Canada Ice 12-’15

P1160712.jpgI got real lucky. The job completely stalled out and the Rockies ice routes came into great shape. Lane and I joined our friends Doug and Moira, in the Field area. I had huge plans to try as many big routes on my list as possible. We “warmed” up on Twisted, a route that just started forming up a few years ago. It was in tougher shape than last year, but such a good route. Lane and I went for Super Bock the next day, only to find 4 parties on route , 2 of them ahead of us. It was too cold to stand around, so I tried to find a separate line next to the other parties to keep moving. The last party was not excited about my plan,and went so far as to call me “rude”. Well, the other parties jumped to my support, and even said the route was over their heads. The climb was in very difficult shape for sure. It was dripping, and the ice was a bit rotten. We did it anyways though, and were impressed with how long and steep it was.

Next up was a route that I have been wanting to try for 20+ years, because it never comes in shape. Mixed Master is one the best routes imaginable. 7 great pitches long and gets difficult at the top. I cant describe how happy Doug and I were. We were in party mode all day long!

Lane had been keen for Bourgeau Left. Due to the cold temps, another sunny route sounded pretty good. Once again there was another party ahead that were not impressed with the conditions, so they bailed. Up I went into a very wet and strange ice crux. At the top I was drenched, but happy to have had such determination and luck to get up 4 amazing routes in 5 days!! Next up, Doug and I went after my 2nd try of French Reality, but it was just too cold and the snow too deep without flotation. Off to Haffner to pad the pitch count:  21 pitches in all for a great week. Thanks to Doug, and Moira for such a nice place to stay, and spend a fun New Years with. Lane for going up on short notice, and Pro Mountain Sports for the great deal on my new ropes!

Look for a product review soon from a local gear manufacture that has some interesting line of products! Firn Line Designs from Oregon is next!

Click images to enlarge

A strange, yet rewarding ice season

Self-discipline is an act of cultivation. It require you to connect today’s actions to tomorrow’s results. There’s a season for sowing a season for reaping. Self-discipline helps you know which is which.   Gary Ryan Blair

I believe in process. I believe in four seasons. I believe that winter’s tough, but spring’s coming. I believe that there’s a growing season. And I think that you realize that in life, you grow. You get better.  Steve Southerland

 

The calendar said it was winter, but the thermometer did not.
A quick vortex blew down in November and again in December that froze up many climbs. After that , it was very warm and dry for western North America. I am trying not to go down the Global Warming worm-hole but after this winter, its tough not to. Fewer routes meant more people competing for them. It took more planning and flexibility to have success. Nonetheless, I made the most of it with my extended time away from work.
     I had decided to get real serious this season. I trained, networked, made a list of routes, and went after them as I could. It really paid off, but it felt like I could have done so much more! On 3 trips totaling 4 weeks, I did 60  pitches, most above wi5 and m6. I enjoyed climbing such great routes such as Curtain Call, Hydrophobia, Upper Weeping Wall, Climb above Dribbles, Avalanche Gulch, Cascade Kronenburg, and many more. Having some time in between routes to rest was a luxury I had as well. My most recent trip was with Alpine Mentors NW Group. We had a fun week visiting the Icefields Parkway, Field, the Ghost, and even the Stanley Headwall! What a great idea to help bring up the next generation of alpinists in this area.
   I am now preparing for a trip to the Utah desert. I am using the list idea again, since we are short on time. I expect to be back at work by mid-march, and the road tripping will come to an end. It has been a great run so far.
   Here is a journal breakdown:

12-9-14 Feeding Cat, Matrix 3 p to wi4 m5 w/ Ari, Kristen

12-10-14 Scepter WI 5 1p+lap w/Ari, K

12-12-14 Climb Above Dribbles, aka Alex in Wonderland III+ Wi5-M6 w Keenan

12-13-14 Monkey Ass Wall WI5 1p w/Jeff, Nelson

12-14-14 Panama Canal M9 with Marko, Ben, Bekah

12-15-14 Champagne Sherbet, Slot 2p WI4, w Kristen

12-16-14 Avalanche Gulch 5p Wi5 m5, w Keenan

1-2-15 Chockstone Falls Wi4 3p variation w joe

1-9-15 Grotto Falls 4p to wi4, m6 w steve

1-10-15 Marble Canyon 3p to wi4 w Nic, Stuart

1-12-15 Sniveling to Weeping Pillar V-wi6 6p w/Nic

1-15-15 Hydrophobia V-WI 5+ 3p w tim, andy

1-17-15 Twisted III-wi5 3p w/ Steve, Bill

1-20-15 Curtain Call IV-WI6 w/ Tyler, Nic

2-15-15 My Daddys a Psycho 3p WI5 w/ Andy D.

2-17-15 Carlsburg, Cascade Kronenburg 6p to m5, WI6 w/ Alex, Andy

2-19-15 Beowulf 4p wi4 w Ryan

2-21-15 Haffner 3p to m6

2-22-15 2p of French Reality w alex wi4

Enjoy some pictures:

 

Curtain Call, etc

Just getting back from a spectacular trip to the Canadian Rockies, I am struck with the following trends:

I have enjoyed doing the opposite of the “Smash and Grab” trips. Taking 2 week trips allows me to rest between body destroying leads. Particularly since I just had orthoscopic repairs done on my knee a few weeks ago. “Relax and Acquire” is nice but has led to another trend that I don’t enjoy.

I have found it difficult to go out on these trips with a dedicated partner. It is probably a combination of the various issues such as: Who has that kind of time available? I have a particular agenda/ability. I am a jerk?, etc. I have adjusted to this trend though by lining up “play dates” with various partners.

Global warming is here. Ice climbing is barely surviving thanks to the vortexes that come down each year, but the reach of warming is dramatic and brings a sense of doom to our environment. For now it is nice to climb in more comfortable temperatures.

It is good for me to make lists and be organized. The piece of mind and accomplishments it brings is very satisfying. I still haven’t let it sink in that I did 4 of my dream routes in 1 amazing trip. Huge thanks to Steve, Nic, Tyler, Stuart, Bill, Tim, and Andy!

Appropriately, I ended the trip with Curtain Call. A legendary route that has inspired me to push past intimidating structures and reports of people bailing days prior due to lack of pro. Boldness on our part paid off. Tyler did a steady job pushing through bad fins at the end of his lead. The finish had a few scary things going on: Daggers over the belay, threading the needle between features, where a back-off sling leads to terrible ice. I traversed a few more feet to the left, and found better ice. It led to a couple of scary horizontal cracks in the structure, which later made good foot ledges! Swing and pull like crazy to the finish. What a route! Here are some pictures of Twisted and Curtain Call:

 

 

Weeping Pillar, and Hydrophobia

I sent Steve a list of 20 routes that I most wanted to climb in the Canadian Rockies. Ticking one or 2 off each season is an ideal way to feel good about a given ice season. He told me that over half of the climbs on the list were now known to be in good condition. After a couple of warm-up days and I roped Nic into meeting me for a romp to Icefields Parkway for a run at Weeping Pillar. When we got there we found 2 parties with the same idea. The upper party bailed after the 1st pitch of Weeping Pillar route. Large daggers and the heat of the bright sun sent them back to the car. The other party was a late arrival that knew today wasnt the day to crowd the climb. So up we went, getting soaked in the runny, steep ice. I chose the right side of the Pillar to avoid weird ice formations, and provide great cave belays to protect belayers from the funky ice falling from above. What an incredible experience this climb was, we could not contain our excitement from this big, and amazing route. We laughed and reveled about it until we parted ways again the next day.

2 rest days later, and I was able to talk Tim and Andy into driving into the Waiparous Valley for our first time. Hydrophobia was the route on the list that they saw as the most interesting. That was to prove to be a great call on our part. We did the obligatory strategy session with the Colonel the night before, and were on our way out at 430 am. We arrived at first light donning chains for the last few miles. We had the bare minimum vehicle and chains to get in the 4wd roads. The suburban made it though with a few rally points and shoveling! Thanks Andy for the great driving job. Hydrophobia is the most visually striking route I can think of. It looks like something from a comic or fantasy book. The eye struggles to recognize scale and steepness in its bizarre layout. As an ice route, it is in a class of its own. It frequently has great ice, and is seldom drippy. We caught it in perfect temps(32f), and had mostly great ice. The only issue was the winds kicked up great amounts of spindrift snow. We were also grateful to have borrowed Steves 70 meter ropes for the long, pumpy leads. We all went back tired and happy from one of the best climbs imaginable. Huge thanks to Steve for every thing he provides to the community.

I just finished the trip, here is the damage:

1-9-15 Grotto Falls 4p to wi4, m6 w steve

1-10-15 Marble Canyon 3p to wi4 w Nic, Stuart

1-12-15 Sniveling to Weeping Pillar V-wi6 6p w/Nic

1-15-15 Hydrophobia V-WI 5+ 3p

1-17-15 Twisted III-wi5 3p w/ Steve, Bill

1-20-15 Curtain Call IV-WI6 w/ Tyler, Nic (41p for season)

The wish list and current conditions (1-21-2015):

  • Wolf Street, thin
  • French Reality, thin
  • Red Man Soars, not sure/no
  • Amadeus, no
  • Kidd, in
  • Sacre Blue, in, avy concerns
  • Sea of Vapors, just came in, thin
  • Cryophobia, thin/no, see photos
  • Hydrophobia, in
  • Superbok, thin, in
  • Pilsner Pillar, in
  • French Maid, maybe
  • Tabernac Bowl, thin, in
  • Mixed Master, no
  • Curtain Call, in
  • Riptide,in
  • Weeping Pillar,in
  • Unicorn, no
  • Virtual Reality, no
  • Ice Nine, in
  • Bourgeau Left, in
  • Big Drip, in
  • Twisted,in
  • Cascade Kronenburg,in

Pictures! :

 

Hyalite ’14

Felt very happy to spend 8 wonderful days in Hyalite. Driving out by myself, I was lucky to produce the following:

12-9-14 Feeding Cat, Matrix 3 p to wi4 m5 w/ Ari, Kristen. Matrix is so fun.

12-10-14 Scepter WI 5 1p+lap w/Ari, K. Hooked out,

12-12-14 Silken to Climb Above Dribbles, aka Alex in Wonderland III- Wi5-M6 w/ Keenan. One of the best in Hyalite!

12-13-14 Monkey Ass Wall WI5 1p w/Jeff, Nelson. Obscure but great pitch. Thanks Nelson for trail breaking.

12-14-14 Panama Canal M8/9 with Marko, Ben, Bekah, and Mike. Fell all over it, but fun tr.

12-15-14 Champagne Sherbet, and Slot 2p WI4 w/ Kristen.Fun, long leads

12-16-14 Avalanche Gulch 5p III-Wi5 m4 w/ Keenan. Longest route in Hyalite, very fun.

I had been laid up for a month prior to this outing due to a couple of strange injuries. First I threw my back out on my last Friday before ending the Allen Brain Science Center project. I really wanted to finish that crazy building, but missed doing the finishing touches. I was due to return the following Tuesday, but poured boiling coffee on both legs.  It then took 3 weeks to recover from extensive 2nd degree burns from that fiasco. I cannot thank my very caring girl enough for her care during my recovery.

Motivated to stay longer than just during icefest, I decided to go alone and solicit various partners during my stay in Bozeman. Ari and Kristen were wonderful hosts and partners, along with Keenan being a stud for the harder routes. It was nice to have more time and take each day easier. My favorites were: Matrix, Climb above Dribbles ( aka: Alex in Wonderland: phenomenal route), and Monkey Ass Wall. The routes stayed in good shape despite warm temperatures and large crowds. I think the dry air has something to do with that.

This was my best trip to Hyalite due to attending Icefest, World Cup Competition, great climbs, and spending quality time with great people. It was great to try new gear that I got from Pro Mountain Sports, like the new Laser light Speed ice screws! Huge advance in ice anchors for sure.

Now for a few pictures!

Avalanche Gulch

Avalanche Gulch

 

Rainbow Serpent

I had been crazy for this route since Steve and friends climbed it last season. Picture , and video of last years Rainbow Serpent. Not only did the stunning Rainbow Serpent come in this year, but so also did Fearful Symmetry. We went in with 4 people, hoping to do a quality photo shoot for Ben Herndon. We were prepared to do a 2 team  ascent for top-down photos. The wind and cold did not allow for such shenanigans however. Leaving the 2 Bens at the base, Jess and I split it into 4 pitches to save on rope drag and stay more active. The wind swirled with crazy might in the Recital Hall, at times cracking like a whip. It sent horrendous spend-drift down on the climbers and left the base team to chop away at the huge ice blocks that fell from old icefalls to stay warm. The Hall is an earned and temporary position, with the easiest entry up a multi pitch WI4 just to get to it. (Aquarius)

…also of note the snow drifts before the Big Hill are large enough to need a big rig currently. We couldn’t do it with a Tacoma 4wd! Adds 1-2 hours to the approach. Still worth every step.

Rainbow S. report from downclimbing

Eric and Lucie Report

Canadian Rockies Report

1-11-14 -Rainbow Serpent.

Pitch 1 is an easy short way to get to the start of the pillar. 25m, wi3. The lower pillar had crazy mushrooms stacked out into space above you. We found a doable way up the right side, yet the rope drag made progress halt just short of a wild roof formed when a dagger broke off days prior. I got the roof lead,(p3) feeling  like I had to do bouldering to get through. A great cave belay left Jess with the 40m finish endurance pillar, (p4, for us, A better party would combine 2 of our pitches). It was a longer route than I expected(The book says 70m, more like 100m), the exposure was tremendous at a few places, and the ice brittle. Despite suffering from the elements, it was a fantastic climb that I will never forget.  Thanks Jess, BenH, Ben E.

Stay tuned for Bens Pictures in the coming days!

The Ghost

The Ghost

Rainbow Serpent 100m, WI6

Rainbow Serpent 100m, WI6

rs2

Lower pillar

rs3

Mid-route, Fearful in background

rs4

p2, Wi5

rs5

rs8

rs9

Rapping over the p3 roof

Ben H. deep in the Aquarius drainage

Ben H. deep in the Aquarius drainage

Deep in the Aquarius drainage

Deep in the Aquarius drainage

Banks Lake Ice ’14

2-6-2014- Banks came in in a flash again this season, sporting brittle, chandeliered, and thin ice. Sounds just wretched but can be very exciting if your head gets into it. We (Jess, Ben, and I) started by tope-ropeing the Cable route, a deceptively long and difficult route. It is full on for 50 meters, and if in thin shape, the scale can go up dramatically. I was just barely able to get it on tope-rope, feeling like it was the hardest ice I may have ever been on.  Super technical(in thin shape), and always steep, it is a mind boggling route. There is a nice 2nd pitch above, that is seldom done. Be REAL careful if you try to set up a tope-rope on this one! The traverse is very exposed.

cable5 cable3 cable4 cable1 cable2

zenith1

The High-Threatenging-Dagger at top of page, before it snapped off

banksBrush

Brush Bash on right

2-6-13- Jess, Beau, and I head for Zenith, hoping it was in good shape, and more importantly, the high-ever-threatening-ice-dagger would hopefully be gone. We pulled up to it, and noticed it had grown into a enormous 60’+ free hanging monster the size of a large tree. The tunes drowned out the noise of the collapse, then Jess first noticed it was suddenly gone in a cloud of dust. With that good omen in the bag, we were still humbled by the amazing Zenith. It is yet another route that you can just throw the grade system away with, depending on the conditions. I don’t remember ever leading such a long and difficult single ice pitch in my past. I even did a take after the crux. If brittle and thin, it too, is nowhere close the rating offered in the guide book.The other routes in the area look gamey as well, so be careful out there. zenith9 zenith8 zenith7 zenith6 zenith5 zenith4 zenith3 zenith2

Snoqualmie Ice part 2

Part 1: Snoqualmie mt.

Part 2: Dec, 2013. The temperatures dropped, the messages stack up. Not being the type of person that can say no to an enthusiastic partner, we planned on 2 teams of 2 and headed up to Alpental Valley. Usually buried in deep snow and snow enthusiasts, we found a valley of ease and solitude, oh and some amazing ice. The original plan was to go big, but Doug, Daniel and I had heard bad things about the other local areas. After viewing a knarled finger on my phone, we set out as a party of 3 to tackle the 3 pitch WI4; Flow Reversal. A route I had done in fat conditions a few years ago, Video here . We found it in outstanding shape with water ice from top to bottom. We each had a lead and enjoyed it to the fullest. 2 rapps with a double at the end and we were back in Seattle before dark.

Dougs trip report

The next day Doug and I  just had to head back up to get the amazing route to the right of it. We had vague notions of getting the first ascent, but really, there is very little uncharted territory so close to Seattle. Steve Swenson probably did the fa in ’74, lol. It was unnamed however and after comparing it to other options we called the climb: Resistance is Futile. It drew us quickly up it with 2 easy start pitches and a short, but intense WI5 crux at the end of the 300′ waterfall. It was a pumpy over hung 2 column feature that once again had to be cleared of many daggers aimed at my head. 2 double rapps and we were back at the car by 2pm this time! Such a fun route to finish an amazing weekend. Now its off to Bozeman the enjoy the Icefest, see you there?

Flow Reversal, left. RisF on far right

Flow Reversal, left. RisF on far right

Flow Reversal

Flow Reversal

Flow Reversal

Party on Flow Reversal

RisF , Resistance is Futile

RisF , Resistance is Futile

RisF , Resistance is Futile

Top of RisF , Resistance is Futile

RisF from p1

RisF from p1

Crux of RisF, photo by Doug

Crux of RisF, photo by Doug

Doug on approach Doug on approach Doug on approach Doug on top-out Doug on top-out Doug on top-out Crux of RisF, photo by Doug P1100803

P2 belay cave

Looking down overhanging crux, RisF

Looking down overhanging crux, RisF

P1100770

Me shadow selfing the crux in mid rest.

Me shadow selfing the crux in mid rest.

Goats Beard Ice

When we found out that Goats Beard was in, all other plans were shelved.
Once I was off work and the ice formed, what busy plans they were. It started in Canmore for 5 days. Back to Seattle for a day, then Hyalite for 8 straight. A night at home, then Leavenworth then, Lilooet , …you get the idea. I came home from the latest trip to low temps, and many messages from wanting partners. . Shaun asked me to join him in trying Drury Falls, A route that comes in nearly every year, and stays in until the temps or avy danger goes up. Shaun was game for the new Goat-oriented plan which was to be his 1st multi-pitch ice route and 3rd ice route overall. Worried about the routes objective hazards, we were comforted by reports of 2 parties having success on it the days before our try. Reports of hanging daggers overhead all day, and double with sunlight made sleep uneasy the night before. A 3 am wake-up from Shauns house in Leavenworth, and a 700 am start on route. We were stunned by the first light on the route. Earlier that summer, I had done a 7 pitch 5.11 route just next to our waterfall! We were impressed that there was a way through the giant roofs guarding the top forest. It had to be one of the longest, and more importantly-,Funnest ice routes I have ever done. We were like kids at the playground of our dreams. Though Shaun and I were at opposite ends of our career, and had barely met, We were newborn to the world and grateful for life, instantly and forever connected by this thread of temporary ice. Thanks to his roommate : Heidi, ..Vern and Craig for having the cahones to do the onsite, …John for the reassurance, …Shaun for the solid effort on his first big ice route…. Christina and Pro Mt Sports for the hardwear.
We did the route in 6 LONG pitches, 6 hours car to car. We found the first crux to be a long wi5 (p2). the other cruxes were the section through the roofs( a clever, thin corner in the middle of giant roofs, p5). The last pitch was an endurance pillar that took my last shred of energy, p6. The ice was greatly varied in type and consistency, adding yet another element to the intense experience. The route is never super difficult, but the position is always on your mind. It saw 3 ascents in 3 days, and thanks to the internet, it may see more until it falls apart.

pics are in reverse order.

Upper Goats

Upper Goats

"Goats

top out stoke

top out stoke

p5 wi5

p5 wi5

p5 wi5

p5 wi5

p4, corner pitch wi4+

p4, corner pitch wi4+

goat6

Psyching up for p6 wi5

Psyching up for p6 wi5

p6 wi5

p6 wi5

p5 wi5

p5 wi5

p3 wi4

p3 wi4

goat3

High on p2 wi5

High on p2 wi5

Pitch 2 wi5

Pitch 2 wi5

Hyalite 12/13

Feeling very lucky to land in Bozeman this season, and enjoy some climbing with Vern, and Keenan. 2  young men that I have had discourse via internet, and now swapping leads with them, on some great ice routes. Huge Thank Yous to Ari, Marko, Lisa, Charles, Vern, Keenan, Anita, and Tab, for being such giving friends.

Day 1. Vern and I ran into Anita and Tab on Palisade Falls, after saying goodbye to 2 friends from Oregon. It was in smaller, steeper shape with large cauliflower’s to manage. Great fun for laps on different lines.

Day 2: Killer Pillar is still soaking climbers on both sides. The left side being slightly drier. The mixed is fun and drier, so is the tube start behind the pillar on top  rope.

Day 3: Late start works great for getting up Slight of Hand, which has a short approach since the road is till ungated as of late. (gate will close jan 2, unless snow depth warrants earlier closure) Very fun route.

Day 4: Rest for me, Vern and Keenan head for Horsetail Falls.They report good conditions there too, then did Palisade again.

Day 5: Vern, Keenan, and I go after Climb above Dribbles, now known as “Alex in Wonderland” ,starting with Silken Falls. It is a long approach and the 1st rock pitch is loose and sketch. Keenan led this, but V and I froze at the cold belay. We were also running out of daylight so we bailed before the crux 2nd pitch quickly.

Day 6. Vern and I do a very wet Scepter. We recovered from that in warmer temps and did the 4 other routes to the right. Starting with Mummy 2 then Matrix (fun) ,solo right of Matrix, then finishing with Feeding the Cat. Great day!

Day 7 Responsible Family Men is a great pitch. Worth the long hike up there, the exposure and ambience is like that of a big Canadian route. We took the direct approach using Markos great beta yet again. We wound down the day with Switchback falls , and the mixed route to the far left. Fun day!

Day 8: Cleopatras Needle was in great shape, but less there than the other 2 times I have done it. Ari, and I followed a tired Vern up and I got some great shots in the early morning sun. What a great trip we had, hooking up with friends for climbing and socializing. Quite a sport for occupying the darker, colder months of the year. Thanks to Marko,and Ari for putting us up for the week!

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