Climbing Photography

Ice and Mixed Climbing in Provo

Nothing but focus for this pro.

January 20, 2013

Over the weekend I was able to get out twice for some climbing.  First was on Saturday over at the Great White Icicle (WI3) with KP.  It was a nice climb, we were lucky in that there was only a party TRing the first pitch and another party well up the route so we had the first pitch to ourselves.  I’ll call it the first pitch but it is probably 300 ft long, only half of which is on low angle ice, the rest is snow.  From the big ledge we roped up and went up the second and third pitches in one long haul.  I didn’t time it but it was one of the quicker ascents for me.  I won’t be breaking any records by any means but it’ll be interesting to see how long it normally takes to do this over climbed gem within minutes of Salt Lake.

Sunday was the bigger day.  I had the opportunity to climb with a bunch of new folks from work or at least related to work.  Two were from Europe, Saskia and Thomas, and the others, Jonathan aka JT, and Doug are SLC folks.  Along with JT or perhaps the other way around was Brittany, badass pro climber girl.

The infamous valley inversion is in full effect here in the Wasatch.  This interesting phenomenon occurs when there is a high pressure parked in the area.  For reasons I have yet to look up fully, cold temps settle into the valley bottom, hence the name and nothing unusual there, but the lack of moving air traps all kinds of smog and pollution all along the Wasatch Front.  Thus a icky nasty layer chokes the valley while the mountains are clear and warm.  It is shocking how thick it is, it is not uncommon to only barely be able to make out the mountains from my house.  Normally they are bigger than life looming at the edge of town.  Here’s an interesting site that has more info on the subject as well as some pictures.  Going to Provo Canyon we were able to escape the smog for most of the day, though it did creep up as the day went on.



Crampon fitting by the best in the business.


The objective for the day was low commitment and fun.  Saskia had never climbed ice and Thomas had taken a long break from climbing ice.  Doug teamed up with Thomas to set up a great long pitch of WI4 next to Bridal Veil Falls.  KP and I helped Saskia up a steep, hooked out, and short pitch of WI4 on White Nightmare.  Joining us there were JT and Brittany.

Top ropes were swapped and everyone got some good pitches in.  JT and Brittany were motivated and so JT geared up for a mixed route that leads into the first pitch of White Nightmare.  I got into position near the belay on the route so I could get some shots of him leading the route.  A few of them came out pretty good I think.  Brittany then did the route after pulling the rope.

I haven’t done much mixed climbing myself and it was great to watch some good climbers working their way up the rock twisting and torquing the tools into little cracks and slots.  With the rope up for a TR again I gave it a go and amazed myself sending it on the first go.  Top rope of course, but still pretty cool.



Tag team on mixed routes, Doug on right and Jonathan on left.


Moving around the corner to a fully dry-tooling route I got to see some impressive moves on a route JT was doing, including a decent little whipper.  The route next to it wasn’t quite as hard, only M7.  I got on this one, again TR, and was able to get up but not without a couple hangs.  It is amazing how pumped you can get when every hold is a jug.  The overhanging rock and the lack of really positive feet contribute quite a bit.  I loved the dry-tooling though.  It is really interesting the angles, camming, torquing, and slotting that can be done with an ice tool.  While my leashless climbing on ice has translated to only a few hand matches, dry-tooling is made for leashless tools and switching hands is necessary to get to the next hold.  Holds become the tiniest ledges and slots that could never be big enough for fingers.  Very neat experience, and one I’m sure I’ll be doing again soon.


Provo Canyon Ice with Kevin


Kevin traversing on cauliflower.

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.

View of the Fang (WI4-5). There is water runing through this column. Though right now it is actually not fully enclosed so its shooting out at the top.

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.