Saturday, March 2, 2013

Familiar Faces and New Places

The last couple weeks have been a blur of fresh places and new faces. Familiar territory was navigated too. It was in "The Lab" that my last climbing binge began.
"The Lab" is the nick name I've coined for the Stuart Range. It is where I found my passion for alpine climbing and where I continue to work on my skills. Plus, a winter day in "The Lab" is always good for fitness. With a 20 mile round trip hike and 1500 foot faces laced with rock and ice routes, any day out in the range will make you sore.  
Psyched to have "The Lab" in my backyard. Word!
My most recent training mision took Chad Kellog and I up Dragontail's Gerber-Sink route, a direct and beautiful line. The past few winters the Gerber-Sink has been getting some attention and rightly so. It is a much better and more interesting climb than the mega-popular Triple Couliors.
Climbing an ice runnel halfway up the Gerber-Sink
Our summit marked my 17th time on top of D-tail. It's fun to realize how much this north face has molded me into the climber I am now. 
Always psyched for a cumbre!
As soon as I got off Dragontail, I hopped in Vern Nelson's rig and we headed east on I-90. Our ultimate destination was the Cody Ice Festival where we would be giving ice climbing clinics and I would be showing some slides from this year's Patagonia adventures. We made a quick stop in Hyalite Canyon on our way. We climbed the awesome classic, Cleopatras Needle (WI5, two pitches) and then kept the peddle to the metal, arriving in Wyoming late that evening.
Cody is a beautiful place with lots of amazing wildlife. In this shot I'm watching a big horn sheep herd cruise through the canyon.
We had one climbing day to ourselves before the weekend began and the Ice Fest would be in full swing. We chose to climb the amazing classic, Broken Hearts (WI6, 6 pitches). 
Soloing the fun lower pitches of Broken Hearts
We soloed the route except for the last two rope lengths which were steep, pumpy columns. The last two pitches of this route rarely form, so we felt lucky that the sixth pitch was standing and totally climbable (the 7th was not). The book suggests a WI6 rating for this stretch, but it felt like WI5+ to me (whatever that means!).
Vern on pitch 5 (WI5) of Broken Hearts 
Myself on the asthetic 6th pitch (WI5+) of Broken Hearts
Another cool shot of pitch 6
After our climb of Broken Hearts, the Cody Ice Festival began. It was a great weekend of meeting new friends and teaching clinics on awesome routes I'd never done.
Teaching a clinic on Chasing the Sun (WI4)
I had a really fantastic time climbing with my students. It was a breath of fresh air to connect with the community and to do so in such an awe inspiring environment. I expected Cody to be pretty, but the South Fork Canyon (where the ice is!) is an absolutely stunning collage of wind swept peaks and gnarly, twisting cayons. I can't wait to go back!! 
The South Fork Canyon as seen from Chasing the Sun

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