Sunday, December 7, 2008

Ice Season Begins!

Normally I start off the season cragging, easing my way back into ice climbing mode. This season however, has been unseasonably warm except in the high country. With no local ice around, I called my buddy Justin Woods in Whitefish and plans were made to climb in Glacier National Park. Kyle Sharfe would join us so we headed up to Whitefish Thursday night to prepare for Friday's climb.

North Face of Mt. Edwards (faint red line showing the route)

Kyle starting the 1st pitch

After four hours of sleep, the alarm went off at 3 o'clock. We jumped in the car and headed for the park. Some coffee and powdered doughnuts comforted me while I thought of the huge undertaking we were about to embark on. The plan was to climb "six pack of beer" then continue to the summit of Mt. Edwards. Its about 15oo ft of ice followed by 1500 ft of snow and rock. The route has only been climbed twice before, each time taking 2 days. Considering this along with the limited day light, we would be pushing it.

Justin and Kyle climbing pitch 3

Kyle Sharfe

We reached the base around 7:30 - 8:00 after 5 miles of approaching. In order to save time, we soloed the first 400 ft then roped up. The ice was in great condition so we continued on without hesitation. The ground fell away below us and at around 12:30, we topped out on the ice climb proper.

Justin Woods

Self portrait w/Justin

At this point the weather was looking stormy and we had to decide whether to rappel the route or continue up looking for an escape off the East face. Making the summit during day light was out of the question and fear of waking up to feet of new snow made the idea of bivying unappealing. We decided rather than rappelling though the dark we would continue up and find another way off.

Justin beginning the hike out

We found a nice snow/ice ribbon to climb through the upper face and eventually came to a ledge system that granted us access to the East ridge. We guessed correct. The ledge continued around the East face allowing for an easy walk off.

The East face turned out to be a horrible wind slab, but being our only way off, we were forced to deal with it. Eventually we made it down without any problems. With the last rays of light, we packed up and began our 9 mile hike out.

1 comment:

OB said...

Dude - I'm jonesing for bigger versions of the photos. Send bigger ones to blogger... I upload them 900x900. Love to see the scene bigger.