Saturday, February 9, 2013

A Week of Washington Ice

As my ride home from the airport weaved through the Tumwater Canyon I saw it. Ice. Blue, green, or grey, it stuck to every slab and hung from every overhang. Climbing on Cerro Torre only three days before seemed like ancient history.  As climbers, we always pursue life in the moment. And now my moment was a fleeting cold front that had created good ice condtions in Washington. In South America, I had caught glimpses on Facebook of how my friends back home were climbing all the stuff I'd always wanted to, but never had been lucky enough with conditions to actually attempt. I had some catching up to do. Over a week and a half, I chased down the ice until it melted away. With work obligations, I wasn't able to make use of every day, but I did what I could.
Vern approaches Shitting Razorblades at Banks Lake

Vern and I spent a few days attacking steep, sketchy lines out at Banks Lake. I've only had the opportunity to climb ice at Banks one crappy (what do you know) day in the past. Vern and I struck gold. We were able to throw ourselves at many cool and spicy flows.
Vern on pitch one of Shitting Razorblades (WI4+)
And myself leading out on pitch 2 (WI5)
Myself leading H2O2 (WI5)
And The Cable (WI5)
Vern leading The Cable
We also snuck in a pitch near Jameson Lake. The sun had affected the climb, but even in it's snicey, horrid state, we still had fun.
Vern deals with some laughably shitty ice on Sundance Kid (WI5)
Of course, there was the mixed and ice climbing out the backdoor in Leavenworth. I climbed a few steep pitches and rambled up some scratchy gullies too.
Dan Hilden scrambling Chicken Gully
Leading out on high quality, steep ice: Plastic Fantastic Lover (WI4)
Neat ice designs on Clandestine Right (WI4)
Like I said, we chased the ice until there was nothing to go after. Kurt Hicks and I shared the joy of a classic Washington ice day. We drove hundreds of miles, found temps too warm for the main objective, tried to climb another cool route and bailed, swung up a rotten flow, and finished the day fording a cold river to approach another piece of ice that was falling apart (we also bailed). I appreciated the laughs we shared that day, but I'm sure glad I'm heading to Montana and Wyoming for some dependable conditions! Aaahhh, Washington.
 Trying to beat the heat on Desperation Gully (WI3 5.9), Mazama
 Cruising up The Standard (WI4), Mazama
 Crossing the Entiat River for a piece of worthless slush!
The one that got away...

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