I have wanted to go explore the end of Sheep Creek ever since I read about it in BT's Ice Pixies guidebook. The avalanche potential out there is scary. Its automatically not an option if there has been recent snow. Conditions this spring are about perfect with wind scraped mountains and a high pressure system in place.
Sheep Creek with Secret Journey and Tsuri Gane on the Left
When Ryan and I were back here last December we got shut down by a large pool of water and sub zero temps, this time the pool wasn't even visible. Huge avalanche deposits filled the river and we walked up and down them cognizant of how much snow was underneath our feet, reinforcement for why I will never come here when its snowing.
The amount of ice in the back half of this canyon is mind boggling. I could spend my next 10 Valdez trips here and still have more to do. Long, Long, Long routes. I was racking up at the base of a beautiful line in the pic below, listening to the tinkle of ice and snow roll down the route, then a rock came down. I've had bad experiences with rockfall in Sheep creek, I just couldn't rationalize making the same mistake again, even though I really wanted to. When you see one rock, and the route is still in the sun, chances are high that there will be many more to follow. I just couldn't do it.
Ryan with the Route We Wanted to Climb
We ended up trying to get farther back into the canyon, I always feel pulled to see what is around the next corner. After a few alder escapades and a cliff at the end, our need to go on was extinguished, so we turned around and dropped a line down the steep ice in the pic below.
Ouray Ice Park in Valdez
It was about 50 unrelenting feet of dead vertical ice. I've never gotten the screaming barfies so bad. The pain was ridiculous as my fingers regained circulation, surely this is a sign pointing toward the absurdity of me ice climbing? An amazing day out nonetheless.