Thursday, March 12, 2009

Crystal Visions and Ski Race

I was so excited when I woke up in Valdez, sometimes my enthusiasm can be a bit overwhelming for my uncaffeinated companions. I have a weird knack for being incredibly efficient, while poor Ry is the opposite, and Lynn is in the middle.

We decided to meet up with some friends and all ski into Hole in the Wall Canyon together. The approach was awesome complete with a plowed road, bridge, snow machine tracks and Lynn the most enthusiastic post holer/trail breaker of them all!

The canyon is gorgeous and narrows significantly in a short distance. There was a lot of small quirky pieces of ice high on the walls, and then a couple of nice 320 ft climbs that touched all the way down.

We decided to see how far we could get in the canyon. It got a little interesting in a couple places, but overall good travel.

Narrow Canyon, Open Pools


As soon as I saw Crystal Visions glowing blue in the sun, I knew we had to climb it. This climb was just absolutely beautiful in so many ways. I got to lead the first pitch which ended up being a bit steeper and longer than it had looked from the ground. Valdez climbing never ceases to absolutely deceive me of its true height and steepness, I see grade 3 and it feels like the grade five its actually rated at. Its uncanny. This place humbles me every time I come.

Lynn Reaching the Top of the First Pitch


Soon I realize as I'm climbing that the climb is longer and steeper than it looked, and I'm running low on screws. This climb was truly sustained at a fairly steep angle for a long time. I traverse a few feet to the right to which looks like a nice ledge. HAH! Deceived again! Instead its an uncomfortable hanging belay with a nice 70 degree "ledge". Lucky for me my friends are tough and don't hate me for whining.

The Hanging Belay


Ry took over for the second pitch which was truly fun climbing. A couple of nice steep sections were interspersed with decent ledges. The sun was shining and the ice varied from plastic to sun crusted. It was a long pitch,and there was only a few feet of rope left when he got to the top. It was almost comical when we reached him and realized he got stuck on another hanging belay because of the ways the trees were. We've been truly spoiled by our belay cave experiences.

Crystal Visions

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When we got back to the ground we took a little break, all that hanging belay nonsense is bad for your calves! It was still so light when we passed back around to the climbs we had passed, and it just looked so fun we decided to do it. Plus our friends Matt and Krista had been up and already set a V thread and top anchor, how could we say no to all that? Lynn got to lead the first pitch, which was a nice 200+ feet of fun climbing, and I got the upper half. We topped out to an amazing view and the sky turning colors. A truly wonderful day.

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