Monday, December 31, 2012

Farewell Festival 2012

Last night Laura and I decided to take advantage of the last day of the 2012 and stack a few of our favorite activities.  Laura came up with the name "The Farewell Festival."  Not really a festival, but a seriously fun day of outdoor activities.  Ideally we plan to continue this in upcoming years as well.  Here's my recap of our great day!

Phase 1 - Skiing, Seven Springs resort (Somerset Co.)
First activity of our festival was to get in some skiing at Seven Springs.  Ice climbing conditions have been dismal thus far, so we've been enjoying some local man made winter and decided this would be the first activity of the day.  We left home in time to make a run down from the North parking lot and hit the lifts at 9:00AM when they first started running.  We skied for about a couple of hours enjoying the best conditions of the season thus far.  There were no mojo sapping crowds as in previous holiday mornings up there, just perfectly groomed, fast running slopes.  Yesterday we had 7" of fresh snow which had skiers and boarders swarming the mountain like bees on a hive.  We usually only stay until the lift lines take longer than the runs down the hill.  Yesterday was a very short day.  If we hadn't planned multiple sporting events for our farewell festival day we definitely would've stayed longer to take advantage of short lift lines, fast conditions and fun jibs.  Laura and I cruised some hills, hit some rails all the while filming our hijinks!  Alas we had to move on to the next phase of our festival which required considerably less clothes than our phase 1 jibwear!

Phase 2 - Ice climbing, Ohiopyle State Park (Fayette Co.)
After Seven Springs, we made a pit stop at home to exchange gear and clothes.  After a quick change out of our baggy ski attire into more trim fitting climbing duds.   We packed up the Subaru and set off to Ohiopyle.  Meadow Run was our destination.  We filmed more pre-climbing stupidity in the car then set off for the crag.  Not much ice was to be found, but we managed a few laps each on Season Finale M6.  I was anxious to see how my injured shoulder would handle dry tooling.  I've been resting it for several weeks now under the care of my good friend Dr. Andy.  It seemed to work fine for the limited climbing we did.  Also to make my climbing day sweeter was that I finally tried my new Lowa Ice Comp "fruits".

Lowa Ice Comp GTX
They were quite fun and much lighter than my standard mixed boot and crampon combo of Lowa Mountain Expert GTX and Petzl Darts.  They should prove to make for some fun climbing this season!  With still more festival fun ahead we had to pack up and move on to even funnier looking outfits and phase 3.  NOTE:  Visiting climbers looking for ice.  Next weekend should have some drips forming up.  Check for ice condition updates both here and on

Phase 3 - Winter Running, Mammoth Park (Westmoreland Co.)
Running is a great interest of mine.  I've been running for a number of years now and have logged many, many miles and lots of elevation on both trail and roads.  It's a great way to keep your cardio in tip top shape (be sure to focus on hills for climbers).  Laura started running this fall and has been working hard while following a safe, proper training schedule.  Today was proof how much effort and dedication she's put into becoming a runner.  Conditions were less than ideal, but she crushed her 30 minute workout today in proper style.  We made the short drive to Mammoth Park, a local county park that has a nice 1.04 mile brick exercise path that is usually kept clear of snow for users.  The thermometer in the car read 35 Degrees with gloomy skies.  The path was plowed, which resulted in removing the snow, but in its place remained ice.  Running it required careful and attentive footwork.  Several times I found myself having flashbacks to my morning rail slides at Seven Springs.  It was a great run to end the year.  Laura followed her program and ran 3 laps like a champ completing a 5k for the first time in winter conditions.  I ran 4 laps in a slippery 29:42 then running an easy mile to cool down.  We walked together and filmed some running segments for future laughs.  We had an amazingly fun day of activities.  We're going to be heading out early in the morning to follow our New Years Day climbing tradition.  We're heading to the Higher elevations to see if we can't find a New Years first ascent!

Farewell 2012... Hello 2013!

Happy climbing,
Tim and Laura

Sunday, October 28, 2012

New online guides and route

Laura and I recently utilized a rest day and went to Schoolhouse to do crag work.  We focused our efforts on Metamorphosis 5.8.  It seemed somewhat contrived to me and the tree on the ledge has died making it unsafe for all.  So we hauled in the Woodz ninja kit (various power and hand tools) to remedy the problem.  Operating a chainsaw while hanging on a climbing rope is always fun...  I'm happy to report that it went well without incident.  I took out the dead tree and used it to create a bench at the bottom of the left end of the cliff.  The webbing is still around it for nostalgia.  I then proceeded to add 2 bolts to the route making the runout very reasonable for all.  After finishing, Laura and I decided to utilize the old rarely used 4th bolt of Metamorphosis to create a set of shuts for the finish of a new line Laura put up called Cry Me a River 5.6.  Its easily located between Metamorphosis and Firefly.  Its an easy 4 bolt line that finishes right below the large ledge.  See the description and location on my Ohiopyle Guide if you're unfamiliar with Schoolhouse crag.  Its fun to establish moderates for all to enjoy.  I hope it gets lots of use.

Thanks to recent rains, I also spent some time creating the online guides for Breakneck and The Knobs.  You can access them via the links at the top of this page.  Its the most detailed information ever done for either crag.  The information has been completed in a guidebook I was going to publish years ago, but decided not to do.  The good news is that now its FREE for you.  Check 'em out!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Success, failures and a happy thrashing to all!

Since my return to rock climbing this past summer, Laura and I have been very busy doing crag work and climbing as much as possible.  My shoulder injury from last winters rail antics at 7 Springs seemed to take forever to heal into climbable shape.  Starting slow and  climbing mostly on 5.11 and under seemed to be working at improving my weak shoulder.  After only a short time back and feeling a better I upped the stakes and decided to try Pinch Me I'm Dreaming a 5.12+ mixed gear line at The Knobs in Dunbar, PA.  The climb went pretty well, except that I aggravated my shoulder during the ascent.  Once again I eased back down to vast amounts of sub 5.10's and easing into 11's for the past several months trying to heal it more.  I've since recovered enough and managed to climb a few easy 12's without more injury and am feeling OK, but definitely not 100%.   I really want to get back into projecting routes and being able to push harder, but I've been nervous about further injury and destroying myself for ice season.  Yesterday Laura and I decided to ride into River's End Crag and climb there for a few hours.  We climbed several climbs and I decided it was time to see how healed I was.  I decided to drop a rope on Sludge Factory a 5.12+ that I've yet to red point.  I figured the top rope was best that way I could safely test my shoulders thresholds without over doing it due to red point determination.  I've only tried the route a few days since equipping it back in late 2008.  Its seen a couple of ascents that I know of and is a solid route for the grade.  To date the best I've done is one hang it.  There are two very distinct cruxes on this route.  One is making it past the first bolt, the second is surmounting the large overhang at the top.  In past efforts the top crux has been my Kryptonite.  I'm usually so pumped that hanging in for the last clip is not within my abilities and off flying I usually go waiting to hit the ledge below.  Yesterday was just the opposite.  The bottom crux rocked my world in every conceivable fashion and the upper went without a hitch despite needing a good brushing.  I hope this is the sign of better things to come.  I've been waiting patiently trying not to hurt myself, but I really miss working near my limits.  I've been recently given the pleasure of watching people on our new routes and have throughly enjoyed seeing both success and failure.  Not failure because I'm glad they didn't succeed, but glad in a sense that I remembered how much fun failing can be.  Failing means you get to have more days perfecting sections that are "tricky" for you, which in turn makes you a more fluid climber.  I haven't met a climber that doesn't like success.  The more effort, the sweeter the success.  Even after the greatest successes I've found that the "send high" is only a short lived moment of glory that is quickly eclipsed by the next line looking to smack you down.  Yesterday was just that for me, the fun part... working the line... getting beat by it and getting to come back and try again another day.  Failing just means another day of climbing!

Equipping Sludge Factory in 2008
One of the amazing events I recently witnessed was Laura having a great break through this past week.  After being dejected by the crux start of Deliverance 5.11+ at Bruner Run on many attempts, she worked out an inspiring sequence that proves that short folks CAN do this line.  Using obscure stemming and showing extreme flexibility, she managed to get a clean send.  It was quite funny how convinced she was that it was "impossible for her".  She declared that it was a line that she'd never get due to the long reach.  Only by pure determination and serious effort was she rewarded with the realization that she could send harder lines...  Her display of cranking convinced me that I needed to get back to trying harder despite my shoulder.  To put the plan in motion, I'm declaring war on Sludge Factory after a couple rest days.  Then its on with   Devil's Doorway a project route that I put anchors on Monday.  Its a hard line that repeatedly spit me off years ago when I was a stronger climber.  Will I ever send it?  Hopefully...or not.  Getting to try it once again without injury will be reward enough for me!  Happy Climbing

On another note be sure to check out the Ohiopyle climbing guide I've put together in blog form.  You can find it on the menu at the top of my page!  I'm also working on updating my old Breakneck information and making it available.  If you find these useful, drop me a comment.  I'd be happy to create guides for other SWPA crags if y'all would like them.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Summer life in SWPA

Hello to all my climbing buddies out there.  As most of you know I usually only post about the winter climbing here in SWPA.  Well I've decided to mix it up a bit (different meaning to my winter climbing buddies) and write a bit about this years summer climbing life.  Don't get me wrong.  I love the winter season... Its my favorite time of year for climbing.  Give me waterfall ice, frozen turf or some slightly frozen rock any day.  I'm in heaven.  I haven't posted any summer climbing activity because summer climbing hasn't really existed for me the over the last few years.  Why?  Its been a voluntary choice.  I've been taking the summers off to recover and train specifically for the upcoming winter season.  During the summer I spend the majority of my time running countless miles though the woods and ridges of Pennsylvania's forests.  I really enjoy trail running and have learned that long distance running is a great way to stay in top cardio shape for climbing regardless of season.  I used to run races and did fairly well.  This year I gave up racing, I just ran to run.  I even held off from doing my favorite "good cause" 5k runs like The Mountain Laurel 5K at Laurel Hill State Park.  Instead I just ran for fun.  I even stopped more than usual along the way to check things out.  I always enjoy the early morning birds and scenery.  Don't get me wrong, I put in a lot of elevation and speed work.  I've run a gazillion 800's at the track, etc... but the most enjoyable running I've done has been in the woods.  Mostly on the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail.  I enjoy covering anywhere from 10 to 50 miles a day depending on mood and current physical condition.  Some days I push, others not so much.  All in all running has become a serious passion of mine and a great training tool for climbers.  It also teaches you about the importance of nutrition and hydration while expending mass amounts of energy.  Another great tool for striving climbers.  So if you're a climber and you want to get better and stay lean and in shape, start running... The further and longer the better.  Climbing lighter is climbing smarter! Since last ice season was a bust and we did very minimal climbing.  I decided enough was enough and dusted off my rock shoes and started summer climbing to make sure I remembered how (in case we never get another winter).  I started back slow and spent some time bumbling at the familiar, local spots.  Having a great deal of fun each time I went out.  Our days have been spent cragging and working at crags to clear and improve areas so that people can visit/revist and enjoy our local spots.  

Doing work at Breakneck
In August I spent a couple weeks rebolting Breakneck Crag just outside of Connellsville.  The bolts were getting old and a bunch of generous climbers raised enough money to purchase new hardware.  I pulled the old rusted 3/8" bolts and replacing them with new, BEEFY 1/2" stainless steel ones. All the climbs now have ring shuts to lower from (even the lower slab).    

Laura and I spent a great deal of time doing work at the Lost Crag in Dunbar.  We cleared and remarked the entire "Upper Easy" approach trail.  Much effort was spent at the crag itself improving the area and opening up some choked in areas around the rocks.  Along with working there, we also climbed a few days with my son Skyler and good friend Cal Swogar.  Neither one were ever there and really enjoyed the climbs.  On different days we climbed Drill Queen 5.4,  Preacher Norm 5.10, Evil Edge 5.7, Psycho Driller 5.6, Lichenville 5.7, Lame Duck 5.11, Chimney Sweep 5.4 and others I'm sure.  Some routes were a little dirty other required a little scrubbing to make them a little "friendlier".  We installed a new rap anchor on top of the Short stack to make getting down a little easier.  If someone has stolen said anchor, feel confident that we also cleared the shelf that makes getting onto rappel at the shuts of Reunion safer and easier.  If you've never been there, get directions from or or email me and I can hook you up with some proper ones.  Its a fun place to visit and deserves to see more activity than it does.  The routes tend to be shorter, but there are plenty of them.  They range in difficulty from 5.4 to 5.12+ most folks seem to say they're a little stiff for the grade.  Go enjoy! 

Cal Swogar on Preacher Norm 5.10

Cal Swogar on Preacher Norm 5.10

Skyler Anderson on Evil Arete 5.7

Laura taking a break below Brutal Orangutan

Slopers in the rain face

River's End Crag, Ohiopyle State Park
River's End is one of the downstream crags at Ohiopyle State Park.  It's located (although not labeled) on the Ohiopyle State Park Map. available at the old train station or the park office. Climbing areas are indicated by the climber symbol on the map. I've been asked by several folks the order of the crags going down the bike trail  here they are for clarification: The first area listed on the Ohiopyle map is located 1 mile downstream on the bike trail (just after white mile post 73).  Unnamed to my knowledge, its primarily used by the local rafting companies to take very new climbers, boy/girl scouts, etc. for a day of top roping.  Its short and closest to town.  Perfect crag for beginners.  The second crag on the map is River's End Crag.  It is located about 3.75 miles downstream from the train station it is locatable by finding the DH marked brown and yellow marker on the river side of the bike trail.  This DH stands for Double Hydraulics which is the name of the corresponding rapid on the river.  River's End Crag is located between the DH (Double Hydraulics) rapid marker and the RE (River's End) rapid marker.  The crag is on the left between these two markers.  It is very visible from the trail.  The Third crag downstream on the map is Schoolhouse Crag.  It is located 4.25 miles from the train station, just before the SH (school House) rapid marker or the 76 mile marker.  The fourth crag downstream on the map is Maple Wall.  It is slightly less than 1/2 mile past School house.  It is easily located at the end of the long straight away on the bike path right after passing School House.  There is a pull off and a bench directly across from the access trail up to the crag.  The fifth crag downstream on the map is Bruner Run. It is easily located.  As you head further downstream past Maple  Wall you will come to a hardtop road crossing.  As you cross the road the light blue blaze for the access trail to the crag is visible on your left.  Follow the access trail up to the crag, which is about a 10min. hike up from the bike trail and Bruner Run Rd. access point.  If in doubt walk up the road about 200 yards the crag is visible on your right.  Currently those are all the downstream crags offered at Ohiopyle.  There is plenty of serious bouldering to be found along the river and bike trail.  Some really nice stuff is at mile post 1 on the Laurel Highlands Hiking trail heading out of town near Falls Pub for those interested in seeking it out.  Here's a photo of one of my favorites not far from Bruner Run.

This is what you see from the trail
a little closer, pretty cool
The really sweet uphill side!
River's End Crag... Laura and I have been cycling in regularly and improving things there.  We've created a bike parking area on the river side of the bike trail to keep climbers bikes from crowding the trail.  We worked on improving the access trail up to the left side, (still needs a little work).  Old routes have been cleaned and new routes have been equipped and should prove to be great additions to the climbing in Ohiopyle.  Here's a few photos of the crag and climbs waiting for your ascent.

Me standing below the left side of Rivers End Crag
One of our new lines Snail Trail 5.6 trad, left side
The left side of Rivers End Crag.

The petrified log on the new line Petrified 5.11- Sport, left side

On the first ascent of Petrified 5.11- sport, 5 bolts, left side

Me tying in for the new climb
Carl's Bunnies 5.9 sport, 3 bolts, left side
An amazingly fun new line (Laura's favorite)
 The Bee's Knees 5.10+ sport, 4 bolts, right side.
Follow up slightly overhanging flakes to the shuts.
My super partner after a hot and humid day!
Here's a couple of shots from a few years back highlighting the route B.O.P. 5.10c R at River's End Crag, Right side.

Carl Samples climbs B.O.P (Birds of Prey) 5.10+ sport
at River's End Crag in 2009.  The route Carl's Bunnies
on the left wall is a reference to him
Carl Samples at the shuts on B.O.P at River's End Crag
in 2009.
The Knobs a.ka. Rob's Knob, Dunbar, PA
We've been up here a few times this season.  We cleared the trail and restacked the carins on the way up the hill.  Most of the climbs are in good shape as far as needing cleaned. We did quite a few of the 63 or so routes that exist here.  So many have been recently brushed and are ready to go.  Most of the bolts were replaced just a few years back, so everything is solid.  This place deserves to see more traffic.  I'm sure only a handful of people actually climb here each season.  What a great crag to visit if you are comfortable placing a little trad gear.  Some fully bolted climbs exits, but you'd be missing some of the best lines if you don't bring some trad gear for the mixed and pure gear lines.  If you've never been there, this crag should be on your list to visit soon.  We added a rap station on the Can I touch it block at the top of I think I soloed that 5.6 to help in getting down off of this block.  Another rap station was added on top of Oriental Lickmaster block.  It is between the corner climb Way Up 5.8, trad. and Gagging on the Shag 5.11c/d trad. since the tree normally used for rappel is now mostly rotten.  Some pics of The Knobs or a.k.a. Rob's Knob.

Climbing Way Up 5.8 trad

Christian Mason on Take a Stab 5.8 trad

Gagging on the Shag 5.11c/d trad
Mungo Jelly 5.10c, mixed, 1 bolt
Laura belaying me on Can I touch it 5.11c  sport 2 bolts
Laura and I relaxing at The Knobs photo Ray Burnsworth
Terror of Tiny Tim

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Finally some real ice in South western Pennsylvania

The south western Pennsylvania woods are finally looking like winter

Laura and I decided to take our chances and head into Sunday School Crag to try and climb one of  the new lines I found last week.   It was a warmish 29° when we left the house and made our way up to the parking area.  Upon arrival it was 23° which made me feel more optimistic that the line would have held over the warmer days this past week.  
Parking area for Sunday School Crag
During our hike in to the climbs we were breaking through the crust that the recent ice storm left in its wake.  I knew this recent ice crusting might be of some concern on the lines we were going to try and attempt.  Sunday School Crag  is the most alpine like crags of south western PA.  

Coming out of the woods and into the crag
The temps are always colder, the wind is always howling and is usually downright uncomfortable.  The ice lines are a lot more committing than most other local crags, with traditional gear being involved in most ascents.  Most lines I've climbed here commonly involve some sort of barely held together limestone choss with varying thicknesses of verglas beteween sections of ice pillars and runnels.  In other words some seriously fun climbing that might make you stain your drawers and then smile about it after its done.

On the way in we scoped out some of the lines.  Here's a couple we want to try in the near future.

Laura below one of several unclimbed lines we eyed
One of the top options for the day!

Not sure if I should be excited or terrified for this one.
Either way its an incredible looking mixed climb that I want to try.

After checking all the other options, we headed to the long alpine looking corner route I found last week.  I was really hoping it was in.  I had thought about it all week and couldn't wait to get on it.  We rounded the corner and it came into view and was looking at least as good as it did last week.  I was afraid that the water might have started to wash it out from behind.  The temperatures must have been quite a bit colder here that at our house.  The climb had very little water running off of it and looked as if it were good to go.  The climbs to the right were running hard with water and were dropping some rather large chunks of ice.  

Standing near the bottom of our chosen climb

The climbs to right on this wall were running hard and dropping ice

We didn't waste much time.  I've never been on this line and had seen it for the first time last week.  I looked it over and scoped out a potential line and racked up accordingly.  Going ground up is always a little more exciting and I find over-racking is better than under.  The line looked a little boney so it was mostly 13cm screws.   I also racked some quick draws, a few runners, screamers, a half rack of nuts, and 3 cams.  Plus belay coat and gloves, belay device, thread tool, cordage, spare biners, a 22cm screw for a thread if necessary/possible.   I recently received a set of the new Petzl dry T rated picks (which is a whole other post in itself).  I'd been anxiously waiting to try them on an "ice" route.  I resisted the temptation to take them dry tooling and dull the hell out of them over the past couple of weeks.  Also new was a shiny pair of Grivel G4 crampons, complements of Rob "Griz" Ginieczki for helping with the second revision of Ice Climbing Pennsylvania (available for purchase soon).  All this new gear to try and on a new line,  How cool!  I'd used the previous versions of the Rambo's over the years and always liked their rigid frame for pure ice.  My last pair were hijacked by Laura (who likes them a lot as well) and I just hadn't replaced them when Griz surprised me with these.  Thanks again Griz.

Racked and excited to get on some real ice!
The climb was well... Awesome!  What a great first ice route of the season.  It went well.  The ice was mostly very thin.  There were plenty "eyelids" on the bulges from the ice storm as expected.  Lots of new ice and snow to be cleared as I ascended the runnels that flowed down the 200' cliff.  Even with a "soft" swing attitude today I still managed to put falcons beaks on both of my new picks.  They performed well and I can say that the new picks perform better on ice than the old Astro picks that I loved so much.   Now that I've used them on an ice route I can go out and trash them at will.  I have a few more sets coming my way.  I'm definately NOT a fan of the new washer design that has now made changing picks in the field a big pain in the ass.  Right up there with Grivel's three bolt system.  The crampons were sweet as expected!  Grivel has the rigid design and point configuration nailed.  The extra weight seems to help drive them into the ice with much more authority than the Petzl Darts I've become used to.

We named the line Late Bloomer.   We thought it a fitting name for our current season being the worst ice season in area history.  Climbing this line today almost made me forget how unproductive local ice has been this season.  I'm a little hesitant to grade the line.  I'm sure it'll be much easier during a normal season of cold, producing plentiful ice.  Today it felt like a commiting WI4+ in lean condition.  Protection was a little sparse and I would not recommend this climb for the budding WI4 leader.  What it lacked in vertical sections it made up for in sparse protection and lack of ice.  Here's the photos of us on the climb.

Starting up the line it got thin early on
Short thin pillars with a few mixed moves, very alpine feeling

I'm in the middle of the photo, Giving scale to the climb

Just another day in the Pennsylvania alpine
Laura moving over a lower angle snow/ice slab
Even enough ice for a V thread rap!

Laura is all smiles on this one!
Late Bloomer WI4+
South Western Pennsylvania
Is there more?  There's always more here in SWPA

The End!
So south western Pennsylvania ice season has officially begun for us.  Who knows if February will contain colder temps and provide us with more lines to try this year.  Hopefully it does.  Keep checking back for all our PA climbing nonsense.  With some luck we'll be able to send a few more of the new lines at this crag.  I hope everyone got as lucky as we did this weekend!  What a blast... cant wait to get back for more!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Tunnel Cliffs and Sunday School Crag conditions

Winter wonderland... for now
I woke up this morning feeling a little sore from my past several days efforts.  Needing a rest day, I decided to go check ice conditions high up on the ridge at the coldest areas in the region as well as get in some winter hiking and views.  I loaded a light pack with minimal gear.  Tools, crampons, extra gloves a puffy and the normal lid contents.  I brewed a pot of elixer for my thermos and set off up the mountain to Tunnel road.  The road was maintained part of the way making the driving easy.  From there on out to the top of NO DRIVE hill (parking area) the snowmobiles had it packed to reasonable passage.  I parked there and hiked down the 1.25 miles to the climbing.  It was looking pretty good, but I was surprised that the top outs were still looking very wet and boney. Here's a couple of shots...

Hard to believe this is Tunnel cliffs from the ice farming days circa 1999
I like the no maintenance of the new version...
but liked the natural non tiered version better
Here's the beta on the NEW Tunnel Cliffs.   I would suggest only using this area on Sundays and keeping a low profile.  Since this is the first year I've been back here in years and this one sucks, I'm not really sure of the potential here.  Its basically short benches (30'?) that can be climbed in short "pitches" or linked all together.  Its a great place that seeps continually from a natural spring and parts are in full shade.  It is one of the highest crags as far as elevation goes and comes in quicker than most other areas.  This should be a great location with lots of moderate climbing. I don't expect to be climbing here that often, so this is my effort to share with fellow ice climbers an area.  I would expect that it will become a good asset for both local and visiting climbers.  You can find Tunnel Cliffs in Griz's Ice climbing Pennsylvania guidebook.  It'll help get you there, but the routes are obviously different.  Unlike the old days of serious efforts required to "farm" ice and climb here, TC has now been transformed into an ice making machine that requires no maintenance.  Climbing at Tunnel back in those years was not a problem and could be accessed at any time.  Now given its current condition going on days other than Sunday may ruin it for all.  Please don't be "that climber" and lets keep this place climbable.  Thanks and enjoy!  I snapped a couple pics and left quickly as not trying to be the person I just mentioned.  I wanted to get a couple pics with it a little thicker than I've seen it thus far and to gauge what it takes for this place to come into shape to help y'all out.  I've always enjoyed the walk down into and out of Tunnel cliffs.  Its a long gradual hill that goes through some beautiful forest.  Its quickly contrasted by the new climbing area as you will see if you visit (some Sunday).  Keep this one on your hit list if leading WI3ish climbs is what your after.  Keep in mind if not leading that there's not much in the way of anchors (trees, etc) for easy top roped climbing.  In addition the ice may be hard to reach from the top and may not offer easy access for screw anchors either.

After my hike up out of Tunnel Cliffs I visited Sunday School Crag.  The conditions there look promising.  If the cold weather continues it'll be fat by next weekend.  If it warms up its going to be very unstable.  Unfortunately the forecast is calling for a warm up and rain.  I spent a couple hours walking around checking out the climbs enjoying our brief winter experience.  Here's what it looked like and a few random shots for your enjoyment.

60 meters of chossy alpine fun

South Park Wall
Near where New Years Revolution once stood.
Looks harder than WI4+ though.
It's waiting for us when you're ready Matt!
New Years Reunion WI?
Dumbfounded self portrait.  It was a wonderful 13°
and felt good in the sun
Pennsylvania Alpine?  Who remembers the approach?
Another 60meters of more strenuous fun.
Who's coming with me man?
There you have it the ice is looking better than it has yet, but has some building to be considered FAT.  Lets hope for some mercy on the warm fronts and colder temps hit the area with fury.  I know I'm ready to get some serious climbing done.  Mother nature has a different plan.  Hard to believe its 44° and raining now just hours later.  What a bitch!