spent atleast an hour digging cars out of the flat(!) parking lot including myself. I guess thats the price you pay for having the only shovel as well as being a nice guy.
G1. I went up about where the left climber is. 
Doesnt look like it should be swallowing cars, but it was! 

Monday, November 24, 2014

All mixed up in Hyalite

I got to climb with an experienced mixed climber and me being a novice, I really wanted to take advantage of his skill set and climb some mixed routes. We went to a climb on a chunk of the Unnamed Wall I had never been to called Magically Delicious and I proceeded to slowly freeze solid while Alex lead it. Its way too much fun climbing a route that requires slung icicles, pitons, specters, cams, nuts, and ice screws! Nice work Alex! Then it was my lead so I tackled Jeff's Right without much issue. I didnt get to place cams or nuts but I did pound in a specter as a piton and slung an icicle. His lead came up and he lead The Thrill Is Gone in proper style! Again, pretty much every form of pro I know was used on that climb. I was thrilled to climb it mostly so I could warm up! Needles to say that both our tools and crampons got a little duller and shorter on that trip.
The 35m Jeff's Right

Magically Delicious with almost too much ice.
Alex having a seat on the Thrill is Gone.
I dub it the 'selfie seat'

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Hyalite Ice: East Fork; Slight of Hand

Got to go to the East Fork again with Sam. This time we climbed Slight of Hand, a Hyalite classic and now I know why. This chunk of ice is unique so far as my climbing experience goes. Never have I ever got to chimney climb a section of ice before! Chimney climbing being a style of climbing where you have your back against something (ice in this case) with your feet straight out in front of you, about waist high. Obviously, in order to chimney climb, you need a chimney; I have never seen an iced up chimney before let alone get to climb one! And boy did it go from hero to zero in a matter of seconds. We planned on topping out on Slight of Hand and trudging up the mountain to Cave Gully and climb that pitch but seriously 60 seconds after shouldering the packs and walking up hill the blizzard hit furiously enough to force us to turn around. By the time we were driving out, it was nice again. I guess thats life in the mountains! Driving out Sam spied some ice through the trees that wasnt familiar so we walked up to it only to find out it was Pallisade Falls in unclimbable conditions.
Slight of Hand: The chimney is in the upper headwall, right side, not really visible. Note the clarity...
Looking down a long 35m.
This photo doesnt really capture how hard it was to open your eyes at this point due to the rapidly falling snow. 

Down goes Sam
Nice gloves!

I love flaking ropes! Not!
I think the right flow is the Killer Pillar and the left flow is the Big Sleep.
Our newly discovered first ascent ice climb! Haha! We're such suckers.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Hyalite Ice: East Fork maiden voyage; Horsetail Falls

Sam and I got to climb a Hyalite classic! I had never been in the East Fork period so you know I had to go check it out. A big reason I have never been up there is because the road becomes impassable pretty early in the ice season creating really long (for Hyalite) approaches. The base of the 3 pitch climb was reached in an easy hour. The first 35m WI3 pitch was tons of fun. The second pitch was mostly congested with a down tree but we were able to solo the main step. And then there was the column. The ice was bizarre if not spooky. Looking at it, it seemed very doable for me but after the 3rd screw I bailed. I have never had as much trouble putting a screw in as I did on that third one. I was right in the middle of the crux and it took me atleast 10-15 minutes to get one in that only got through the curtain that looked like solid ice. So I took it out and screwed in my 22cm screw (the longest one made) and it didnt bight either! Imagine a bunch of ice cream cones, styrofoam and christmas ornaments all piled in a huge column but they were only attached were there was contact. There is a large mass of ice but it was airy and hollow and unsafe. Im usually very prone to just climb on but I had no faith in the ice i.e. it felt like any one of my points could bust the ice at any minute. Not good conditions to run-it-out. Every time I kicked it, my boot went in all the way to the shin and my axes would bury all the way in and slice a few connections before they settled. Ill catch hell from some super experienced climbers but heck, I made it home with no injuries and I can always go back and try again.
Pitch 1
Pitch 3 the money pitch

This photo is deceiving; its steeper than it looks!
Sam flaking rope post down climb. 
Sam rapping the second pitch with the column visible above. 

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Hyalite Ice: Mummy 2,3 and 4

Kyler and I set out on a chilly morning to climb Mummy IV which might obviously require you to climb Mummy II and Mummy III. I lead Mummy II without too much trouble and belayed Kyler up. He was flirting with the screamin barfies at the top. Next we walked up a couple hundred meters to Mummy III and watched the party ahead of us climb it while we basked in the soul-warming sunshine. Mummy III was also my lead so Kyler could keep his strength for the sure-to-be pumpfest that constitutes Mummy IV. I had never lead a mixed route (ice and rock climbing using ice and rock protection) but I knew I had to step into that world eventually and Mummy III wasnt scaring me away. I was able to find decent pro in the beginning but once I got the the crux I had a hard time finding anything trustworthy. Some people dont agree with the saying "when in doubt, run it out" but I do. The longer I farted around try to protect the climb the weaker I was going to get and the stronger the chance of a high consequence fall. So I ran it out into ground-fall territory but got to the top just fine. Im pretty stoked on my first mixed lead; I never got too worried, my confidence stayed high and I didnt have any close-calls (like ice or rock breaking or one of my points slipping off). Kyler really wanted to give Mummy IV a try but due to my content-ness from what I had already done, I wasnt exactly super supportive. We both agreed, as well as the party of two ahead of us, that it was too thin anyway. Oh well. It will be in someday. Attempt #1, lets see how many it takes.
The party ahead of us climbing Mummy II
Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh my hands!
Kyler's tough guy face. 
Walking up to III and IV with IV visible.
III with climbers and IV above.

Climber Phil leading III the mixed pitch.
We got to hang out with the clouds way up here!

Kyler topping out III

Checking 'er out like a 18 year old school girl...
Remains eye candy, for now. 
III in the shade and IV in the sun, a juxtaposition.