Saturday, April 25, 2009

It's Still Winter at the O'Malley Waterfall

I feel like I stepped back into winter yesterday complete with blue ice and blowing snow. Lynn and I went with a loose plan to the Glen Alps parking lot. Since we weren't sure of the best way to go we ended up taking a modified approach above the summer trail that goes to Williwaw Lakes. The snow was firm and cruiser for scale skis and I never had to put on my skins.

Lynn Skiing with Ptarmigan Mountain in the Background


It took us about 2.5 hours to get to the climb. The O'Malley waterfall is beautiful, its been over a month since I've seen ice that blue.

Looking out of the Cave


Lynn won the rosh for the first pitch and took a really pretty line, the ice was high quality with some steepness to it.

Lynn Leading the First Pitch


Spin drift would intermittently come down and coat us, at first it was refreshing, then it got cold. At the top of the second pitch it became unrelenting and it began to feel as if I was being avalanched on a little at a time. By the time Lynn got to the belay the wind had picked up even more and I was coated with snow. Both of us agreed that the situation was less than ideal and that we should retreat with haste. Setting a V thread with constant snow sweeping down proved very challenging. The holes got clogged, I would bend down to try and look and more snow would pour over my head...a little unpleasant.

Lynn in the Wind

Posted by Picasa

Since we only brought one rope, three V-threads later we were back on the ground and went back in the cave to recuperate. Its been a while since I've gotten thoroughly whacked by the weather. It was a nice reminder that even though its starting to feel like summer in the lowlands, there is still plenty of winter left in the mountains.

The O'Malley Waterfall

Posted by Picasa

Although we didn't do the loop like we had idealized I have no regrets bailing. This climb will be in for a while yet.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Last Day of Ice in Eagle River

After climbing some serious slushy ice last week, I was pretty uncertain by what we would find out in Echo Bend. From across the river the ice looked white and potentially rotten. There was not one ice bridge left across the river. It really wasn't until I actually swung my tool into the ice that I was convinced how good it really was.

Erin Crossing the Eagle River


Although I've climbed Three Ring Circus 3 times this winter, I still really like the route....mostly for the ambiance of sitting up higher in the mountains. The ice is moderate, and the climbing uncomplicated, it makes for a relaxing day out.

The Base of Three Ring Circus


I've never seen Spruce Pitch this big before. It must be over a 100 yards wide. The center line where Erin is in the pic below is super steep and really fun climbing.

Spruce Pitch


Spruce Pitch

Posted by Picasa

I feel like I've been saying goodbye to ice climbing for the season every time I've been out for the last 3 weeks...but I'm happy to keep being surprised and rewarded for my optimism.

Monday, April 20, 2009

First Day of Rock Climbing!!

The sun was so warm yesterday it just seemed silly to try and go ice climbing. The highway was fantastic!



Looking Out From the Trees

Posted by Picasa

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Slush Fest in Hunter Creek

Lynn and I were highly aware that we could get shut down as we stepped out of the car and into a 50 degree spring day. The approach was surprisingly good still, and the snow bridges felt firm on the way in. The climbs were marginal to completely rotten.

We walked almost all the way back to the Christmas Tree amphitheater down the left fork. It was fun hopping across rocks and ice as the canyon narrowed. The ice climbs back there looked pretty rotten and unprotectable. We decided to rosh for Lost Chord, and I was snicey. My tools would go in to the hilt, but it still felt debatable if it was solid.

Lost in Space sits in the shade and had the best ice in the canyon without rock fall. Lynn led it in fine style

Lynn Getting it Done

It seemed like a relatively good idea at the time to climb up to the base of Hollow Head and have a look around. The sun was undeniably amazing, and the climb was without a doubt wet and funky without much solid ice. The rock that wizzed by cinched the decision to retreat.

The Slush Stream that was Hollow Head

Its pretty funny that Lynn said, "I've never fallen through a river before" and I told her that it was pretty highly overrated so she need not try it. Minutes later I'm walking across the ice and then poof, I drop 5 feet in superman position into the river. Luckily Lynn went in too and I don't know how I ended up facing her, but I'm glad I did. She grabbed my arm and helped me to my feet. My biggest fear with rivers is getting sucked under and ice bridge and then getting pinned. Fortunately we were able to climb up and out the way we had went in...definitely made me super paranoid about all the seeming solid looking ice.

The Weak Spot

When we had first got the the canyon the sun was still behind the clouds, but by the end of the day it was bluebird. The water level rose considerably and wiped out one of our ice bridges. I don't think access is going to last long, but the ice is going quick too. I'm sad that the season is almost over.

Posted by Picasa

Monday, April 6, 2009

Afternoon at the Hillside Pillars

I've been to busy lately to sneak out for a full day of climbing, but I have been making the most of the late afternoons. The climbing is pretty amazing right now.

I was happy to see that an avalanche has come down the gully that the pillars are in, that means there's less hanging above!

Heading up the Debris Pile

Ryan Heading Toward the Pillars

I have to say that I was a little surprised when I asked Lynn and Ry if they were ready to rosh, and Lynn stepped up. I wasn't surprised when fate delivered her the lead. She climbs so hard, and tends to lead way under her climbing ability. She totally rocked this lead. It was impressive. The climbing was a little thin at the bottom and steep at the top, by far her best lead of the season. Go Lynn!

Lynn Rapping Her Awesome Line

Certain aspects of the mountains in Hatcher pass were coated with the volcanic ash from Redoubt. The light wasn't great, but the picture below was the best I could capture!

Ash Covered Mountains

Posted by Picasa
When we got back to the car someone had left Lynn a message on her car, a little raunchy, but we still all had to laugh.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Eklutna Canyon

Ry and I got to the Canyon at 5pm, and I'm now convinced that's the perfect time to show up. There were 3 different parties leaving as we were walking in. Ry wanted to check out the new dry tool route at the end of the canyon. It looked fun, but we decided not to do it.

The Dam

The sun was hitting Annie Greensprings as we walked up to it. I won the rosh, the rock has been crushing my opponents lately!

Annie Greensprings

I'm always surprised at how steep the middle line is. This climb always looks way more mellow than it is.

Posted by Picasa

Boonesfarm is still huge, and kind of like a ladder. It was hilarious how many ice screw holes there were on certain ledges, lots of people have been climbing it. We also threw a top rope on Maddog on the way out. The right line is pretty thin, and the left line had a super crusty, hollow, skinny pillar coming down. Super fun climbing.