January 5, 2013
Saturday I headed out with Kevin from work to do a little ice climbing. Since my recon mission to Provo Canyon on Dec. 31 proved there was plenty of ice there to climb we headed there. While Stairway to Heaven wasn’t on our list there are plenty of other climbs that are less committing and not quite as difficult.
Unlike my first trip here we drove by the first pull out where the parking for Stairway to Heaven and Bridal Veil Falls is. We continued down the road a bit and scope some of the other very nice routes available. Provo Canyon is pretty awesome, the climbs come almost right up off the road. Well not really but they are very visible from the road and plenty of people stop along the highway and spectate the climbers up on the cliffs. The rock is amazing as well, particularly for Stairway to Heaven. Tiers of fiercely overhanging rock have drips of ice. The route, when completely in, can be around 1,000 ft of climbing.
Kevin and I looked at Miller’s Thriller and The Fang as our two likely routes. The hike up was a little more tricky that expected as there’s not a well-defined trail and it is bushwhacking in many places. We ended up following some moose tracks nearly to the base of the route.
The first pitch of Miller’s as good and long. The grade only about WI3. I got the first lead. From here we moved the belay to the base of the second pitch. This one, shorter but more difficult, went to Kevin. The ice-covered the back of the gully wall. A bunch of cauliflower ice near the bottom lead Kevin to head up from the right side of the flow and traverse left at about 3/4 height to help with placing protection. Here we bootied a screw someone had bailed off of.
Rapping down we still had energy and time so we moved over to The Fang, which is a more serious climb, perhaps WI4-5. I led the first pitch again. This one was much more difficult than the previous pitch I’d led. This was a solid WI4 pitch which I was got through with out too much difficulty. It was a little strenuous to place screws but not terrible, though I think I’d like to lead a bunch more of this difficulty before upping the ante.
After Kevin joined me at the belay we checked out the second and third pitches. The second was just a snow hike with some bulges through in for good measure. The money pitch is a pillar formed by a waterfall. The pillar usually forms as a tube of ice with water running through it. Right now the very top was enclosed but quickly opened up and had water spraying out. As we watch from P1 belay another party was climbing it from one of the caves formed by the overhanging rock. Even from where we were standing we could hear how hollow it sounded. Not an inspiring sound to say the least.
Kevin ran out the rope on P2 and brought me up to a good ledge to view the pillar. At this time the other party was just rapping off. The pitch was too rich for Kevin or I so we opted to bail with the other party. The pitch looks pretty sweet but it isn’t quite in the condition that I’d like to climb it in though.