Sunday, January 30, 2011

Silver Creek Ice Revisited

I returned to the Silver Creek Ice yesterday with friends Ian and Ralph. I was psyched to get some more mileage in after the Ice Instructor Course and Ian and Ralph were eager to check the area out and test themselves against some steep ice. 

I didn't have any intention of leading the pillar until we arrived at it's base. Although taking some heat with the morning sun, the ice looked fat and plastic. I was inspired and soon decided to lead it.

When Drew and I top roped this about 5 weeks prior, I had dry tooled up the rock on the left side which was now completely buried in ice!

I took my time on lead and placed a number of screws where the ice was good. This was my first sustained WI5 lead and for the most part I felt good. I began to get pumped near the top, but continued to shake out and stem my feet which allowed me to stay relaxed and de-pump.

The ice was in good shape except for the top out, which sees more sun throughout the day. I have always been told good ice is cold, clear and dry. The surface of this ice at the top was warm, wet and granular... I was glad to have saved a couple longer screws for the top!

After topping out, I hauled up the drill and place a stainless steel rock anchor. This is above the ice, on the climbers right side and easily accessible from the top (although one might consider a belay if setting up a top rope).  This will allow climbers to belay safely without having to build an anchor in marginal ice on top of the flow. My goal is to place a few more anchors in the area to build a local ice venue where folks can come and climb safely.

Ralph and Ian ran several laps on the ice while I checked out the drip left of the belayer. I think there could be two mixed routes here: a steep one that starts right of the drip and an easier, blocky/vertical line to its left. I hope to return this winter and complete these lines!

Ian saying good bye to the ice and hello to a fun filled descent of sun crusts and isothermia!

Although our local ice climbing options are minimal, I feel grateful that we have what we have!
Thanks guys for a great day!

Silversun Pillar WI5 100'+
(proposed name)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

AMGA: Ice Instructor Course

I recently returned from Ouray, Colorado where I completed my AMGA Ice Instructor Course. New to the AMGA curriculum, the IIC will become a mandatory component of the Alpine discipline starting next year. Although not required, I chose to take the IIC before my Alpine Exam in September because out of all the disciplines, ice guiding is what I've done the least of. 

We arrived in Ouray to cold temps (highs in the teens) and a lot of picked out ice. The Ouray Ice Festival had just wrapped up the weekend before with success, despite a late start to the season. Generally we had great conditions with warming temps (highs 34* in town) and a skiff of snow later in the week.

Ouray is the perfect venue for such a course with easy access to the Ice Park and lots of backcountry ice to choose from. We spent a couple half days in the park, but other then that we were climbing multi pitch ice within the Ouray/Silverton area. A big thanks goes out the instructors: Keith Garvey, Dale Remsberg, Doug Neidever and Peter Doucet for putting a good curriculum together and pulling off a great course!

The Ice Park.

Gary, totally gripped! They had some issues with the dam and we had high water in the Park throughout the week.

Chilling at the cave belay.

Get some!

The approach to Whorehouse Hoses, which is just visible in the cliffs above the ski pole.

Heres the first pitch of Whorehouse Hoses WI4/5, 70 meters. I lead this pitch with two single ropes and a head cold... Hacking up a lung, I was worked.

Justin on the nice third pitch of Whorehouse.

Just beyond Whorehouse is Stairway to Heaven, a classic long route of Colorado Ice.

Here's some of our team on the last pitch of The Ribbon WI4+, 3 pitches.

And lastly, a wide angle view of The Ribbon (left) and Birdbrain Boulevard. If you zoom in you can see our party on The Ribbon and Vince Anderson and his client on Birdbrain.

Thanks to all the participants and Colorado for having such good ice!