Saturday, October 13, 2007

In search of ice

I know it's only October, but Kim and I are excited for the ice season to start. We went hiking around in the woods today in search of ice. We knew that we would most likely not climb anything today, but we wanted to see how far along the climbs were coming.

So we hiked up to the "Beer Climbs" in Palmer at the base of Pioneer Peak. Usually you hike up the frozen stream with crampons up about 300 feet, to finally get to the base of the climbs. Today we hiked up in the mossy stream, through downed trees and Devil's Club, and over the small amount of ice that was already clinging to the exposed rock. As I rounded the corner at the top of the gully I was amazed at how much ice had already accumulated. I have never seen the ice at this stage before. It was white and super thin. In areas where it was hanging over a cliff, huge icicles would form. Beneath the ice was moss and crumbly Chugach rock.

As I waited for Kim with an enormous smile on my face, I started to think about the upcoming season. Thanks to we have so many trips planned. I even made a list of areas I want to hit this year. We'll start out getting comfortable on the local climbs in Eklutna Canyon, Candyland, Portage and Hunter Creek. I'd like to make a trip back to Caribou Creek to climb "Kids Corner" which is an awesome 5 pitch climb that is inside of this canyon off of the creek. We have some big trips in the works in the Interior as well. In January, Kim and I are going to the Ouray Ice Climbing Festival in Colorado to take some clinics and meet some crazy ice climbers.

I have my eye on a climb I want to lead by the end of this season. It's a big jump to go from leading a grade 3 to a grade 4 climb. But I saw a picture of this climb and it has been in my mind ever since. It's called "Lost Chord" in Hunter Creek. Here is the picture:

It turns out we will have to wait a little bit longer to start climbing the ice. In the mean time, back to "the glacier".

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