...as the winter nights grow?
Marcus and I got an early jump on the ice season. Conditions were a little bit spartan up north, but there was more than enough ice for four days of climbing. More than anything we knocked some rust off, sized up some future objectives and readied ourselves for the Thanksgiving weekend send-fest (hopefully!).
Day 1: We knew Nemesis had been climbed within the last few days but knew WI6 was probably not going to workout for our first day out this year. We wanted something a little easier and settled on Spray Falls WI5. Spray Falls was on the to do list after getting shut down a few years ago on a late season attempt with Chad. It was in very steep, albeit easy condition this year. Went down smoothly but we could have done without the 4-hr wait at the base while a party of very slow Albertans.
Day 2: After hearing of deteriorating avy conditions and that Will Gadd bailed we had to skipped our attempt on Nemesis. Instead we headed to the Ghost where there are no avy worries, at least we thought. Chad and I had climbed the Sorcerer, our intended route, a few years back (pretty good trip now that I think about it, we climbed Carlsberg, Kitty Hawk, Sorcerer in one trip). A massive cornice had formed up this year. Added to that feature was heavy winds and snow deposition that seemed to be loading the cornice. Did I mention the spindrift falling down, and up the climb? Needless to say we bailed. Unfortunately a 2.5 hr drive and 1.5hr approach didn't leave us any time to get on something else.
Day 3: Murchison is another climb that was on my grudge list. BJ and I had been on it but bailed when a nearby cornice collapsed. Marcus and I thought we might link up Murchison with Mixed Master. At 8 a.m. we drove past Murchison with a car already parked. We decided to reverse the link-up and head to Mixed Master. Mixed Master is dry... really dry. I would not be surprised if it doesn't come in this year. We headed back to Murchison. Leaving the car at 10:30 we thought we wouldn't have to wait too long. Unfortunately some guys from British Columbia were setting an anti-speed record on Murchison (what is it with slow Canadian ice climbers?). At 12:00 they were only starting the first pitch. Desperate after being shut down the previous day we got on the unformed Virtual Reality WI6. We only climbed one pitch but it ended up being a 30m WI5 with techy ice. I hope those Canadian brought headlamps because they probably only reached the base by nightfall.
Day 4: As per usual we hit Hafner on the way home. We didn't send anything incredible.... just worked some mixed routes that are pretty boney in the early season.
The uber-slow Albertans on the crux of Spray Falls.
Marcus heading up a WI4 leading to the crux of WI4.
Me posing for a picture just below the crux of Spray Falls. Not that I'm right at a screw or anything...
Me learning something about techy ice on Virtual Reality.
What's a gronk? Marcus on the send...