Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Times are Changing

The end of a one month vacation is coming painfully close... I'll be back at school at 7 a.m. Monday morning (p.s. WTF!?) and Marcus begins a 6-month 40 hour/week stint on Thursday. Things were definately going to change...

BJ, Marcus and I just took a quick trip out to Bozeman. Conditions were supposed to be great and it had been years since any of us had been to Hyalite Canyon. A little different experience with different climbs on the ticklist than in years' past. We had to deal with some bad avy conditions and the memories of a bad accident that happened a few weeks back. Despite this we got some good climbs in, even if none of them happened to be what we hoped to climb.

Day 1: Went to climb The Climb Above Dribbles... bad snow and a little confusion meant it was just a warm up day.

Day 2: Marcus nabs the last of the low lying fruit with Cleopatra's Needle.

Day 3: Bad snow aborts our attempt on the real prize, end up climbing Bobo Like and Killer Piller not to shabby for a check-down day.

Day 4: Dielectric Breakdown and I cut my teeth, literally, on some Bozeman mixed.

Not the housekeeper's best friends...

BJ getting his first lead of the season on Silken.

If you know BJ you shouldn't be suprised, it was only -15F when we left the car...

Marcus crossing Cleopatra's Needle off the ticklist. It was the only plastic ice in the valley...

Killer Piller.

Marcus trying not to throw stones on the glassy Dielectric Breakdown.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


Weather cooled off just in time for some scrappy ice in the NE. After a disappointing first trip back east my ratio of suffering to climbing has been steadily improving. Got on 3 pitches the first trip then sent the Black Dike among a few other climbs during the second trip. This trip I climbed over 20 pitches and all but one day.
The climbs were just starting to come in, so we focused on scrappy routes at Smuggler's Notch. We ended up getting the seasons first ascents of classic routes like Poster Child and Ragnarock. After three days climbing in the notch and one pirate party induced rest day, we got on a couple routes at Lake Willoughby. Lake Willoughby is Vermont's answer to Canada. If you are going climbing in the NE go here!

Andrew is "The Poster Child" Wi4 M4

Scrappy conditions putting the "rock" in Ragnarock Wi4+ or M6

Approaching the birthing canal on ENT gully... so cold climbed with Das Parkas on.

Andrew following the mega-classic 20- Gully.

Float Like a Butterfly at Lake Willoughby: Vermont's answer to the Weeping Wall.

Teamwork: Usually I have a climbing partner that is a stick clip, this time I had to use my climbing partner as a stick clip.

Ice in the Gorge, me in Vermont

Rodney getting first sticks on Cape Horn Upper Tier Left.

I may have gotten the first pitch of ice in this year's Gorge freeze, but it wasn't the last. A lot of cool lines got climbed, including a couple I had my eye on. As per usual, the Gorge freeze (all 5-days of it) coincided with my trip to Vermont. Now that I'm back its raining at 8,000 ft., so that's great. I guess its time to go to the gym and dream about living someplace drier and colder next year.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Are You Ready to (I) Rock?

With a good weather forcast and no work until 615 on Thursday, I knew I needed to get up on Hood and get some climbing in. Everyone was busy that day. Thankfully, I got a hold of Colin and he was game to play hooky and go out. It was pretty much a perfect day with a full-moon, no wind, cold temps, and cloud-free sky. We made great time up to I-Saddle and were climbing by 8:30 a.m. after leaving the parking lot at 6 a.m.

I-Rock's east wall was completely bare. We had heard that stuff on the other side (NW?) was fun and not often climbed. With conditions on the front side, we really had no choice but to drop off I-Saddle and find something there. We picked the most obvious line/weakness on the face.

Our first belay was pretty marginal with a picket and two marginal pins. Mentally I was preparing myself for the entire climb to have poor protection. Nothing could have been farther from the truth. I found solid protection (including ice screws!) the entire way up the climb. There wasn't a lot of ice on route, but almost every tool placement was on ice with the occasional pick torque, edge, or hook. It was moderate, fun and in great shape. Honestly a top-5 alpine-mixed day all-time.

I had Colin take a picture of this screw just to prove we actually placed it.

Pitch 2. Awesome dihedrals that were ice up and actually a little burly. Thankfully perfect protection abounded.

Looking down the second pitch from the Skylight. There was a big 3/8" bolt just below this. Maybe this is Wayne Wallace's route North Skylight Direct (or something like that). There was a good #2 camalot-sized crack next to the bolt, but don't get me wrong, I clipped the bolt.

Colin pulling the final move into the Skylight. This actually wasn't a posed shot. The climbing was that good.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Thanksgiving Left-overs

This was our second trip to the Canadian Rockies in two-weeks. This November we've put enough miles on Marcus' rig that it needed a oil change and a tire rotation. At least we've knocked off the rust, got on some proud routes and came home ready for more.

Donnie and Sue met us in the parking lot at 5 a.m., and car-pooled with us into the Ghost. They were headed for This House of Sky and we attempting Cryophobia. If you have the right vehicle you can drive in via the Waiporous Creek and reach the climb in just 30 min. Without the requisite monster truck, you have to walk in via Johnson Lakes and the Ghost River Valley. Though the approach is straight-forward, it is 3 hrs long with 2.5 hrs of bushwacking. Remind me why I don't do something easier like skiing?

We finally rounded the ridge and saw this:

The Hydrophobia cirque is pretty incredible. I want to get back there either later this year or in the Spring for some plastic-ice climbing. Hydrophobia is the, ahem, obvious feature on the left. Cryphobia climbs rock that connects the discontinous ice features to the right. I took the first pitch which meant I would also get the crux. Marcus got the second pitch which meant he would climb two M7+ pitches.

Marcus gunning through the roof on the second pitch.

Yep, it is that good...

We didn't get the send, but we did get close to half-way up the route before pulling the plug. On the bright-side we know what areas need work. We have every intention of training hard and getting on this route again.

We didn't get back to Canmore until 9 p.m. After 6 hrs of walking (as well as some hard climbing) we didn't feel like waking up early again. We opted for the B-shift and started up for Guinness Gully + Stout at 11:30 a.m. It ended up being perfect timing as the party ahead of us was rapping the final-pitch as we started climbing it. We did something like 6 pitches of climbing in an easy afternoon that got us back in time for the end of Sunday Night Football.

Marcus on the first pitch of Guiness Gully.