Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Leavenworth Ice - 12.21.10

Adam and I once again set out to find some ice on the shortest day of the year. This time we were headed to Leavenworth where we were sure we could find something climbable.

The plan was to head out early and get there just after the sun was up to start climbing. But a later than planned start and some travel delays put us in the Icicle around 9:30am. Icicle road was not yet plowed, and we slowly made our way to the Bridge Creek area to hike in and see if there was ice.

The road past the closure was well packed by snowmobiles and we made good time walking the short distance to our cut off into the woods. The woods were a different story. We did not bring snowshoes on the poor assumption that there was not a whole lot of snow out in Leavenworth. Well there isn't a whole lot compared to the west side, but we post holed our way up to the flow we were interested in only to find out it was not ready to be climbed. So we headed back to the car. That burned an hour of time so we headed elsewhere.

Our final destination was most likely the Snow Creek parking lot, but we decided to take a look at Chicken Gully on Icicle Buttress on the way there. We parked on the side of the road and gave it a closer look. There was enough ice to climb and protect early, but the slab was definitely mixed climbing and protecting it looked difficult. We once again hiked back to the car.

This time we parked at the Snow Creek parking lot. We opted to have lunch since it was already 11am and it would keep us from packing sandwiches up the trail. Since the trail receives steady traffic, we felt encouraged about our progress up the trail, especially considering there was a car there and some snowshoers ahead of us. We headed off at 11:30am and made good time up the packed trail. Then the snowshoers passed us on the way back to their car. A short distance beyond and we ran out of freshly compacted trail. But the going wasn't too bad. Someone had been there in the past week with snowshoes.

As we navigated the switchbacks, we ran into some snow drifts that were waist deep. I almost decided to stop when I couldn't find the trail on the other side of one particular drift. But we found the trail and continued. At some point around 2000' we were only following a boot track which we believed was at least nine days old. The narrow compacted track was buried under 8-12" of snow and falling off of it meant plunging down calf or thigh deep. This occurred frequently and Adam and I took turns breaking trail. At this point we were committed to getting up there. I think the challenge of making it to Millennium Wall had become the goal of the day.

A hike that takes an hour or less in the summer took us two and a half! We arrived at Millennium Wall where there were a few freshly downed trees making our getting to the base of the wall even more difficult. After more wallowing we got to the base where I didn't feel so up to leading the wall. I think mostly due to how late in the day (2pm) and my tiredness from trudging up the trail without snowshoes. We looked for an easy way around to set up a top rope. But the additional wallowing left us frustrated, and we opted to do a bit of "ice bouldering" at the base as a consolation. We shortly tired of that routine and packed up to head back to the trail.

On the trail we dropped our packs and navigated numerous downed trees to head up the trail a short distance further to get a look at The Goatee. Due to the low visibility, it was hard to tell the exact condition, but it did not look like it was climbable to me. After making our way back to the packs, we trudged back down the trail. Both of us at one time or another attempted to cut a switchback, but this proved more energy and time consuming than staying on the trail. We made it back to the car just as the remaining light left the sky.

It is frustrating to want to climb ice in Washington. If Adam was a skier, we could have gone out skiing. But we quested for ice and while we found some, we were somewhat out of time when we arrived there. I think I'm going to stick to skiing for the next few weeks until it looks as if ice is in.

My pics are here.

1 comment:

The Accidental Bavarian said...

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