Friday, February 11, 2011

Plastic ice, bluebird skies and a good day of winter climbing!

Behind the ice climbs at Upper Meadow Run, natural lighting.

Winter climbing?  It really didn't feel like winter as we stood in the Upper Meadow Run amphitheater in Ohiopyle state park.  The warm sun felt good on the face and made for very pleasant climbing.  Laura has been sick for the past week and seemed to pass it on to me over the last couple days.  She's getting better and I'm now feeling achy and congested. We'd been watching the weather and realized that the end is drawing near and decided to get after it while the getting is good, despite health.  The forecast isn't looking that great in the near future.  Temps are going to begin to rise and stay above freezing for quite a few days.  The ice has been building at an amazing rate since last weekends warm up but this is what I'm assuming is the beginning of the end.  Next week may be all we get before the ice becomes unclimbable.  Get out and enjoy the great ice here in SWPA this weekend.  It may be your last opportunity. 

I'm so glad we decided to go out.  What a great day of climbing!  The warm sun, Ibuprophin and cough drops made the temporary improvements necessary for me to enjoy the day.  We started our day off by climbing The Schoolyard pillar which was in great shape on the shaded side.  It was very smooth, unlike the chopped out front.  The upper section was beat on by the sun and made for little to no protection on slush covered, melted out ice (glad the climbing was easy) up to the Hemlock.  Laura seconded enjoying the fantastic ice on the pillar.  
Looking down from the belay
Laura finding the "good ice" in the shade
 FYI, I've recently placed a rap anchor on the hemlock at the top of the Schoolyard climbs to reduce wear on the tree from everyone pulling the rope after rapping, please do not take the anchor and ring  If you need one email me and I'll find a way to get some to you.  Enjoy!   

Since I was feeling down and Laura was up, she had the opportunity to run quite a few practice laps on the various pillars climbing one tooled, no tooled, etc. to improve footwork and increase efficiency.  She had a blast climbing to her hearts content for quite a while.
Laura climbing one tooled, ala Jeff Lowe
With the weather situation looking grim, I figured time was precious.  I managed to summon up the energy to get on the project again today.  I've been on it about 5 times this season and have been making good progress.  Here's some photos Laura took of the route today.

Ray Burnsworth of Wildfilms showed up later in the day to film
a little ice to start
off the ice and starting the business 
feels steep at this point
Its a short but powerful line
tool toe cam
moving after the "rest"
exiting onto the pillar
Finishes up on the U.M.P.
After climbing I rapped and left a top rope rigged on the U.M.P. (upper meadow pillar) for Laura to climb.  She tied in started climbing up the 35' pillar.  She was doing great up through the overlaps that the new ice has created, but the shower pouring down proved to be not worth the climb and she lowered off to avoid becoming completely saturated.  Here's a photo of Laura after on a few minutes on the start.

This photo speaks for itself
After drying out in the sun Laura took countless top rope burns enjoying the great ice.  Shortly after, we packed up and called it a day.  The sun was going down and the chill was setting in.  Despite feeling under the weather, Who could ask for more...  The climbing and weather were stellar.  All while being in the best of company.  So did the project go down?  Nope (1hang)  I hope I have enough weather to put this puppy to bed before the end of season.  If not, no big deal.  There's always next season and countless other project abound in SWPA.  I'm most thankful for such a great late season day.  Happy climbing! 

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