Alpental Ice - March 2001
Emily and I decided
to take a short day of ice climbing at Alpental this weekend for we had
heard that the ice was still thick and plastic. Also, my new Koflach boots
(that fit!) arrived in the mail, along with the BOEALPS new Cobra ice
tool. It was time to play with the new gear!
Emily approaching the infamous Kiddy Cliff flow.
Arriving late at the
upper Alpental parking lot, it was very warm. I had my doubts after seeing
the road cut ice on the way up to the pass all melted out of shape, and
the lateness of the season. But we were there and figured we might as
well commit to humping the gear up to the falls and see if it was in.
We had chosen the Kiddy Cliff falls as our destination, about 30 minutes
up the West side of the valley just past the "Mushroom Couloir"
in the Alpental backcountry.
The plowed skiiers
trail for the ski area offered a solid ice trail all the way into the
falls. Sure we had to dodge the occasional snowboarder/skiier, but well
worth it to not post hole all the way in! When we arrived, the ice looked
to be in great shape, far thicker than when we'd climbed here in December!
However, due to all the snowfall, the first step was entirely buried with
Dave leading up on thick ice.
Our initial plan to
setup a quick toprope gave way to my desire to lead the flow by a very
nice central line. It seems like most people tend to climb the far left
side, which leads to an easier step at 3/4 height, but I think the best
line is up in between the two rock ribs in the climb.
The climb was solid
WI3 and very good ice! I sunk 3 17cm screws in the pitch and they were
all bomber. As I neared the top where I had previously gone right (far)
to a tree, I noticed a supper anchor left in place up and left, atop the
left side route. I tenuously moved over deep sugar snow flutings to the
bomber two tree anchor with slings and carabiners and rapped down. Amazingly,
the pitch that had taken the full rope earlier in the year was reduced
to just about 25 meters!
Emily climbing the middle line.
Emily and I proceeded
to run laps all over the falls, testing out the new BD Cobra and trying
more challenging lines. I didn't like the Cobra as much as my Black Prophet
because on lower angled ice I kept hitting the spike before the pick,
and the clearance shaft has an awkward swing. On steep ice I could hardly
tell a difference between the Prohpet and the Cobra, except that I hit
my knuckles more with the Cobra. Hmmm, worth $300?
This climb is steeper than it looks from below!
Occasionally a few
skiiers above would send massive loose snow avalanches off the far right
side of the falls. This got us a little worried every time we heard hooting
and hollering. Unfortunately The powder pigs soon found new terrain directly
above us, and sent down a couple soft white presents for us. I guess it
just serves as another warning: do not climb here during heavy snowfall
or when there is the possibility of avalanche! It will come down! Luckily
what did come down was small and just tended to bury the ends of the rope.
It's probably a good idea to clip in everything to the anchor while climbing