Yale on the 3 hour approach to the
new ice area.
Bivy at the broken boulder,
1st Ice on the right in the background.
Ice Dream WI 4, First attempted by
Troy and Ben M.
First complete lead by Larry N. and Yale P.
3 unclimbed routes left of Ice Dreams.
More unclaimed ice.
A couple of easier routes, still waiting
for a first ascent.
Gordon K. and I went in to check out the state of the ice on Dec. 19th and found everything was in, but still too thin for our tastes. Here are the newest climbs that we found and I am now inviting all climbers to get up there to pull this stuff down. Most of these new climbs are beyond me and anyone else I know in this area. If there are some true hard ice men or women that want to get some great first ascents contact me and I'll give you the approach beta. I'll tell you in advance that the climbs are at least three hours and 2000' elevation from the car, so you either want to leave real early or plan a weekend snow camping trip to make it worthwhile.
| I first heard of the area from Troy M. one night at the local climbing gym. This was mid November of `97, he told me where to go to get a view of the ice falls. I drove up toward the pass and through the tunnel then parked next to the lake and sure enough there on the lower rock bands below the ridge were at least 11 separate ribbons of ice.
At the time I was the retail manager of a local computer store and Christmas was looming, so I was unable to get in to climb or even look closely at ice. Finally just after New Years, Yale and I tried to go in for a closer look. Unfortunately we got a late start and while driving his awesome Jeep up three miles of snowmobile trails, got stuck on an uphill corner and lost more daylight. We finally put on our snowshoes and started up toward where we thought the climbs should be. It was hard to tell due to low visability and falling snow. At about 4 p.m., as dark was truly arriving, we got a break in the cloud cover and could see one of the climbs; still at least a quarter of a mile distant and another 500'+ higher. Reluctantly we turned around and began planning for a more serious attempt.
It wasn't until the begining of February that we could coincide an entire weekend to explore and climb. We drove back in on Saturday morning to the closest point between the snowmobile trail and the area of the climbs. Trusting to our innate navigational abilities to get us exactly to area of the climbs, we threw on our packs and started up. Yale lead the way being in better shape than I. Yale works as a gymnastics instructor and the gym that he works at also houses the climbing gym, so he is in much better condition than this fledgling computer geek. After three hours of bushwacking up through landslide and windfall terrain, we found the split boulder that we would make our bivy at below the rock formation Yale dubbed "The Septum" because it devides the first climb we found from the main area.
After dumping our bivy gear we went out to find some ice. Moving to the right of "The Septum", we found a fun looking climb that Yale immediately decided I could lead, because I have a small amount of ice experiance and he has only toproped on ice. Breaking out our implements of destruction I set off, swinging wildly, sometimes even connecting with the ice. It had been almost 5 years since I had done any amount of ice climbing. I had moved to Washington in `93 from Maine and have discovered that in Washington we are lucky to get 10 days of cold enough temperatures to produce climbable ice. This new area is right at 5000' and seems to stay frozen most of the winter. The climb starts off with a 25' mostly vertical section then kicks back into a slab of snow over ice then another 15' vertical section and another snow/ice slab finishing with a 5' outcropping of verglas covered rock. As I have said, it had been awhile since I had climbed any amount of ice and so I rated the climb at WI 3+ and called it 1st ice on the right.(After getting home and looking over some of my manuals I realized that both climbs were really W.I. 4 and 4+!)
The next morning it was still overcast and snowing, but we were excited by our previous climb and wanted more. This time we went to the left of "The Septum" and wandered up and down the side of the ridge but not finding any ice. After shoeing it for over a 1/2 mile and almost ready to turn back, we dropped down and around one final corner to discover the motherload. Climb after climb, one running into the next. Climbs ranging snow covered slabs to ice seams running from under overhangs to freehanging pillars. As I was leading again, I picked a route that looked about as hard as "1st ice on the right". This one starts at the top of a steep snow chute with a 15' vertical ice bulge then eases onto a long snow ramp ending with another bulge, before launching into the crux. A 20' vertical stretch that is slightly easier than yesterday's climb but has the added excitement of rotten pockets of ice covered snow. It then kicks back to less than vertical, say 75 to 80 degrees with more rotten ice and ending with decaying ice that was pulling away from the rock. To surmount this I hooked one of my tools over a hanging alder then girth-hitched a runner to it and hand pulled my way up to a standing belay. Yale followed me up and agreed that it was an "Ice Dream", and rated it at WI 3. It was hard but not nearly as strenuous as 1st ice on the right.
It was already getting late and not being true ice monsters, we decided to call it good enough. After rapping and downclimbing we glissaded down the snow chute and heading further left to see what else was there. As you can see, there are quite a few climbs that have yet to be touched and even a few more still that aren't even pictured.
We were not able to return to climb that season, but this season is fast upon us and Yale and I have spread the word among the local area climbers. I have also scouted out some alternate approaches that although they are longer mile wise, bring us in within a 1/2 mile of the climbs via snowmobile trails. So we are investigating our options for acquiring access to a snowmobile to make more frequent trips in this year. After the first of the year look for additional pictures and an updated report. We are also considering making an official report to either Climbing or Rock and Ice. . . . . . . . .