Trip Report
Hyalite: A few days in heaven
Monday January 7, 2013 1:25am
For BIGGER and MORE photos check out my blog entry: http://vividrea1ity.blogspot.com/2013/01/hyalite-my-post-christmas-break.html

Hyalite is a special place. It feels like home away from home, even for a total outsider. A place with rich history, and variety of ice for all tastes. Positioned just outside of Bozeman and contains over 215 routes. Although popular for a reason, it is not hard to escape the crowds. Climbers can make it as alpine as it gets in this canyon- if they dare to. On my first trip to Hyalite (just under a year ago) I stepped out of my comfort zone and did some of my first leads on ice- it was my second season of climbing. This trip was no different, Hyalite taught me that alpine ice-cragging could be as satisfying as climbing a long route on a mountain. In addition, I took another step forward by onsighting a climb that seemed like an impossible LIFE goal, just a year ago!
Cleopatra's Needle WI5 (12/29/2012)
Cleopatra's Needle WI5 (12/29/2012)
Credit: Vitaliy M.
Alpinist magazine # 36 has a beautiful article by Joe Josephson (whose guidebook “Winter Dance” is a great collection of data for Hyalite Canyon, and also for Cody, Wyoming). This article possessed me with a crazy idea- to climb Cleopatra’s Needle (a three pitch WI5). With only a few seasons on ice and even less experience on the ‘sharp end’ I knew it was not going to be easy. But I packed my bags and departed to Montana for several days of climbing during my post-Christmas vacation.
Anastasia on Hang Over
Anastasia on Hang Over
Credit: Vitaliy M.
The Dribbles (450ft, WI4)
The Dribbles (450ft, WI4)
Credit: Vitaliy M.
Anastasia starting up 2nd pitch of The Dribbles
Anastasia starting up 2nd pitch of The Dribbles
Credit: Vitaliy M.
My partner and I drove through the night from Portland and were able to get on a few climbs in G1 area on day one. I led a steeper, left side of G2 while Anastasia got on Hang Over. After we got back to the hotel we were happy to finally get sleep.
Crux of the Dribbles. I took the most sustained line on the left.
Crux of the Dribbles. I took the most sustained line on the left.
Credit: Vitaliy M.
First of the cuts. There were a few more to come.
First of the cuts. There were a few more to come.
Credit: Vitaliy M.
me on 3rd pitch of the Dribbles
me on 3rd pitch of the Dribbles
Credit: Vitaliy M.
Thin Chance (wi4, but in thin) on the way back
Thin Chance (wi4, but in thin) on the way back
Credit: Vitaliy M.
On our second day in the canyon we got on the super classic climb- The Dribbles (450 ft WI4). During our last year’s trip we bailed from this route due to hollow ice on pitch three. I took the first pitch, and Anastasia made quick work of the second. On the third pitch I took the steepest and most sustained possible line on the left side of the wall. It was VERY pumpy and I had a good challenge overcoming something difficult (wi4+ maybe?). Regular variation which is to the right of this line looked much easier than wi4. With enough traffic it will probably form steps later in the season and be easily accessible for Wi3 leaders. Anastasia lost a battle to an ice chunk that managed to cut her skin. However, she did not surrender her next lead on pitch four. Just before topping out we were rewarded with ten minutes of sun and view of Cleopatra’s Needle- which looked horrifying. I exclaimed “Look, Cleo's! It looks Great!” After which we descended to the base of The Dribbles to pick up our packs. Since we had a bit of time left I led ‘Thin Chance’ (wi4) on our way out. It was definitely thin, but not wi5 which was the report from someone who did it a day prior.
Cleopatra's Needle from across the canyon
Cleopatra's Needle from across the canyon
Credit: Vitaliy M.
Cleopatra's Needle (wi5) as seen from the approach
Cleopatra's Needle (wi5) as seen from the approach
Credit: Vitaliy M.
Doing a few steep leads in the last few days gave me just enough confidence to attempt Cleo’s on day three. We started our trek from the parking lot around 8am and managed to get to our destination just as it was bathing in the sun. The approach took us about an hour and a half. To my surprise, there were no lines at the base. Even a trail to the base of the climb was absent! After literary breaking a waist deep track I got on the first pitch. Taking the left variation was bold- just like the guide book advertises. Layers of snice and protection that I could not even fool myself with kept me on my toes. At least the climbing was not difficult and I reached the base of the ‘main event.’
Dribbles and Silken falls from Cleo's
Dribbles and Silken falls from Cleo's
Credit: Vitaliy M.
Anastasia swingin
Anastasia swingin
Credit: Vitaliy M.
Cool spot bellow the pillar
Cool spot bellow the pillar
Credit: Vitaliy M.
To our surprise the crux pillar for which the climb is named (Cleopatra’s Needle WI5), did not touch down all the way. It looked a bit thinner than in other photos I saw on the internet, but doable. I went up it’s back side on another detached pillar, placed a screw, and made a traverse to the pillar’s face. This traverse was the crux of the route- purely vertical, brittle wet icicles hanging off it in your face making it an overhanging delicate set of moves. As I shouldered one of my tools and committed to the traverse my feet blew, but I was able to regain my balance and sink the other tool. There was no adrenaline rush, there was no panic, I focused my attention on climbing, protecting, and doing things efficiently to save energy. In addition to the technical challenge, I was hosed with water from above. It was a full on fight from there to the top of the formation- but I managed to resist taking a whipper (which would probably break off the thin looking pillar that would lead to me decking and pillar killing everything in it’s path- at least that’s the scenario my imagination was playing!). I got to my belay stance with the biggest smile I obtained while ice climbing. Overcoming challenges that seemed impossible for mere mortals is the reason why I fell in love with climbing in the first place.
Fk YEA!
Fk YEA!
Credit: Vitaliy M.
On Cleopatra's Needle itself (wi5 pitch-my 1st!)
On Cleopatra's Needle itself (wi5 pitch-my 1st!)
Credit: Vitaliy M.
Happy about sending my first 'official' wi5 lol
Happy about sending my first 'official' wi5 lol
Credit: Vitaliy M.
Even though we were done with the technical crux, the last pitch presented us with another challenge- shitty ice covering the goods. Labor of clearing was no easy task, especially while you get blasted by the run off. After a delicate traverse left and a few more steps we were bathing in the sun. Both of our ropes were covered with ice, Anastasia had a deep cut next to her eye from another ice chunk, my fingers were freezing in my wet/frozen gloves, but as soon as we finished rappels to terra firma our smiles were not to be erased. Our reward came a bit later in form of burgers and beer.
Starting up 3rd pitch. Almost victorious, but not yet.
Starting up 3rd pitch. Almost victorious, but not yet.
Credit: Vitaliy M.
3rd pitch of Cleo's
3rd pitch of Cleo's
Credit: Vitaliy M.
Us in the parking lot after climbing Cleo's
Us in the parking lot after climbing Cleo's
Credit: Vitaliy M.
Food!
Food!
Credit: Vitaliy M.
On our fourth day I wanted to take it easy and volunteered to be Anastasia’s belay slave for the day. She made a terrible choice of picking Mummy II area. After I saw the Scepter (30M WI 5), I had a flashback of Jack Tackle’s bad-ass photo in the Alpinist. “Do you mind if I try leading it?” I asked with a face-expression of an angel. For some reason Anastasia also got excited about the idea and we ended up climbing the Scepter! It did not look tough from the ground, but ended up being heady. The climb was not beaten out, and did not take screws well due to it’s chandeliery structure of the ice. I trusted only 1.5 screws I placed on the pillar. Fortunately these chandeliers created nice stances for feet, and climbing was not pumpy. That day I was happy to get a burrito instead of hospital food.
Anastasia leading Mummy II
Anastasia leading Mummy II
Credit: Vitaliy M.
Me leading Scepter (wi5) Photo by Nate Mullen
Me leading Scepter (wi5) Photo by Nate Mullen
Credit: Vitaliy M.
Me again on super classic Scepter
Me again on super classic Scepter
Credit: Vitaliy M.
Next day was the drive back to Portland, but we managed to squeeze in another Hyalite must do- Thrill is Gone (M4 WI4). It was my first mixed climb, but I enjoyed every meter of it. The ice was absent from the middle part and it was the most enjoyable climbing of the route. Placing crampon points on small edges and making slow balanced moves was fun. Ability to use both hands and ice tools as needed was also a bliss. First you hook your tool into a laser thin crack, next you get a bomber hand jam between rock and ice. Alpinist wanna-be’s wet dream!
Thrill is Gone (M4)
Thrill is Gone (M4)
Credit: Vitaliy M.
Starting up Thrill Is Gone (wi4 m4)
Starting up Thrill Is Gone (wi4 m4)
Credit: Vitaliy M.
After fish tacos treatment we hit the road for the dreaded drive. Some drives are long, but this one felt shorter. We spend it talking about other routes that MIGHT be possible for us on the next trip.
Fish Tacos were great!
Fish Tacos were great!
Credit: Vitaliy M.

  Trip Report Views: 1,455
Vitaliy M.
About the Author
Vitaliy M. is annoying gym climber from San Francisco.

Comments
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limpingcrab

Trad climber
the middle of CA
  Jan 7, 2013 - 01:55am PT
Ice-climbing is..... neither?

TFPU, what an awesome trip! Looks like moonage daydream won't be a problem for you
WyoRockMan

climber
Flank of the Big Horns
  Jan 7, 2013 - 02:01am PT
Brilliant!!

Thanks for the goods!
cooky24

Social climber
washington
  Jan 7, 2013 - 02:32am PT
I like this trip, althought sometimes it is dangerous, but it deserve.
Attractions guide, this is good at it
briham89

Big Wall climber
santa cruz, ca
  Jan 7, 2013 - 02:42am PT
Cool pictures, looks like a good adventure. That ice stuff is too cold for me haha. I'll stick to icy winter granite
Mungeclimber

Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
  Jan 7, 2013 - 02:48am PT
really nice V!

Super productive way to be. The Scepter in particular looks really cool.
RyanD

climber
Squamish
  Jan 7, 2013 - 03:39am PT
Very cool Vitaliy! Way to adapt to the weather!
JohnnyG

climber
  Jan 7, 2013 - 09:25am PT
Hey, Great post! Thanks
Borut

Mountain climber
Ljubljana, Slovenia
  Jan 7, 2013 - 09:52am PT
TFPU!

oh... you young people can sure pull hard
SCseagoat

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
  Jan 7, 2013 - 09:54am PT
Oh boy...you're living my dream...wonderful!


Susan
TwistedCrank

climber
Released into general population, Idaho
  Jan 7, 2013 - 09:55am PT
The goods!
mackenzie74

Trad climber
Berkeley, CA
  Jan 7, 2013 - 10:03pm PT
Please stay off the ice! I enjoy your trip reports, and want you to continue writing them. Those icicles do not look stable at all.
nutjob

Sport climber
Almost to Hollywood, Baby!
  Jan 8, 2013 - 06:57pm PT
Wow dude, really cool looking place, great photos, great adventure, great stretching yourself out to expand your horizons. And great quote: "That day I was happy to get a burrito instead of hospital food. "

Thanks for sharing

p.s. I don't know a darn thing about ice climbing, but I thought I read somewhere years ago that you're not supposed to put ice screws in pillars that might detach because you don't want to rip out the whole shebang including your belayer?
JLP

Social climber
The internet
  Jan 7, 2013 - 10:21pm PT
Nice - but I wouldn't wear a foam helmet for ice climbing...
rockermike

Trad climber
Berkeley
  Jan 7, 2013 - 11:26pm PT
you need one of these

Credit: rockermike

looks funny, and everyone will laugh at your lameness, but I don't like blood, neither mine nor my belayers. :)
Brian

climber
California
  Jan 7, 2013 - 11:07pm PT
Nicely done. That first solid WI5 will stick with you, so enjoy it. Glad you've got some good photos to remember it by. My first several were without cameras, or with me so stressed I told by belayer to forget about the fecking camera! I've got lots of photos from later routes, but sure wish I had some from those first few adventures into the really steep stuff. Oh well, I've still got the memories...

Thanks for the TR.

Brian
neebee

Social climber
calif/texas
  Jan 7, 2013 - 11:10pm PT
hey there say, vitaliy! oh myyyyyy...

i love seeing the ice, but i pray a lot for all you ice-climbers...

i love to hear of your love of adventure, but the mommy in me,
is here to root for you, in the ol' prayer corner, :)


thanks for sharing and the pictures are really graet...
many of them did load, so far...


very nice trip...

keep taking care, all you guys and listen to your
gut feelings... and god bless and safe returns home, to all!

glad this was so nice for you!
:)
BMcC

Trad climber
Livermore
  Jan 8, 2013 - 12:23am PT
Looks like you two climbed a lot of fun routes in just a few days. TFPU

Nice pics and TR!
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Jan 8, 2013 - 06:23pm PT
Another Stellar TR, Thanks V!!!

You could always tell her coworkers she won a bar fight!

:)
Cosmiccragsman

Trad climber
AKA Dwain, from Apple Valley, Ca. and Vegas!
  Jan 8, 2013 - 06:26pm PT


Just lookin in on this TR.

Mighty Hiker

climber
Vancouver, B.C.
  Jan 8, 2013 - 06:31pm PT
Very nice! Did you take cheburashka?
mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
  Jan 8, 2013 - 07:20pm PT
Contrary to what Dr. Tami suggests, ice climbers do not suffer due to their condition, and the brain damage IS reversible. See zBrown-- walking, semi-coherent, good grammar...
Some Random Guy

climber
  Jan 8, 2013 - 10:04pm PT
"It did not look tough from the ground"
that's what i tell myself every time......famous last words

fukin' awesome!

now go onsight inertia tube this weekend as i get arrested in the next canyon over for causing an avalanche. hahahahaha
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
Author's Reply  Jan 8, 2013 - 11:48pm PT
Some Random Guy, please do not cause an avalanche. This weekend will be tough. Feel like checking up on ice in like 5 different locations! haha

Mighty Hiker, I did not take Cheburashka, he was in the gym getting ready for winter : )

Cosmic this was a great animation. Now make one with a piece of ice taking you out! lol

Brian, to be honest when I was up there for most of the climb I wanted the full attention on me, but after I put in a couple of screws and stomped out something that resembled a foothold I asked Anastasia to take a pic, but real fast! lol

I don't know a darn thing about ice climbing, but I thought I read somewhere years ago that you're not supposed to put ice screws in pillars that might detach because you don't want to rip out the whole shebang including your belayer?

I think it is true for the thinner pillars. This pillar although looks thin, expands behind and it seems like it was partly attached to the rock. It was a crazy formation! But if I am leading it I will put in screws regardless, if I am to die I better take my belayer down too! LOL jk

Thank you all for kind words.
mojede

Trad climber
Butte, America
  Jan 8, 2013 - 11:47pm PT
Great TR--happy and psyched that Hyalite delivered the goods. First WI5 on the Scepter is classssssiccckkkkk!!!!

I've been spanked on some vert ice in HC, so da respect is boookuu:-)


Glad you got some quall time in the 'Tanaland.
Brian in SLC

Social climber
Salt Lake City, UT
  Jan 8, 2013 - 11:59pm PT
Great TR!

Thanks!!
Plaidman

Trad climber
South Slope of Mt. Tabor, Portland, Oregon, USA
  Jan 9, 2013 - 09:36am PT
My partner and I looked at The Scepter. It was in, but we decided we needed to grow a third nut to even attempt it. Good on you.

So you know Anastasia? Right on! She's a wild woman and has the greatest stoke on the planet.

We had a great trip ourselves. TR soon.
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
Author's Reply  Jan 9, 2013 - 11:27am PT
Cleopatra's Needle was my first Wi5 a day prior to Scepter.


Scepter was technically not harder than wi3+/4- maybe, but since it was NOT beaten out by traffic it built up with chandeliered ice that was VERY hard to protect. If you look at the pic I have 3 screws in the whole pillar part. It wasn't because I am bad ass. LOL It was so chandaliered that even if you bash off the upper layer there was more under and they were BIG!.
Plaidman, you could have easily TRd Scepter after doing Mummy II. Maybe next time?! It is a very cool climb!
Anastasia has a high drive to climb, I like that a lot about her. I met her about a year ago when she needed a partner for Hyalite. Hope it will be a yearly thing now.
Capt.

climber
some eastside hovel
  Jan 9, 2013 - 12:50pm PT
Yeah,I've only TR'd The Scepter(many times)and I was always frightened about the prospect of placing gear.Never sacked up enough to lead the damn thing.I always thought that MummyII got my blood goin' enough and a TR on Scepter was all good.Proud lead brotha'.And Cleo's!? You did have a good trip!!
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