Here is a video from our climb up Clyde Couloir last weekend.
Conditions are great in the Palisades! The Clyde Couloir has several pitches of ice, and the crux section is filled in. Melting fast though. Above the crux is soft snow, and below is a mix of ice and snow. No suncups on the glacier and no mosquitoes yet! Bergschrund easily passable. U and V notches look in good shape. No visible ice in the V. Climbable ice in the U, but can also be avoided.
The Clyde was a great climb. We didn't witness any rockfall, but the bottom of the couloir bears the marks. A Sierra classic!
Thanks ElGreco. It was fun to watch a video of a climb I did with DrDeeg 44 years ago. I"m sure that if there was any ice like what you found, we climbed around it on the rock. We didn't summit Starlight but traversed N Pal to the U notch descent.
East side Underground, It has been over twenty years since John Mark Baker was a ski patroller at Mammoth Mountain, but there are still a few of the old lifers who remember him as one of the more outstanding skiers to ever have the job.
Yeah, I wish I could ski that thing too... Maybe one day!
Thanks, guys. Yes, conditions were great - we got lucky (and started early). The cold spell the previous weekend must have helped. It was 100F in Bishop when we came down and we were ice climbing - eviva California!
The line is awesome. The guidebooks have given this a bad reputation, referring to fatalities and the like. Does anyone know any details about these? I've never been able to find anything that backs it up.
Took me right back there. I remember once cutting steps on the side of the ice pinnacle at the crux when it had melted out and didn't connect, and then was too thin to bash on. Then off on the rock to finish the pitch.
And DON'T tie knots in the end of your rap rope. Kinks the f*ck out of em. Safer anyway to back up your rap with a prussic above your belay device (not one of those dangerous autoblocs -- No!)
Don't want to take the focus off this great TR. And I too love the video but have to say another word about JMB. Walter he and I skied Mt.Shasta once and later I visited him in Mammoth to get better at skiing the steep. He was, as was said upthread, outstanding.
DougR, kudos to you guys for running up these routes (and much, much more...) without the beta or the gear that we have today. What we "achieve" today pales in comparison. The beauty stays the same though, I hope. Glad this brought back memories!
As for Norman Clyde, he moved right onto the buttress and out of the couloir after crossing the bergschrund, basically soloing a bunch of low 5th class terrain to the top. I found the Milk Bottle a b*tch. Harder than the Thunderbolt summit block, but then again we wore climbing shoes for that, whereas we were in fat boots for the Milk Bottle and most of it is friction. Still, Clyde lassoed it and got himself up, alone. The man was 130% B.A.D.A.S.S. !
Generally, if you're looking for couloir ice, late season/fall is thought to be best. The less snow in a given year, the earlier you'd want to hit the couloirs. If you're looking to avoid ice, then go early.
I think the Clyde is different in that it melts out early and exposes rock. It's reputed to come into shape early season, but I haven't monitored it. We were fortunate!