Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Rule #3: Cardio

Colin B and I had a productive trip into Strobach yesterday.  We climbed what we believe is the first complete ascent of Unholy Baptism.  The first pitch (~70m) was ice pouring out over the cliff with a thin top out.  This pitch took 13cm screws but the ice was rotten and most pro was suspect.  The second pitch (~65m) started on some cauliflower and mixed climbing on the right then climbed 20m of sustained and overhanging ice to a small stance and another 30m of vertical ice.  We used 12 screws and a few finger-sized cams and blades on this this pitch.  Thankfully the second pitch took 16cm screws for most of it's length but again the top-out was thin junky ice that offered little protection.  We rappelled from a tree up and right of the climb.  Unholy Baptism certainly seem like a fitting name for this climb.  It's the steepest and most sustained pitch either of us have climbed and feel that it merits the WI6 grade in current conditions. 
Unholy Baptism
First Pitch
Colin embracing the Screaming Barfies

Second Pitch

Colin contemplates the dorp...

Colin nearing the top of second pitch

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Approach:Pitches Climbed :: War and Peace:Calvin and Hobbes

Spent the last two days climbing local ice.  The more I explore ice in Washington the more I realize that there is plenty available.  The thing is, it is usually very green unstable ice and often quite thin.  Washington could really be a great place for an ice climber but we need a different approach.  They climb frozen dirt in the Tatras.  Since 90% of the routes in the ice guide are in climbable shape a few times a decade why not add some bolts on these rare formers to make hard routes that can be climbed each year?  

The other problem with Washington ice is that it is rarely easy.  Granted we screwed up the approach a little but it took a 4-hour ski after 3-hours of driving to reach Strobach, then another 2-hour ski and 3-hour drive.  That equals 12 hours of skiing/driving for 50m of climbing!  I don't know if I'll be doing anymore day trips to Strobach without a sled.

On the other end of the spectrum is the Rap Wall which is about an hour drive and an hour approach from my house.  The easiest route is M7 and the hardest is either M11/12.  The climbing is techy, steep, and if the chains are covered... scary.    Lots of potential for new routes and still a lot of existing ones to send... game on.

Jeff following First on Right

Ghost Dog M11/12

Rap Wall

First on Right... ironically on the left

The Climb on Admiral's Port or Eagle's Left

It doesn't feel like ice season until I get up to the Canadian Rockies.  The vast majority of my climbing days have been in the Canadian Rockies and though it's 700 miles from my house, it always feels like home.  BJ and I had a quick trip, that in true Rockies fashion, was relentlessly plagued by high avalanche danger.  Despite, we made the best of it climbing a bunch of mixed climbs, heading into the ghost and running up a classic in the Evan Thomas area.

BJ on Bear Spirit

The Business

Upper cirque of THOS

BJ on the crux of Half a Gronk

BJ topping out on THOS

BJ seconding first pitch in Evan Thomas

Ice (+ mixed) Dreams

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Starting Gun

I'm a little embarrassed to say how much time we spent driving from Seattle to Bozeman and how little climbing we did relative to that drive time.  Just another page from the book of PNW ice climber...  

However, having completed the mental crux of the trip on the drive, the climbing seemed relaxing.  We didn't climb anything that noteworthy but went through a good circuit of classics at the Unnamed Wall and earned our G1 merit badge but bailed when the crowds (20+ people) arrived.  

It was nice to go to Hyalite with someone who hasn't been there much so I could finally do the classics that my other partners had done climbed too often to be bothered with.  

The trip was far too short but weather dictated an abbreviated stay.  Avalanche conditions made many climbs a little too exciting for my taste so at the very lease we got the rust off and are ready for the real deal later in the year.
The Fat One (not Jason).

Me climbing an uber-fat Thrill Is Gone.  The rack made for good training
weight as the ice covered all the rock protection.
The Good Looking One (The Climb)

Testing the Waters...

You would have to throw yourself off the wall to fall of these hooks...

Mitosis Begins...