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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. 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Banks Again?!

Well of course we had a week long cold snap which created icicles once again in the Washington desert. This time the Zenith formed up and started to call out to local ice climbers. Joe and I decided to giver a shot and wow what line it is!  We got to climb a wet chando challenging route. It was pretty much welcome to Banks lake kids from bottom to top! It had its moments and a little episode that day but hey that's ice climbing folks! 
Trying to convince my self to step out of the dry alcove and back out at it!

Joe leading a line at Pee Wee's were we finished up a great day!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Lemonade From Lemons!

In N Idaho it is feeling early spring/late fall outside not wintery that's for sure! So what's a guy to do bouldering at Tubbs Hill is a good option to fill in the gaps between out of town trips to the ice. Actually I get out and boulder there quite a bit this time of year. It's the best time due in part to the low lake level there are a lot of fun problems that only show their face during the winter. So a pebble wrestling I will go. 
Besides its hard to beat the views!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Libby Road Cut/Road Side Ice

Libby road ice this year is/was (not sure if going to last much longer with this weather!) super fat! Got to do the standard stuff at the road cut, the natural line up the road which is always fun and a fun little mixed road cut line. First rule of  N Idaho climbing get after it while it's in! 
Mixed line at road cut a good little ditty!
Natural line up the road always fun!

Road Side Ice NW Montana Style!

Decided to I better get out last Sunday and get over to Libby area to climb before the ice melts. Man this warm weather we have been experiencing sure is the pits! What's a N Idaho ice climber to do? Get the goods while the gettings good! There's a short line up the Yaak River that I wanted to climb this year it came in. I got a chance to climb the right side earlier but wanted to get back and do the steeper left side. I got my chance fun little line and you can drive right to the base! 


Monday, January 13, 2014

Ice season is in full swing! You sure couldn't tell by north Idaho's weather!

It is winter heck we are only half way thru January yet if you look outside today you think it's early spring. Not so good for local ice of which even in the best of years is a short lived creature around these parts. Yet if your patient and persistent a local ice climber can actually find some pretty nice day trip "local ice" in a more normal winter. This season has been odd couple of short cold snaps followed by warm rainy weather. Heck I'm going to throw the shoes, chalk bag and pad in my truck and do some bouldering tomorrow. Despite the weather funk I've managed to get in some great climbs. With the best climbing at Banks this season. Banks is a  unique ice climbing area with some amazing climbs it is either loved or hated by ice climbers. It's Banksy is how we refer to its funky ice and weird sometimes brushy top outs but if a climber perseveres some great challenging climbing can be had. My love affair with the area grows every time I get out there!  The saying goes "if you can lead ice at Banks you can lead anywhere". 
Getting my Banks on H2O2 1-10-14

Monday, November 4, 2013


Obviously it's been awhile since I last posted anything I've been busy with family, play and work. Ice season is not to far off now so more to come in the not so distant future. For now bouldering and rock climbing between rain/wet snow along with some pliceboard and drytooling for good measure.