Thursday, March 6, 2014

Tom's Stash of Goodies

        Laura coming up "Center Pillar"

There's this really motivated climber that Laura and I have been climbing with.  Some of you may be lucky enough to know him, but most of you most likely won't.  He's only recently begun ice and mixed climbing with us here in the Laurel Highlands.  He's managed to tick off some rare forming notable climbs in the area.  His name is easy to remember.  It's Tom Thomas.  Most peoples first thoughts are "How is this big guy going to climb ice?"  Then they're utterly amazed when he steps up and sends something most climbers wouldn't consider getting on.  Tom's quite the jovial character who only gets happier when things get harder and more challenging.  He's quick to admit if something is over his head and is a solid guy to climb with.  Ego never gets in this guys way.  To him It's all about having fun regardless of how hard the climbing is.  Tom spent a fair number of days climbing in the Laurel Highlands this season.  Laura and I have been giving him a personal tour of our incredible ice and mixed climbing.  Tom's been climbing for a few years (over 20).  He's been actively searching out ice climbing in some really unlikely areas West of the Laurel Highlands.  He kept telling Laura and I of his many stashes unknown to most.  Large WI3-5 ice climbs, modern mixed, all kinds of "Goodies" right under the noses of many other climbers.  Tom is a very honest guy and I believed him.  This past Tuesday Laura and I made the drive further West in PA to check out a sampling of Tom's hard work.  We met for breakfast then drove a short distant to the parking area for the crag.  A short 3 minute walk had us standing below a short cliffband with plentiful ice drips, flows and pillars.  This area had numerous mixed and ice lines.  Tom put in serious efforts to equip the routes with anchors and bolts where necessary.  Impressive to say the least.  What the area lacked in height was easily made up for in quantity.  We started on Frozen Crackers M4.  It was a nice 15' dead vertical flow that ended at a short rock section and a fun turf topout.  Awesome climb!  Laura was up next and decided to give Frosted Flakes M4 a go despite it's iceless condition.  She onsighted it in proper style finessing her way up the line to the shuts at the overhang.  I tied in and had a really good time climbing The Wild Card M5.  Our last line was Tom going up The Scavanger WI4- in thin conditions. 

Last clip on Frozen Crackers

Topping out

Laura taking a lap on "Frozen Crackers"

      Laura working up "Frosted Flakes"

             Laura on "Frosted Flakes"
Working up through "The Wild Card"
We packed up, hiked back to the car and made a short drive to the next spot.  The next spot was amazing.  It's an ice area that has some FAT 70-80' WI4-5-'s. Extremely easy approach and sooo fat!  Unbelievable nobody has found these other than him.  He's been climbing here for years without seeing anybody.  We were very happy to sample his "Stash of Goodies".  It's a shame the season is ending.  I can't wait to see more of Tom's great work!

Prime lines awaited us
Laura seconding "Center Pillar" WI4
FAT Western PA ice, What a fine day!

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