Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Backwoods Montucky Ice

Exploring the potential for new ice lines is always fun and yesterday Justin Woods and I were doing just that. Justin had recently checked out a remote climbing location deep into the middle of nowhere. His description of the area had me intrigued so rather than climbing the same old ice, I headed to Whitefish.

We left town after what is becoming our typical "Alpine start", casual wake up time followed with breakfast at the White Buffalo. Hard to beat that. Getting there was chill, an hour drive and a five minute walk. After driving back roads into nowhere land, we reached our destination. It is a small lake with a slot canyon on the far side.

The canyon was cool. Very atypical for Montana. It is very narrow, maybe 4 feet across at its tightest point and around 100' deep. Unfortunately there isn't too much ice. The canyon is covered in smears and one big flow in the back, which is what everyone climbs. What is exciting is the potential for "farming" ice. If we can redirect the water flow, then we could have a winter wonderland of ice.

Justin and I climbed the classic flow, then set up a TR on a thin smear. The smear was awesome. Incredibly delicate tool placements and huge moves in-between. I honestly don't know how I didn't fall off. Unfortunately, the rock wall around the ice is without a single crack and the ice is way too thin to place an ice screw. The only way to protect it would be with bolts. We are going to wait until next year so we can get an idea of the character of the ice. If the climb forms again in the same manner, we will bolt it, otherwise there is no reason to damage then rock.

The slot canyon

The thin smear we climbed (center)

The main ice flow

Justin topping out

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