Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Skiing Red Mountain Pass

Had a lovely day yesterday with Kathy H out on Red Mountain Pass. Kathy is working to hone her backcountry skiing skills so we headed out on the slopes of McMillon and Ohio Peaks. With very pleasant temperatures and soft faceted snow in at and below treeline we had a blast. Couldn't ask for nicer weather in the mountains - just a skiff of wind and sunny warmth. We are forecast to get a bit of snow over the next few days and into the weekend, let's hope it happens. Think today and tomorrow will be the last of the warm days for a bit - big cold front dropping in from Canada... Thanks for a great day in the mountains Kathy!
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Monday, November 28, 2011

Skylight Area Climbing

Went up to Skylight yesterday (11/27) for a fun introductory half day with Scott and Leah from Cheyenne. they were in Telluride on a short getaway and popped over for some frozen fun of a different nature. Conditions have melted-out a bit up at the skylight with the recent warm weather, but there was still plenty for us to work on.

Overall it was a beautiful morning, and these guys took right to it. General conditions are pretty lean up there, though it looks like everything would go with a cool head and soft hand.

Cheers, CC

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Whorehouse Hose Nov 27th

Climbed Whorehouse Hose with Annie Q today. What a GREAT day! The first pitch is in fine shape, but getting wet by noon-ish. The top-out is thin ice over rock or thin ice over the tube, tread lightly! The second pitch is wild right now... rather than the typical cruise up a snow cone and a slight bit of ice, it's thin ice over a pretty voluminous cold flow of water with reasonable ice just on the edges. Watch out for the "wading pool" 2/3 the way up the pitch - you can't see it from the bottom. We tip-toed around on a thin margin of snow that may have come down with the party behind us. Ended up taking the gloves off for rock holds around the pool. Third pitch is wild right now too. It's pretty hollow for the first 40' or so (with another nice deep wading pool at the base) - each swing causing the whole thing to ring deeply. After that it's a mixture of cauliflowers, a bit of egg shells, some nice soft plastic ice and thin ice over the tube and rock. All the fixed anchors are in great shape and the snow between pitches very supportable except for the "trap doors" over the water course. Might get a bit lean with the warm temperatures forecast. Thanks for a wonderful day Annie!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Direct North Face, Nov. 9th

We just returned from a great fall road trip. Started out on ice in South Mineral Creek outside Silverton, then off to Zion and Red Rocks for a last bit of desert sun and rock. Here are photos from Gary Ryan and I climbing the Direct North Face on Nov. 9th. The first bit was pretty straight forward so we soloed up to the WI4 pitches. We opted to split the pitch up so we both could get a little time on the sharp end of the steeper ice. It was a tiny bit wet, but fun climbing! Enjoy the photos...

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

San Juan Powder Skiing

Awesome! It is hard to believe it is only November. Fellow guides, Matt, Mark and I headed up into Commodore Basin on the hunt for early season powder skiing. What we found was snow that exceeded our expectations in both quality and quantity.

We cut several beautiful laps through the November fluff exclaiming to each other at the base of each run.   We skied a bit off the shoulder of the alpine bowl that is Commodore Basin but the skiing in the pleasant open glades was probably the best. Tons of warm sun,  cold powder, and phenomenal scenery made for a classic San Juan ski day.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Silverton and Ouray Ice Report

1st pitch of Campground Couloir
2nd steep pillar on The Direct North Face (Fat!)
 Despite the latest snow storm Stefan and I had two more excellent days on the early season ice. We climbed Campground Couloir and the Direct North Face in South Mineral Creek. We also got in some drytooling on the new routes on Camp Bird Road.

Stefan topping out the 1st steep pillar on the DNF

All the climbs in South Mineral Creek are in and FAT even the rarely formed Sundance is looking pretty good. Up on Camp Bird Road, the first pitch of Skylight is in. The rest of the climbs up there look in from the road but they are still on the harder side. Have fun and be careful topping out!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Men's Health Article

Here is a link to a very entertaining article from Men's Health about ice climbing at the fest and skylight with SJMG.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Silverton Ice Conditions

I got up to Eureka in Silverton to climb with Stefan from New Brunswick today. We did 1st and 2nd gullies. They were both in great shape. 1st gully is characteristically a bit on the thinner side but there is plenty to climb.
1st Gully
Stairway looks pretty heads up but probably doable. Goldrush looks climbable but a bit on the thin side, bring some rock gear. Further up the road Tempered by Fire looks ok, but the three stooges look like they need some time.

Have you ever climbed Burns Gulch? Its further up the road and looks pretty good. There are lots of cool drips and pillars forming with the melting snow.
2nd Gully
All this cloudy weather and snow will be really good for the snow melt fed climbs that are looking like they could get pretty darn good if it keeps snowing. I hope that helps for those of you wondering what it looks like out here. Stefan and I will be out for the next couple of days so check back to find out about South Mineral Creek and/or Camp Bird.
Goldrush you can't see the bottom pitch which is usually the thin one.

Burns Gulch
Did I mention north facing powder skiing?

Friday, November 11, 2011

Camp Bird Road Ice Conditions

Took a spin up the Camp Bird today, there is a bunch of ice on everything, though I wouldn't call any of it IN, yet. All the ice looked wet and fragile, I recommend giving it some more time to set up and fatten. Here are some pics of the main climbs up there.
The Ribbon. Looks like it will be a good year for this once it stays colder.

Birdbrain. The first crux pillar is in, but looks sparse up higher. Try not to be the one who gets on it too early and knocks it down, its hard to live that down!

Racing Stripes

Dumpster Diver

Skylight Pitch 1

Skylight Pitch 2


Chock up Another One

Slippery When Wet

Slip Slidin' Away

Choppo's and Killer Pillar

Poser's Lounge
Soon my friends, very soon...
Cheers, CC

Thursday, November 10, 2011

New Routes on Camp Bird Road

 Andres and I went up Camp Bird Road, drill in hand to expand the dry tooling options up there. There are a number of routes that have gone up there in the past couple of years that are worth checking out if you like to pull on rock with ice tools or are looking for a safe way to get comfortable on real steep terrain.

Many people know about the M6 that makes use of the shackle next to skylight and the M7 that shares the anchors. There are many more that don't get as much attention and are as good. We bolted an M3 that is good for beginners and there are a couple of M4s and M5s that have gone up in the past few years. One of my favorites is the thin, pumpy seam near the mile 4 marker up by chockstone it goes at about M5. If you want to try out this dry-tooling business and are looking for some easier options come on down and give some of these newer routes a try.

I am headed out ice climbing tomorrow so check back soon to find out about local ice conditions.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Ouray Ice Conditions

Direct North Face
 I took my trusty, Korean made, light SUV for a ride over the pass to see how the ice was doing in South Mineral Creek, usually the first ice of the season to form. While in the past I have enjoyed parking right across from these climbs, the kim chee mobile was cruxing through about 8+ inches of snow. With the current storm, only high clearance, corn-fed trucks will make it down the road and back easily.

The light was flat which made scoping the ice hard but needless to say it was on the thin side. Campground Couloir had tons of snow in it and looked wet, DNF looked thin and steep, and Snowblind looked close. While they could all be climbed on marginal pro, continued freezing temps mean that these climbs will be good to go for climbers who think placing an ice screw is more than a symbolic gesture.
Campground Couloir

Snow blind