most fun you've had climbing in Really Bad weather...


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Ray Olson

Trad climber
Imperial Beach, California
Topic Author's Original Post - Dec 7, 2009 - 09:15am PT
must have been "cabin fever" - right?

Had some way overhanging aid climbs in San Diego,
and often, when it was raining, and cold, I'd go nailing...

call it the "added grit factor".

the rope would get soaked and muddy, fingers would go
numb, chilled to the bone, the whole thing seemed absurd
to the max, was a gas!

And driving home, after some self-belayed torment, the
glow of satisfaction went on and on...

Bad weather has it's own appeal, there's something great
about getting up, looking out, seeing stormy skies and
going for it anyway...


Gotta love it.

anyone else?

Bet there's some good stories out there...

Ray Olson

Trad climber
Imperial Beach, California
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 7, 2009 - 09:41am PT
the rainy day Werner took me to Kaukualtor
in like '77 or '78 for a TR lap was another good one...

of course he floated the lead, think my eye's
bugged out ever so slightly.

who else was there Werner?


who else?

that thing stays pretty dry,
good fun on a cold rainy day.
Scott Cole

Trad climber
Jackson, WY^
Dec 7, 2009 - 08:43pm PT
The most fun I've ever had climbing in bad weather was on the Zodiac in winter. Punk Roy (Galvin) and I climbed the route during a five day snowstorm that dropped two feet of snow in the ditch. We had coffee and hot chocolate at every bivy while we watched the snow falling thirty feet away. When the storm broke we watched huge plates of ice falling of the rim and flying like frisbees with no way to tell where they would hit.

We got soaked on peanut ledge and I led the wide crack off the ledge full of ice and running with water with one 4" bong and 1 # 4 friend for gear.
The descent was a glissade down the east ledges until just before the raps, then enormous wet load to the base of manure pile where Werner magicly appeared in the Buick with coffee, beer, chips etc.

One of my all-time best climbing experiences.

Scott Cole

Trad climber
Jackson, WY^
Dec 7, 2009 - 08:44pm PT

Ever notice how Werner's name keeps popping up in these threads?

Ray Olson

Trad climber
Imperial Beach, California
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 7, 2009 - 09:01pm PT
I know Scott, it was an honest question tho,
and almost didn't make that second entry
because of how it might look :-)

he took me on an another semi-crappy day
outing to Bad Ass Momma, I must've been
a fit little rubber man and got it like 3rd
go, same time frame.

the only other time I deliberatly went out in
incliment conditions was a lark, doing the
wind ridge in eldo, in mountain boots during
a nice little wet snowstorm - pretty fun for a
dweeb like me.

EDIT: your Zodiac story is awesome.

Scared Silly

Trad climber
Dec 7, 2009 - 10:56pm PT
Why just recently a friend met me in Portland where I was for some business. We hoped for a fall weather window to climb Mt. Hood. No such luck it was a horizontal power shower. Instead of bivying up on the hill we opted out for bivying at Timberline Lodge. That was rough - especially the sauna. Needless to say after a night of rest we ventured out. Viz was almost nil - could barely see from one lift tower to another. The wind was icing up my glasses terribly, I could hardly see. But we continued skiing on to the end of the Magic Mile lift and pickup the Palmer. The wind was so horrid you had to keep your face turned the opposite way. When we got to the top of the Palmer we were done. But skiing down was out of the question - turn crash, turn crash. So we walked down.

We could only laugh as we retreated to the lodge and the afternoon buffet.

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Dec 7, 2009 - 10:59pm PT
Getting back to the snow cave, brewing up a cup of coffee, taking a deep breath, and realizing I was still alive.

Big Wall climber
Reno NV
Dec 7, 2009 - 11:03pm PT
In like '86, about 8 of us, top roping the Knobby Wall in a rainstorm....

on acid.
We stayed dry though.

Trad climber
Dec 8, 2009 - 12:18am PT
-15 on Moratorium in Cody, but it was in and we were there for it.

Took the whole next day off to warm back up.....

Trad climber
So Cal urban sprawl Hell
Dec 8, 2009 - 12:22am PT
Winter in 93' was a big snow year for So Cal., knew a storm was moving in and (being a city girl) wanted to spend a night up in the mtns during this storm. Packed up the gear and snow shoed up to Black mtn the area up from Idyllwild, wow, it was beautiful up there, not a soul. As predicted, it dumped, every so often had to go outside and clear off the snow from the tent.
Being such a noob, I was a bit scared and all, the wind howled and it seemed the night went on forever, but it was fun!

Besides that, the other time, was camped out on the Ingraham glacier on Rainier with wicked winds, the sound in the tents was unnerving, the climb to the top epic, and upon the way down found all our tents gone. The wind was so strong it has ripped away our rigging holding the tents down and subsequently everything found its way into a crevasse.
Some unlucky sob had to rappel down and gather all our sh*t out, but hey, it was fun!

Dec 8, 2009 - 02:31am PT
I enjoy climbing is 'bad' weather, at least sometimes. But my favorite story about this isn't about me...

So, I moved to New England to go to grad school when I was about 30. Just came off a bunch of years of climbing and guiding, travel, a couple of seasons in the Valley, etc. Thought I was committing climber's suicide moving from California to Boston, but I ended up really loving the climbing in New England. I'm back in CA now, but still miss New England in the autumn.

Anyhow, my first year back there my wife came out to visit around Thanksgiving (she was still in CA finishing up stuff and didn't move out to join me until December). So, I take her up to North Conway to see the leaves, hike, and show her Cathedral, Whitehorse, and Cannon, where I'd been climbing.

Unfortunately, it's pissing rain that weekend. I took her over to Cathedral anyhow, just to show her around. Down in the parking lot there is one other car, so I scan the cliff. Sure enough, there is a party of three on Thin Air, getting pummeled. Thin Air is an easy 5.6 that gets swarmed by novice climbers on any clear day. I just figured some poor beginners were getting their ass handed to them on their first epic. I mean, the rain was really coming down.

So we stop to watch them set up the raps from the birch tree by the chimney. I kinda wanted to make sure they got to the ground. They were really fumbling with stuff and taking a long while. I was explaining to my wife about how they were really hating life--probably cold and scared and just wanting to get the hell down ASAP. But, as I sit there watching, it slowly becomes clear that they are setting up the next lead. One guy pulls up into the chimney (which was a waterfall) and starts inching upward. I stopped in mid-sentence while talking to the wife and said, "He's going up..." "What?!?," she says. "He's going up," I said louder. Then I shouted, "Going up! YEAH!" The two guys at the belay, still getting pounded, somehow heard me through the downpour and waved. My wife and I were shouting ourselves silly at this point, sounding like some sport climber's entourage. "Yeah! Go! Go!"

Like I've said, I've climbed in lots of bad conditions, on four continents. But watching these guys, more or less novices, push up in that storm was super inspirational. I was psyched for days.

I love being back in CA, but lots of folks here are spoiled by the good weather. The folks in New England really get after it (it wasn't just those three, I saw it again and again, and that psyched rubbed off on me) climbing in conditions that would freak out lots of folks out West.


Mountain climber
Monrovia, CA
Dec 8, 2009 - 03:08am PT
By Scottish standards this was considered a good day out.
It was, in fact, jolly good fun!
Of course, the walk down the moor in the sleet was considered
de rigueur insomuch if you really felt a few toddies were


Cardiff by the sea
Dec 8, 2009 - 09:45am PT
I would have to say our ascent of Z.M. back in 90' It was a fun experience having the entire captain to ourselves. We started climbing a couple days after Xmas in short sleeves, by the time we were completely committed it turned to winter. Like Scott's story on the Zodiac we experienced the same ice frisbies. It's funny this trip was both "most fun you've had climbing in really bad weather" and the "the worst time you've had climbing in really bad weather" We summitted to 3' feet of fresh snow and had the coldest, longest bivi I have ever had on the top.

"The worst time you've ever had" is a whole other topic. I have a few tales for this too.

Sorry for the repost with this pic. How about our version of the jetboil. we thought our stove was the shizzle.

After returning to the Valley Werner told us that Duece and Walt got the first winter ascent of Z.M. but we really climbed it in winter conditions.

Werner do you remember checking on and calling to us durning that fiasco?

Big Wall climber
Dec 8, 2009 - 05:50pm PT
Last March, my buddy Matt and I went to the Valley to do a lap up the Nose. It was sunny for the few days before we went, and the forecast was for more glorious sun. We drove to the valley and headed up, predawn. When it started to get light, a few ice pebbles bounced down.

Matt asked if I thought that was ok, and I said sure, its just some water dribbles melting. After a while, the ice pebbles became ice golf balls, and we again discussed the relative safety of climbing through falling ice golfballs with no helmets. I assured Matt it would stop soon and we would be fine.

At the top of Dolt we ran into Shipoopi, who said,"Killer weather today bro! Yesterday we aided the Stovelegs in a blizzard!"

A blizzard? It was sunny where we were.

By now we really didn't want to rap all the way down with just one rope, so we kept going. As I led the pitch up to Eagle Ledge, just left of The Boot, I started to get hit by ice pebbles, ice golfballs, and even an ice softball which hit my shoulder and sorta injured it. The thought entered my head...we might die!

Shipoopi swung around the corner on a rope and exclaimed "DANGER!"

No sh#t Shipoopi. We made it to Eagle Ledge, sat down, made ourselves as small as possible, and held our daypacks over our heads. The ice storm cut loose. Curtains, sheets, and garage doors of ice fluttered about, and we felt like we were inside a very sinister christmas bauble.

On the ledge, we were slightly sheltered by a very small overhang, and ice only seemed to be hitting the tips of our toes. The wall below us was getting pounded, and the relative safety of El Cap tower, and the wise Shipoopi, seemed a little far away to get too without dying en route. So we decided to stay till the ice stopped falling, which we hoped would be before everything froze again that night.

We were idiots. We knew this. We lamented the opportunities we'd had to NOT be up there. We felt sorry for ourselves. We watched people congregate in the meadow and imagined them pointing up and looking through telescopes and saying "those idiots, do they need a rescue?"

Then we realized we had time to kill, and one of the best nature shows on earth to watch! We busted out our lunch. We laughed. We drank coffee. We pointed out particularly large or extremely dense pieces of ice. We smoked. We screamed when chunks exploded around us. We ate chocolate.

Pretty soon we were giggling and realized we were probably much more prepared and having a much better picnic than the people in the meadow. We were proud of our preparations, and the selection of fine delicacies we'd brought with us.

After three or four hours, the icefall dwindled and eventually stopped. Matt and I looked at each other, laughed, and started climbing again. We aided up wet and icy 5.8 and topped out a bit after dark. My jeans were soaked.

Hmmm...I guess this is a little off topic. The weather was perfect that day. It was really fun though.

Ice climber
Pomfert VT
Dec 9, 2009 - 06:42am PT
This is a shot of my friend Eric on the 2nd pitch of The Black Dike.. We had dozens of these spindrifts that day. I caught a nasty one on the first pitch of Faifner. Just hunker down and hang on;)

Trad climber
The state of confusion
Dec 9, 2009 - 12:44pm PT
I've had some fun ones. . . descending
the West Butress on Denali near Windy Corner in total whiteout
conditions in high winds to boot. . .

But the one I remember most was the Patagonia add with Charlie
Fowler climbing somewhere in the rockies--I think on Long's Peak
in 'full' conditions. . .was that a classic!!!!!

Trad climber
Dec 9, 2009 - 01:08pm PT
I Climb in bad weather all the time but i think the best fun i ever had was in low cloud and deep power snow.

everything was white, we didn't know where up was and just basically rolled back down to the car to dry off.

I have also been out in freezing rain which was funny for about 10 mins until everything was covered in an inch of ice and completely unusable.


Trad climber
Fresno CA
Dec 10, 2009 - 12:48pm PT
Boy, you guys are adventurous. The most climbing I did in bad weather (well, other than some snow and ice climbing in Pinnacles in February of 1971 that sealed my reputation for attracting bad weather) was trying to get up Columbia Boulder with Art Brook and Mike Ferrell in RR's and an altered state of mind during a rain and snowstorm later that same year.


Trad climber
Berkeley, CA
Dec 10, 2009 - 01:56pm PT
Well, we wanted it to be a climbing trip, but it turned into more of just an approach hike, a back-off, and then just trying to get back without getting buried in avalanches on the JMT half-dome trail.

Here's digging out our snow trench/cave for the second time in the morning (after digging out in the night when a mini-avalanche buried us). And still it snowed...

At one point walking back down, my buddy sank past his head in a hole created by thick powder overlaid on dense trees. He was slowly sliding into this snow sinkhole as I waded over to him as fast as I could, grabbed a tree branch, and threw a leg down for him to grab onto.

Trad climber
Fresno CA
Dec 10, 2009 - 02:49pm PT

My first attempt at the NWF ended similarly. This was my first attempt at a Grade VI, and I called the pilot's weather info in Fresno from Berkeley, and was told "Don't worry. There's nothing but high pressure for the next week." (Needless to say, this was decades before the internet, and long before even satellite imagery was common). I should have been suspicious of the forecast when we pulled into the Valley and couldn't see Half Dome.

My reputation for attracting bad weather was so great then that most of my friends wouldn't even plan to climb when they knew I was intending to do a big climb. Finally, Dale Bard decided to put me to the test. It was always at least 100 degrees when he went up, so we teamed up on Labor Day weekend in 1972. It was 90 degrees and raining. Of course, Dale has long since gotten the bad weather gods to leave him alone. I'm still working on it.

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