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!

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