Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Valdez Climbing Trip: February 17th: Fast Friends

I went to Valdez this weekend and it was amazing. Its been about five years since I have been ice climbing down there. Everything in Valdez seems big and steep, its a place I always dream of climbing at, but am also intimidated by. But this weekend Ryan, Bill, Lynn, Tonya and I all rallied down there and got in some amazing pitches of ice. It was by far the hardest climbing i've done all winter.
The First day we were there we all went back into Sheep Creek. Ryan, Me, Bill and Lynn all climbed Fast Friends.

This is the only picture I have of the route and unfortunately it does not do it justice at all. If you use your imagination you can see two blackish dots at the base of what could be some greyish ice, well thats me and Ryan starting pitch one. This was about a 1,100 foot route of meandering ice, and steep snow. Its rated grade 5+, but I think that the crux pitches were more of solid grade four.

This next picture is of Lynn and Bill waiting in the sunline at the base of the route for me and Ryan to finish the first pitch.

This first pitch Ryan stretched out the whole 230 feet of our rope. It was kind of a funky combination of snow, crusties, and ice. The route has been seeing a lot of sun, and is sunbaked in places.

This is me coming up the first pitch, you can see our skis in the background.

Ryan and I use the Ro-Sham-Bo AKA rock, paper, scissors, method to decide who gets to lead the first pitch and then we alternate back and forth. This way we can just let luck decide, and not have to argue about who gets to do it.

So Ryan lead the first pitch, and I lead the second pitch which consisted of one 30 foot grade 2 step of ice and then a steep snow gulley. Because the climbing was easy Ryan and I ended up simul-climbing for an extra hundred feet until I could get to some better alders. From there Ryan took the lead again on the third pitch which was mostly snow, with a small steep section where there was some pseudo-ice, and then we arrived at the base of the fourth pitch.

This me coming up the snow slope on the third pitch.

This is the fourth pitch with Ryan standing at the base belaying me up.

When I looked up at the fourth pitch from a distance it looked steep and big. But when i got underneath it I could see the smaller features that had blended together from a distance. What continually amazes me about ice climbing, is that what a climb looks like can be very little like how it feels. Usually things are much, much harder than i want them to be!

This is me looking up at the start of the pitch, little did i know then how pumped out i would be five minutes later! But I made it to the top, and then climbed a small snowslope to some good ice where i set an anchor and then belayed Ryan up to me.

From here we had one final pitch to the top. This was Ryan's lead and it was a beautiful pitch of blue, solid ice. Nice and steep, but manageable!

Ryan then belayed me up where we enjoyed some time in the sun, and waited for Lynn and Bill to top out with us before we started rappelling back down the route.

Beautiful views in all directions!

Lynn topping out into the alders above the route.

Bill looking quite festive with his pink bunny sticker and Lynn's pink hat!

Ryan and Bill being goofballs!

Me getting ready to throw the rope over the edge.

Ryan, Lynn and Bill still smiling. We set up six different rappel stations to get off of this climb. It was a lot longer than any of us had anticipated from the bottom. Overall an excellent route.


Elise said...

Hi Sherrie:

I just got finished reviewing your whole page here...Wow you have had some adventurous times. Thanks for sharing them with me. I miss you and I know that you are very far away right now, but please know that you and Ryan are always in my heart and thoughts. Take care and keep on enjoying the journey. Luvs...Elise

Kurtis Schaaf said...

I had to check out your page after climbing with you on Saturday, cool page. You have done some awesome stuff. Thanks again, I had a great time on the ice. I hope to see you in the future on the ice.