Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Happy Ground Hog day! Kinzua klimbing and A day at the Cliffs

Wow... Its looking miserable outside today.  Yesterday we had temps in the mid 30's and rain.  The forcast was  calling for a couple mild days this week.  Well mild was an understatement for the start of today.  I went out on the deck and it felt like spring.  Sunny and 45°.  The Weather channel is saying the temps are going to fall into the mid 20's and that it'll be snowing by this afternoon.  I sure hope they're right.  The last 48hrs most likely put a hurting on the mixed lines I've been working on as well as the ice routes I've been patiently waiting to see come into shape.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed.  I'll try to head out tomorrow to scope the damages.  I'm sure a fresh coating of snow will make things feels wintry again.  If winter comes to a screeching halt we can all blame that HOG up in Punxy for not seeing his shadow.  Well enough about the weather. On to our recent climbing adventures.

The dam located directly across from the climbing
Friday Jan. 28th Laura and I decided to take a short road trip up to Kinzua to climb.  The climbing there is mostly casual with WI3 being the common grade.  Usually its a great place for beginning leaders to cut their teeth on the sharp end.  It was the location of my first ice climbing experience about 14 years ago.  I've been at it ever since that first outing.  In that respect Kinzua will always be a memorable place for me to visit.  Laura had never been there, so we loaded up the climbingmobile and set off at 6:00am friday for the 3.5hr drive north.  The drive went smooth considering the snow storm we drove in most of the way.  Upon arrival, I was slightly disappointed to see the ice much thinner than what I had climbed in years past.  I havn't been there in quite a few years, but every other tip I've made to Kinzua has provided FAT, blue flows.  It was a real bummer since the trip was mostly for Laura to get in a bunch of time leading.  Instead we pondered over which line was  filled in most of the way.  I could see rock through the clear ice as well as hear large amounts of running water.   Seeing the ice in this current state, I decided to take the lead and check things out before Laura went up.   I climbed the line directly across from the Entrance to the first parking lot.  Its generally a low angle steeped WI3 with great protection.  It took some searching to get in a few 13cm screws that were actually going to do something.  As I climbed I could look down into the large holes and see the rock and water underneath.    I reached to top and setup the belay to bring Laura up to the trees.  She climbed up using her new BD Fusion ice tools.   It wasn't much of a route to put them to use on, but she seemed to like them.  I brought along some 8mm cord and rap rings to contribute to the local climbing community based on a post on about the anchors being ratty and in need of replacement.  I set up a station on a large tree up and left of the top out.  Heres a photo of the new station and the climb.

Our first climb.  Unusually thin compared to what I've typically seen here
Laura coming up the first climb we did
Laura seconding with trucks rumbling below.
Notice our car in the lot?  Worlds easiest approach!

Our second climb was to the right of the first one.  It was in the little alcove.  It went up the low angle start and up to a short pillar.  The ice on this route was better up on the pillar, but the bottom was still somewhat hollow and not well formed. I took the line over right above the exposed rock section and belayed/rapped from there.

Laura tooling on the second climb we did.
(The steepest we could find)
Coming up onto the belay of the 2nd climb
Well it only took two climbs and we decided to head back home to better conditions.  We'll have to make another trip someday when things are more "in".  All in all it was a nice quick revisit the moderates of Kinzua. will I do it again this season?  Most likely not with the way conditions have been at home.  There's always next season! 

Sunday Jan. 30th.  Laura was out for the day and I made plans with Dr. Bob to climb at the cliffs.  Joel and Matt were already in town and were staying in Ohiopyle.  They climbed Saturday at Upper Meadow where I guess quite a display of climbing went on.  I wasn't there, but it sounded good.  Anyhow... Sunday morning came and I drove to the parking area of the cliffs.  It was snowed in and I did some shoveling to make parking better for those involved in the days antics.  I was getting ready to hike in when Dr. Bob showed up.   We split the ropes and made our way in.  Dr. Bob is one of my oldest ice climbing friends.  Due to life, etc. I haven't had the opportunity to spend much time on the rope with him recently as I have in the past.  Bob and I decided to warm up on Called on Account of Security WI4.  It was in great shape.  A little new snow and some onion skin made climbing a little more interesting, but all in all it was in the best conditions I've ever seen.  I led the pitch and belayed Bob from the top to shoot some pics on my new camera.  Here are a few of  the shots.
Dr Bob coming up Called on Account of Security WI4

Dr Bob doing work!
For our second route we decided to climb G-Gully WI4+/5-  It was one of the driest routes we saw.  The climb went well.  It was much better than last season when we did the FFA.  Bob commented many times how he enjoyed the 3D climbing that the route offered.  Here's a few shots of Bob cleaning.  

Bob cleaning G-Gully WI4+
 Joel and Matt showed up a little later than expected.  They had spend the evening before getting familiarized with life in Ohiopyle.  Here's a photo of Joel upon arrival at the cliffs.  Needless to say there's not much to report on their activities of the day.  Matt was the lone climber taking a lap on G-Gully before hiking out.
Feeling a little fuzzy Joel?
Overall there was a lot of running water and things were building fast.  The Beast WI5+ was in the process of making a rare appearance. Albeit with massive amounts of water flowing down it.  I hope the weather didn't take too much of a toll on it.
The Beast about touching down for the 2nd year in a row!
On the last day of season (last year), Laura and I went on an early morning mission to climb it before the day warmed to well above freezing, but were turned back by the stupidity of forgetting our ropes.  It WAS just about ready for the 2nd time in 5 or 6 years... Until today's rain.  With any luck the it will be climbable and I'll finally get to climb it.  If not there's still lots of mixed climbs out there begging to be climbed.  We'll see what the weekend holds.

Overall conditions photo from Sunday

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