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Sunday, January 29, 2017

Hyalite Ice: Unnamed Wall; The Fat One, Mouse Trap

Sam, Megan, Cady, Manfred and I spent a gorgeous Sunday up on the Unnamed Wall. Sam set up a top rope on the Fat One WI3 which I climbed once before moving over to a dry tool route called Mouse Trap M4 13 bolts. Vary rarely am I in the mood to climb rock with crampons and ice axes but its kind of the next step in my progression so I did manned up and sent it cleanly. The holds get so positive about one third of the way up that I clipped my axes to my harness and finished the route with bare hands. I was very stoked to send it dare-I-say easily? I climbed it again on top rope trying to use my axes more just to get familiar with the feeling of steel on rock but it made absolutely no sense to climb it that way. Climb smarter not harder someone once told me. Cady climbed the Fat One a couple of times and Megan got her first ever ice climb done! I finished the day with a quick free solo of the Fat One. I think I have now taken 12 or 13 people on their first ever ice climb. Ill bet at least 90% of those newbies still climb today.

Megan feelin it out.
Me belaying Sam on the Mouse Trap.

The rock is Basalt columns.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Hyalite Ice: Silken Falls and Switchback Falls

I found my new favorite two pitch ice route in Hyalite, Silken Falls WI3. Sam and I planned on climbing the Dribbles but between the girl crying up on the 3rd pitch and the two parties below them we opted for Silken Falls instead. I have climbed a variation of the Silken Slot but neither of us had climbed the falls. The WI4 way up Silken Falls is awesome! Sam wanted to get some leading in so we decided to climb Switchback Falls on the way out if it was open and by golly it was.
The Dribbles.
One of my favorite ways to build an ice anchor. Burry them babies to the hilt and equalize.
The 2nd pitch of Silken Falls.
Climbing is actually very safe. But accidents do happen.  RIP Guy LaCelle
Mostly P1 with P2 above.

Switchback Falls.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

South Fork Ice: Broken Hearts, High on Boulder, Bozo's Revenge, Stringer

Martin Luther King weekend has been the best time to be in the South Fork as well as the worst time to be in the South Fork. 4 years ago with Lucas, there was so much ice that we didnt know where to start. 3 years ago Sam and I didnt get to climb one pitch of ice. Last year Devin and I got a pair of climbs in before the valley melted. This year, made up for the last couple of years. Sam and I got the the Deer Creek campground late Friday night/Saturday morning and luckily we only had to shovel snow for a couple of minutes to get the Gypsy Wagon in and settled. We went straight for Broken Hearts on Saturday which was apparently a very popular idea. I parked my truck in line behind 5 other vehicles! We were very tempted to change game plans but we figured with our late start that the rest of the parties would be at least an hour or so ahead of us. When we got to the base of the first pitch, we also got in line. It was the day to do it (the route) so we got out of 'mission mode' and just adapted to the pace of the rest of the parties. We made some new friends, were able to do some coaching and drank our whiskey-cider a little sooner than planned. Eventually, we met the early parties on their descent and were informed to our glee that the 5th pitch 'My only Valentine' was in. One of the parties was the 'Chicks with Picks' guided climbing group of 6 or 7 women which is more estrogen on one climb then I think I have ever seen in any type of climbing. Im all for it, its just not something you see in this male dominated sport very often. Sam and I easily climbed the first 4 pitches then walked up to the money 5th only to find a party on it. They were still leading it and it was already 4pm. I figured that there was no way we could still climb it by the time they were done. 'My only Valentine' can be rare in forming and this day it was huge! I was feeling disheartened and started kind of moaning out loud about our circumstance (which was entirely our fault for showing up last) and removed my spikes and harness. The second climber, or follower, was barely up the climb and had apparently heard me whining when he asked me if I wanted to tie in and clean the pitch for him. I jumped at the opportunity and ran up that thing on top rope. When I got to the top, the leader pulled out a little flask of 12 yr scotch and gave me a nip. I just couldnt believe it. 10 minutes ago my tail was tucked heading back to the camper but here I was on top of a climb I have wanted to do since I started ice climbing. Brunchorst calls the climb "A classic of classics, a super classic." We did the walk off which might be faster but it is definitely not easier.
Top of P2
P5 My only Valentine on the right WI5

Another must-do in the South Fork is 'High on Boulder' WI4. I have looked at this climb every time I have been down there but had yet to make an attempt on it. Feeling confident and determined we got up semi-early and marched out there. Nobody had been out there for probably 2 weeks. The ice report for the route said it was avalanche prone and the valley had been getting puked on. But that was almost two weeks before we got there. I felt like I had the ability to assess the snowpack as we progressed. The usual 45 minute approach became about 2.5 hours of heinous wallowing, trudging and post holing but we got there safely. Luckily the river was frozen over so we didnt have to get our feet wet. Sam took P1 and I got P2. I guess there is a small P3 above it somewhere but we had already gotten our fill of deep snow. A few v-threads later we wee back on the ground. HOB is very similar to the Dribbles as far as a long continuous flow of ice with screw/v-thread belays. It was incredible to find it unclimbed for so long. In Hyalite, often times someone else has been up the climb recently which makes a route a whole lot easier to climb. HOB made us kick new steps and swing our axes into virgin ice. Way fun. Adds a little spice to things. Didnt expect that on 'the busiest climb in the South Fork.'

P1 climbs the rolling ice and P2 is the headwall (left route).

 Since we were busy ticking off classics, the Moratorium was our next objective. We got up to the lower bench before I decided that we were too late to get over there through all that freakin snow again so we opted for the proximal Bozos Revenge. We got off track because of some elk and ended up wallowing in snow for an hour again. Eventually we crossed the bootpack and go up there. Its a goody. Devin and I climbed it last year.

After climbing 3 days in a row with one last day to climb, we needed something quick and easy. Well, quick and easy isnt exactly what the South Fork is all about. Stringer is about as close and easy as it gets down there. It had been sunny the entire time we had been there and Stringer is South facing but its in a deep cleft and I mistakenly thought it was protected. We walked up to it just to take a pic and turn around. It was a waterfall. There were good chunks of ice but it was far from continuous. Save it for later. There was no need to walk beer back to the truck though so we popped them about 10am!
A bad pic of P1.

The gypsy wagon performed perfectly, except for the flat tire we had to change in the campground.
Sitting in front of the heater.
How are Dominos so entertaining?
A shower curtain rod make for a great dryer of things.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Hyalite Ice: Crypt Orchid and Feeding the Cat

Cady and I managed to get up to Hyalite for an afternoon of ice climbing. We went up to Mummy 2 and Scepter hoping to get some long hard laps in but there were plenty of folks already there. Luckily the area is full of ice so we just traversed over to Crypt Orchid for a lap then a little further to Feeding the Cat for one lap. Crypt Orchid is in a spectacular setting and is always worth while even though its pretty easy. Feeding the Cat is a short but very steep column of ice that shouldnt be underestimated. We got to walk out under headlamp.

Scepter on the left and Mummy 2 on the right in the fattest conditions by far that I have ever seen.
Crypt Orchid WI3 35M.
Feeding the Cat ~20M WI4