Monday, February 25, 2008

Ice Park conditions

Despite a few days of warm weather the Ice Park was in great shape today.  A few inches of fresh snow and blue skies today made for an idyllic day.  Even better is how quiet it is during the week these days - no competition for routes and whole sections to yourself.  Ahhhh...   Not to mention the easy sticks...

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Conditions still improving!!

I was at the Skylight yesterday with Dee, Angie, & Jimmy. Conditions were great! The Skylight proper is very wet but all others in the area are perfect. Killer piller continues to grow top to bottom. The top is forming this huge mushroom & subsequently a formidable roof.

The mid-week climbing in the park has been quite slow. Those who are making it out are finding amazing ice from end to end. Rob and Mike are doing a great job rebuilding and growing what is currently there. If you see these guys around town, buy them a sando or beer!

Happy Trails,

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Ice Park Condition

Hey all.

Had a great day of guding in the Ice Park yesterday and the conditions are looking really good for this time of the year.

The schoolroom area in particular is looking great and has healed up very well from the Prez weekend onslaught of folks.

Have at it as this is as good as it gets and the crowds are minimal during the week.



Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Eureka climbs

Today I drove by Gravities Rainbow on my way to Silverton. Gravities was looking especially beat out with obvious delams and rotten sections with horizontal cracks running thru the lower section. I think you might be able to squeak an ascent in but it is definitely user beware at this point in the season.

In Eureka, things are looking good but the snow has been a major inconvenience. I guided whorehouse hoses which is phat and especially nice now that there is a solid trail going to the base. The lower and upper pitches are great with good sticks and solid ice. There is obvious avalanche debris between the first and second pitch so be aware and make sure to check the avy report for any future ascents in this valley.

Stairway to heaven (which we were hoping to do) does not have a trail kicked in and looks as if you could ski it. If anybody wishes to kick in a trail and clear snow from the route with a large broom, please be my guest!

Bear Creek Ice!

Thanks Again to Alain, Calixte, and Jay! They made the most of the ice this season, and got some great photos too! Here is their final installment for the 08 season.

want to say THANKS for the snowshoes last week.
This is what we were up too.... Bear Creek, did solar circus, WI5+ conditions, VERY wet, and extreme daggers over us! a MASSIVE peace broke after we were back to safety! very lucky, it would of killed us.
Long approach, 3 1/2 hours, bit good times.
We tough it was a FA until we rapped down and saw a V thread top of last pitch on climbers right. Must of been an ascent earlier in the season.
we had been looking at it for a while and was formed earlier, broke off and formed again recently.
This was our last mission with Jay before leaving the Ice world. Have to say, Ouray was awesome!!!

anyways, here are a few pics for your blog....
We finally left the cold and made it back to Moab, now in Austin Texas after a long 3 day marathon behind the wheels...
feels good to be in T - shirt now!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Skylight Climbs

The climbs at the Skylight area continue to grow. All are in great shape. A couple parties have been up to the Talisman, although I don't know if anyone has climbed it yet. Here are some views of the addict himself on Killer Pillar in the morning sunshine.

Also climbed Gravity's a few days ago. It was very punky but climbable. It is even warmer now though. Might be done for the time being.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Ophir/Ames area

Slipped over to Ophir area today for a little ice climbing, and snuck in a bit of skiing too.  We were hoping to climb up in Crack Canyon, but found the east facing climbs in poor shape with all the warm weather.  Looked as if they were great until a day or so ago...  Skied up in the canyon to see if anything was in on the west facing wall, but found only snow.  So we settled with a fun mixed/thin ice line on the lower Ophir Wall.  It warmed up and nearly fell apart as we climbed, but was quite enjoyable.  

While out and about, we had a look at Ames Ice hose - it looks fantastic.  Thick on the upper pitch, and a wee thin at the start.  Ames Falls looked good as well, although a tad wet...

The bonus of the day was GREAT CORN SKIING over the talus slopes below Crack Canyon and the Ophir wall.  Who would have thought we'd have good corn snow already??  With tonight's storm it will be a bit longer before we get to enjoy that again though.  When we left, the storm system was moving in fast with strong winds out of the SW.  

Friday, February 8, 2008

Red Mtn skiing and Engineer Pass climbs

Skied this morning on the newly re-opened pass.  There is quite a bit of windslab, but great skiing on N & NW aspects below treeline.  Lots of signs of natural avalanches during the past storm and from the sounds of the control work being done this morning, some large triggered slides occured.  Didn't get a chance to see them, but certainly heard them - yipes!  Significant amounts of wind transport has happened over the past few days and felt the most cohesive slabs I've felt all winter in wind affected areas.  Sking is good, but I'd advise a great deal of caution for the next few days.

On the way down, we had a great view of Gravity's Rainbow and the other climbs in the area. Conditions looked fantastic!

The snow and warmer weather has healed and filled things back in.  It appears that at least one person climbed Kennedy's this morning, but no tracks up to the other climbs yet.  All look very good, despite some strong sun this morning.  

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Ouray Ice and Snow conditions

Well, it has continued to snow vigorously this week. The pass has been closed a few days now, but the skiing up Weehawken has been good so not all is lost.

The ice in the park is in great shape, and there is plenty of swinging to be done if you get off the beaten path. The routes up Skylight continue to fatten up. The road has been gated at Senator Gulch for a while now. Even though they are plowing it much farther. This scenario makes it very difficult for locals to enjoy the road skiing they have come to expect on the Camp Bird Road.

Skyrocket aka. Bride's Veil is in great shape, and the wallow isn't that long. I'm sure the Engineer climbs are healing up, although this week's forecasted sun may change that quickly. The Dexter Slabs are big and solid.

All for now. CC

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Two new Ouray FAs

The perfect storm of cold and cloudy weather has opened up some terrain in the San Juans that I have not seen form in my 13 years climbing in the range.

On Wednesday, Jan 30, I brought in the out-of-town heavies from Anchorage and we put up Southern Comfort - a 4 pitch route that snakes it's way up through the red rock bands on the south side of the Amphitheater. This south facing aspect is normally completely bereft of ice most winters. The climbing was steep and stepped with thin and awkward mantles as you pulled the tops of the curtains. WI 5+.

While climbing Southern Comfort, we noticed a less visible line just to the left (west). My Anchorage friends had a flight to catch so I enlisted by faithful adventure-climbing partner Kevin.
Yesterday, Feb. 1, we climbed 3 new pitches (pitch 1 is shared with Southern Comfort) of fantastic ice in just about the most aesthetic terrain I have climbed in the San Juans. Beautiful views of Ouray, the surrounding valley, and the Amphitheater. Outstanding ambiance.

Kevin drew the plum pitch which he dispatched in fine form. A super-sweet pillar with very engaging climbing involving stemming to the neighboring rock and then rounding the corner to two more steep curtains.

We dubbed this new route Jambalaya as it is just a hair more spicy than it's neighbor to the east. Difficult top-outs involving somewhat spooky unconsolidated snow-sticks. Steep but short pillars and curtains. Also, WI 5+.

Neither of these routes will last long. As soon as the "normal" Ouray winter sun returns they will get radiated into oblivion. Get them while you can and you won't be disappointed.

The rappels are set on Southern Comfort (mostly trees). If you climb Jambalaya, hop over one gulley to the east and pick up the rappels down Southern Comfort.

Respectfully submitted,
Grey Squirrel