Route 8, WI4+, 30m

We were reaching the end of the trip and Carsten and I decided to make a recognizance trip into a side valley on the east side (behind the fire station). A few hundred meters in we could see an ice pillar and in the far back we could see two big ice curtains which looked really great. We knew we wouldn't be able to make it all the way to the ice curtains in one day but we just wanted to have a day of relaxing adventure.

Carsten at the entrance of the side valley. The ice pillar we climbed is just visible in the center of the picture.

It turned out not to be that relaxing after all..... We walked as far as possible on paths in the forest and then slid down the flood bed to the ice stream, which we followed upwards.

Carsten soloing WI2-3 ice leading up to the amphitheater.

After a couple of hundred meters of soloing WI2-3 ice, we reached a spectacular amphitheater with 5 ice pillars. 4 of the pillars came out of the rock wall whereas the last pillar was running with water. Carsten said it looked and sounded like a cooling tower of a nuclear energy plant, which sounded right to me although I had newer seen one!

Carsten approaching the amphitheater with the five ice pillars (the top of the fifth pillar is just visible on the upper left).

The pillar on the far left was leading nowhere, the cooling tower looked like suicidal "glass-ice" that could collapse any minute", the two pillars on the far right were thin, which left us with the pillar in the middle, just right of the cooling tower. It ended in overhanging rock, but it looked climbable so I gave it a try.

Hans leading one of the pillars (WI4+) which ended in an overhanging rock section. The "cooling tower" with running water is the brown ice on the left.

Click on the picture to see and hear a QuickTime movie of the cooling tower.

The ice section turned out to be much harder than I anticipated and was getting increasingly difficult to protect as well. The last 10 meters was quite narrow and had thin free hanging ice on the right side and fragile glass-like ice on the left side. None of it was great but I reasoned to myself that I would be alright as long as I had a tool/crampon on each part. The ice on the top of pillar was very solid, so I put in a screw and continue up the overhanging rock. It was quite easy to get good placements for the ice tools, but I didn't like the rock at all - it consisted of rotten rock bricks connected with mud and I was thus worried that I would pull the bricks out. I made 3-4 moves up the bricks, but as I reached the point where I would have to pull hard on the tools to pull my legs over the overhang, I decided to retreat - I was simply afraid that I would kill Carsten below if I released a major rock fall. I thus made an anchor which allowed Carsten to climb the route on top rope. As Carsten climbed the narrow upper section of the ice he yelled "Hans, you are crazy - what makes you climb this stuff!?". Well, I really wanted to see what was on the other side of the amphitheater - but that will have to wait to another trip - "We will be back........".

Close up of the crux ice just below the overhanging rock, which consisted of rotten rock bricks connected with mud.

I retreated from the rock as I was afraid of killing Carsten if I pulled the bricks out.......


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Last update: 9-4-2006

© Hans Bräuner-Osborne