Wednesday, October 30, 2013

First ice climb of the new Winter

A few days ago I was still drilling new routes shirts off up at Bellavista , well above the 2000m line. 
Sundays brief but intense coldfront brought a rapid cool down with snow here in town and miserable minus 10 degrees - it's time to dust off the ice gear.
Although I don't consider myself an early season ice hunter, 
there are some routes you can only get at this time of the year. 
For one, the approaches are still approachable, with little to no avalanche hazard, 
and secondly, the thin ice has not had a chance to de-laminated yet.
Therefore, the main targets these days should be routes in a high setting with serious approaches, with no cornice build up above. Also, most of those routes have a one time chance to form and what you see in October is the fattest they get for the rest on the season, since they are not actively feeded by a water source - sort of like a hibernating bear.
So, off we went in search for one of those routes, conveniently close to town-
at least as a crow flies, but since we are not crows, it took a little longer.
 Only the beginning of a huge approach with some river navigating by headlamp
closer to the ice after almost 4 hours, the spirits are lifted
borderline snow conditions,
we chose to traverse to an exposed rip to stay away from the biggest slopes
Getting closer. Can we make it under 5 hours?
relieved to have almost made it to the ice
the few mixed moves on the rib are a welcome change to post holing...
...unlike wallowing, which is definitely not a welcome change to post holing.
into thin ice
short ice screws, a calm head and a soft touch are the key to succeed in this environment
 high on the route the ice gets fatter,
but we are fighting the screaming barfies and the early season pump simultaneously 
late afternoon arrives with spindrift and colder temperatures
Late Oktober, there is a short window between sunset and darkness  
On the endless way out we did not bother to find convenient river crossings no more,
the boots will have a long time to dry out,
 enough ice for now - at least for a day or two.

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