Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Hurdy Gurdy Climbs

This season my focus has been to not only climb harder and faster, but to tick off as many climbs that I haven't done previously as possible.

So far this season, I've ticked off
-Hollow Icicle
-PFM Route
-Dreams of a Brown Moose
-Avalon Falls

One that I've always wanted to check out but requires a burly approach are the Hurdy Gurdy climbs in Eagle River.

Richard was going out there with a few friends this weekend and invited me along.

The approach starts with just under a three mile ski, followed by another 1.5 mile bushwhack up a small drainage that gains more than 3,200 vertical feet. The approach alone took 4.5 hours. While the others climbed Piece of Cake, a fat 325' WI3, Richard and I traversed over and climbed Fruit Cake, a solid WI4.

Armed with an arsenal of 10 screws, I set off and climbed through lots of steep alpine ice that was brittle and often aerated. It took lots of time to lead through the funky ice. I got to a spot that looked good for belaying...and it wasn't. I put in a 10cm screw and equalized it with a worthless spectre, then climbed up another 20' of vertical ice. With one long screw left, I constructed a V-thread (that was hard as hell to make since my abalokov didn't want to grab the webbing). Then that was equalized with my last screw.

Richard is barely visible way down there

A view down from the hanging (uncomfortable) belay

Richard followed up then lead another 40' of slightly better ice.

We decided to traverse a snow ledge over to Piece of Cake and rappel from there. Richard lead out and protected the running belay with slings wrapped around finger-width alders. Three rappels brought us down to the bottom, where our friends met us.

Sadly, one of my poles got caught on an alder while traversing through them and got pulled off my pack without me knowing. We gathered our things, then started the hike down and out.

The whole day was about 13.5 hours...a long day for a little ice.

The point of the day was to work my legs and climb some new ice. Mission accomplished!

After that, we had a midnight dinner of moose spaghetti at Richard's and then happily turned in for the night after a long day!

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