Alpental Ice

It was the middle of finals and I needed to get out and climb on something. Luckily I was able to recruit Eric into playing hooky from work and headed up to climb the ice along the alpental chairlifts.

We drove out under heavy snow flurries in Seattle, and they continued all the way to the pass. Driving along the Alpental road proved interesting with 5" of fresh powder! We pulled in and suited up in the car, for it was absolutely dumping snow outside. The one thing we noticed was that there was another car in the parking lot. Hmm, they couldn't be up there climbing on the same climb, right??

Dave skis up in decidedly wintery conditions. Photo by: Eric

Sure enough, when we arrived, there was one party on their way out and one just setting up a TR on the right hand line. Luckily the flow was in real good shape due to recent cold temperatures and so we setup to lead on the left-hand side.

I set off climbing on marginal ice for the first 30 feet. A little crunchy, a little slushy, but with reasonable pro. I followed the line right up the face of a solid looking pillar while getting totally dumped on by spindrift. The pillar proved to be nice and solid (3+/4- ish ice) and fun. Topping out on it was another story and a scary tools-in-slush-fest mantle ensued. After realizing that I was running out of screws and had forgot one at the base, I lowered off to retrieve it. I was already getting pretty pumped, but headed back up anyhow to try and finish off the lead. I traversed right of the exposed rock and onto more steep ice. I placed a screw with way pumped out arms and tried to climb a little higher. I made it another body length before the last 5 feet of the climb denied me. The ice turned thin and finicky, and my forearms wanted blood again. I turned out to be lucky in backing off for I would have topped out into sugary 60 degree snow! After I lowered off we top roped it a few times.

Eric climbs the steeper-than-it-appears ice.

We were absolutely freezing with no down and mid-20's temps. So we packed up and headed back down, I on skis, Eric on snowshoes. As you can see in the following video, Eric missed out big time having only snowshoes! :) Thanks to Eric for shooting and compiling the video, if I wasn't such a bad skier Alpental would surely love to use the footage for commercials! The headlines would read: "Come ski alpental where there is always an untouched foot of super dry pow!"

[Dave skiing down in nice powder. (Windows Media Player: 823K)]

[Return to Home Page]