Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Ice Exploration - 02.02.09

Steve let me know on Sunday he was available to do something Monday. So we talked about finding ice.

We brought skis along, and our initial intent was to climb some ice in the Source Lake basin. Once we got on the road, Steve informed me he had seen some ice backcountry skiing the day before and wanted to go check it out.

We spied some ice from the road with binoculars. We then made a decision to go find it. So we parked at a trail head, and skied in. We did not take a bearing, and picked our way through some chutes and old logging roads. We spotted a bit of ice on our trek, but it did not look worthy enough to climb. We thought we could go further to find the ice we spotted from the road. We continued across some steep slopes before finding a nice gully full of ice. Possibly three pitches worth.

We set out trying to make a climb of it. Steve led off on the first pitch. The ice was fragile on the surface, and had water running beneath it. In some areas he had to tie off screws because the ice was too thin. He arrived at a cave and belayed me up. Even though conditions were not ideal, I found this ice much better, and more fun than the ice we climbed in Leavenworth in January. I couldn't wait to get out on the next lead.

However, after the first pitch, the upper pitches started getting some sun, and we were having some issues with some ice/snow cascading down the gully. For our safety, we decided to bail off as it was also late in the day. This involved some sketchy traversing through steep snow/ice off to our right. After that, it was a walk off. We hiked down the gully through some cliff bands before putting our skis on and skinning back out. (I think it was uphill in both directions.)

Overall, a fun and interesting day. We explored ice, and possibly got a first ascent. (There is no info in Washington Ice on the area, and I couldn't find anything online.) We are hoping to get back there to finish the other pitches before the next weather system moves in. Hopefully we will.

My pictures are here.

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