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 for my first ice trip, heading to Colorado 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!!

 

 

 

 

Canadian Ice/Mixed 11-’18

Early season can hold many great advantages:
Less snow to slog though, lower avalanche hazard, and roads remain open too.

Temperatures can be moderate as the cold may not have settled in yet, routes may come in that may not regularly form or be safe later.

(Maybe?)Slightly less crowds, yet stoke runs high on your first outing of the year!!

11-22-18 Dark Nature 2p WI5-M5 w/ Doug

11-23-18 Whiteman/Redman 4p to WI6-M5+

11-24-18 Candlestick Maker 2p WI5

11-25-18 Urs Hole Direct 4p WI5

These were the things we took full advantage of when we came up to Canada for the 4 day weekend of Thanksgiving this year, and what a pay-off! We saw pictures ahead of time on face book of Dark Nature, an obscure mixed route at Lake Louis. It looked steep and mostly ice. People were raving about it. It figured to be crowded, but since we pulled in at 1pm, the other parties were just getting down when we arrived.

Whiteman/Redman was fantastic again, Doug hadn’t been in there before, and didn’t have to walk the road approach like I had to the previous times. I got to lead the first pitch of Redman after backing off  2 years prior.

Doug hadn’t been to the Ghost River either, and wanted to badly. So after consulting with the Colonel, we hit Candlestick Maker, another route I hadn’t  been to as well. It was an awesome experience, except for the welt I put on my forehead.

I can’t say enough about how cool Urs Hole is as an experience for the first time. More of a mounatineering/spelunking adventure than an ice climb, suffice to say it should blow your mind. What a great trip, thanks to Doug, Jenn, and my family as I did this in the midst of the passing of my Dad. I did do the memorial just last weekend though and it went very well. Thanks Dad, for a wonderful upbringing, I will think of you often.

 

 

 

Canada Ice 2-18

So the Canadian Rockies are having one of the coldest winters in recent memory. Steve suggested that we bring down our grade chasing ambitions a whole grade. Fair enough, as it is near impossible to keep the feeling in your fingers while climbing. Every morning started out below O fahrenheit.

With our lungs hurting from a recent bout with THAT flu, I met Jenn up there, and we were lucky enough to get Steve’s place early! (Thanks Steve!!)  We took his advice and got late starts on easier ground for the first couple of days. As it gradually got “warmer”, we headed for sunny, tougher projects that we did indeed enjoy. We also reveled in the company of Lane for the last 2 routes.

It was also a pleasure to take it a bit “easy” and have a vacation type trip, complete with bubble baths, and great food(Thanks, Paul, Kat, Steve, Ann, Lane, Jeff, and Stephanie!!)

Now back to 60 hour work weeks for next few months…: (

 

Lillooet ’18

 

 

I am continually amazed at the great lengths I am willing to go in order to ice and mixed climb! With the multi billion dollar project/job cruising along at 55-60 hours/week, Doug and I (still)drove up to Lillooet after work Friday evening in rain and Seattle traffic, and picked off 2 classic routes on Saturday and Sunday. Then, back in time for another long Monday push at work. Damn I am tired, but happy to still have some capacity similar to when I was younger!

The 1st edition cover photo for West Coast Guide shows a pretty pitch named Capricorn. I had always wanted to do it, but was put off by the long approach. It was worth the slog however, though we messed up the approach. It is easy to accidentally start to far lookers right of the true approach. The main pitch/crux was steep at the top and wouldn’t have been that tough were it not for chandeliered conditions.

The main reason for going to all the trouble of driving hour after hour was to take a shot at a very new mixed route that seemed to be my type of climb. The rating for Bitcoin Billionaire intimidated  after getting humbled in the Canadian Rockies by similarly rated mixed climbs, but the route has a more alpine feel, and the rating shouldn’t scare off many aspirants. The highlights are the scritchey first pitch, 2 mixed chimneys with fun moves, and a satisfying wi4 finish. The setting is great, views and solitude lend a remote feel. It worked out to simo a few of the steps in the middle, and combine pitches. We placed a dozen rock pieces, and stretched the ropes out in 5 pitches. Nice day out to be striving for adventure! Thanks to Doug, Jenn, Caroline, and the BB FA team for putting out the good times!

Lillooet British Columbia Canada. is a small blue-collar town that was at one time popular with ice climbers, and may soon be again thanks to internet stoke. I used to go there often in my younger days, and I hope to more in the future!

Scroll past crappy pictures for account of the first ascent!

 

Danny O’Farrell‎ to West Coast Ice

January 9 at 9:46am · 

After working on the Bridge River for the last 3 years and over spending over 100 plus days working on fisheries conservation and monitoring with the Xwisten First Nations, I’ve spent a lot of time day dreaming of establishing new lines in the Bridge River Valley, as it’s a very special place for me. Over the last few months, I’ve been watching a few lines form high on the walls above the river. After showing Steve and Hunter these lines, we decided to give one of the lines a go!

On Sunday, January 7, 2018; Steve Janes, Hunter Lee

and I, established a new and exciting mixed alpine style route up the Bridge River Valley called “Bitcoin Billionaire, M6, WI4, 325m”. The route was completed in 7 Pitches, approximately 43.5 km from the highway from Lillooet or 6.5 km below Terzaghi Dam. The route lies between the already established routes Salmon Stakes and A New Leash on Life” along the highway on the east side of the river. From the road you can only see the final pitch of beautiful fat blue grade 4 ice. Cross the river and gain approximately 250 of elevation to the base of the climb.

The route is a approximately 550-600m elevation of gain, from the base of the river to the top of the climb, the route itself is approximately 325m. Steve Janes says one of the best lines he’s ever climbed.

Bitcoin Billionaire M6, WI 4, 325m

Pitch 1 55m WI 4: Climb a small hanging pillar to thin ice for approxmently 25m WI4, the pitch than eases up to grade 2-3 and snow to a large ledge with tree belay.

Pitch 2: 55m M6: Climb grade 2-3 and snow 25m to gain the ledge. Traverse into an awkward and fun squeeze chimney with questionable pro, requiring making multiple crux moves involving lots of stemming, groveling, facing both directions, and knifeblades (M6, 25m). Traverse right 5m to and belay off large tree on lookers right.

Pitch 3: 65m WI 2/ M3 / Snow Ramp: Climb the long snow ramp 45m, then climb awkward 2-3/M3 for 10m, climb the remaining snowslope 10m to large tree on lookers left. Belay from tree. 70m ropes are required or belayer may have to simo climb to 10m or to small tree on lookers left to establish another belay station.

Pitch 4: 35m WI 2/Snow Ramp: Round corner from belay station on easy grade 2 and snow. Make one awkward move over rock and ice bulge to base of squeeze chimney. Belay is located on lookers right in small crack, gear to 0.5 or pins.

Pitch 5: 55m M6: Enter the chimney and get busy! Stem up on thin ice and rock to overhanging chalkstone roof M6 (Solid cam under roof, right side #2 Yellow BD). Then find stick in low quality snow and ice at the lip and grunt through the roof. Once through the roof and chalk stone enjoy fun stemming and better ice M5 to upper cirque and final tiers. Belay off good ice screws below upper cirque.

Pitch 6: 20m WI 2: Easy climbing on good ice to base of final 40m tier. Belay off good ice screws on lookers right in small alcove.

Pitch 7: 40m WI 4: Fun climbing on grade 4 on fat blue ice to top of climb. Belay off good ice.

Decent: Rappel route, using trees, v-treads and slinging ice pillars.

 

Canada Ice 17/18

Jenn, p2 Bourgeau left

Jenn and I spent our first New Years together since meeting almost a year ago. We flew up to Calgary, after a busy work and holiday season. We were greeted by storm and ridiculously cold temperatures. I had no problem taking a rest day right off on day one of the trip. I was exhausted from mega overtime and arriving at the motel at 2 am.

Hard to believe that after dozens of trips to ice climb in the Canadian Rockies, this was the first trip that I flew up there. There are advantages and disadvantages to both modes of travel, overall I am still sold on driving up. It just allows more flexibility. Some obvious advantage to flying however are great: Not having to deal with the driving weather as much, it is an hour and a half flight from Seattle(!), and there is no dread at the end of the trip about the long drive back. Flying sets a more vacationey feel, without having the extra gear to fiddle with. I think for the quickey trips, flying is the way to go.

Day 2: Though the mercury bottomed out at -37c, we went to try Cascade but didn’t like being up there so close to the new snow and first sun on it. We scurried off to Grotto for super cold laps, where everyone was making good use of their ropes to warm up the hands. lol.

There was pressure to do something big on our last day: day 3. After agonising over the avvy danger, we decided to try Bourgeau left, figuring it would be still too cold to warm up the overhead slopes?  On the lower runouts below this classic climb, we tried in earnest to release any of the lower slopes, but couldn’t. Well, up we went, enjoying sublime yet chandeliered conditions. Late on time, we raced to finish and retreat to the base just as we needed headlamps. Such a great climb, and what a great girlfriend I have!

 

Canada Ice 11-’17

Lungs burning after an hour long sprint to the base of the route, we barely beat the party of 3 racing us. First place in this contest gets a shot at a rarely formed ice route named Virtual Reality, a 3 pitch exposed and classic climb. Welcome to the cutthroat world of competitive ice climbing. Made fiercely so by tantalising photos on facebook and instagram, there are thousands of people that want to sink their tools as quickly as possible. Doug and I being no exception, we got up at 4 am our time. I had driven to Portland for Thanksgiving then pushed on up to Canada just for a shot at it with him on Saturday. I would not recommend starting your season on a WI6, but I have never seen this route form in my many years. It was in such great shape too. The exposure was spectacular, yet the nature of the way it formed left it in easier shape than the grade suggests.

It is such a shame that our sport is getting so crowded and competitive. Issues like this though can be managed by getting up earlier (or going late?)and training to be fast and efficient for the many demands of the sport. Maybe go for the more obscure routes too? —>

Up next we stayed in clever mode by doing an under-the-radar route called Elliot Left Hand Gully, a route near the competitive classic route Kitty Hawk. Elliots 3 pitches were fantastic, easy, but had scary top-outs on early season thin-ice-shells over flowing water. This is an obvious concern that is visible in a noted photo below (Thin ice on Elliot Left!) We didn’t get down before the rains soaked us completely and sent us driving back to the states. Good and clever luck to you this season, lets see more amazing photos, and hope for another great season!

Aaaaand…should go without saying too: If you are not the first to the base of the route, please give the upper party exclusive access to the climb when appropriate, thanks

Canada Ice and Mixed 3-17

Until I saw the photos on the Canada Facebook page, I was not planning a 3rd trip back to the Rockies. The locals had just installed several new routes on the 70m wall right of Twisted. The pictures showed wild, exposed climbing, and a mind blowing setting. Of course the exposure led Keenan, myself, and many others to scramble there to sample the newer climbs. I would describe the area as the light version of Stanley Headwall of fun! Not too hard, but feels like you are on something steep and difficult. I hope they can form every year. (note; now that I look at old pics of Twisted, I think they will regularly form!)

3-11-17 Nasty Habit 3p wi5-m7  WHAT A GREAT ROUTE!! p1 starts out fun mixed (m6, gear to 3″) to a bolt protected dagger move, fun lead to start the trip on. Nice easy alpine p2 with thin ice wi4. P3 is fun, scratchy hooks, getting gradually steeper, fun sticking the ice too. We then couldn’t do Blobs, because of 2 parties already on it.

3-12-17 Lower Weeping Wall, center 3p wi4/5. We wanted to do the upper pillar too, but 6 new inches of snow began sloughing off in the hot sun.

3-13-17 Curtain Call 2p wi5/6. Super fat fun in easy shape. long leads though as always.

3-14-17 Blob, Blob, Blob 3p wi3-m6+. Got our revenge on this amazing climb racing a local party that photographed us. Cant say enough about the 2 pitches….amazing, athletic, weird, and steep moves. Watch for large loose blocks. It wont take long to see that the routes are new, and still loose in places.

 

This great trip made me glad that I trained hard, keep an eye on route reports, and participate in the fantastic sport of technical winter climbing!

click to enlarge photos

 

 

Hyalite 2-’17

p2 of ZA

p2 of ZA

Even though it was warming up in the Northwest, I wasn’t ready to hang up my crampons. I asked 4 friends to go to Hyalite and one-by-one they all backed out! I then asked facebook and found Bill, a driven yet laid back climber that had yet to get on ice this season. Bill arranged a place to stay with friends there in Bozeman, and we were off for a long weekend of driving and ice climbing.

I wouldn’t suggest warming up on the Matrix, but all of my training and 60+ pitches of ice this season justified getting on a difficult and spooky lead. Bill led Feeding the Cat, and we got laps in on it too.

I was waffling on doing Zack Attack the next day, but Bill was persistent about trying it, so off we went, starting up G2 early in the morning the slogging up sometimes deep drifts got us to the base 1-2 hours later. We then started up the incredible 5 pitch climb with Bill leading the first pitch (m4) in style. I did a short mix pitch left to the piton belay station(m4), then Bill did the dry finish to the right of rotten, thin ice of p3(m4). It was then up to me to do the last 2 short ice steps to finish this long spectacular route. The last one was very steep at the top trying to wiggle through the overhanging finish! This is the best the route has come in the last 8 years! tr from Bryan

Since Mummy 3 and 4 were in epic fat shape too, I had to head there the next day for the chance of a lifetime conditions. (my last time on Mummy 2011) After I did Scepter in fat condition, Bill took the opportunity to lead Mummy 3 in all ice condition(wi3+).  It was up to me to lead Mummy 4. I chose the right side, it had delicate ice blobs to stem from the rock on the right, and bizarre ice on the left eventually forming a chimney with rock on the right and ice, left. At the top I had to go left to finish this wonderful lead. We were happy with our 12 pitch weekend, but are we ready to hang up the crampons yet? No way,

Some photos courtesy of Bill P.