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.
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.
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.