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Sunday, December 31, 2017

Hyalite Ice: Thrill is Gone and Magically Delicious

Sam and I hiked to the Unnamed Wall to do some mixed climbing. We started with me leading the Thrill is Gone for my first time which Sam followed. Then we moved over to Magically Delicious which Sam lead half way but ended up lowering off a tool. I lead it the rest of the way and retrieved the gear. Black Magic is on my radar and since it is in one-in-twenty year shape, this is the tie to do it. Turns out I didnt have the necessary gear so we just took pictures of it.

You can barely see Sam about half way up TiG
Sometimes the ice fights back!
Black Magic: start in the crack and finish on the ice.
The right smear has not formed since it was first climbed over 20 years(?) ago.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Hyalite Ice: Horsetail Falls redemption and a new mixed route

Last time Sam and I were at Horsetail Falls, we were able to climb 2 of 3 pitches. More like 2.5 of 3 pitches. I backed off the climb because I was having a hard time protecting it. Imagine a handful of straws on end glued together. Not ideal. This year I went back with Kyler on a two part mission. Firstly, I needed to send that climb to the top. And I did. I encountered maybe even worse conditions but my head and body was strong enough to run it out to the top. The second part of the mission was Kyler's. He wanted to clean and bolt if necessary a crack just to the left of the main (only really) ice flow that starts in the back of a cave, shares the tippy top of the ice climb and finished up steep hero moss maybe 5 yards climber's left of the standard tree anchor. I belayed him for a couple of hours while he swung around, scraped, poked and prodded everything, looking for natural gear placements. Since virtually none were encountered, I sent up the drill and Kyler started placing bolts. By now he was on rappel and I was free to do whatever. Since it was cold and snowy, we decided to get a fire going. In all my years of climbing or skiing in the winter, I have never started a fire. Not exactly sure why. It was glorious! We stayed until dark but the route was not finished. We cached some gear and committed to returning the following day. Did I mention it had been snowing all day? We got back to my truck and apparently we were the only people that made it up that far. No other tracks in the snow. I somehow got my truck turned around before burying it in the snow. The snow was deeper than the bottom of my door! I had to throw my shoulder in to it just to get it open! So we started digging until we could get my chains on. Once we got the chains on, it was no problem getting back out. But since we had left a bunch of gear and it was still snowing, the thought of driving back up the East Fork road was daunting. What do you do? I tell you. Be the first person up the road in the morning so you dont have to worry about other cars and floor it! Keep your momentum up as much as possible. We actually made it the TH without chains. We got back up to the climb and Kyler resumed bolting and cleaning while I started another fire. He finished up the bolting and then lead it cleanly to the top! I followed but was unable to do it without sitting on the rope. Most mixed routes seem a little contrived to me but this one was actually fun! Kyler felt the same way. The current name and rating 'Taint Fur M7-M8'.
Pitch 3 the money pitch

Taint Fur M7-8
Quick draws make great chain binders

Me on my redemption climb

Friday, December 8, 2017

Hyalite Ice: East Fork; Treasure Hunter

(record keeping post) Had to go out and check on my baby! Didnt make it up to the last pitch last year so I went free soloing up there this year and tagged it.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Hyalite Ice: Flanders; Champagne Slot

Hoping to link up Champagne Slot with High Crime and Misdemeanors, Sam, Manfred and I got to the Flanders TH just in time for Sam to remember that he left his boots in town. A couple hours later, we were back. We got to Champagne Slot before the climbers on Champagne Sherbert were able to get it. Some extremely run out climbing, 70m later got me to the top. A couple of stubbies, a goldy and a spectre protected the entire pitch. Thats one piece of gear every 15 meters or so. If you are 15m above your pro, you stop 15m below it when you fall. Dont fall that far. We traversed up and over to High Crimes and misdemeanors but they were not in to out liking so we found our way back to the Slot and Manfred.
I like playing around with filters. This looks cartoonish!
Sam following.
High Crimes and Misdemeanors.
Champagne Slot WI3R

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Powder River Mule Deer

Thanksgiving weekend means hunting in my house hold. This year, we met my cousin Jason from Iowa in Broadus to hunt Mule Deer on the Powder River. There are lots of deer and lots of public land. The Block Management areas are up to 50 sections large! Its Montana, we found deer. Thousands of them. We passed up quite a few bucks waiting for a hog but eventually settled for delicious freezer bucks. Jason got a nicer one that he put on the wall.
Sad but the way she goes. Sure, this is a direct result of agriculture but the benefit of farm and ranch ground for wildlife greatly outweighs negative consequences like this.
Jason and the Powder River bottom behind him.
Dads freezer buck.
Jason's mature deer.
My jerky for the year. I wasnt really planning on shooting a small buck but this guy ran up and started sniffing the butt of Jason's recently shot and killed buck so I tipped him over too.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Hyalite Ice: New Route on Cleo's Headwall

With ice climbing, you cant be picky. The ice forms when it wants to and melts when it wants to. You have to be able to be sporadic/spontaneous. Kyler spied a line over the weekend that had never been climbed before and the forecast was not good for maintaining it so skip work on a Tuesday we did! I did not know what we were going for until we got there. Even leaving on time, it was sunny and warm by the time we reached the climb. Everything looked awesome, albeit wet and drippy. Drippy ice is normal but drippy ice in the direct sunshine is a red flag. I hated the look of all those hanging daggers above our approach pitch/ the standard first pitch to Cleos Needle and had a bad feeling in my gut. I didnt want to stand beneath them let alone climb directly up their fall line! I voiced my opinion but did not heed my own advice. Climbing something for the very first time is incredibly special so sometimes you take a little more risk to make it happen. We risked the daggers falling because we had to get on the ledge that traversed over to the climb. I racked up and anxiously started climbing the first pitch, hyper aware of what was above me. When I got about 2/3 of the way up, one of the daggers broke loose and exploded like a bomb directly above me on some snow. I didnt hear it break but I heard it falling and had a split second to visualize the trajectory of the debris. I had time to step to my right and hero swing with my right axe in to the ice. I felt the axe grab so I released my other axe, gave up my feet and rolled from my stomach to my back, allowing all the debris to sail by me while dangling from one axe. I couldnt believe I missed the ice but my head and eyes told me that some of the large ice chunks were going to catch my rope and rip me off my one axe. Thank god they didnt! That would have been a very serious fall (my last screw was a long ways below me and you just dont fall while ice climbing. Period.) Kyler was able to duck and curl behind a rock while the debris sailed past and over him, bracing himself to catch what he thought was an inevitable fall. But alas, no tension on the rope. I rolled back to my stomach and sprinted up the last bit of the climb without placing any protection for fear of more falling death blocks. Kyler briskly followed after giving me the option to bail because he didnt want to climb under the daggers anymore either. He survived and we moved over to the base of the new route. Kyler added a bolt to the anchor before stepping out and sending the new route. It took him over two hours to reach the top which is a marathon of time to be on the sharp end so extreme congrats to Kyler for climbing it without resting on the rope. If it takes a world class climber that long to climb a pitch, you can assume its difficult. I assumed it was more than I could do with any style; I dont like pulling on gear or hanging on the rope. I would rather wait until I have the strength, experience and confidence to climb it all on my own. It was still fun to be part of the climb though.
The traverse ledge.
Adding a bolt. Its dirty work.
On his way down post send.
We did not climb this lower direct pitch. You can barely see Kyler's blue jacket/white pack rapping off the traverse ledge.

There is more dirt than hair on your face!

The left side of the photo is Cleos. See where there are two hanging daggers just to the right of Cleo's main flow? Can you see where the third one used to be? Kind of a half moon shaped fracture. It landed in the upper snow ledge, I was standing on the next snow ledge down. Kyler nooked behind the rocks just left of the trees.

The route! Upper pitch is brand new!

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Hyalite Ice: Twin Falls

Made the annual pilgrimage out to Twin Falls with Sam and Manfred. We met two of Sam's friends Phil and Dana at the climb. We climbed it all. (this is one of those record keeping posts)
Sam on top.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Hyalite Ice: Flanders; The Big Sleep

Reeling off a successful Upper Mummy day, Kyler wanted to climb one of Hyalite's most difficult climbs The Big Sleep. Kyler, I should mention, is one of the strongest climbers I have ever met and he has literally climbed everything in Hyalite. At least twice. So when I have an opportunity to be drug around by him, I jump on it. Upper Mummy is definitely within my grasp but The Big Sleep requires a pitch of dry-tooling/mixed (rock and ice) climbing that I have yet to become comfortable with. After swapping leads and breaking trail through a whiteout, we realized we over shot the climb and had to do some fantastic deep snow bush-whacking. Its a character building skill to say the least. Finally we reach the climb and the ice pitch didnt look very good. But one rule in climbing is that you cant give up without putting your harness on and stepping up to the climb. Which, in this case, meant we had to climb the first rock pitch to reach the ice pitch. Kyler cruised up it like it was a paved boardwalk while I forced a smile following it. After reaching a 'thank god' tree and giving it a good 5 minute hug, I belayed Kyler in his effort to climb the WI6 ice pitch. He got to the base of the climb and tried and tried to make it happen but eventually he had to down climb back to me and we bailed. I hate to admit that I was ok with that. Hanging from a tree on the side of a cliff in a blizzard isnt very comfortable.
You can see the storm rolling in on us.
Pitch one or the approach pitch starts on the lower ice, goes up to the blobs in the cliff then traverses right to the other ice flow.
Kyler trying to make some ice form out of thin air on the 2nd pitch. That is as high as he got.
Me wallowing on the approach.
They call this ice climbing?