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'+