Monday, February 16, 2009

Gold Lake Drainage Ice - 02.15.09

This is the ice Steve and I found two weeks ago. We were actually searching for this ice. However, when we went to find it, we were a little off route and found the flow we climbed on Ground Hog's Day instead. Steve is unavailable for a bit, and I knew if we got any more snow the climb would be buried for the rest of the season. So I was hoping to get up it this weekend. Julie decided to join me, but had to bail out as her knee was acting up after the Guye Peak foray the previous day. I was fortunate in finding another person to follow me on this adventure with such short notice.

Peter Heinz agreed to make an attempt at the route with me. This was nice, as he owned some short ice screws, and could add to our rack's screamers as well.

We got to the trail head at 7am. We hiked in the road. This time I thought we would find the gully easier. We did, but with a little walking around in the woods first. We ascended the gully, and reached the base of the route in just under two hours from the car. We were able to easily bypass a rock step in the lower gully by entering the woods climber's right of the gully.

I took the first lead. This pitch was exactly how it I remembered it two weeks earlier. However, in a little better shape. A hole that was there two weeks ago looking into the running water behind the ice had a sheet of ice over it now. The sound of running water was not as bad either. I placed a screw in the first step and wallowed through the pool to start the second step. (Unclimbed by Steve and I from the previous visit.) The left side of the second step was hollow sounding, while the right seemed a bit breakable. I gingerly moved up this section, and set up a belay with two ice screws in good, not great, ice.

Peter followed up and immediately headed out on the lead of the second pitch. There was much dinner-plating as I was showered with snow and ice particles. I set the belay off to the side, so I didn't get hit with any of the big stuff. I followed Peter's line up the next bulge through some snow to the belay at some alders.

At this point, the gully split into left and right forks. The belay Peter set up was near the left fork, and there looked like a whole lot of snow wallowing to get to the right fork. So I headed up the left fork. I wallowed through waist deep powder to get to the highest quality ice of the day. (It also felt like the steepest.) I climbed up the patch of ice placing two screws. I had lots of difficulty removing my tools in this section. I'll have to take a look and see what may be causing it. After the ice step, was a deep snow gully that I wallowed up to a tree belay. I brought Peter up to the belay and told him to head out.

He went up the last ice step and set up the belay about a full rope length up. The step was short and not too steep, and then emptied into a lower angle (25°?) snow field/gully. If we continued a bit further we would have ended at a rock wall. We decided it was time to turn around and head down. It was about noon. It was also snowing harder than earlier.

We did a bit of down climbing (hiking really) to a tree where we rappelled over a short ice moss step. We then hiked down some more until arriving at a tree where we set up a double rope rappel that brought us back below the base of the climb.

We hiked out easily, and were back at the car around 4 pm. It was an adventure. I doubt this gets climbed at all due to the nature of the climb being a terrain trap. Mostly it needs dry cold periods to form and stay somewhat safe. The warmer weather we are expecting this week will probably put an end to the route for the season. But who knows? Maybe it won't.

My pics are here.

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