Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Stairway to Heaven

Stairway to Heaven 12/29/09
I had the pleasure of climbing Stairway with two young gentlemen from Berkeley on Tuesday. The route is as big as I have seen it for this time of year. There was every type of ice on the route, from blue steel to sloppy wet goo. The 3rd pitch was a total shower, but it looks like the flow is getting set on the far right so the the far left side of pillar may be drying. We got soaked, but it was a nice day so no big deal. All in all it is in superb shape. There was light snow falling all day, so if it kept up avi conditions could be different.
Cheers, CC.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Horsetail & Stairway

On Monday Cole & I did Horsetail. It was in primo condition. The middle line on the first pitch was really wet but the far right and left are reasonable. After the first bit the entire route was a gooey highway. We put in threads and rapped the route, back in town for lunch.

Today found us headed for Silverton. Stairway to Heaven is in superb condition. Many nice steep little steps, all sporting great ice (no funky layers). There appears to be a healthy amount of water supplying the route. This will certainly be one of those years it grows to an enourmous size. We opted for the walk off as it appeared to have been well travelled. I couldn't suggest this descent. The upper slopes were funky. All of the rap anchors were burried except the tree at the base of pitch three. Time to put in threads. It was snowing pretty hard when we left today, so things could change a bit for the near future. Enjoy the holidays!

Happy Trails,

Friday, December 11, 2009

Ouray Ice Climbing and new Mammut Clothing!!!

Its been a pretty good early ice season this year, and with more snow in the mountains, routes should continue to grow. The Ouray Ice Park is scheduled to open a week early on Dec 12th. Conditions will be fantastic for the Festival starting Jan 8.. Come out and mingle with top climbers around the world, try gear, and get some good instruction.

I've been happily testing out some new pieces from Mammut this Autumn, and have come up with a few new favorites to add to the arsenal. As always the Tripod helmet is the most comfortable and easiest to use helmet on the market, period. Try one on at the fest, you will buy it and wear it everyday.

In the photo below, I'm starting up a somewhat funky first pitch of the classic Skylight climb. Campo Pants and Jasper Pull are a sweet combo for moderate protection and incredible movement.

This is on the Ames Ice Hose. There was a party on the ice already so we took some laps on the 5.9 rock pitch start. I'm sporting the Base Jump Pants (my everyday favorite for ice and alpine) and the new Extreme Baltoro Jacket. This jacket is great. Superb protection from dripping ice and howling wind, and stretches and climbs perfectly. Excellent for backcountry ice climbing and alpinism.

And finally the Direct North Face in South Mineral, another early season mandatory tune up climb. It was a gorgeous day so I went with the venerable Champ pants and Verglas Jacket.

Thanks to Mammut for all the sweet gear! All the SJMG guides are super-psyched on their uniforms this year. We went with the Extreme Baltoro and Stratus Flash pieces this year and they are excellent. Thanks! Thanks! Thanks!

Respectfully Submitted,
Clint Cook
San Juan Mountain Guides
Ouray, CO

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Ouray Ice Park 2009 - Open Soon!!!

I walked through the park today scouting for our Mountain Rescue training tomorrow. Things really look great. The river is currently low allowing good access to all areas. I was able to move around in the gorge quite easily. The following pictures were taken this afternoon in the park. It looks like climbers visiting on opening day, this Saturday, will be treated to some fine climbing. Please enjoy the pics. See you all Saturday!!
Happy Trails,

Stump Wall

Below the Lower Bridge

School Room

New Funtier

South Park

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Today a bunch of local climbers spent the morning in the park shoveling snow from lower angle spots so the Ice Farmers can continue taking advantage of the cold temps. We received a relatively small amount of snow in town with this last storm. So the ice making continues as we approach opening day in the park, this Saturday. The park is looking really great. These could be the best conditions we've seen for an opening weekend in several years. Kudos to Mike and his crew for making it happen.
Thanks again to the shoveling crew this morning;
Mike M. - OIPI Board member
Alan C. - Timber Ridge & Antlers Motels
Chachi, Clint, and Kevin - SJMG

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Horsetail Falls

Squeezed in a trip up Horsetail Falls yesterday just prior to the big dump of snow. It had been shaping up nicely this fall and looked to be in superb condition. The river crossing was bomber with around an 8-12 inch ice bridge. Some funky rock steps in the narrows prior to gaining the ice climb proper - the new snow will help that section.

The climb was the proverbial Blue Goo highway! Single-swing thunker goo all the way to the top.

The first pitch (crux) had its typical wetness, perhaps more than usual. The shower was unavoidable for a few moves. On one high stick I had the water running down the shaft of the tool, through my glove and down my arm into my arm pit. Sweet! That combined with a dislodged chunk nailing me in the chin and I knew I was ice climbing again. Good to have winter back.

Respectfully submitted,

Grey Squirrel

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Snow is here

I'm here in Silverton enjoing the snow fall.
We had about 5 inches of new snow overnight
All the ice routes are on very good condition
and the temps are great and looking forward to do some turns.
Come and visit the San Juans,.
Hasta pronto

Friday, December 4, 2009

Ames Ice Hose

On Thursday I climbed the Ames Ice Hose with a couple old friends. Conditions are great, ice bottom to top. The second pitch is sporting it's two normal little cruxy sections but very reasonable. A .75 Camalot is nice to protect the upper crux section but not necessary. Not sure if the temps hit double digits at all that day, a most enjoyable outing none the less. Headed up the Camp Bird road today. I'll post some cool pics later today when my camera will cooperate with the computer. Apparently, they are not talking this morning? Happy Trails! KAK

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

More conditions from South Mineral

Thought that must have been you Kevin!

We (Gary and I) were over on Campground and Snowblind today. Both are in great shape and set-up to rappel. Snowblind is definitely a bit harder right now and getting thin around the chockstone. Sundance looked great from the road, but didn't have time to get on it today.

Great ice climbing right now!!

Visited South Mineral this morning with Sandy. The DNF was great, super fat and pretty dry. This area is seeing ton of traffic, for great reason!!! Get out and enjoy it. Cheers, KAK

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Went to Eureka Thursday morning and soloed Stairway. The only thin spots were the first roll in the middle of pitch one, but it would have taken an ice screw a few feet earlier and then could walk flat footed within two moves. Also the top of pitch four was thin as always as it transitions into the snow.
While I was there I talked to a party who had just done second gully and they said it was great.
Road to Nowhere and Whorehouse Hoses also looked good from the road. I could see that the top of Hosers' Highway looked excellent but couldn't see the mixed pitch, hope to rememdy that this week.

Friday soloed Campground Couloir, Snowblind, and DNF in South Mineral. All were in better than average condition. I only climbed two small wet steps, the rest were dry and fat. All routes are clearly seeing regular traffic.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Ice Park Conditions and Opening

Walked thru the ice park a couple days ago. It is looking GOOD. Let's all hope for continued cold nights till opening weekend Dec. 19.

Think Cold Thoughts! Won't be long now.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Had a chance to check out Eureka and South Mineral some more. Still pretty slim pickings.
We climbed Stairway on Wed. It was a little more engaging than usual, but there were a few decent screws and all the fixed anchors were easy to use.

Then we went to SMC today. We climbed the DNF thru the first three big steps via the M5 variation on the right of the 1st major pillar. Fun choss scaling, all you need is a grey C3.

There was a friendly party of 3 on the route as we rapped. Pictured below is their leader topping out on the slightly wet main pillar crux.

We went over and climbed Snowblind thru the first chockstone, the rest looked fine as well, but Davy caught a piece of ice with his nose and we opted for PBR at the Brown Bear.

Slow start, but some climbing can be done. Cheers, CC.

Monday, November 16, 2009


Went over to check out Eureka today. Still pretty bony. I went part way up Gully 2, but every pocket of snow was cracking out, so I opted to bail before the final gully. Jim T. soloed Stairway though after I left, said the top outs were a little spicy but overall pretty fun.

Probably best to wait a bit longer before heading onto the ice for most folks.

Cheers. Think Cold Thoughts. CC

Sunday, November 15, 2009


Our AMGA exam was cancelled today due to snow - so what else to do but get out and play in it!?

Ryan, Tracy, Bean and I (along with Avellana and Stella) went out later in the day on the second wave (Clint got out before us) for some wiggling in the white fluffy stuff.

While still a bit shallow of a snowpack - we had some great turns just off Red Mountain Pass. Here are some photos...

Seems like winter may be here to stay now?!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Ice climbing for Halloween

I think this may have been my earliest outing ever for ice... and what a great day it was. Drove up Eureka to take the skis and ice tools for a walk. On the drive we noticed a little flow just south of Whorehouse that looked good - and no skis needed. We drove a little higher to make sure it was the best looking flow; here's the report:

Stairway - thin, fragile looking, but had ice on all the pitches
1st & 2nd gullies and the rest of the S. facing flows - very wet, thin and falling down
Whorehouse - thin and lots of water, a little ice

Heard news of some very wet conditions and marginal ice in S. Mineral Creek, but didn't check it out.

Here's the flow we climbed. Sorry for the bad pic - all I had was the cell phone...

Also worthy of noting - there was good ice forming up on Gravity's Rainbow and the ice up in Bear Creek. The afternoon heat is melting it all fast though...

Sunday, September 6, 2009

The Dolomites!

Just wrapped up 11 straight fantastic days in the Dolomites with Paul M. As always the company was fantastic, and the climbing was pretty good too! Here's the breakdown.

The view of the Tofana from Hotel Montana.
A friendly slobber to welcome us to Cortina! I'm a sucker for Saints.Day One. Paul cruising up Via Miriam on Torre Grande in the Cinque Torri. A classic 8 pitch UIAA V+, and a great way to get feel for the dolomite. Day Two: Torre Piccola di FalzaregoContemplating the Italian good life on top.Day 3: Torre Grande di Falzarego, just a little bigger and harder.Day 4: A well deserved rest day of sport climbing at Crepe du Oucera. Paul cranking away on the steep French grade 5c.Day 5: Spigolo Jori on Punta Fiames. Can you spot the line?
A little bit of air between Paul and the track as we approach the arete proper.On top with the hikers. Where did we come from?
Day 6: We went sport climbing at Sas di Stria. Too many pitches of French 5 to count.
Day 7: The Primo Spigolo, Tofana di Rozes. What can you say, its primo.10 pitches in with the famed Pilastro behind.Beautiful line. Worth another look.Day 8: The Grande linkup of the Torri di Falzarego. Clouds threatened, but Paul was getting pretty fast by now. Brits and Germans provided some good entertainment and motivation, but we were the first to the top!
Day 9: Via Ferrata di Innerkofler to the top of Paterno.

Day 10: Sport climbing in the rain under the huge overhangs at Landro. Paul cranked out 10+ pitches of stellar limetone that day, impressive. He was insistent we were first to be there, last to leave. the other guide thought we were a little weird, but dedicated.

Day 11: The beautiful Mazzorana route on Piz Popena Basso. Only 5 pitches, but sweet stemming for the last 60 meters. Then the crux of the trip, negotiating Piazza di Roma in the heart of Venice. Paul made it in, and i made it out alive. Mission accomplished.

The gorgeous Croda di Lago. Next year Paul?