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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!

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?

Friday, November 10, 2017

First ice climbing of the 2017/2018 season: Hylite; Upper Mummy

Why not start out the season with a big boy climb way up on the mountain? Ill tell you why: the ice is in fat! Its pretty much that way every season. The first climbs to form are higher in elevation and typically a lot steeper. Kyler and I climbed Mummy 3 last year but bailed on an unformed Mummy 4 (there are four ice climbs in the Mummy couloir 1-4, 1 being the lowest in elevation). Since the lower mountain stuff was not 'in' we had to walk around the scepter and suss out a way up to Mummy 3. While I lead M3 last year, it wasnt in the cards this day; pretty spicy first lead/ice climb of the year! Therefore, Kyler took the sharp end all day. This time, M4 was climbed! I was so excited to climb this super classic of Hyalite to the top. I forgot my phone/camera so these are all from Kyler.

Me on M4. M3 can barely be seen over my left shoulder disappearing in to the rock.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Bridger Bowl pre-season dump!

When you get 2' of snow overnight on top of an already semi-sound base, you go skiing. Make it happen. A couple of us went up Saturday and Sunday. Absolutely the best first back country tunrs I have ever had. Luke might disagree though. He hucked a cliff and put a rock through his brand new splitboard! Thank god it wasnt his back or head! We found 4 different shacks on our trip up to and down Wolverine Bowl on the far northern boundary. I dug a pit on top of Wolverine and got stable results. Snorkel condition's on the way down!

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Revenue Village: The Shoulder Blade climb day

Sam, Manfred and I found some time to climb the last routes of the year that I developed. We started with me leading the middle route "Curly 5.10a mixed 6 bolts, #0.5, 0.75, 1 cams 30M". Then I lead "Larry 5.10a mixed 7 bolts, #0.5-1 cams 30M." We finished with a TR of "Mo 5.10a mixed bolts and cams 30M, not finished." All three routes are very similar and super fun!
The Feldspar crystals on the Shoulder Blade are very abundant!



Thursday, October 19, 2017

Natural Bridge Climbing

A slow day at work plus an invite to go climb in the afternoon found Kyler, Manfred and I on our way out to Natural Bridge Falls State Park by McLeod. We 'warmed up' on a 5.11C called Adventure Time. Kyler lead it, I followed it with one sit. Next we moved down to the Antiquities Wall so Kyler could work on his 5.13b/c Frankenwhore project. Nearly flashing the route, Kyler fell between the last bolt and the anchor. So close! We walked around down canyon to force a break/rest before Kyler got back on it and did about the same thing. It would have been a waste of good rubber and chalk if I had tried it.
Adventure Time
Kyler resting below Frankenwhore.
Looking down canyon.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Dragon's Back: Proboscis

Sam has always wanted to have another climb day following the bouldering bash so we went and climbed an area classic called Proboscis 5.8 trad 3 pitches up the Dragons Back. I climbed this with Lucas way back in the day and it was just as fun as last time I was there.
The route starts on the lower right and finished at the top left (go figure). The crux is the last sunny headwall going right to left.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

8th annual Butte Bouldering Bash

Sam, Manfred and I made it out to our 3rd or fourth Butte Bouldering Bash for a weekend of camping, climbing and camaraderie. We started the day with some strangers and finished the day with a few new friends! People came from all Montana and even a couple of out of staters showed up. Its technically a competition but is way more of just a festival. There is no feeling of competition. Everyone is cheering everyone on. Lots of encouragement. Nobody was happy to see someone not send the route. Sam took me out to Superbia where I climbed 27 routes, a V4 being the hardest I actually got. I was very close to sending a V5 and a V7. We got back to the staging area, ate a couple of cheeseburgers, tapped a keg and started a bonfire. Sometime that night, a few of us thought it would be a good idea to go climb a route that requires you to invert and climb feet first. Needless to say that made for some laughs. Its pretty cool we have a crew of climbers and an area to host an event like this. Thanks to everyone that helped make it happen.
Cant climb on an empty stomach! Breakfast Sandies!
We climbed with these guys all day.
The Superb Boulder. This is the V7 I almost got.
My score card.
How long have humans gathered around fires?
I just held a light. That looks hard.