Wednesday, February 25, 2015

To Much Is Never Enough!

Hydrophobia! Humbling & Amazing!
Work and life have busy and the lack of local ice this year is a sad state of affairs. What local ice we had was gone by the first week of January. I got up to Canada for a quick two day mid January which was great. So a month later I was wanting more after talking to Joe where should we go everywhere out west has been warmer than normal Canada seemed most logical but avy danger was off the charts. So low avy is what we sought-after last minute decisions typical the conversation went like this. The Ghost says Joe Hydrophobia he says so after a hasty pack a late night drive a bivy on concrete in a picnic shelter,and an interesting drive into the Ghost. We find our selves at the base of Hydrophobia an impressive piece of ice to say the least. Hard, very little features, and dinner plates from bottom to top and steep did I mention steep. With pumped calves and forearms pulled up over the top of the route. Joe is strong and a routes like this suit him well. I on the other hand am not that strong and prefer techy ice (more features for feet even if ice isn't as good) so Hydrophobia was hard for me. What I learned is technique for a route like this coupled with better calf and forearm endurance well too much of all of these is never enough for me at least! Keep training and trying! Always a work in progress!
Rapping off Hydrophobia you can see Joe's green jacket at midway and our packs down at bottom. 
The next day was my choice and I wanted to go and climb Whiteman Falls in K Country a climb I've wanted to do for a while. Amazing climb I got to do the second pitch which is the one I wanted. Now this climb suited me better more tech less power great climb!
Whiteman Falls

Psyched to climb Whiteman Falls that alone made the trip for me. A Haffner mixed session for our last day before the drive home capped off a great three day trip. Now it's gym and pliceboard some rock to until next ice trip.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Compression Socks?

I had never used any compression garments before but decided to try compression socks for ice climbing this season and have been pleased. I have Smart wool compression socks which are thin and since I already was wearing a liner with a thicker sock using the compression as my liner works great. I noticed that my calves feel less strained and recover faster after a lot of front pointing. Now they are a bit harder to put on but the trade off is worth it. Now if I can just find some compression sleeves for my forearms!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Panhandle Ice?

Is there really ice climbing in the north Idaho panhandle? Well yes there is it may be here today gone tomorrow but there's some out there I'm going to list the two most consistent and accessible ones. Yes there are a few more climbs in the panhandle but the stars have to align or some backcountry travel is required. I live in Hayden Idaho so approximate drive times are from my house. I will be adding a local ice guide page with panhandle ice and other areas in eastern washington and western Montana post.

Chilco Falls 15M WI3/3R with mixed & dry tool options also
10 minute drive short approach
Access issues see below
Forms almost every season can be very brief.
Some seasons are very good, I feel really fortunate to have this area and climb it often when it is in.
Access is an issue so ask a local or go with one who knows the way in. We don't want to mess up the access situation. NO DOGS PERIOD!!! Be respectful of the property owners.
Early season Dec 2011
Copper Falls 70M 1 or 2 pitches WI3
2hr drive may require 4wd  short approach
Forms almost every season can be very brief.
Here's good route info from Summit Post <LINK>
Fun climb you can link with Libby MT (more on this area in an upcoming post) stuff to fill up a day
Dec 2007

Rich Bennett Dec 2007

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Here Today Gone Tomorrow

North Idaho ice is always a fickle beast elusive and short lived this season is no exception! In fact this winter has been one of the mildest I can remember. We have had three good cold snaps lasting about five days. Which we rely on to get the ice started but they have all been followed by rain and early spring type temperatures ugh! Typically our ice can last awhile this season literally days! I actually got my season's first swings early by N Idaho standards on Copper Falls things started out great Copper typically isn't climbed until late November early December in fact this season is the earliest I've climbed ice in N Idaho. Followed by some ice at Pyramid Lake a week later and Chilco came in late December early January (lasting only a few days feeling lucky I got to climb it twice!). So I was psyched thinking maybe the season I've been waiting for had arrived. Not to be but I did get to climb some of what my panhandle has to offer and will again soon I hope! So until then north and east I'll have to go!

Copper Falls November 16 2014

Pyramid Lake Ice November 22 2014

Chilco Falls January 3 2015
 In and out in less than a week this season

Monday, January 19, 2015

2014/15 Ice Season Is Well Under Way A Few Mental Minutes To Over Come & The Shoulders Feeling Pretty Good!

Rolling into this ice season after shoulder rehab (still rehabbing) kinda got me down a bit mentally. I was having to get over a mental cloud I had put over my head. I actually came into the season feeling pretty fit I started out climbing fine I had a couple of mental minutes to get over and that has seemed to have passed. As an average climber it's still nice to feel like I got my groove back. I got up to Canada for a quick two day trip last week, we hit Field on day one hearing Cascade Kronenberg had been getting climbed (via the Shooter Bar mixed two bolt line to access the upper curtain two different reports from guides rated going at M6WI6) thought we should at least go check it out. Upon the walk up we decided to warm up on Carlsberg which is a great climb and in good nick I might add.  Also Kronenberg looks intimidating as a warm up after climbing Carlsberg Joe and I looked at Kronenberg and decided we should giver and see what happens. Joe got us started leading up through a fun ice section to the mixed bolted section then a woo hoo and he was on the ledge! I follow what is a super fun pitch meet Joe on the ledge. Put on a jacket drink a quick Monster while getting racked up for my lead of the upper ice section. Super fun ice section this is just what I needed a bit of a challenge to help get the mental wheels turning. We finished off the day with a TR lap on Carlsberg. Climbed Louise the next morning and drove home great short trip! Feeling psyched for my next climbing trip!

Cascade Kronenberg
 Shooting Bar goes up through rock right of lower hanging ice then up on left on upper ice from ledge. Really fun climbing!

Cascade Kronenberg
Best medicine for me some steeps

Carlsberg on the left 


Joe Lind getting our day started on pitch one

Pitch two offered up 

The classic line offered us a fun climb before driving home

Petzl Laser Speed Ice Screws

Up until recently my ice screw rack was completely made up of Black Diamond express screws. Which after trying other screws that some of my climbing partners have there was no doubt they were the best screw out there racked good started fast and went in quick. So if a partner didn't have BD express screws we would wind up using my rack as I preferred them over others. That was until I tried the Petzl laser speed screws this season holy shot Batman they are better! They start like butter, rack great, are lighter and crank in easier what more can I ask for. They do make a light version in aluminum the tip is steel I tried em awesome too I decided to go with the all steel standards for ice since my gear does seem to take a beating and the aluminum just would get beat up I believe over time. The light aluminum version would be the way to go for building a light alpine rack for sure. So I have started the transition! 

Monday, March 10, 2014


Umbilicals to use or not to use that is the question. Some climbers use them often some never. I use them for almost all of my leading on ice. When I switched from my 1st gen cobras to the newer ones I had been climbing with leashes for awhile. So going leash less took a little bit of getting used to. The next two seasons I climbed without umbilicals I always thought they might be a nice thing to have. Most climbers even if they don't climb with umbilicals do in alpine environments but some don't even on the biggest objectives. After getting use to them they are just part of my system. Although I have never dropped a tool while climbing ice with the umbilical it is not something I have to think about. Now I know that they are not rated or meant to hold a fall. This season while climbing out at Banks I took my first ever fall while ice climbing. I was placing a screw after climbing thru a extremely wet crux. My left foot blew out on some crappy chandeliers and once that happened my left hand slid out my tool and I was falling. But instead of falling all the way past my last screw which was quite a ways down and to my left. I realized I had only fell a few feet and that my umbilicals had caught me! I was then able to pull back up finish off the screw and finsh up the climb. I had both tools placed good something I always do while placing a screw. After an event like this I thought a lot about what lead to this event. I was climbing threw a section of wet central Washington chandelier ice what should I have done that would of prevented this and what did I do wrong and can take away from this. First and foremost I never viewed umbilicals as a fall safety device. Only as a device to help keep me from accidentally dropping an ice tool. I should have climbed to a better stance my left foot was not placed in that great of ice and my body was overhanging my feet. All I had to do to fix that was climb up one more move. It was extremely wet that day my leather glove were soaked and slippery. When I'm hanging in an ice tool I always try to keep my hand relaxed so as to only hang on just enough. This way I'm conserving energy. With the combo of the wet gloves minimal grip and barn door kinda move my body did once my foot blew out I slipped and fell. What did I learn from this I should have had a better stance and foot placement. I should have climbed up just a move or two and the ice would have been better. I'm not going to climb ice that is so dripping/raining when you try to look up you can't see. Some water is one thing but I'm over full on rainfest. If it is wet at an acceptable level I will now on climb with a glove with a grippy synthetic palm and fingers not leather. I will admit that I was very happy that my umbilicals caught me. So I'm going to keep climbing with my umbilicals but I'm not counting on them as a fall back up plan skill and knowledge are what I need to really on for that.