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Saturday, March 26, 2016

Hyalite Ice: Slot Corner to Land of the Lost

Climbing and linking Slot Corner to Land of the Lost has been a priority of mine for a long time and I finally got to make it happen. Sam and I took advantage of the last Saturday of the season in Hyalite to get er done. We actually tried to do this climb the previous weekend but missed the turn (cause there wasnt one; nobody has been up there in a while) and ended up in Avalanche Gully. We used the early season approach to reach the seldom climbed first pitch of Slot Corner. It was an easy WI3 that only required one screw to reach the top. Pitch 2 was the money pitch of the day; the actual 'slot corner' pitch was atleast 4 times larger than any photo of it I have ever seen! I guess its usually a column of sorts but not this day. It was just one giant vertical sheet of ice very very similar to Curtains. I tackled this short and to-the-point WI4 with just a couple of screws and off/up to Land of the Lost we went. Land of the Lost are climbs located in the same gully as Slot Corner and could just as easily be called Slot Corner pitch 3 and 4. The first pitch of LoL was the best ice we saw all day. I led it without any trouble. Sam volunteered to take the sharp end on the last pitch and he brought me up a very thin, snowy, rocky final pitch. It was really cool being so close to Winter Dance; a climb I can only dream about for now. About the time we topped out, the sun finally reached us and the snow and ice turned to total crap. Im really glad we got up a little extra early this day. I was at the Unnamed Wall the previous night scouting Bingo World and Thrill is Gone, both which I deemed undesirable for me, even though Bingo World was touching down and climbable. Looking across the canyon Sam spoke up "is Bingo World gone!?" Sure as hell, it had broke at the lip of the cave and a 30' tall + or - chunk of ice fell down! I know these things happen, but its different to witness such potential mayhem. Luckily, nobody was hurt, though it had been climbed earlier in the morning. Our lobster fried faces were pretty excited to get to the adult beverages patiently awaiting our return.
Sam following Pitch 3 of the day.
The last pitch, the 4th pitch, the second pitch of Land of the Lost. Winter Dance above. 
Kinda looks funny right? Thats what crappy ice looks like. Not a crappy climb, just crappy ice. 
Pitch 3 or the first pitch of LoL.

Slot Corner main pitch aka pitch 2
Slot Corner pitch 1

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Hyalite Ice: Upper Avalanche Gully

With the end of the season rapidly approaching due to warm temps and gate closures, its time to squeeze in whatever ice climbing is available. Sam and I departed an 18* parking lot (which is usually the coldest place in SW MT!) headed for Slot Corner and Land of the Lost, two WI4s with a couple easier pitches. I stopped on the main trail and looked right at the approach trail, deciding it was the wrong one and about 15 minutes later I realized it was the right one. At that point we were closer to the Dribbles than anything and Sam had never been so up the hill we went. I have climbed it twice, once this season already and upon seeing it basking in the sun decided that it was climbable but it gets soo much better so I convinced Sam to look elsewhere. I have always wanted to climb Avalanche gully (the standard decent route of the Dribbles) as well as the upper pitches (P3 and P4?) so off we went. P1 and P2 were in the shade so we were feeling optimistic about the upper pitches. Wrong. The upper pitches must get as much sun as any N-NW facing climbs there. It was still really fun to gain atleast 1k' to get there with 60m of M1 climbing to get to the base of the upper climbs. We both agreed fairly quickly (possibly to our dismay in the future) that these upper pitches were definitely within our grasp and added fuel-to-the-fire for next year's season! This was Sam's high-point-in-Hyalite, mine wasnt much higher when I was at the Climb-above-the-Dribbles. I cleaned 20+ years of tat off the rap anchor (obviously replacing it with good stuff) and 4 rappels later we were back to the beer, I mean packs. It was atleast 50* driving out!

Getting there earlier in the day may have possibly allowed us to climb the hanging pillar kind of the middle of the pic but the top out had all melted out. It wasnt hanging on by much and I didnt have any rock pro with me. 

Maid of the Mist and Palace Butte in the distance.

Cleos in the background.\
Pitch 1

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Hyalite Ice: Twin Falls

Devin, Anika(?), Sam, Manfred I got a McAlpine start on Cleos the other day which, with this heat, was a mistake. We arrived at Cleos about 11:30am and watched large chunks of it melting and falling down. Most of the calving ice was landing on the belay for P2 so changing into Twin Falls mode was an easy decision. The two parties that were on Twin right quickly departed after we got there so we got the ice to ourselves for the rest of the day. The four of us (Manfred just spectated) climbed every line available on Twin right. Twin left was mostly covered in snow and didnt look near as appealing as Twin right. As Anika stated "Well, we raped that chunk of ice!" It was fun, and sad, to listen to Cleos fall down all day. The debris pile at the base was significantly larger on our way out than on the hike in. The trail down was in the best glissading shape I have ever seen and the four of us instantly became giggly little kids sliding on our butts for a few hundred feet. We seriously contemplated hiking back up to Cleos so we could slide down again but in true MUU style we retreated to the cooler, I mean truck.
Manfred was quick to borrow everyone's extra layers.
Sam's first lead of Twin right.
Devin blazing a path far climers left of Twin right. 

Definitely the place to be when its 60* and sunny everywhere else.