Thursday, February 4, 2010

Flying Dutchman WI4 FFA

Yesterday I spent the day exploring upstream along the Youghiogheny River from Stewarton.  I am happy to report that I found several nice flows coming over the small outcrops.  Most were in the WI2 to WI3+ range.  With sufficient cold weather I think the flows would form up fat and be great fun.  Not sure if they've ever been climbed or not.  The approach is easy (along the railroad tracks) and the flows start less than 10min from the car.  Get in touch if you'd like more info on these.  Just before Bear Run, I was looking across the river at Maple Wall and School House Crag.  Not much to report at Maple Wall, but as I got in closer view to School House, it came out of nowhere.  ICE.  It appeared to be on the left side of the cliff about where the rock route Flying Dutchman would be.  I was in awe at how cool this would be if one of the best crags in the area had ice routes too.  I was stoked.  Wearing my ice boots and pack as if for a typical ice day, I set off running the 2 miles back to the car.  I had to hurry, I only had a few hours to get back to the car.  Drive all the way around to Bruner Run, run the 1.75miles upstream and still be home in time for obligations.  Well upon arrival of the gate, I found it to be locked and couldn't drive down to the parking area.  So I figured it was not meant to be and made my way home dreaming of what could be waiting to be climbed.  I immediately called Laura and told her of my findings.  We decided to get out early the next morning to seek out the potential.  We awoke today full of vigor.  We drove to Ohiopyle and made the 30min downhill walk to the rail trail from The Mitchell Place parking area.  Upon reaching the rail trail we had our first find of the day.  It was a cool 45' flow right where they have the information sign about coal mining history in the area.

It appeared to be 35' to 40' tall and about WI 3+  For those that love the Lower Meadow ice flows, This should be your next destination.  It was thick enough to lead, but the topout was washed out pretty good.  With visions of bigger and better we continued on our way downstream and saved that one for another day.  Well just before Schoolhouse we had find #2. 

It was a cascading waterfall directly across from the RE (Rivers End) trail marker.  I figured it would freeze up nicely with a reasonable cold snap.  It had a fair amount of ice, but wasn't there yet.  I'm sure by next week both this flow and the Coal Wall should be very climbable.  After looking at River End flow, we continued down the trail.  School House came into view.  I was pleasantly surprised. 

There was definately  a route formed up.  It was right over the rock route Flying Dutchman.  I could see the first and last bolt, but the rest were buried under ice.  The sun was hitting it hard.  It looked baked and unstable, but I couldn't pass the opportunity to climb it.  Who knows how often it comes in.  Laura and I put it into high gear.  We quickly set up and got to climbing.   I climbed up to the first bolt clipped it and felt a little better.  With every swing the ice was sending the eeerie sounds of serious hollow delamination.  I gently (and quickly) climbed the line placing a couple worthless screws and happily clipped the last bolt before topping out the 70' line.

Laura tied in and followed up in fine fashion smiling the whole way.  We had a blast.  The climbing was good.  Almost too much fun.  We figured the route name shouldn't change and the grade was about WI4.  As we left to hike out the route was looking bad and didn't look like it would last the day, but who knows.  The forcast looks very promising through next week.  If you're feeling adventurous check out these newly discovered areas.  The river left crags get sun, The river right crags (stewarton side) doesn't.  If you're planning to climb in the area, these flows now present even more options in the Ohiopyle area.  Here are a few pics I snapped of Laura on her way up Flying Dutchman WI4

1 comment:

  1. Pretty Cool - climbed at the 'Coal Mine' as I mentioned before (there is a similar flow just north of Camp Caramel along the bike trail). Looked at the Cascade a few times but was never in good enough. Never saw Schoolhouse in, and wasn't even aware of it - Wow!
    If the weather forecast is correct (and we get the snow and temperatures as predicted) expect some great conditions, particularly next weekend. Could rival 2003-2004.