Weeping Pillar, and Cryophobia attempt

I swear, my life is like being in a wild movie at times. Strange ironies and plot twists are always around the corner when going for big objectives, or in this case sometimes not going for them…

 

I had given up for the year on the second of 2 projects for the season. My first project was Astroman last fall, and it went well. Next, I was going to throw everything I could at the next project, including hiring a guide for the Cryo! The route came in fat, but the stars never aligned , so until I was asked by a random stranger to climb Cryo, it was off. More on that later.

After being home for 1 day from Colorado, the Puget Sound floods barely let me pass to fly to Calgary for the week. Joining me for all but 2 days, Jenn and I wanted to make the most of it while our town became an island. Except for the deep snow, conditions were great. We dispatched some great climbs right away! :

2-7 Dream On 5p to wi4 w/Landon. Did all of the pitches around it, Saw Nachtmahr! See photo.

2-8 Louise Falls 2p to wi4w/Jenn. Had it to ourselves in afternoon. J’s first go at it.

2-9 Melt Out 3p wi3 Fun, wet route

2-10 Weeping Pillar 6p wi6 w/Jenn. Did the proper route this time. Jenns first wi6! chandelier second pitch for 15m. Long route!! Dripping mostly avoidable.

2-12 The Drive-In 3p D6 w/Jenn Leads D5!. Great, moderate dry tooling!!

2-13 Cryophobia attempt 6p wi5+ M8 (A0 for us) w/James W.

The night before Jenn and I were going for Weeping Pillar, there was another group of 3 that were staying at Rampart as well. They had tried a variety of routes(Curtain Call, Weeping Pillar, Musashi) with limited success for wild reasons as well! We got to talking mixed, and James from NZ, busts out with looking for partners to do Cryo. I looked over to Jenn and asked her if she knows anyone interested in doing it.

Ambitions should be kept realistic.

I knew that the climb was over my head, that’s why the guide idea sounded great. Now I would have to swap leads, find the new (much longer)approach, ascend, and descend without much beta. I was nervous as I kissed my gal goodby at the airport the night before. The next am, we were off-route soon enough with all the different roads and trails wandering around. We lost an hour, but got lucky the rest of the way in. The big issue was obviously going to be the winds. Once on route, we were hammered by high winds and spindrift soaked our gloves. Mid route, there was a lull in the storm, but as we pushed on to near the top, it burst, and the last belay I did was brutal. It was only 1 ice pitch to the top, but the margins of survival got too thin. If there had been a walk off, we may have gone on, but I was worried about the overhanging rappels in again high winds. Only by pushing a bit beyond what we should have, did we get up the business of the route, but like being a bad actor in a movie, we took “aid” on many a bolt. So it is with dreams-come-true, the truth sometimes hurts. The way out was brutal, but the wind was now at our backs after 12 hours on the move. We may have ended up in the ditch on the drive out too. The route is incredible and lives up to the hype. I am glad I picked so worthy of an objective. This will be hard to top, and I may retire from such bold objectives anyways.

This amazing 96p season could not have happened with the help of so many great people. I am sure to miss a few names, but thanks Jenn, Landon, James, Steve, Janet, and Dave. You all rock!

 

 

Colorado ’20

At the last minute, Lane and I decided to use his companion pass and go enjoy good ice climbing conditions in SW Colorado. With 4 days at our disposal, we made the most of it, dispatching 3 multi-pitch routes.

This season, I have been inspired to get after routes that don’t always come in. The word gets out on face bu k, and the want list grows for us all! Though easy to hate on the social networks dark side, for sure, it is so nice to have an information and social medium to pave an expressway to your dream climbs. Crowding can be an issue, we had to wait until noon for Ames. No big deal in 40 degree temps though.

Special thanks to Lane, Carley+ Jason, Harvest+ Kristen, Tyler+ Lucas, Mary+ Lance, Tasha+ Dylan, @sterlingropes, and the WAC( for the top rope and hot chocolate)!

…and ,Hey Reader! Thanks for supporting the community!

An amazing new guidebook is out too! Get a copy of Suffer Candy TODAY!!

2-1-20 Avocado Gulley 3p+1 w3 w/Lane + 4 others. Rarely formed moderate route, great warm-up. Hooked, but fun!

2-2 Ames Ice Hose 4p w4+ w/Lane. Amazing climb! My Colorado favorite so far..Hooked, but fun!

2-3 Whorehouse Hoses 2p w5. Fun climb, setting. We got hit by a crazy storm on second pitch! (video)

2-4 Ouray Ice Park 2p. Fun as usual, Shout out to the WAC!

Click on images to enlarge..

 

Hyalite Ice ’20

Heading back to Hyalite was like visiting an old friend. Upon seeing it, the memories flood into the mind, as does desire to create new ones. Though the conditions of the ice was great, the snow kept piling up giving me the willies about avalanche possibilities. In the end, it took reassurances from people that successfully tried riskier climbs for me to go for some of the more intriguing gullies. Wind was a big concern too for both drifting, and chill effect. It was one of my all-time trips there. 21 crazy pitches with 6 different people! SO Grateful to friends old and new for this amazing week of ice and mixed climbing. Shout out to #sterlingropes too!

1-5-20 Jeffs L, Black Magic- m6 wi5 Unnamed Wall w/Jeremy(prime condition)

1-6 Bobo Like wi5 3p w/ Jeremy (Prime condition, deep snow though)

1-8 Dielectric Breakdown wi5 2laps w/Erik (Prime condition, hooked)

1-9 Matrix, Feeding, Scepter wi5 w/Travis (prime- too fat!Sceptrr drips in places)

1-10 G2, HomeFA M7 w/Lane (PRIMO!, though our party took off much ice, sorry)

1-11 TIG, GLO, JL wi5-Unnamed w/Lane, Jenn, Marko (prime, hooked

1-12 Cleopatras Needle wi5 2p w/Jenn( Wet! first 40′ of crux)

1-13 MC 234 WI6 w/Jenn (Prime, with MC4 being athletic and pumpy!)

What a great venue Bozeman is! No wonder it is an exploding city. Low commitment, high quality, and access, it has it all. Thanks to Icefest for keeping the road plowed.

Seattle area dry tool crags

SR-900 (aka, Cougar mt.)Easy, not great

Black Ice Crag, Upper area(CYA) Exit 38. Easy, not great

Tool Shed, Baker area, never been there personally

Shuksan Crag, never been there personally

Rap Wall, Alpental (Fun when it has ice! Rock is not holding up well, not “easy”)

Then, at the suggestion of the local guru, we found this!!

Nestled not very deep in the Snoqualmie Alps are a set of undeveloped crags that offer a very fun, difficult dry tool (d/t) experience. A couple of friends and I had been poking around for months and eventually found the perfect venue. Thanks to the encouragement from the various guide book authors, and the original area route setters, we felt safe to develop these unnamed crags as a d/t area. It is remote and insulated enough from free climbing walls, as to not be prime free climbing rock nor suitable sport climbing projects. So far, we have 15+ amazing climbs up!! All completed routes are bolted. We are hoping to plan a low key, introductory festival soon!

I do not bear the responsibility lightly in producing high quality and safe routes. I want to keep the standards very high in our amazing home forests.  There is also plenty of room to develop routes and I encourage others to develop routes at this amazing location.  All that I ask, is that you please develop in a way that is sustainable to our rock, and safe for our community.

My philosophy on dry tooling impact is best summed up by this great essay from Furnace Industries!

It will be a work-in-progress out there, so heads up! To support our endeavor, please visit our go fund me page.

Suggested rules of conduct at this crag

-Please limit scratching the rock with your points, take care with crampons while lowering or rappelling.

-Please use mono-point crampons, or rock shoes only, stick with existing placements when possible

-Safety attire: Helmets, eye protection, sheltered belays, etc. There is loose rock here! Climb at own risk.

-Do NOT use any resident ropes left on crag. Please feel free to use the resident ropes to pull your rope through, if you want to tr a climb. There is also reasonable top rope access from the top, approached from the far left side of the crag. Most trs need directionals.

-Please respect “closed projects”, they should be tagged so. Don’t d/t at the free climbing crags.

-Respect the access road, and watch for vehicles! Use proper trails. Have necessary parking passes, etc

FA of Social Candy d6, Waynes World 12-19

Some history… After a 2016 visit to the Playground with the Polish guy, I became very interested in finding a local crag that was not easy, crappy, or both. Years passed, and we halfheartedly looked around.

10-’19. Enter the author of the recent guidebook! I emailed him and it took a while for me to get to see both of his suggestions. In mid December, I saw what is now called(not by me) : Waynes World(WW). I was floored with the potential of the area, yet scared of the single bolted line I saw out there. This obscure crag had a smattering of top anchors from a 2003-2006 development that pushed all through the surrounding of crags. Too dark, chossy and jumbled, the far left crags (WW), never took hold on Garth and the gang that were the driving explorers at the time. I found that though the single project may have been climbed long ago, the entire crag has since laid abandoned until the recent d/t development. So far, the redevelopment idea receives near total support from the community and institutions that have chosen to speak up.

IMG_2547

Rap Wall

Thanks for your support, if that is the case, and critique, if also warranted…. No doubt I have done “pick enhancements” on a couple of routes. My main motivation along with sustainable pick holes is: safety. I refuse to send my friends up steep leads with sketchy clips on the first 3 bolts.

 

Safety, and also sustainability.

The many popular existing d/t climbing areas around the U.S. and Canada all suffer from blown-out placement holes. Presumably, this is from hundreds of people falling off, degrading the placement to the point of rendering them useless. Recent remedies are to make more aggressive pick and crampon placement holes with a power drill, thereby making the route pick-hole placements sustainable over the life of the route. Dry tooling will mark and scar the rock. With that, for a crag to be sustainable with everyone using it, should the occasional non-positive hold be enhanced to a point that use does not destroy the feature? I know this also makes the climb easier, but this particular crag is so steep that most any climber will be fully engaged! All improvements are kept to a minimum as well. Good luck climbing here it’s stout, steep, and climbs fantastic!

Routes at Waynes World:

Swing left, right D4-6

The Aspirant D5

Quaratine D8

Imperial March D8 90% complete

Highstepping For Jesus D7 11 bolts. FA Tom Beirne

Painted Ruins D6 FA WW 8 bolts

Cold Therapy D7- 10 bolts

Social Distancing D7 11b

Social Candy D6+ 6 bolts FA WW

Agent Orange D7

Routes at the Dark Side:

Dingleberries Of Eden D6 100% Complete

Rhinestone Cowboy D6 75% Complete (fully bolted, needs work on start)

Pia Coladas with Palpatine D6

Vader Built My Hotrod

Alpine Corner D6 10% Complete (also TR access to the arete and left face likely D5, has bolted anchor)

Canada 11.2-’19

This wasn’t my coldest trip to the Canadian Rockies, but frigidity had a big impact on the outcome of the experience. Ambitions must be reigned in to the point of bailing on daily objectives at times. We did eek out a wonderful long Thanksgiving weekend up there though conditions were tough.

11-27 p1, Carls/ Silk Tassel wi4 w/Doug

11-28 Urs Hole direct 4p wi5 w/ Jenn

 

11-29 Shades of Beauty wi4 3p w/ Jenn, Doug, Eileen

11-30 Storm Creek approach

11-31 Johnson Canyon 4p

Temps weren’t the only concern. Brittle ice is the norm. Carlsburg is still wet. We got hit by an uncomfortably sized spindrift at the top of Urs Hole direct. Storm Creek Headwall approach had some pockets of snow that weren’t steep enough to slide, but would have been sketchy had they been. Johnson Canyon isn’t filled in yet either. Temps though…. Somedays the high never got over 0 degrees f.

Enough complaining though, what a great time to be out with 4 friends on a wonderful holiday of food, drink, shopping, and climbing!! Jenn did amazing leading many pitches. Doug can now focus on unpacking and packing for the ski season. Eileen is now a thin-ice specialist! Thanks to everybody (including my family) for the support in this nutty pursuit! You can still have fun while suffering.

 

Early Winter Couloir, NEWS

It’s still hard to believe that we went to the top of North Early Winter Spire in late November. The frozen scene was very surreal, and having that place to yourself just added to it.

Doug presented the idea to me just a few days prior. It was off my radar this time of year. I thought  it was more if a spring route, but many advantages lie in doing it in the fall. The lack of a cornice being one, steeper longer (though thin) cruxes at the chockstones, another. We elected to approach the longer way in from Blue Lake trail. Once around, we followed someone tracks up the route. I didn’t expect to summit NEWS, but the prior party elected to go to the top, so we did that too! There were some real tough moves at the top of the route though. (5.6??)

What an amazing experience the whole day was! Rapping down in the sunset, after a cold day in forbidding granite spires, left an air behind that we had done something quite special.

We belayed 6 pitches, took single+ rack , pins, 6 shorter screws, single 60m. The trail crews have done an outstanding job up there in the last  couple of years!!

Dougs instagram post

Mt Project page

Ziggy Stardust!- Canada ’19

Kai and I on p2, Ziggy. Photo, Rory

For the most part ice climbing is a sport filled with a degree of suffering. Every now and then though, the angels sing and the love of the universe is poured upon an occasional blessed day. Such was our incredible experience on an obscure, STEEP, and amazing route in the Icefields Parkway.

Ziggy Stardust; rumored to been first climbed by Serge Angelluchi in the 90’s, it saw a FRA for sure in a 2012 online article…

…as well as : this year Andrew and partner did it and posted an enticing and mysterious photo on the Rockies Group page.  As soon as I saw the route, I leaped into planning an immediate trip up there with Kai, to climb it!

The trouble was, it was our first outing for this early ice season. Needing familiarity, we did a warm up (R+D 4+) after finishing the long drive up. Day 2 weather forced us into a crag day as 4-6 inches fell that day. Tasting fear had some fun options though and kept us patient.

day 3, ZIGGY STARDUST!! Our morning came with optimal conditions had on a withering route that had lost much of its lower ice due to sun effect. I could barely contain my excitement at the base, longing to get started and finally relax in the climbing movement. From the start on, there was never an easy section, and the sections varied so much as to seem like a 10 pitch affair! The 4 distinct sections alone on the 1st pitch are so fun to figure out and daintily solve as if doing a puzzle. Chimney to mantle, to scary traverse, to m5+ overhang to ice sticks, and finish with deep drum/thin detached ice! Thin pins, small cams for belay.

The second pitch was a serious, scary, detached, and thin ice affair. (Look for some rock gear too). Great care was taken to spread out my weight and never be too involved with any 1 pick placement or foot. Belay on left at a fixed stopper belay/rap, back it up with med cams.

The reward for that sketch was a fat, yet techy and enduro 3rd pitch! Don’t clobber your belayer too bad. Easily one of the best climbs in the Rockies. What a ride, and what a day on this hidden away, early season gem.

We finished this assault trip with a warm down on the classic Guinness Gully and drove back the same day! Thanks so much to Kai, Jenn, Rory, Quinn, Andrew, and the entire support network we have in the amazing sport we are lucky to be able to do!

Canada 11-19 10p

11-9 R+D WI4+ w Kai, picked out

11-10 Tasting fear wi5 3laps+

11-11-19 Ziggy Stardust, Mt Murchison IV-WI5 (expect thin/R)-M5,  w/Kai

1-13 Guiness Gully WI4 3p w/Kai good shape, wet

Obviously the route varies in condition, and it is neat to see the different forms it has taken (see photos), We caught it a little thin for sure, so be. careful with it. We took 2 KBs, 1-Specter, 6 small cams, 1 each med cams to blue, 10 screws, 3 of them: stubbies.

Some photos courtesy of Rory, Andrew, Kai, and others, Thanks

click to enlarge

Banks Ice ’19, and what a season!

Banks Lake and old man winter eventually delivered with a vengeance. I don’t want it to ever end! We got our ice season this winter(2018/19), but it didn’t start until February!! Incredibly too, it lasted until mid-March. Leaving us adequate daylight, we reveled in pitch after pitch, ascending rarely formed climbs that one could only dream of.

For me, this incredible season was not with out struggle too. I ended up in an ambulance with severe back issues for xmas. I did manage a little time off from work though right as the lion of winter got going in February. All told, I ended up with over 70 pitches of difficult ice and mixed climbing, visiting many different areas along the way. I feel so lucky.

What a pleasure it was to end this seasonal voyage with a couple of trips to Banks Lake. Its no secret that it is one of the harder areas to be successful at. The climbs are steeper and bigger than they look. The quality if ice can be a major issue as well.

With the confidence that can only come with new ropes, (Thanks Sterling!) we set out on back to back weekends. After seeing nobody on a FAT Razorblades, we scurried off to our “warm up” route on Saturday,  and anything else our arms would allow on Sunday (Pillar 1). What an astounding adventure Razorblades presents! That start pitch is always wet, crappy ice and yet so fun and difficult. Be careful with this one!

Last weekend we set our sights on Zenith, again in much fatter shape than my previous seasons efforts. We got scooped twice on it however! The second party took pity on us though and gave us the access to this amazing waterfall that I hadn’t gotten “clean”, nor got to the top of, on my prior tries. Lane Jenn and I had a day we will never forget as it was in great condition. Sunday again, was the :whatever-was-left-of-our-arms: climbing day. Banks has such a great atmosphere, we really enjoyed the “power of place” it offers.

click image to enlarge

Local Ice ’19

A local ice season can randomly pound its way into your life. Bringing snow, cold temps, and social media reports, winter becomes impossible to ignore or resist.
Trouble is, a trip to the grocery store can be full of stress, more so trying to climb seldom formed routes in the Northwest. For those that don’t know: our local ice is a scrappy and well-earned affair that requires great patience and grit to handle less than perfect adventures. We don’t make many magazine covers in our shrubs and moss. When cold conditions happen here though, it can be a treat to explore in the back yard! Heck, I happen to prefer “difficult” ice just to keep it from being boring. More beta after photos. (Some photos by Jenn, Doug)

2-23 update: Jenn and I did a most amazing 4 pitch route at Squamish. The West Coast Ice group on facebook gave up the goods on a route called 2 Minutes For Hooking, and it proved to be a fantastic “Deep Forest” ice climb! I can’t say enough about how fun, scary, and exhilarating this route is. Too bad it didn’t photograph well.

Also THANKS to Dave with Sterling Ropes for loaning me the great Photon ropes to demo!!

 

1-13-2019 Blast Rock Wall wi3 m3 1 mile past icicle creek road closure
1-26-19 Icy BC area tr 3p to m7. Tope rope heaven
2-3-19 Rap Wall 2p to wi4r . fun, spicy first trip here, WARNING: Central Cascades Buried in snow currently
2-17 Shannon Left, center area 1 p w3 , scary climbing next to live waterfall!
2-18 Oleson Creek ice route 4p, W3+ (attempt at AST, went too far up canyon)
2-20 Loose Lady 3p W5 Fun, steep with great access.
2-21 3 Ring Circus 3p w5. We didn’t have chains so we road walked an extra 3k up to a spicy approach. Route was chandeliered and wet on p1. from top, we walked off climbers left to road. Tough day.

2-23  2 Minutes for Hooking 4p, w4+ w Jenn. One of my all time favorite ice climbs, just my kind of route. Thin, exciting, and tricky to the finish. The beta on face book is spot on:

Graham Rowbotham to West Coast Ice

Perry Beck and Graham Rowbotham climbed a route on the left side of New Delhi wall at Slhanay East, Squamish on Feb 20. I assume this is Two Minutes For Hooking?

Approach – As for New Delhi crag: park ~2.5 km along Mamquam FSR, start up Big Drop Valley trail then after a few minutes take R branch (cairns) and follow up and right to base ~40 mins.

Pitch 1: ~WI3+ R (thin ice, protection was stubby, spectre and medium nut).
Pitch 2: WI4 (generally fatter ice, except thinner near top)
Pitch 3: ~WI4- (some cool mushroom hooking up ramp, then ice blob traverse up to cave belay)
Pitch 4: WI4+ (steeper column up to trees)

P3 and P4 could be combined with a few more screws!

Two raps down from trees (70m ropes)

Excellent, varied route. Totally dry. Judging by the rap tat, it has had at least one prior ascent this year. Enjoy 🙂

westcoastice.com   archive

3-3 Pillar 1 w5 2 laps. Left of Zenith,  rated a “4” in the book!

3-2 Eating Razorblades 3p W5+ w/lane, zac in easier shape than last year, still burly

3-3 Pillar 1 w5 2 laps burly route left of Zenith, rated a “4” in the book!

3-9 lower Emerald+ Zenith w5+ 3p w/jenn lane. got scooped, yet finished off this route proper with my besties!

3-10 Agent O and More Banks Ice 3p to w5+ Holy crap what an amazing ice season!

 

Colorado Ice Trip ’19

Feb 8-2019: 2 feet of snow is heading to the Seattle area, and Canmore is -20 for weeks.

Thanks to Lane for figuring out the best place to go during the “Seattle Snowpacolypse”. The “Master of the Air-miles” set us up, heading to Colorado (my first time there) taking advantage of the warmer temps and far better weather. We last minute planned it and hit some amazing and difficult routes in Southwestern Colorado! Great joy was found..

2/8-13/19 Colorado Ice Trip 17p to M6-WI6 w/lane:

 2-8 Amphitheater Vail 3p to m5 W5+, including Rigid Designator, Cupcake, and 7th! So much fun!

 2-9 Redstone Slabs 3p WI5 Set the booter into this great climb. First pitch(right side) was fiesty and ended up in bushes! 2nd pitch kinda dangerous, 3rd is super good.

 2-10 Skylight 2p M4/5 WI4+ This is an ultra-high quality and unique route up steep chimney, similar to Urs Direct. Not everyday you get to ice climb in such a deep chimney!

 2-11 Bridalveil Falls 3p WI5+ THE Classic steep waterfall, and lived up to the hype. Picked out yet, 3-d, steep, and fun outing. Nice to climb with my old friend Steve, a partner of a few great adventures in the 90s, including the first ascent of the Black Spider wall of Mt. Hood.

2-12 Ouray Ice Park 4p to WI6 M6. Enjoyed it far more than I thought I would. I found unpicked lines and rad mixed in the “Vic” area just moving the rope a few meters over per climb.

2-13 Rifle Ice 2p to WI6. Wow, what a way to end a fantastic trip. Souls on Ice and the last curtain up the canyon were amazing, and steep af!

Outstanding adventure, thanks to Lane(climbing partner and rad photos), Jenn, Steve, Carly, D.Scott, and Walker. Huge props go to Ouray Ice Park for the amazing dream park!!