Trip Report
The “Thang” with Mike Carr
Monday January 15, 2018 8:16am
A little route history here, the “Thang”, also known as “the Frigid Inseminator”, is an icicle that forms from a seep that leaks out of some horizontal cracks below the roof that the larger and more famous “Fang” ice pillar pours over. Historically this little bit of frozen drool is fat at the top but tapers down to nothingness a meter or two from the ground, kind of like an inverted traffic cone suspended from beneath the roof. In the olden days when dinosaurs roamed the Earth wearing foot fangs this thing might touch down on a really phat ice year, but still be no thicker than your wrist. Mountain Project has Paul Sibley and Steve Pomerance as first ascensionists in 1985. Jack Roberts reports that Paul Sibley aided up the three bolts placed in rock on the right side of the climb, traversed to the ice and led up to the top while Steve followed whilst eschewing the use of aid. It was during this same general time period (mid 1980’s) that Mike Carr and I did it as a straight on ice lead with no bolts, but I am unsure of the exact year.
I had returned to the Denver area in 1984 from an enforced absence caused by the mental self abuse known as graduate school and immediately struck up a very productive climbing partnership with Mike Carr. I had known Mike and his twin brother Tom in Gunnison in the 1970’s but had been somewhat awed by their reputation as completely gonzo skiers. This reputation was well deserved as Mike and Tommy had made the first descent of Cross Couloir on Mount of the Holy Cross on both alpine skis and telemark skis. Tommy would go on make a ski descent of the Liberty Ridge on Mt Rainier at exactly the same time my friend John Ferguson was climbing it – they missed having a high speed meeting of the minds by about 50 ft, but that is another story. Those first winters back in 1984 and 1985 Mike and I climbed a lot of ice together, especially in Vail. Our routine was to get a thermos of coffee and a half dozen donuts, drive up to Vail before the sun was up, and climb until we were delirious with fatigue and starvation. One morning after the required lap up “the Dez” we wandered over to the Fang and admired the phatness of the ice plastered to the rock behind it. We started ice bouldering the moves to get onto it and both got up about 10 feet when we thought “wall heck, we can do this”. Mike won the coin toss and got the lead, putting in a couple of screws in the upper portions of this approximately 80 ft climb. I do not recall there being bolts in the rock (which may say more about my memory than anything else), so Mike was at least 20 feet up when he felt the ice was thick enough to take a screw without compromising the integrity of the whole thing. After joining Mike at the top, we made a “vee” tunnel in the ice with two screws, then threaded some webbing through the holes to make a rap anchor. This was the first time I had ever done such a thing and thought it quite the clever trick – certainly more secure than some of the u-shaped trenches I had carved into the ice with my big bird to make an ice bollard rappel anchor. It is my understanding that rap bolts have sprouted in the rock above the seep that forms this thing. I only did this climb one other time some years later when those three bolts had appeared at the start of the climb. I must also note that I have never seen it as thick again as it was when Mike and I did it.

Yer loyal scribe working out the first moves to get on the ice.
Yer loyal scribe working out the first moves to get on the ice.
Credit: Nick Danger
Making the transition to the ice.
Making the transition to the ice.
Credit: Nick Danger
On the ice at last!
On the ice at last!
Credit: Nick Danger
Having demonstrated that we could do it, Mike heads back up with a rop...
Having demonstrated that we could do it, Mike heads back up with a rope and rack.
Credit: Nick Danger

  Trip Report Views: 1,930
Nick Danger
About the Author
Nick Danger is a ice climber from Arvada, CO.

Comments
Did you like this Trip Report? Got something to say? Don't hold back...
Comment on this Trip Report
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Jan 15, 2018 - 10:36am PT
Thanks for all your contributions Nick,
That thing looks pretty full on 👊
What did you get a graduate degree in by the way?
Cheers!
Nick Danger

Ice climber
Arvada, CO
Author's Reply  Jan 15, 2018 - 10:47am PT
T'is the season to be frozen, although we are having a rather thin ice year so far.

Ezra, I got my advanced degree in geology. I was born to do this, apparently, as I have been collecting rocks and fossils since I was about 6 years old. Happy is the man who finds his niche in life and work he loves.
WyoRockMan

climber
Grizzlyville, WY
  Jan 15, 2018 - 10:52am PT
Great story and cools pics.

Mad respect to you guys crushing it with straight shafted tools.

Of course you're a geologist, they're the coolest. (but I'm biased.)
NutAgain!

Trad climber
https://nutagain.org
  Jan 15, 2018 - 10:55am PT
Yikes! I wouldn't want to take a bouldering fall with spikes on my feet.
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Jan 15, 2018 - 12:59pm PT
Nick,
Good for you for finding your dream job and avocation!
I’m a lucky man too 👊
mike m

Trad climber
black hills
  Jan 15, 2018 - 02:55pm PT
Nice, that thing is skinny at the bottom.
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
  Jan 15, 2018 - 03:09pm PT
Nice Nick! Haven’t been to that area for a few years...you bring back memories.
ydpl8s

Trad climber
Santa Monica, California
  Jan 15, 2018 - 05:49pm PT
The Carr Bros, Crazy skiers indeed! I once skied with those boys on the birds of prey runs at Beaver Creek. I was on my 207 Blizzards and they were rockin some 3-pin rigs. Watching them flying and doing daffy's off of moguls covered with 6 in of snow, at a rate of speed that would make a GS'er proud, left me speechless.

Hi Bob!, wife and I have been under the weather so I haven't been on here much.
Nick Danger

Ice climber
Arvada, CO
Author's Reply  Jan 16, 2018 - 05:56am PT
Hi Scott, Hope you two get to feeling better soon. I ran into Mike last year at the rock gym and he is still leading the hard frozen. I skied the commando run with them back in the mid '80's - that was a combination of the sublime (their skiing) and the ridiculous (their interactions). I'll have to write that story up one of these days and post it as well.
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
  Jan 16, 2018 - 08:27am PT
Damn, Nick: that is one power packed paragraph!

an enforced absence caused by the mental self abuse known as graduate school
^^^
Ha ha!

Sounds like you guys were running a multifactorial systemic insult comprising protein deficiency and adrenal depletion spurred by gonzo motivation:
Our routine was to get a thermos of coffee and a half dozen donuts, drive up to Vail before the sun was up, and climb until we were delirious with fatigue and starvation

Someone once recommended the best way to deal with that Sibley guy is to keep him at arms length.
Gotta love him, and that does work!
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
  Jan 16, 2018 - 08:46am PT
Here's Steve Pomerance 20 years after the fact as a senior citizen, on that moderate flow adjacent to Moffat Tunnel, circa 2006-2007:

[Click to View Linked Image]

[Click to View Linked Image]

[Click to View Linked Image]


And in 2008 heading in to do this thing above Black Lake on the lower flanks of McHenry's:

[Click to View Linked Image]

[Click to View Linked Image]

^^^
(Which didn't happen for us)
zBrown

Ice climber
  Jan 16, 2018 - 08:42am PT
{+}
Nick is your name, Danger is your game?

Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
  Jan 16, 2018 - 08:51am PT
And he's also one of the better influences on the forum in recent years!
Nick Danger

Ice climber
Arvada, CO
Author's Reply  Jan 16, 2018 - 11:34am PT
zbrown, Nick is my nom de plume (since at least 1972), but "an acute allergy to good sense" is a better description of my game.
ydpl8s

Trad climber
Santa Monica, California
  Jan 16, 2018 - 01:52pm PT
Nick is truly a unique individual. I was with him when he had his interview at graduate school (the trip down there is a story on its own). He showed up for his interview in some kind of lederhosen outfit with a CLEAN Grateful Dead t-shirt. The best of us follow a different drummer.

Go Nick!

Moss
Nick Danger

Ice climber
Arvada, CO
Author's Reply  Jan 23, 2018 - 11:41am PT
I just got some more photos back that are slides converted to jpegs about this little adventure.
Credit: Nick Danger
This is Mike Carr a bit higher up on "the Thang".

Credit: Nick Danger
This is a shot of the premier ice at Vail, with the "Rigid Designator" (AKA the Dez) on the left, the "Fang" on the right, and the "Thang" behind it. Originally the Fang only formed up once every 5 or 6 years when conditions were just right for it to touch down before it fell down. Sometime in the 1980s someone dangled a cable over the edge to assist its formation before it fell. Sometimes it still falls down, and once it killed someone when it did.
ydpl8s

Trad climber
Santa Monica, California
  Mar 4, 2019 - 04:18pm PT
bump Guess I missed this one first time around

edit: oh, I guess I did see it........it's starting to go
Fritz

Social climber
Choss Creek, ID
  Mar 4, 2019 - 04:07pm PT
As did I!

Thanks Nick! Scary schist. I could never force myself up the big icicle that was the top pitch of of Louise Falls in the Canadian Rubblies, in the late 1970's. The fact that it was composed of millions of finger-thick icicles, the two times I was there, was a mental game-stopper for a dweeb like me.
Decko

Trad climber
Colorado
  Mar 6, 2019 - 09:17am PT
The Carr Boys,

I've climbed with Mike and Tom on and off for the last oh 15 years or so. Done lots of trips with Mike. I met them at a gym we used to climb at Tom saw me bouldering alone in a bouldering cave and came over to say "hey why don't you come climb with us you can get hurt bouldering"

That is all it took

I'd known them from another gym we were all members of I almost killed Mike a couple of times, well it was his fault he wasn't paying attention in Hallett's Chimney when I lobbed off a microwave size piece of ice that nearly broke his femur...
And he short tied himself into the anchor...

More great times than I can mention or post they are the most stand-offish nicest guys you'll ever meet and there is no one I'd rather be with deep in the backcountry if sh#t went bad you will never find two tougher guys on the planet.

Their long standing joke is if one dies the other wants to save the body parts for the other....

They are for sure quiet giants in the Colorado world of skiing and climbing...


Oh I forgot to add I was in Vail one day with another climbing buddy when Tom started up the same route he got about 15' up when all of a sudden he fell off the route and crashed to the ground. After he got up and shook the fall off he promptly returned to climb it all the way to the top putting in I think one or two screws the whole way.
wbw

Trad climber
'cross the great divide
  Mar 5, 2019 - 08:16pm PT
A couple weekends ago we were climbing at Vail. I started up the Designator. (Notice the Fang
in the background.)
You can just barely see me in black on the Desi.
You can just barely see me in black on the Desi.
Credit: wbw
As I was leading the Designator, the Fang fell down. (Notice the Fang is gone.)
Credit: wbw
It was very loud and left enormous chunks of ice below.
Refridgerator-sized chunk of the Fang after it fell down.
Refridgerator-sized chunk of the Fang after it fell down.
Credit: wbw
Guess the Fang isn't gonna come in this year.
Nick Danger

Ice climber
Arvada, CO
Author's Reply  Mar 6, 2019 - 10:20am PT
Decko, I must agree with your assessment of the Carr boys. I did some of my very best alpine rock climbing with Mike, and some of my nuttiest skiing with both of them. They are the very finest kind of people, and absolutely who you would want to be around when things go south in the back country. Thanks for sharing your Carr boys stories - I rather miss those guys these days, since I moved to N.M.

WBW, It looks like some burly dude is dry-tooling the overhang above the Thang in your second photo - that's impressive!

Cheers, all, and be safe out there!
wbw

Trad climber
'cross the great divide
  Mar 6, 2019 - 11:31am PT
Nick, I agree that is burly and impressive, although if you haven't been to that ampitheater recently, it's amazing how routine it is to see folks trying the rad M-climbs. (I was there once, and watched Emily Harrington stroll a bunch of those hard routes without breaking a sweat.)

What's more impressive, IMO is that the climber was still pulling as 100 tons of ice fell to the ground in close proximity. I was much further away, and the roar of the Fang falling down got my attention.

Fortunately no one was below the Fang when it happened. It would have ended very badly.
Did you like this Trip Report? Got something to say? Don't hold back...
Comment on this Trip Report
Go