I got an 8 day stretch off and wanted to leave town. Ryan and I decided to go skiing in Valdez, but on the way we met my friend Rapheal and took a side trip out to his friends cabin on Crosswinds Lake.
The Wrangell Mountains
We all fit on Rapheal's snowmachine, its pretty huge. It was about 18 miles out from Tolsona Lakes.
Ryan, Me and Rapheal
About mid afternoon we made it back to the car and continued down to Valdez, pulling in to the pass by 5. We brought climbing gear and with the limited time decided to go for a quick ski up Sheep creek to check on conditions. Even with no sun, and little wind there was snow and rocks fallng down the routes....not to mention the enormous deposition zones. I wasn't tempted to climb, not even a little bit.
Fantastic day out skiing with Kellie. We went up Virgin Creek (i think), I would not do this approach during a low snow year! We did one lap in the shade, then skied out toward the Tesoro in the sun. Awesome day out!
Despite the fantastic skiing, I still wanted to do some ice climbing while I was in Valdez. Keystone canyon seemed like the best bet as the approaches are short and the ice was blue. So Ryan and I crossed the road and roshed for the lead at the base of Bridalveil falls..Ryan won.
Ryan was tired and not really paying much attention because he set the first belay a good 40 ft lower than the first belay cave...so my second pitch started out awkward, and the ice was slow and unconsolidated...the rope drag was awful, needless to say it wasn't the most enjoyable pitch I've led.
Ryan got to me and concurred that the ice quality was a little lacking. The Killer pillar looked wicked steep this year. Short, but the only line with any weakness also looked like the unconsolidated crap we had just climbed.
Below the Killer Pillar
Ryan didn't want it, and I wasn't feeling super motivated after the last pitch, so we bailed off.
In retrospect what had looked like awesome pick holes to the top were really large pockmarks made from clearing away bad ice....note to self: pick holes would be much smaller.