Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Gravel Creek Ice Climbing

On Martin Luther King day, the Wharf Rat, Old Crow and I went out to Gravel Creek to check out the big ice climb there. We made good time with two snowmachines and were at the base within 20 minutes.

Jon Cobb and Bill Billmier were out there as well, so we started after they set up their own top rope. Luckily, Wharf Rat and Old Crow elected me as the rope gun so I got the lead.

The ice on the right side was wet and thunker, which made for relatively easy climbing despite the steepness. I plugged six screws in along the way then one more with a v-thread for the anchor. Wharf Rat and Old Crow each took a run up while Cobb and Billmier TRed the steep steep steep left side.

After Cobb and Billmier left, we put in a redirectional piece and I climbed up the left side, which was sustained vertical cauliflower/chandelier ice for a long, long way. It would be a spicy lead, to say the requiring cajones the size of grapefruits.

The fun though, was just beginning. When we got back to Wharf Rat's truck, we promptly got it stuck. 45 minutes and a lot of digging (with our helmets) and we were free.

As we left the parking lot we were stoked to be heading home. "What's that noise," Wharf Rat said. Turns out the spring support on his trailer had totally snapped. That noise we heard while driving was the tire rubbing against the jagged metal of the trailer.

Long story short, we had to call a tow truck and get the trailer towed back to Wasilla. That translated into lots of time and lots of money. A shitty end to a great day of climbing, but it could have been much worse.

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