AIARE 2 Avalanche Course, Reaching Treeline, and Re-defining Success

As promised I want to briefly recap the American Institute of Avalanche Research and Education Level 2 Course that concluded this past Monday. I really don’t have a lot to say about the course, other than the 6 participants stayed fully engaged during 4 long days of mentally demanding classroom time and physically demanding field sessions. Mother Nature was in attendance as we saw some of the coldest temperatures of the season. During the 2nd day of the course Ryan Knapp, a meteorologist stationed at the top of Mount Washington, pointed out we were the 2nd coldest place on the Earth:

coldest

Factor in our windchill, and we smoked Antarctica in terms of COLD. While the statistic is cool, the next day’s harsh weather above tree-line poised issues for our avalanche class since we were seeking a field location above tree-line. After a morning trip planning session we played it conservative and headed out for a ski tour of 4,055 foot Mt. Hale.

Skinning in along Zealand Rd.

Skinning in along Zealand Rd.

Adjusting layers

Adjusting layers

Stopping for fuel with a snow covered Mt. Oscar in the background

Stopping for fuel with a snow covered Mt. Oscar in the background

Heading up Hale Brook Trail

Heading up Hale Brook Trail

Our entrance into the drainage, a nice tight 35 degree chute. Notice all the cool info embedded in the photo? Check out Theodolite in the iPhone App Store

Our entrance into the drainage, a nice tight 35 degree chute. Notice all the cool info embedded in the photo? Check out Theodolite in the iPhone App Store

Our ski descent was a mix of short fun runs with some deep wallowing in powder to the next drop. Once we cut back out to the trail the descent was quick.

ViewRanger App

ViewRanger App

But before we reached Zealand Rd I intersected a steeper open north aspect around 3000 feet that I had eyeballed from across the drainage on our ascent. It looked loaded and open enough to avalanche. I approached it while the class watched from the other side. A very positive hand-shear test on the edge indicated a very thin wind slab was ready to pop. A few cameras came out and I ski cut the slope initiating a very small D1 avalanche. It was about as small and inconsequential as a slab avalanche can be but was cool to see none-the-less.

Photo courtesy of D. Jepson

Photo courtesy of D. Jepson

The rest of the descent was uneventful and we made our way back to the trail-head and debriefed our day.

ViewRanger App

ViewRanger App

While driving back through Crawford Notch I received an automated call from Mountain Rescue Service. A missing hiker was being searched for on nearby Mt. Adams. After reading countless news stories and articles posted the following day I wrote this blog piece about the incident.

The reaction of the post was quite unexpected. It seemed the media was filled with negative reports and stone-casting (mostly from commentators rather than reporters) who seemed to know everything about how “crazy” and “ir-responsible” this victim might be. The truth is not one commentator was with this person to witness her decision making process or level of preparedness (or even lack there of). Monday morning quarterbacking was running rampant online.

“Coulda shoulda woulda” was something I remember a cousin saying to me during my childhood when I complained, in hindsight, about something I did, but shouldn’t have, or hadn’t done and wished I had.

Hindsight is always 20/20. We won’t know definitely what happened, but we should help future aspiring climbers find success.

I don’t wish to harp more on this incident, at least not directly, but instead share what a great day I had today in the mountains, and talk a bit about the definition of success when it comes to climbing.

Today I had two great guys from Rhode Island come up for an attempt on Mt. Washington. For one of them, it was their first time on the mountain. For the other it was his second attempt having been turned back due to weather last year as part of a guided trip. He was eager for a second shot.

Very early in the morning the ground work for a positive trip was laid.

How we talk about objectives like climbing mountains is crucial to our ability to make better decisions while enjoying them. I am going to sum up some ideas I think all climbers need to keep in the forefront of their brains when heading out for an awesome day in the mountains;

1) It really is about the journey. NOT the destination. How many summits you have made is not as important as the friends and places you have traveled because of your love of the mountains. Do not fall for “summit fever”.

2) “Summiting is optional, getting down is mandatory.” – Ed Viesturs- Ed is a high-altitude mountaineer and corporate speaker. He is the only American to have climbed all fourteen of the world’s eight-thousander mountain peaks, and the fifth person to do so without using supplemental oxygen.

3) Be careful how you speak to parties coming down the mountain. All to often I see this exchange, in which, for example, a party has made a judicious decision to descend due to weather, fitness, timing, or whatever seemed prudent at the time. They meet an ascending party;

“Did you make the summit?” asks the ascending party

“No.” is the only reasonable answer to the question.

“Oh.” is the most common retort, and the conversation is over. The descending party is a bit brought down by the exchange, and the ascending party now starts doubting their own abilities. While asking if a party summit’d seems innocent enough, I would suggest this interaction instead;

“How far did you make it?” asks the ascending party. (Not a loaded question!)

“A few hundred yards beyond Lion’s Head, it was brutal up there!”

“Good job! Enjoy the rest of your descent!”

A much more positive exchange for both parties.

The descending party was actually successful. They were having fun, and made a good decision.

Stepping down off my soap box I want to say that this type of personal opinion in an otherwise trip report focused blog is new for me. I typically post brief trip reports or gear reviews, but the overall reaction to my last post was so positive I thought I might, from time to time, mix in some more thoughts rather than just a “we did this” and “I like this jacket” type blog. If that is something readers continue to respond to I will try to keep it up. If not I will continue to maintain this for clients to come and get their photos from our adventures together.

I leave you with some photos of some happy guys from Rhode Island today who reached tree-line in some nasty weather and are now driving home and contemplating taking a day off tomorrow.

See you in the mountains,

NEAlpineStart

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Posted in Guiding Blogs, Ice Climbing, Mountaineering | 2 Comments

A young climber perishes on Mt. Adams

Sunday night while I struggled with figuring out a productive field course location for the third day of an AIARE 2 Avalanche Course Kate Matrosova, a 32 year old climber from Russia who lived in New York City as an investment banker on Wall Street, was struggling to stay alive. Her husband had dropped her off at the Appalachia Trail-head at 5:30am for her solo-attempt at a Northern Presidential Traverse; Mount Adams, Madison, Jefferson, Washington. A seemingly fitting objective for the Presidents Day Weekend.

Kate was no neophyte to mountaineering. Her Facebook page showed someone who had passion, skill, and quality gear for recreating in the mountains:

katemastrova

Photo from Facebook; previous tripkatecamp

Photo from Facebook; previous expedition

She was also quite bright. A graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, and the Haas School of Business, she must have had a solid head on her shoulders. So why did she attempt this exposed alpine traverse with this weather forecast?

From Mount Washington Observatory:

In the clouds with snow and blowing snow. White out conditions. High temps dropping to -20F. Winds NE shifting NW 45-60mph rapidly increasing mid-morning to 80-100mph with gusts up to 125mph. Wind chills 65-75 below zero.

Wind speed is not as much of an issue as wind direction when attempting to go above treeline in harsh weather. I have summited Washington with clients in conditions similar to these. The difference here is careful use of terrain to “block” yourself from these debilitating winds. In this case she most likely ascended “Valley Way” and once she broke tree-line had a 80+ mph wind at her back.

map-madison-adams

The “yellow” in this simplified map represents above-treeline. Only a few hundred yards in that direction could be hard to reverse in those conditions. Star Lake, the vicinity of which she was located, is just on the lee, or sheltered side of this alpine ridge. An escape out of the Great Gulf Wilderness, even with snowshoes, could be impossible with our current deep snow-pack. Around 3:30pm she activated a Personal Locator Beacon indicating distress, and that would be the last communication she would have with anyone.

I received the automated Mountain Rescue Service call at 4:58pm while driving home from our Crawford Notch field location. While I could not respond due to the commitments of the current avalanche course I knew fellow Mountain Rescue Service members and friends would be heading up the mountain that night. While I know they are all tough as nails I wished who ever went up would stay below tree-line, as the Sunday night forecast above treeline was one of doom.

At some point that night the rescue efforts were suspended until 8am the following morning. Fellow rescue service members took some footage of conditions the following day:

At some point Kate was located, lifeless, having succumbed to exposure. With heavy hearts, and probably cold hands, rescuers began the long process of bringing her down the mountain.

I intended to mention this tragedy within a post about the AIARE 2 Avalanche Course but this has consumed my thoughts over the last two days so this tragedy will consume this post. I’ll post up about the AIARE 2 Avalanche Course in a few days. In the mean time we need to reflect on how we live our lives. Balance of risk vrs. reward is subjective. I must tell myself Kate did not know what the weather forecast was for the day of her ambitious traverse attempt. With her experience and knowledge she should have known gaining this ridge in these conditions would be horrific.

Or maybe not. Our “little” mountain range has a long history of claiming both the seemingly ill-prepared as well as those who were quite prepared.

Did she overlook the forecast? It’s quite likely she didn’t see that day’s forecast given her departure time. Of particular note is the low Nor’ Easter that was the major weather maker during this period travelled 100 miles further southeast than anticipated.

This caused a shift in the predicted wind direction for Sunday from South shifting East on Saturday Night to East shifting North Sunday morning. If Kate was aware of the forecast from Saturday it may have been reasonable to move forward based on the expected winds coming from the East, as most of her route would have been more sheltered, but more importantly retreat back down the north side of the range would have been manageable. It is quite likely she did not have access to the updated forecast Sunday morning.

But why did she push on past the point of no return with the winds at her back? Making observations in real time should take precedence over predictions. Having a conservative plan to fall back on can help stem human factor issues that can cause us to push on when Mother Nature is doing her best to turn us around. Did summit fever play a role? Commitment? Did the Personal Locator Beacon provide a false sense of security? None of these questions are likely to be answered. But they are worth asking.

kate-matrosovalinkedinMy heart & thoughts are with Kate’s husband and family this week. While you can’t really get to know someone through Facebook & LinkedIn I feel this person was full of life, and made an untimely mistake that took all. I pray we all move forward in life pursuing our passions with a reasonable degree of zest, inhibition, and due-caution, as hard as balancing all those things can be…

Posted in Mountaineering | Tagged , | 83 Comments

AIARE 1 Avalanche Course 2/6/15 – 2/8/15

Last weekend we had a great course run out of the AMC Highland Center. Fantastic snow conditions and very interactive participants led to 3 knowledge-filled days as we learned about decision making in the back-country. I apologize for keeping this post so brief but what little free time I have right now I am dedicating to prepare for this weekend’s AIARE 2 Course. I’m pretty excited about the first AIARE 2 course of the season but I won’t lie and say organizing 40 hours of classroom & field sessions for a 4 day course isn’t the slightest bit stressful. At least Mother Nature is providing the best possible outdoor classroom!

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Posted in Avalanche Courses, Backcountry Skiing, Mountaineering | Leave a comment

Black Diamond Convergent Shell Jacket Review (and contest winner announcement)

After 3 ascents of Mount Washington, a half dozen days of ice climbing, and 24,000 feet of skiing powder at Wildcat Ski Mountain today, I’m ready to share my thoughts on the Black Diamond Convergent Shell Jacket I received earlier this Fall.

Black Diamond Convergent Shell

Black Diamond Convergent Shell

I’ll be honest when I received this jacket my initial assumption was it was a typical high-end hard-shell. Since I prefer the breathability of my EMS Fader Softshell Jacket for most of my mountain excursions I didn’t think I would be wearing this hardshell often for in my experience hard-shells simply don’t breathe enough for high output. The exception in my book is extreme wind-chills (like Mount Washington Ascents), and skiing in cold temps (like today).

What I didn’t realize, was this really isn’t a hard-shell, it’s a hybrid. The lack of stretch panels had fooled me. This jacket does not claim to be waterproof. It uses “Windstopper Active Shell“, which is windproof, water-resistant, and highly breathable. Like the Epic fabric that I was introduced to through Wild Things Equipment many years ago this is a superb mix of highly water-resistance and breathe-ability.

tech-highlight_S15_breath-protect

Run after run today I confirmed this jacket is 100% windproof as we dealt with -20 to -30 wind chills. The hood easily fit over my ski helmet and adjusted to move with me as we shot through the glades that have really filled in with the 2 feet of snow this past week.

24,000 feet of skiing is a good day :)

24,000 feet of skiing is a good day :)

Let’s hit a few more highlights of this highly technical piece;

1) Weight: 13.5 ounces with the performance of a hard-shell.

2) Pack-ability: Easily crushes down to the size of a large grapefruit

3) Convenience: 2 chest pockets that are easily accessible when jacket is tucked into a harness plus 2 hand pockets. The left chest pocket has this cool internal soft pocket to stow a smartphone with a small port to feed your headphone cable through. Brushed microsuede liner collar lining.

More technical information and a product video from the manufacturer available here.

Bottom Line: A very technical high-end hybrid jacket that looks & performs like a hard-shell but is more breath-able than any hard-shell I have ever used. If you shy away from hard-shells for fear of over-heating, or if you need more wind protection than your well loved soft-shell, this jacket should be on your radar!

Disclaimer: While this jacket was provided to me via my employment with EMS Schools the opinions above are certainly my own.

January Ice Screw Contest Winner: Congrats to Mechanicalchris who has won 2 brand new Omega Pacific ice screws in my first ever contest. Thank you to the 80+ people who liked North East Alpine Start on Facebook last month and the 18 folks who subscribed! It’s really nice to know that time spent trip reporting and reviewing products is worth it. New contest coming soon… stay tuned…

See you in the mountains,

NEAlpineStart

Posted in Backcountry Skiing, Ice Climbing, Mountaineering, Product Reviews | Leave a comment

Cinema Gully to Cauliflower, and REVIEW of EMS Packable Pack

Today was the perfect wrap up to a great three days in the mountains. Friday I had the opportunity to be the “turn-around guide” for a group heading to the Mount Washington Observatory for an overnight. Having an extra guide on these groups makes sense if someone isn’t feeling well during the ascent. At Lion’s Head everyone was feeling strong so I parted ways and made my way back down the mountain.

Yesterday I had a 3 person AMC group for a 101 Mountaineering Course. We worked on basics at the North End of Cathedral in pretty cold temps, and even worked in a hike to the top of Cathedral after a short lunch break.

AMC chillin' out on the North End Slab

AMC chillin’ out on the North End Slab

Today I met Seamus for a private day of ice climbing. Seamus had a fair amount of rock and ice climbing experience so we set our sights high and made our way to Mt. Willard. Before I get into the climb I want to mention a product I would like to review today. Earlier this season during internal guide training EMS Schools Manager Keith Moon suggested the use of the EMS Packable Pack inside a more substantial alpine pack like the EMS Prez Pack that I reviewed here.

pEMS1-10534421venh

The idea of carrying an ultra-light packable pack like this is excellent for a day of cragging where a large pack is comfortable to haul all your climbing gear to the destination but a bit too bulky once emptied of the rack, harness, and helmet. In these situations where you are returning to the ground an ultra-light pack would be ideal for keeping your “puffy” jacket, water bottle, first aid kit, and a couple snacks with you while you climb a couple pitches. Today I pushed the use of this pack a bit further by racking up at the car and leaving my alpine pack behind. More on this later…

We hiked in to the base of Cinema Gully (650 feet Grade 2) by about 10am. Lots of sluff piles reached the tracks before we reached the route and I spotted well known guide Marc Chauvin getting started with two clients on the first pitch.

Cinema Gully, 650ft, Grade 2-3

Cinema Gully, 650ft, Grade 2-3

The fall lines can be managed fairly well on this route and knowing Marc would cruise we decided to follow suit. The start was quite thin requiring a couple moves or two on rock before reaching decent ice 20 feet up, with the first screw going in around 50 feet from the start. As typical it was just shy of 200 feet to the steeper ice where we had a nice natural thread anchor backed up with a full length screw. The next pitch is kept short, just about 50 feet, to make the 3rd pitch “reachable”.

Looking down 2nd pitch

Looking down the 2nd pitch

Another 200 foot pitch from here brought us to the base of the last pitch. Marc’s team took the direct finish and I grabbed a shot of the father/son duo while I headed left up the traditional finish:

Cinema's Direct Finish

Cinema’s Direct Finish

After gaining the treed ledge we refueled and we started the uphill waist deep snow swim to the base of Cauliflower Gully. This was a full 40 minute all body work-out and I was quite happy Seamus offered to partake in some of this trail breaking.

Cauliflower Gully, 200 feet, Grade 2-3

This is a long-time favorite of mine. The setting is spectacular and the top out lands you about 200 feet from the well traveled and packed Mt. Willard trail which is an excellent descent after a full day of climbing. The climb was in typical condition, great ice down low, then a bit thinner but mellow, then the hollow-ish awkward-ish grade 3 crux, then fun swinging right up to the top.

Looking down Cauliflower Gully

Looking down Cauliflower Gully

We topped out right about 3pm and cruised down the packed Willard trail in 25 minutes. 850 feet of pitched climbing plus a few hundred feet of uphill tree swimming had built up quite an appetite for Super Bowl Appetizers and we drove back to North Conway with thoughts of good food & beer. Seamus has a few more days planned with us so I’m sure I’ll be seeing him in the mountains again soon!

To wrap up today’s post I want to finish my call out on this EMS Packable Pack. It’s almost Halftime so I will keep my thoughts short and to the point:

1) It weighs 9 ounces.

2) It can be stuffed into any large alpine pack with out notice

3) It has 1,500 cubic inches, so I carried: One puffy belay jacket, one very warm pair of Kincos Gloves, one first aid kit, one Petzl Myo Headlamp, one knife, one 32oz Nalgene bottle of water, 4 handwarmes (unused), a bunch of snacky food.

4) It only costs $40!

This gear doesn’t have a noticeable weight so lack of padding/suspension is not an issue.

Eastern Mountain Sports Packable Pack

Eastern Mountain Sports Packable Pack

OK, time to focus on the game. Pats are up 14/7. Alex will be drawing the ice screw winner during Half-Time show and I’ll announce the winner tomorrow on Facebook and NEClimbs & NEIce!

See you in the mountains!

-NEAlpineStart

Posted in Ice Climbing, Mountaineering, Product Reviews | Leave a comment

The Flume & Silver Cascade

These two long moderates are a couple of NH’s best easy ice routes in my opinion. Yesterday they were in perfect climbing condition with almost no snow and plenty of sticky wet plastic ice to savor. My friend Steve joined me with plans of soloing both routes before heading to a steeper roped climb later in the afternoon. It was about 12 degrees in the Notch, so we opted for the fast & light approach. Helmets, harness, an ice screw or two (to contend with a crampon malfunction) and a sling & locker.

We left our packs & rope in the car and started up The Flume (Grade 1-2) at about 9:25am.

Steve is all smiles as we start the steeper ice low in The Flume

Steve is all smiles as we start the steeper ice low in The Flume

Pitch after pitch disappeared behind us and within 20 minutes we reached the cool cave that usually marks the end of the route for most parties. At the lower end of the cave a cool looking pillar had touched down and Steve gave it some thought.

Not Grade 2

Not Grade 2

The top out looked questionable, and I mentioned to Steve that without a rope or pack we should probably play the conservative card. He agreed and we made our way back into the cave to finish the route.

An interesting icicle has been the subject of other climbers FB posts lately :)

An interesting icicle has been the subject of other climbers FB posts lately :)

This cave is a really neat place and I shot a quick iPhone video to try to show how cool it is in there.

After following Steve up we followed the boot pack down through the woods to climber’s right of the route back down to Route 302. We drank some water at the car and re-fueled with some energy gels and snacks then headed down the road to the start of Silver Cascade (Grade 1-3).

While the guidebooks states this is the more popular flow I would contend it is the opposite. I have definitely climbed The Flume many more times, but they really are both worthwhile adventures.

We started climbing at about 10:15am and conditions were quite similar to The Flume. Wet plastic ice interspersed with sections of lower angle dry ice. The short sections of 2+ ice were very secure feeling bliss, and it was the lower angled sections between that required a bit more focus (and sharp crampons) to feel secure on. The lack of snow on the route meant there was really no place it would be ok to make a mistake.

Looking down Silver Cascade

Looking down Silver Cascade

A few more pitches to go

A few more pitches to go

This route doesn’t have such a definitive cave to really “finish” so we decided to just keep exploring the stream bed higher up. The guidebook refers to “more interesting ice higher up” and what we eventually found was quite cool. Around each bend we wondered if we had seen the best the route would offer, then one more turn and we spotted a cool looking yellow flow tucked up on the right side of the drainage.

Decent size snow slope below this small gully

Decent size snow slope below this small gully

We climbed up the left side of this small debris slope and I headed up the ice first. It was about 35 feet of easy grade 3 ice.

Steve waits for me to top-out

Steve waits for me to top-out

I'm 10 feet from topping out, but first, let me take a selfie

I’m about 10 feet from topping out, but first, let me take a selfie

At the top, much like our day last week on First Ascent Gully, I figured a packed hiking trail nearby might make the fastest descent. My ViewRanger App on my iPhone seemed to think the trail was less than a 1/4 mile away, and a couple hundred feet higher. We set a course to intersect it and after crossing the main drainage for Silver Cascade we hit the trail in about 20 minutes. Crampons off, and down we cruised.

Later after looking at the GPS tracks I realized how close the traditional “top” of The Flume is to this well traveled moderate grade hiking trail (Webster Jackson Trail). Considering it only takes about 20 minutes of brisk hiking to descend this trail from here I may push on to this trail on future ascents to make a nice loop.

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It was a great 3.75 miles of exercise with about 2,300 feet of climbing in just about 3 hours.

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Back at the car just after noon we called it a day and made plans to bag some steeper routes on a free day next week. I’m stoked to have grabbed both of these lines before the current storm. While still enjoyable once they fill in with snow they are a bit less aesthetic and the technical bits of ice can be few & far between, not to mention the bushwhack at the top being much more difficult. The way our winter has been going it wouldn’t take but another day of rain to flush the snow out and bring them back to prime ice condition!

Reminder: Contest for 2 free ice screws ends in 4 days! To enter like North East Alpine Start on Facebook and Subscribe/Follow this blog for a 2nd entry!

Posted in Ice Climbing | Tagged | 3 Comments

First Ascent Gully & Pegasus Rock Finish

I enjoyed a great day out today with my good friend Steve and sent a “new to me” climb I have thought about for years. Our original goal was Cocaine, one of the ephemeral South Face of Frankenstein Grade 4+’s that had seen quite a bit of traffic over the last couple weeks. Unfortunately when we got there it looked a bit like a giant slush puppy and we decided to fall back to plan B, First Ascent Gully.

I have been looking at First Ascent Gully since I started climbing at Frankenstein 12 years ago. If you study the south face as you approach the parking lot from the south on Rt 302 you’ll easily recognize routes (from right to left) like The Fang, Wrath of Valkyrie, and Cocaine… If you look just a bit further to the left, around a large buttress, up in a drainage high above the rail road tracks, you’ll spot the top of First Ascent Gully. It is the farthest left ice climb in the guidebook at Frankenstein.

The approach currently is pretty straight forward. Leave the upper parking lot and walk north along the tracks for about 2 minutes. Take the first obvious trail up the slope you come to. A moderate pace will get you to the base of the south face in about 20-25 minutes. Traverse left following the path of least resistance through a nice open hardwood forest. Start working up hill as you enter a major drainage. You should be able to see the route through the trees within about 10 minutes of traversing from the Cocaine area.

We doubted we would run into anyone in this rarely visited area but wouldn’t you know we ran into our good friend Bob A. and his partner David just before reaching the route.

The climb has great belay spots on the right and a bit of a recessed cave on that side. The business starts right away with about a 30 foot grade 4 section before it eases up considerably.

Mike G. on the lead and his partner Bob A. belaying

David G. on the lead and his partner Bob A. belaying

Bob A. follows the first pitch...

Bob A. follows the first pitch…

Once Bob joined David at the top of the first pitch they waited while we got on route. The sticks were solid but the ice was a bit soft to the point where my feet did not feel quite as solid as I would have liked. Regardless I got through the business without any shenanigans and enjoyed the mellower terrain above reaching the birch tree anchor 100 feet up on the left and joining Bob & David. They decided they would rap and explore the area a bit more so down they went, then I belayed Steve on up.

My partner Steve follows the 1st pitch...

My partner Steve follows the 1st pitch…

From this anchor we could have just barely rapped with our 60m rope, but I had an assumption that the Frankenstein Cliff Trail, a usually well packed hiking trail, would not be far from the top out. A quick check on my iPhone Topo App seemed to confirm that a horrendous bushwhack did not await us, so Steve took off up the 140 foot “2nd pitch” which was pretty much Class 3 “steep tree swimming”. I followed with just one axe hooking from tree to tree, and when I arrived at his selected anchor I spotted a mileage trail sign only 50 feet away.

We coiled our rope and checked the trail, which was packed and not slick, so off came the crampons and down we hustled out to a few very nice outlooks and then into the Amphitheater. While we were not “running” per say we were moving at a good clip, and I was stoked to see we could make it from our top-out to the bottom of the Amphitheater in just 20 minutes!

Steve had not lead the Pegasus ice finish before, so we went over to look at that. It was fat, but was also extremely wet, soft, and “showery”. We opted for the Rock Finish via the beginning of a much drier Hobbit Couliour.

Starting the Rock Finish on Pegasus

Steve starting the Rock Finish on Pegasus

Some of the coolest rock climbing in ice gear I have ever done...

Some of the coolest rock climbing in ice gear I have ever done…

After topping out we headed back down the descent trail and saw a couple guys climbing the upper pitch of Hard Rain. The first pitch was not in so they had moved into it from Chia.

Somebody on the top half of Hard Rain.

Somebody on the top half of Hard Rain.

We got back to the car at 3pm, 5.5 hours from when we left. Felt like a pretty solid day so we were off to the Moat for those ridiculous Longhorn Nachos and a pint of Imperial Stout.

Days like this, moving through the mountains in fair weather with good friends around… well… we all need more of days like this!

Hope you got out today or have plans to get out this weekend!

See you in the mountains,

NEAlpineStart

P.S. 9 more days left to enter the contest to win two brand new ice screws. One entry for liking North East Alpine Start on Facebook, and one entry for following/subscribing to the blog (link at the top right of website)

Posted in Ice Climbing, Mountaineering | 1 Comment