Saturday, December 24, 2011

Early Season Ice Hunt

Im continuing to catch up from last years TR's and there are some great ones to come but here is a short and sweet one.

As soon as the first snow hits the hills every ice climber in the Rocky Mountains begins to hunger for the first taste of ice. We head into our secret shaded chimneys and elusive north faces with only one thought on our mind. Eventually after hiking or driving numerous miles we all get that day to sink our tools for the first time in the season. This time Kevin and Stevo made their trip to Cody to join Kelly and I on a hike in to my secret spot in the hills that provides ice from October to July!

Hiking into Skirmish and Coldwar you will be rewarded with climbing ice before anyone else and some incredible views.

Kevin Craig psyched to throw tools for the first time in the epic season to come.

Napping and climbing ice all in the same day...gotta love climbing in the valley.

Ice climbing in October at its best and a Mulkey hike pays off for the crew. Skirmish on the right and Cold War on the left

Stephen Berwanger (stevo) always smiling when on ice !

Kevin Craig feeling solid after a few months off the ice

Kelly enjoying her first time ice climbing after I gave her a very intense 1 minute lesson ha !

Kelly taking in her last glimpse of her first ice climbing adventure.

Kevin Craig enjoying the views of the valley after some early ice season climbing. This view is why climbing here is like no other place.

Incredible sunset on the way out to cap off a great day of climbing with good friends

Watch the video below about the trip.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Monday, December 12, 2011

House Of The Rising Vein

Fresh from a kill on Spirit Mountain Doug Shepherd and I (Aaron Mulkey) did not sit fat and happy for very long. Within days of coming out of the mountains our appetite for another big climb began to manifest itself. Doug made the trip back to Cody within 4 days of being back home and was fueled up to rally once again. This time we set our sights on another area but after a short hike to scout conditions we were shutdown by the lack of ice and cold temps, so we decided to go back to a higher elevation area.

Chirstopher Guyer, Daniel Burson and Doug Shepherd at the Ford round table planning our next move after finding no ice in our first objective.

A bit bummed but still psyched we kept our spirits high as we traveled to the glacier lake trail. A cold nights bivy in the truck is never easy to wake up from energized and ready to crank, but we managed to crawl out of our warm cocoons. Daniel Burson decided to join us on this mission which helped spread the weight while hiking the Beartooths steepest trail. I had spotted some potential new lines a few weeks earlier but once hitting Glacier Lake we realized lots of new snow was going to make those climbs an epic approach, so we decided to settle on one of the Beartooths earliest ice routes to form "Funeral For A Friend".

Gettin our early approach on

You gotta love an alpine sunrise illuminating your route

Approaching The Bullet with the route laying on the far left side in a major chimney system

Aaron Mulkey giving his Blue Steel look

The route was in great shape and the weather was incredibly good. Normally this route can be a massive funnel of non stop spindrift challenging your every movement to progress upward. To our surprise we found a gorgeous vein of ice spilling down the chimney like taffy.

Daniel Burson moving through the lower chimney

Doug Shepherd taking the incredible vein pitch

Daniel Burson enjoying early ice climbing at it best

Moving quickly through the constricted chimney we were placed below a massive chockstone that marked the start of an engaging roof of groveling.

Aaron Mulkey groveling through the roof pitch

Moving through the roof and onto the slope above is where most people stop on this route but we decided to see if we could push it to the top. Unable to find gear on the next pitch in the chimney and not enough ice, we decided to climb the left wall to continue our progress and tread further onto new ground.

Daniel leading up the 3rd pitch wall

As we got to the next belay we found a small vein of ice rising upwards like a compass taking us out of the chimney system on climbers left. This pitch provided some really enjoyable alpine ice in a granite corner for 200+ plus feet.

Doug leading the ice corner pitch onto new ground above.

Daniel Burson livin large in an alpine ice paradise

Another vein of ice continued to draw us further up the mountain leading to the crux of the route. A short granite wall with bulbs of ice were like a connect the dot game as I figured out the right sequence of movement to complete the pitch.

Aaron Mulkey continuing up the vein of ice and through the mixed wall above

Daniel following the crux pitch and figuring out the sequence

A few hundred feet of steep snow led us to the top and we celebrated yet another new route and an incredible day. We decided to call our new extension of Funeral For A Friend "Funeral for another friend" in dedication to Joe Puryear who died while climbing in Tibet a few days earlier. Joe was a friend to many and an inspiration to all.

Excited about our new route !

Celebrating Halloween Alpine Style enjoying my summit treat !

Check out the video of the route