Courage cannot be approached with caution

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Fall Ice

Snow has been falling and temps have been dropping in the mountains, while the sun has been shining down in the Front Range.  This is prime time for sunny rock climbing with the cooler temps, but also a great time to be chasing the ice.  The ice is coming in and there's not too much snow, which makes approaching easier and avalanche hazard less prevalent.  

Two friends and I went up to check out "Deep Freeze" on the north face of Thatchtop high above Loch Vale in Rocky Mountain National Park.  Super high winds and blowing snow made the approach distasteful but perserverance led us to the base of the climbing.  A long 5.6 rock pitch brought us to the 3rd class "Cat Walk" we used to traverse into the Deep Freeze gully.  We cruised an easy ice and snow pitch, then up to the base of the ice on pitch 2.  A rambly ice pitch led us a nice ledge and the classic pitch of the route: "The Necromancer.  This pitch consists of spicy M5 drytooling onto a hanging ice dagger with an awkward chimney exit and finishing up with a nice runnel to the anchors.  An awesome pitch.  

Fighting the screaming barfies, I threaded the ropes through my rappel device and we started the descent back to the base.  Back to the car by 5, we spent 9 hours out round trip.  A great day in the mountains.
Karsten Delap Photo