Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Infinite WI5 FFA

The Infinite WI5 Photo by Ray Burnsworth

As I write this blog entry, I sit here tired and satisfied with today's adventure.  28" of new snow fell on the Laurel Highlands from Friday at noon until Saturday at 5:00pm.  Roads were in bad shape. Snow was to most, a major nuisance.  As the events of our Sunday unfolded, we began to agree with the "most".   The cold weather has brought new vigor to the ice climbing in SWPA.  Everything is back in good condition and almost could be considered FAT.  Ray, Laura and I hit up our usual Sunday spot only to find the usual 2 lane road slightly larger than one lane.  Ray was already there "parked" in the middle of the road.  A 4' wall of snow denied us of our usually easy place to park.  After numerous attempted rammings with the whip, we resorted to 40 minutes of shovel duty to clear enough room to park and allow a car to pass.

We took Ray and his car elsewhere to park, otherwise we would have been shoveling X2.  We returned to find that someone had shown up to climb and taken advantage of our hard labor.  There was a red Jeep Cherokee parked right in our spot (Gotcha...I'm only kidding) Our spot was still clear and we parked without incident.  The car was officially parked.  All we had to do now was hike in and climb.  Not that easy.  Today was the worst approach I've ever encountered at our little local crag.  Our approach is normally a leisurely 15min. stroll.  Today it was 45 min. of post holeing in 3+ feet of snow.  I've never sweated so much going downhill.  It was a balmy 10° as we reached the base of our climb hot, soaked and miserable.  I was first one there, so I proceed to stamp out an area for the 3 of us to inhabit while we got ready to climb and for Ray to shoot some video from.  You can check out some of his stuff here Wildfilm Productions
Ray Burnsworth ready to video at camp2

I chose to try the line left of The Sick-le again.  It rejected Joel Torretti and I about a month ago.  We tried to send it, but were both utlimately shut down.   The line had been top roped several times over the years, but it still eluded a FFA.  The climbing is often found to be much harder and steeper than expected.  A common reaction is "That thing is overhung!"  I can't say if its truly overhung, but it is steep and funkified right now.  The single digit temps, large amounts of snow, and a nice feed of water has formed this line into a wild 3D landscape.    The climb went very well despite the mass removal of crust, snow and daggers.  The pitch was demanding.  It was apprx. 100' long and took 1hr and 10min to complete.
My gloves were soaked and in serious need of wax on the palms.  The snow on my unwaxed palms had me climbing up on my 2nd grips where I seemed to not be slipping off as much.  I lowered from a couple screws and Laura tied in to 2nd.  She loved the climb.  She found the climb to be a lot of fun and opted to take a second lap hooking up through the blobs and sicles. 

When she came down I went up, Threaded it out and lowered off.  We decided to name the route The Infinite WI5.  Due to the infinite amount of snow we received on attempted days.  We packed up our gear and made the uphill trudge out.  It was nice to have broken trail downhill on the way in.  It made the uphill at least slightly better than it could've been.
Laura post climb, 10° and wearing puffy pants

Still it took waaaaaay longer than normal.  The large snowfall made the day a little harder on us, but the beautiful landscape, great climbing and friends made it worth the efforts.  Hope your day was just as good!  Cheers
The happy climbing couple

Next week. A Sick-le attempt? Its almost in...

A few phtos Ray took today

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