Earlier this year, Ed Hartouni provided an info-packed trip report on what he, Rob Yang, and I climbed above the South Fork of the Shoshone River near Cody, Wyoming ( http://www.supertopo.com/tr/Cody-South-Fork-Ice-January-20-26-2013/t11831n.html ).
What follows are some additional pics of scenery and ice, mostly preceding Ed's arrival, but with some overlap. And since we repeated 3 of the routes I had climbed last year, there's also some overlap with pics I took last year with slightly different conditions ( http://www.supertopo.com/tr/An-ice-climbing-mini-safari-part-two-Cody-and-Hyalite-1-12-22-12/t11348n.html ).
My trip began with my chauffeuring one of my kids back to school in southern Oregon after the Christmas holidays. Not the most direct route home to Livermore, but it still made perfect sense to head a bit eastward:
Nice views of Shasta and wildlife from Interstate 5:
Seemed pretty cold at minus 1 degree fahrenheit when I awoke at a rest stop - little did I realize that it would be even colder in Ouray and Joe's Valley, and then much warmer (not even dipping below freezing in Cody).
As planned, Peter met me in Castle Dale, UT, for our visit to Joe's Valley.
Unfortunately, while third-classing down to take another lap, Peter took a rib and muscle-bruising fall, colliding with a tree. BITD, the football coach would ask him, are you hurt or injured? Not sure... I took couple of quick laps on top rope. His additional lap convinced us that it was time to call it a rest and recovery day, look at ice, and head to Ouray.
Took a day to tour and check out routes from the road - and to assess the 'hurt or injured' situation.
The Ribbon (up Camp Bird Mine Road, just out of Ouray) was not fat and easy like it was last year for Ed, Frank, and me ( http://www.supertopo.com/tr/An-ice-climbing-safari-part-one-the-Ames-Ice-Hose-Ourays-Ribbon-and-Tellurides-Bridal-Veil-Falls-1-2-11-12/t11347n.html ). The San Juan Mountain Guides (less than rosy) reports for the Ames Ice Hose and Bridal Veil Falls convinced me it wasn't worth the drive to see them.
En route to Silverton, drove by Horsetail Falls and Bear Creek Falls - the former looked good (seems pretty consistent, though it can get snow-loaded) and the latter looked sun-rotted - pics later in this TR.
Backing down the partially packed snow on the road to the Stairway to Heaven, I blew it and slid the left rear of my Honda Pilot into deep snow in the inside-edge ditch. Crap. Digging, pushing, and trying to pull it out with an already trashed rope and a Subara were all unsuccessful. No cell service, but the locals in the Subaru sent us a tow truck from Silverton. $200. Dang. Also, with the efforts expended digging and pushing, Peter got feedback regarding 'hurt or injured'. Bummer.
Stairway to Heaven and the Whore House Hoses looked good, but we were just looking (pics later in this TR). BTW - park and walk up the road to check out the climbs, but park and then hike the riverbank to access the climbs. Getting down the cliff below the road to the river and then up the other side to 'shorten' the approach to the Stairway to Heaven could be ugly. Getting ones vehicle stuck would be ugly, too.
Returned to Ouray for a soak at the Box Canyon Lodge and Hot Springs.
The next day, while Peter walked about Ouray, deciding to truncate his trip and head home, I did some fun laps on easy ice in the ice park with a climber from upstate New York. And the next crew of partners (Frank and Loren Baker, and Travis Miranda) arrived for the ice fest and some out-of-the park climbing.
Serendipity: during a break at the Kids' Wall, Barry Stevenson asked me a few questions about the ice park for the excellent video he was making on the ice park ( http://vimeo.com/57924628 ).
On the Monday after the ice fest wrapped up, we did an 'instant crowd' ascent of Horsetail Falls as a party of 4. It's a fun route, not too far from town, and has an easy and relatively short approach and descent.
On the next day, Frank and I drove over to Silverton to climb the Stairway to Heaven. However, temps dipped to minus 17 fahrenheit during the drive and were minus 7 at the trailhead. Having climbed Horsetail Falls the previous day with subzero temps, we revised our plans and returned to the ice park to find and climb with Loren and Travis. And, small world, Barry Stevenson and MacKenzie, his assistant, arrived to take more 'footage' for the video he was making.
And we took a few laps on the hooked-out, heavily traveled Pick O' the Vic - steep, too:
On Wednesday, Frank and I took another go at the ice in Silverton - it was his last day before he was to head home.
Geared up and started out on snowshoes. Tedious. Snow drifts in the creek bed. Really tedious. Déjà vu - Frank and I had wallowed up to and climbed the Stairway to Heaven 2 years ago. Late start and headlamp descent. Fun WI 4 route, but a lot of effort to get to the route with the conditions we had then. Too tedious. Change of plans: Whore House Hoses (some WI 5) with its much shorter approach. Yay!
In the pic, a couple of the screws aren't clipped to a rope. This was because I broke a pick near what seemed to be the crux and, to borrow a tool from Frank, I pulled one of my ropes all of the way up and then dropped an end back down. There was 1 more little pitch below this one that was, perhaps, WI 2+.
Did some laps on top rope in the park the next day, before taking Frank to the airport in Montrose and then heading up to the airport in Grand Junction to pick up Rob Yang.
Rob and I got an early start and dashed up to Joe's Valley to get on the ice as soon as possible. Minus 4 freaking degrees. Drove around and scoped out the area. Still cold. Drove back into Orangeville for some hot chocolate while the air temp climbed some.
Our stalling worked. It was a balmy 7 degrees when we left the parking lot to climb CCC Falls. Since I had already led this route earlier on my trip, Rob got the sharp end.
We did a few laps of the upper pitch on top rope and then...
After rapping and hiking less than a few tens of minutes down and out, we headed down canyon to the Highway to Heaven (AKA Deadbolt). In his guidebook Ice Climbing Utah, David S. Black indicates that the route is up to 3,000' long and WI 4-5. Maybe like ice canyoneering.
From what we could see, the conditions on other routes did not seem to warrant staying another day, so we headed out the next morning for Cody, a day earlier than we had originally planned.
For our 1st route, Rob suggested we climb Cabin Fever (60m WI 4) which would give us access to Wyoming Wave (140m WI 3) and to California Dreaming (60m WI 3). The ice conditions report at the ColdFear website indicated the routes were in condition. Good conditions reported, partner familiar with the approach, and new territory for me - what could go wrong?
Cabin Fever is at the end of the road on the north side of the South Fork - opposite where we would be based in the Flying H bunkhouse after Ed arrived. See Ed's report for the insider scoop on the bunkhouse.
Cabin Fever wasn't happening for us and, therefore, neither were Wyoming Wave and California Dreaming, since they are accessed via Cabin Fever. So we headed down almost all of the way to the trailhead and then up canyon to check out the Outdoorsman (45m WI 4). Also reported to be in condition.
So the Outdoorsman wasn't happening for Rob and me either. Had done a lot of hiking and a bit of fun 3rd classing, but the routes themselves (on the north side of the South Fork) weren't there for us. Did I mention that the air temps were mildly warm?
Had some time before Ed's flight was to arrive so we took a drive to find the Flying H Ranch bunkhouse where we would be staying.
Returned to Cody and got Ed from the airport late on Sunday (20th). Most of the rest of the trip has been detailed in Ed's trip report ( http://www.supertopo.com/tr/Cody-South-Fork-Ice-January-20-26-2013/t11831n.html ), so I'll just post a few pics ...
Our Thursday (24th) climb of Duck Soup (100m WI 3) turned out to be the last climb of the trip for 3 of us together because Ed was having some knee issues.
On our last day after clearing out of the bunkhouse and saying good bye to Dean (the caretaker/manager) and Molly (his pooch), we headed over to Deer Creek to check on the condition of Too Cold to Fire. Ed joined me walking up the creek to the base of the ice.
After delivering Ed and Rob to the airport, I went back to the end of the S Fork Road to check out a couple of climbs that some other climbers recommended - Smoked Turkey (100m WI 3 to 5, depending on conditions and the final pitch chosen) and Grandma's Chicken (110m WI 4).
Went back the next day with snow falling and more wintery weather predicted to check out Grandma's Chicken.
Took a wrong turn up higher and ended up a gully over from the last pitch on the climb. Rapped back down and, in deteriorating conditions, checked another possible approach - got it for the next time I'm in Cody...
The weather service predicted worsening weather for several days and served to convince me to begin my journey homeward (stopping to climb in Lee Vining and ski at Mammoth, of course). Though I didn't climb the crux on Grandma's Chicken this trip, my ice adventures shared with various partners had been great fun. I was and am happy and thankful that my partners were able to drive or fly out and meet me to climb. Thanks Peter, Frank, Loren, Travis, Rob, and Ed - it was fun climbing and hanging with you guys!