Saturday, November 28, 2009

Winter Dance

Finally, after so many years, we went for it. I have had the image of this ice climb in my head since I began ice climbing nine years ago. Big, mysterious, and difficult, it towers above the entire drainage; Winter Dance.

First climbed in '97 by Alex Lowe and Jim Earl, it has since seen only a number of ascents. In 2007 White Magro freed the bolt ladder allowing the climb to go entirely free; M8, WI 6+.

Winter Dance

Tuesday night, Jeff and I were preparing for a trip to Glacier National Park. A last minute Internet check changed our minds. A post on a climbing forum said that Winter Dance was in great shape and the weather was looking good for Wednesday. Bozeman it was!

Staring pitch 1

We left Missoula at 3:00am hoping to start hiking by day break. It was a long shot to try day tripping this climb from Missoula, but worth a shot. It was 10:00am when we reached the base after 2.5 hours of hiking. We racked the gear and Jeff headed up the first pitch. It turned out to be much trickier than either of us had expected. By the time I reached Jeff it was noon. With 3 hard pitches left an only about 4.5 hours of day light remaining, we knew we had been too slow.

Jeff reaching the 1st belay

Myself mid-way, pitch 2

There was no need to bail immediately with the time we had, so we decided to at least climb the next pitch. This was the bolt ladder White had freed at M8. The bolts are close and safe so its worth trying to free. I hung in the opening roof to figure out the move, but eventually worked my way through it. The climbing eases a bit but I was forced to rest again at the next bulge. From there it was to the anchor. From this position, I was directly next to the ice and could take a good look at it. It appeared very tricky but manageable. Unfortunately this was our high point.

Myself reaching the 2nd anchors

The sun began to bake the ice making Jeff and I uneasy about our position. We rapped off with hopes of returning soon.

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