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Saturday, December 31, 2016

Hyalite Ice: Treasure Hunter

Matt, Sam and I had big plans for a Horsetail Falls redemption climb but the damn road was impassable. We had to park at the Pallisade Falls TH, about 2 miles from the Emerald Lake TH. Horsetail is already an hour + walk so we changed gears. I thought Treasure Hunter might be a good consolation but little did I/we know how little snow it takes to blanket the first two pitches of the climb! We burrowed through belly deep snow just to get to pitch 1 which, to our dismay, was pretty much totally covered. I lead the pitch by trudging through the deep snow which had insulated the ice and melted it; it was running water on rock for most of it. Pitch 2 is only WI2 so we unroped and solo'd through it. The third pitch (the money pitch) is a couple hundred yards up the mountain and I opted out of the snow slog to get to it. Nobody put up much of a fight so we walked back to the base of P1 and all of us solo'd it just for fun. We got back to my truck just in time to watch the 'Hyalite Rodeo.' The 'Hyalite Rodeo' is a term used to describe all the gumby drivers that end up in the ditch. It gets particularly bad when there is a bunch of snow. We were the second vehicle up the road with out any issue getting to Pallisade Falls but we only made it 10' up the Emerald Lake road before I got stuck and we backtracked to the parking lot and decided to walk. I knew (and was making bets with everyone) that people were going to be stuck on the way out and we should allow some time to help get them out. It was pretty funny to watch and impeccable timing on our part. We started driving out and quickly came upon the first stuck vehicle which, by the time I got out my shovel and offered assistance, became unstuck. So the car train moved a little further down the road to the next stuck vehicle which they got unstuck by the time I got the shovel out. The car train continued to move slowly out, plucking car after car out of the ditch. There must have been at least ten cars driving out/backing out by the time we got to the main fork road. We never actually had to shovel or tow! I wanted to let everyone know that there was a Subaru Outback at the TH but decided that would be pouring salt on the wound so I just kept my mouth shut.
P1 60M before we climbed it.

P1 after we wallowed up it.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Bridger Ice: The Cottonmouth

My roommate and I didnt have much going on and it was super cold so I thought it would be great timing for the Cottonmouth. The Cottonmouth is a warm spring in the Bridgers that needs really cold temps to be any fun. We got out there and it was fat at the bottom and intermittently fat at the top. Meagan was just there for the hike and I was just there to free solo it. I got most of the way up it only to find snow covered rock, no ice in one section. If I would have been on a rope, I wouldnt have thought twice about climbing through the bare section back to the ice but it just wasnt worth it. I climbed all over the bottom section until I felt the pump and we headed out.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Hyalite Ice: Scouting Mission to no avail

I had a strong suspicion of where some unclimbed ice might be found up the East Fork so I went investigating. I found little 3-5' flows and lots of pretty views but thats about it.
There is no ice in that central draw but the next major one to the left is Horsetail Falls. Barely visible. I was looking for ice on my side of the valley.
I almost topped out on the East ridge of the Emerald Lake trail.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Hyalite Ice: Curtains and Over Easy

Some friends of mine from Columbia Falls came to town for the ice fest and they wanted some ice mileage so I took them up to the Winter Dance area. There was 5 of us so we divided and conquered. Cady and I set up a rope over Curtains WI4 while Devin, Chris and Chris(? we picked up a straggler in the parking lot) worked on Over Easy WI3. It was snowing and windy and the spindrift that started pouring down the climbs was unprecedented for me. You couldnt even look up! You just had to blindly swing above your head and hope it was good. It was so bad that we decided to leave before Cady got a chance to climb Over Easy. Lesson learned this day: I had built a V-thread at the top of Curtains for an anchor meanwhile Chris built an equalized anchor out of screws. Both bomber. Both totally safe. But when I climbed Over Easy so I could build the V-thread and rappel, I encountered some trouble. One of the screws being used for the anchor was the 21cm screw, the screw I planned on using to build the V-thread. When I removed the screw, it was clogged with frozen ice. (Ice screws are hollow FYI) I tried to chip out the ice for a long time, getting spin-drifted on the entire time. You cant start a screw if its full of ice. You just cant. So I had to yell down to the crew to tie the next largest screw they had to the rope so that I could pull it up and use it. I guess maybe we should have seen that coming? (No pic of Over Easy)
Winter Dance is the ice on the cliff and Curtains is poking out of the top of the trees.
Before I lead it.
After I lead it (Curtains)

Friday, December 9, 2016

Hyalite Ice: New Route on Unnamed Wall; Irresponsible Science Men M7

Kyler P spotted a new drip forming on the Unnamed Wall and being the prolific climber/mixed climber/route developer that he is, a new route was born. Its immediately right of the Thrill is Gone. New routes in Hyalite are rare so when there is a new one, you drop everything and make it happen. Soooo we both called in sick on Monday and spent the day in single digit temps cleaning and bolting it. We climbed Itchy and Scratchy to set up the rope which was a new climb for me. We didnt have time to climb it that day so we called in sick again on Friday and sent it. I did not lead it nor did I send the crux cleanly. With a hang-dog I was able to get through it. Kyler (obviously?) red pointed it. Its definitely the steepest 'ice' route that I have ever climbed. It starts under a roof with a steinpull where you can get your feet way up high and reach some bomber cracks to sink your tools in so you can pull over the roof. After the roof, you are 2-3 bolts up. Following the roof is semi low-angled rock with lots of mini-micro frozen moss patches which are super fun to climb on. 4 bolts later (7 total now) you get to the new ice runnel and a couple of run out stubbies get you to the top. About 35M. It was extremely fun to get to be a part of that climb just because of the history of that wall and all the people that have ever climbed it. I dont think anyone expected that there would ever be any more new routes there but voila. Kyler actually put up a new mixed line on the Unnamed Wall last year too! Another cool thing about this climb is that we found it and climbed it during Ice Fest week, just like my 3 pitch ice route Treasure Hunter in the East Fork last year. Early December seems to be a good time to think outside the box! Since we missed a couple days of work we might call it Irresponsible Science Men. Or maybe G3 or Mummy 5 just to f$%^ with people. Its more Kyler's call than mine.

Itchy and Scratchy
KP sussing out the moves through the roof. It sticks out about 5'. Thats the Thrill is Gone just to the left.

You can barely make out the upper ice of the route.
Actual first ascent pic of Kyler on lead. 

Kyler post triumph!

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Hyalite Ice: Flanders Field

Sam and I went looking for the Ice Miser and High Crimes and Misdemeanors but ended up following a bootpack to Flanders Field. The folks that put in the bootpack informed us of our position which really caught me off-guard. We were barely an hour from the car. I thought Flanders Field was at least two hours from the car! Well, it was in and I lead the WI4+ route to the end of my 70M rope. The guidebook says its hard but it climbed more like WI3 and it must be 80M long. The top is pretty arbitrary.