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Sunday, November 29, 2015

Hyalite Ice: Dribbles with Colombia Falls Crew

An old friend and new friend were chasing ice up Hyalite so I thought I would lend a hand. I met Devin and Chris at the Grotto Falls TH and off to the Dribbles we went. It was fun walking down the trail and pointing out dozens of climbs to excited and eager eyes. They wanted something big and it doesnt get any bigger in Hyalite than the Dribbles. There was already one slow moving party on the route so I just tackled some of the tougher lines climber's left of them. They, a group of two, were already done cleaning the first pitch when we started and we topped out ahead of them. Devin and Chris hadnt climbed in a group of 3 before and I was telling them that 3 can be just as efficient as two if you know the system. And we proved it. They had to run back to C.Falls so we didt get to climb anything else that day but I spent a couple of hours with a bow saw cutting downfall off the trail from the Godzilla wind storm we had earlier. Probably the nicest weather/day I have had in Hyalite so far this year.

Pitch 1. I held the sharp end for the whole climb.
The drippy belay at top P1, base P2.
The bottleneck on P2.

I dont know if this was a pose or not; you dont need a full arm swing to penetrate ice. 
P3 the money pitch.
A pano of (L to R) Divide Peak, Maid, Palace, Elephant (Blackmore might be in there too)

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Hyalite Ice: G1

After the consecutive shutdowns on Twin Falls and Divide Peak, I wanted guaranteed success aka G1. Sam, Manfred and I spent a gorgeous day on the ice getting lap after lap on just about all the climbable ice. We also got to climb with a living 80+ year old legend, PC. G1 may be the quick and easy but it never gets old.
I have climbed G1 a thousand times via top rope and free solo but this day I got to lead it. 

THE PC doing what he does best. 

Saturday, November 21, 2015

First backcountry tour of the year: Divide Peak

With the large snowfall overnight, skiing was the only discussion. Nick, Adam and I skinned the 5 or so miles up to the South face of Divide peak. I broke a crucial part of my binding system on my right foot and had to skin gingerly the last couple miles before it finally broke beyond repair. I had already decided against a summit bid because I didnt want to completely break my binding and hamstring myself for the walk out. The trail is pretty flat so I wanted to be able to be in walk mode verse ride mode the whole time. We split up somewhere between 600-1000 vertical feet from the summit and a minute later my binding completely broke. I was bragging at the trailhead about how awesome Spark's generation 1 equipment is and how long it has lasted me. Thats juju for you. I carry replacement parts for every single component of my splitboard set-up, or atleast I thought I did. I have never been stuck anywhere before but I knew with the huge amount of powder snow that 'stuck' was going to be the word of the day. Even though I was around 10kft high and the snow was cold and the slopes steep, downhill progress was impossible. There was too much snow to ski! I ended up trenching through the snow to the cliff face, got to ski a little bit of that cause it was steep enough, then resumed trenching back to the trail. Then, with one foot strapped into the board in ride mode, I kicked and pulled all the way back to my truck. Nick and Adam showed up 20 minutes later. No question, that was the most effort I have ever put into a ski day with essentially no skiing; 11-12 miles and a couple three thousand feet later! BUT there is amazing terrain back there and a safe/efficient way back to the trail if you know someone that is familiar with the area.
Diggin' Pits. Super safe conditions everywhere we went. 
The South face of Divide is in the sunshine. We're closer to Hyalite Lake in this pic.
Where we split. I think my binding broke before they even got to the trees. 
I walked out right past the Hyalite Snotel. These are some Brunchorst climbs I believe.  

Friday, November 20, 2015

Hyalite Ice: Twin Falls shut down

I thought a quick trip out to Twin Falls would be productive cause the weather in town was great....
The weather held all the way to the parking lot but once I started gaining altitude, the clouds opened up on me. About at the point when you first look up at Cleos, the wallowing began. Knee to nipple deep snow all the way up to Cleos and all the way over to Twin. The base of Twin Right must have had 8' of powder! Not only was there new precip falling, but the wind started spindrifting the snow making it seem like a white out blizzard! I couldnt look up at the climbs let alone think about soloing them. So I took an adventurous route out back to the trail and found some ice that is not in the 12+ year old guide book. Hmm (no photos).
The East Fork has some sky showing. The Main Fork to the right looks more ominous. 
Maybe 2 hours after the last photo. 
One of those is the Matriarch.

A sourpuss selfie; note the horizontal snow
Twin Right
Twin Center and Twin Left

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Hyalite Ice Scouting Mission: Dribbles area

Manfred and I found ourselves with an early afternoon so obviously we went climbing. I was hoping there might be some ice to climb in the Dribbles area and there was but I didnt have the daylight or the headlamp to climb it. Everything is looking pretty good though I have never been to this area this early before so I have nothing to compare it with.
Over Easy
You know
Land Before Time not in
Stuff right of Cleos
Something left of Twin
Something left of the something left of Twin
Maid of the Mist
Avalanche Headwall
Major rock slide on Maid of the Mist
Silken Slot not in
Silken Skein Falls is in
Silken Skein Falls plus moon sliver

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Revenue Village: Roadside Ramps

With a heat wave (relative) cooking Gallatin Valley, out to the Village Manfred and I went. My target was a cliff just off the road that I have been driving by for 5 years now with only one scouting visit that I dubbed the Roadside Ramps. With the (welcomed) threat of other route developers, this low hanging fruit had to be plucked. There was a lot more snow than anticipated which made anchor installment particularly cold and wet. Unlike ALL the rest of the Village so far, the top of this cliff wasnt exactly a walk up, nor was the top a nice flat platform. I had to kneel and lay down in some snow to safely install the two bolt anchor (wearing blue jeans). At exactly 30m, 'Mushrooms are Good for Sundays' (thanks Neil for the hilarious route name) will go at 5.11+ pure sport. I got 11 bolts up it before I ran out of hangers; it will take two more to finish it.
Mushrooms are Good for Sundays goes up the middle of the face of the looker's right ramp. 

As seen from the road. 

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Hyalite Ice: Comet Alley

Nick, fresh off the horribly sick couch, and I made our maiden voyage up Comet Alley hoping to climb Comet and Asteroid. Surprisingly, we were the only climbers at the TH that morning. After a long and engaging approach, we reached the beautiful curtain of ice known as the Comet. Just to our right sat the Asteroid; touching down in both spots but a wet soggy mess. I was putting in my first screw in Comet when a season-ender sized rock came whizzing by my shoulder and hit the snow less than 3 ft from me. We had been seeing and hearing lots of little rock fall (it was warm and we were in a thaw cycle = rock fall) but it seemed manageable. That rock was a game changer. I scampered to the top and set up a top-rope. I climbed it again before Nick cleaned it and we retreated. Comet alley was quickly becoming an accident waiting to happen with the increase in rock fall and thawing ice. What a magnificent lace to spend a morning though! Its a pretty spectacular slot canyon fairly unique to Hyalite as far as I know. Ill definitely be back when its a little colder.

Me looking down at Nick presumably after the rock fall with a deer in the headlights face.

Down climbing with the upper portion of Asteroid visible.