Sunday, January 31, 2010

The ice return

Laura and I decided to take the trip to our local cliffs to see what we could climb.  We found that the ice has mostly recovered from the warm snap, although most of the longer routes need a little more time to be safe.  The weather forcast calls for cooler temps this week and by next weekend most lines should be in great condition.  We ended up getting a late start and only did one line, but we sure did pick a good one.  The line was about 150' long and had some serious funkiness to it.  The bottom was nice and phat (but took much removal for good reliable sticks). As I got towards the middle of the route the pillar got worse with very new unreliable surface ice.  A nice rest made above this section made the final push to easier ground very doable.  The upper section was very thin and didn't take very good screws.  The last 20' of steepness  was a horrorfest of hollowed out shit from the previous freeze.  The final topout was an overhanging lip consisting of sloppy mud on my  right and on my left was a 300+lb block of old ice with nothing but 10" of air between it and the wet rock.  Not really sure what was holding it in place.  My last piece of gear was 15+ feet below me.  It was my last long screw into a blob of ice not fit for the using.  It made it to about the 4th thread.  After a serious hesitation, mental prep. and almost sharting in my goretex, I commited to the final moves of mud and deathblocks. It seemed like an eternity, but I made it to the tree and slung it with pride.  I was happy to be standing in 3" of muck and water for my belay.  I cringed as I peeped down over what I had just overcome.  I swapped golves to bring life to my hands.  They were wet and cold from being on the pitch for 1hr. and 15min.  I'm sure Laura was freezing from her extended belay session, so I quickly put her on and got her climbing.  She did very well coming up the steep section and made quick work through the easy section.  The top proved to be tricky for her as well as she rolled herself onto the top, muck and all.  No style points, but success was ours.  We setup a rap made our way to the ground.  We decided one was enough and opted to head home.   Our day was not without incident though.  I ended up getting nailed by a UFO on the back while cleaning up ropes. It left a nice knot on my back.  Wrong place, wrong time.   All in all it was a great day.  We dubbed the line G Gully WI5- with full pucker rating for the topout in current conditions.  Here's a few photos from today!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Thug life and ice conditions!

I'm sure my skis have been feeling neglected due to all the ice climbing, so with miserable ice conditions I decided to treat them to some time on the snow.  I spent the last week hanging out in the Terrain Parks at Seven Springs  We went up for some sessions of body battering and severe pain infliction a.k.a. (Jibbing) For those not in the know jibbing is freestyle skiing (doing stunts) on man made obstacles like hand rails, boxes and many other items.  Similar to what skateboarders do in the citys, but on snow skis at ski resorts see the link.  Fun Stuff!   Skiing was cold and windy most days, but with the recent build of The Spot, it was worth cold digits.  They've built the half pipe, jump line and set up two tiers of new rails.  What can I say...  They did a great job and things are sweet.  Each day the weather was foul on one side of the mountain or other.  So we got to spend a couple days each sessioning The Alley and The Spot.  Today with seriously sore legs and many other body parts, I decided it was time to take a break from the parks and check conditions to see how the ice rebuild was going.  I can happily report that the ice has rebonded to the walls in most places and is looking good for the weekend.  Here are some photos of current conditons.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Dry tooling? More like wet tooling!

Laura and I had a few hours to get out today.  Her shoulder is still bothering her from the other day when she hit her shoulder on Anger Management and didn't want to climb, but eagerly volunteered to belay me if I wanted to climb.   I opted to head to Upper Meadow again to see how much ice was left and work on our new line there.  Upon arrival, we saw that the main ice pillar (finish of the climb) had fallen.  As we expected, it fell in towards the cave.  The other columns were still standing and/or hanging.  My first assesment was that it was a little sketchy i.e. dangerous to be in there.  Since we made the drive, I figured I'd give it one go.  We hurried up and got ready.  I started up the route, Sunday's ice was now seriously unbonded crap.  I worked up through to the rock.  I attempted to use some of the ice, but as expected I sent it crashing down towards Laura.  When I felt the ice go I had her take me up.  She was positioned out of the way and was fine.  I pulled back on and continued up hitting each hook.  I finished my burn at the lip with water pouring down my neck.  Laura took me up and I lowered off.  We took a few pics and hiked out, bidding the ice farwell.  I can't wait for winters return and a chance to climb this fun new mixed line.  By then my I should have my new Lowa "fruit boots".  I can't wait to give 'em a go.   Look out sucka!!!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Rain, rain, and more rain

By Saturday the ice went from great to unsafe. Joel Torretti, Josh Hurst and I made the best of poor conditions. Josh came all this way to climb so we did. We even put him to work. We decided to equip a new line at Upper Meadow Amphitheater. A short ice start leads to steep roof climbing, from there leave the rock, punch the curtain and finish on the last 15' of the ice pillar to the top OR continue left passing 1 more bolt to the left hanging curtain. Despite a single attempt by Josh and numerous attempts by Joel and I the line still remains unclimbed. (Josh was feeling under the weather with a head cold and busted ribs from a fall on Caveman extension the previous day). If he weren't in bad shape I'm sure he'd fired the line with little trouble. The line is strenuous and powerful. When completed it could be the hardest mixed route in SWPA. With all the rain in the forecast I doubt the finishing ice pillar will still be upright, thus rendering a true ascent impossible until ice reforms at the lip. Dont let that deter you. The route stays day and can be worked on rain days. Keep the season alive, go give it a go. Today we went back to work the line some more and possibly equip another. Instead we were lucky enough to witness a very cool natural event. As the morning temperatures rose an ice dam broke further upstream. The small, tame Meadow Run became quite intimidating in less than 2 min. We quickly gathered our gear and headed for higher ground up in the ampitheater. we sat and watched in amazment. Large ice debris and class five rapids lasted for 20-30min. then slowly the water receded. Quite a cool thing to see happen. Even though it was warm and rained we still had a great weekend, climbed hard and laughed most of the time. (Hope your ribs are feeling better Josh)!

Friday, January 15, 2010

3 days of shenanigans

Laura and I planned to go ice climbing with my buddy Matt Johns from Kentucky, Joel Torretti and his buddy Josh Hurst from Maine. Yeah you read right, he came here from Maine. After a start consisting of breakfast at Valley Dairy, shopping for - drill bits, a six pack, twice forgotten pants, non-alcoholic drinks, snacks and probably more. We've learned that buying a sixer around 9:00 am is harder to do than you think... Oh yeah I almost forgot it was raining. Not the best weather for ICE climbing, or is it? Well Matt had to stay in Kentucky so we sadly were Mattless. It ended up being Laura, Joel, Josh and I. After our morning shenanigans, we decided to drive to Meadow Run in Ohiopyle to check out the Upper Meadow amphitheater for potential mixed lines. The rains stopped by the time we arrived in Ohiopyle. Upon pulling into the parking lot we saw the quantity of ice along the Lower Meadow cliff band and decided it was clearly time to climb and check out the Upper later in the day. We spent the morning cranking the mixed lines and even added an alternate left var. to Captain Caveman that traverses left more under the roof before pulling the lip around the last hanging curtain. Slightly longer and harder than Captain Caveman. All kinds of shenanigans going on there. Fun stuff... short and pumpy. Laura busted herself up falling on Anger Management (which some asshole stole the draws off of) so she stayed to climb Hemlock with me and following the advice of Dr. Torretti, decided to head home to heal for tomorrow and Sunday. The 3 of us stayed and climbed a couple more lines and decided to walk to Upper Meadow to eye the amphitheater while we still had a couple of hrs. of light. What can I say... Its steep, burly, has free hangers and pillars galore. Its impressive to see. We explored around looking at potential lines out the steep cave. We decided to work on a line that starts on some ice in the back of the cave and heads up through several overlaps to the free hanging curtain at the lip. Burly, but by no means the most difficult line there. Joel rigged a line from the top while Josh started up the ice and got the first bolt in. I put him on belay as he worked up, go into position and placed the 2nd. He came down and I was up. I went up on lead to the high point and continued up into position and located where to put the 3rd. I didn't get more than a 1/2 inch when the drill was doing no good. The battery was dead. I lowered the drill and proceeded to get myself stuck for a while. After much effort, I was back to the ground. We cleaned up and walked out as it was getting dark. Good ice, good laughs, good fun. 1 down 2 to go. Can't wait to see what tomorrow brings... Enjoy the photos!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Infinite amount of snow

Today was another great day of climbing. Despite the 36" of snow that fell upon the Laurel Highlands, Joel joined Laura and I for some fun at SCII. As soon as we could see the cliffs, we knew we were in for a treat. The cold weather the past week had built up some great lines that were begging to be climbed. We slogged through the knee -to -waist deep snow down to the cliff. We were treated to some great climbing in a pristine setting. The clouds cleared and provided us with some bluebird skies on several occasions. The ice was new and untrodden, presented many challenges and left us all (except Laura) pumped. It was one hell of a good time. Dr. Bob and Regina showed up before noon, dropped a line on the centrals and enjoyed the fun as well. We were hiking out as it was getting dark... Heres the photos that Laura and I snapped during the day... Enjoy

Friday, January 8, 2010

Gunclub day II

We awoke to more snow and terrible roads, so we opted to head to the Gunclub again to do some different lines, since we got so drenched on NRA yesterday. We decided to start on Caveshot WI 4+. It was running just like NRA. We climbed it and got soaked just like NRA. The ice was a little more consolidated and the line climbed much better than NRA. After bringing Laura up to me on the belay ledge, everything was frozen solid and we opted to rap down and head out. On the way down I shot some cool shots of a near iceless Internet Connection WI5+ M6/7. (It climbs the overhanging wall with the blobs on it to the right of the rope). We had a blast even though it was 15° and running like crazy. Can't wait to get out on Sun

Thursday, January 7, 2010

SWPA ice conditions & report

SWPA Conditions for the weekenders - OHIOPYLE STATE PARK, Lower Meadow Run - Main Flow L & R WI3, Both IN and leadable. Hemlock WI3+ IN with a thin start, Season Finale M6 ice start IN fat, Anger Managment M6+ IN ice start and finish, Captain Caveman M7+ IN, Both previous routes are now equipped with fixed draws for those looking to work them. Please be courteous to others and leave them there. Lower Meadow Warmup WI2 IN. Upper Meadow Cascades WI3+, Thin definately top ropeable, Confluence Most likely very thin. Let us know if you venture in. SO. C'VILLE ROD & GUNCLUB, Caveshot WI4+ IN, N.R.A. WI5 Questionably IN - Very wet and not well formed. Laura and I put up a new mixed start that comes in from the right. It goes up through several rock placements to the base of the final pillar. Final pillar was VERY wet. I took a fall and ripped a screamer when my crampons suddenly sheered through the semi-frozen snotsicles on the last 30' of the climb. Bring snorkel... Internet Connection M6+ OUT, Skymonkey WI5 OUT, Apline Ascent Gully M2/3 IN. [b]IRISHTOWN, Mouth of Madness WI5- Forming up nicely, The Prow WI4 M3 IN, Upper Tier - No report. Hope this help in making a decision. These are the areas I've checked either today or yesterday. Questions on other areas, get in touch. Here are a few photos from the GUN CLUB today.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Captain Caveman M7 gets climbed

Joel Toretti made the trip into town and we spent a short day at Meadow Run. We hopped right on Captain Caveman. Joel tried first since he hadn't had a chance yet... He fell a few times, but got up through it. I got on to give it a try. I wasn't feeling too positive due to the fact that I felt pumped from my previous day attempt. Surprisingly I sent Captain Caveman first try. Joel tied back in and promptly sent in fine style. Next Joel wanted to try Anger management M6+. He tied in started up. For mental pro he got a stubbie to go in about 5 rotations till it hit rock then tied it off. Upward Joel went passing the first bolt and into the overhangs. Quickly learning that the 2nd bolt was way out of reach (now that the rodi stummp is gone), he backed off and down climbed to the ground. Having longer reach, I opted to go up and climb the route and installing a longer runner on the 2nd bolt so that Joel could make the clip. I went up to Joel's highpoint and worked into the clipping hook... What a looooong reach that clip is. Any shorter arms and I don't think I would've got it. I fired up into the ice finish, installing a near worthless screw at the lip, clipping it and gunning for the top. Seemed much harder than I remembered... Joel tied in and gave it a second go. He smoothed up through the route eventually pumping out at the lip. He hung body weight from the screw I placed and installed a 2nd (good) screw. He finished it without issue. He wanted to try again, but I had obligations and needed to leave. So we decided to leave fixed gear on the bolts for Joel when he comes back.

Monday, January 4, 2010

SC II - first real ice routes of the season

Sunday we went to SC-II. It was seriously cold. Temps were below 0° and the wind was howling like crazy. It was Laura and I, Joel Toretti and PA Matt, CO Matt and his wife Rebecca. We were greeted by the howling winds at the Cliffs parking area. Upon hiking in, we found that the cold temperatures had locked up most of the water. There is still some water running and with the forecast calling for the lower 20's, the water will be flowing again in no time. Climbs are looking good. Laura and I climbed Called on Account of Security which was bonded much better than several days prior. The climb is a little thin at the bottom, but gets better as you go up. FYI There's a V thread backed up by a screw at the P1 Belay for lowering from there. P2 wasn't quite formed up yet. Joel tried to get on The Awakening, but the climb was very brittle and the temps were a little less than favorable for gear placement. They opted to drop a TR on the right central and run laps. Matt and Rebecca opted to head out earlier due to the cold. We ended the day around 3:00. It was a good day and we made some new ice climbing friends. I was glad to get up Called despite the temps and thin, brittle ice. Here's a few photos from the day.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Happy New Years Day ice climbing...

Happy New Year to all! Hope everyone survived the welcoming of 2010. My New Years was much like the rest. Laura and I stayed home, didn't do much. We stuffed ourselves with some Kielbasa, Hot Dogs (veggie dogs), Sauerkraut, and some New Years Pretzel Bread that Laura baked up (see photo) which was bomb diggity! We rung in the New Year and made our way off to bed to rest up for my annual New Year's Revolution ice climbing! The temperatures weren't very favorable the previous days up to New Years Eve, but we still kept our spirits up as the weather forcast was for below freezing temps by morning with it going down as the day went on. Well it did just that. There was also a small amount of snow on the ground. A welcome sight from the dreary day before. We loaded up the gear and made our way to Secret Cliffs II. As we neared the cliffs, the snow deepened and winter seemed to be back in action. We hiked down to the climbs, only to find that the ice was still EXTREMELY wet and not very well bonded in most places. We seriously debated for a while whether or not Called on Account of Security would go. I'm sure it would've, but the delaminated ice at the top looked way too unsettled to rappel down from and we opted to let it go and continue to build for the upcoming cold week. After leaving Secret Cliffs we opted to continue our quest. We decided that to surely get in some climbing we should go to Lower Meadow Run to get on the mixed lines. We found that the ice there was in reasonable condition. I'd been itching to get back on Caveman and try to get the redpoint. I tooled my way up to the crux (3rd. bolt) and made it to the ice. I couldn't pull up around the corner and came off. The ice was poorly bonded and was washing out as I was climbing. I pulled back on and clipped the 4th bolt. The section above the fouth to the Rhody was very unstable as was the mucky topout. Given a little more attached ice and I think I would've got it. I can't wait to get back on it again. Laura gave it a quick go. Despite having a severe reach disadvantage she gave it her best. Captain Caveman proved to be more suited to those with long limbs. We roped up Anger Managment and took some turns on it. We did much more climbing than initially thought. It wasn't the best New Years Revolution conditions, but we climbed what we could and had a great time doing so! -As always climbing is a great way to bring in the New Year. Welcome 2010!