Showing posts from March, 2020

Better lucky than good

It was the usual evening-before text exchange: "What do you want to climb tomorrow?" "I'm not sure... How about Route X?" Both Mate Man and I had done the route in question before. In fact, over the years I'd climbed it when it was fat, skinny and downright mixed. However, just because you've visited a place already doesn't make it any less beautiful. I always liked the way the ice on Route X started out in a twisting canyon before rearing up to a vertical pillar, shining in the sun high above the valley floor. As I threw some quickdraws, screws and, just in case, a few pins into the pack, the only thing that gave me pause was the forecast for high winds. Route X sits below a sizeable bowl, and as I drifted off to sleep, I thought of the fresh snow from the last few days blowing around and settling into a slab. Then again, we could just glass the mountain from road and decide in the morning... *** From the parking lot, the bo

Little Fluffy Clouds

Take 1. From a distance, the ice blobs looked inviting; the featureless rock between them, less so. I wonder if we're wasting our time, I thought, as Seth and I ploughed a ski track through facetted snow, the straps of packs loaded down with ropes, cams, pins – and drill – pulling at our shoulders. Given enough time and bolts you can get up anything, but we didn't want what Steve DeMaio called a science project. We wanted a line, something we could walk up to and (mostly) just climb. Unfortunately, the limestone, shining grey and yellow in the morning light, looked depressingly blank. But another one of Steve’s sayings was that you’ve just got to rub your nose in it. And sure enough, as we got closer, switchbacking up the slope below the cliff through patches of kinnikinnick and drifts of wind-crusted snow, as if by magic cracks and corners appeared. Seth quickly dispatched the first pitch, a curtain of sun-baked ice, and I started up the second. A horizontal shuffle a