Mike’s Secret Ice Stash

Well, turns out it isn’t so secret. And it isn’t really Mike’s; Neal Dunkley showed it to him originally. But, it is a nice, steep chunka-freeze; great place to toast grips and arms. Unfortunately, it’s probably on private property, and even if it isn’t, one has to cross private land – probably several different parcels – to access it.

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The Man, the Myth, the Legend: Mike at the Ice Flow

Mike thought he had contacted the property owner and received permission for climbing there, so Saturday, we drove to the hinterlands of Minerva, parked in the suggested driveway, and began hiking. Our starting point was different than Mike’s original excursion with Neal, and with a year between that one visit and ours, we were soon wandering cluelessly among a series of old roads, log roads, and ATV trails, looking for ice to no avail. After an hour, it was time to regroup. We headed back to the original jump-off point and retraced the tracks of Mike’s memory, which did the trick: we quickly spied the flow on a hillside quite a long way from our earlier search zone.

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Mike at the base of the flow. We climbed the face directly behind his head, and TR’d the pillar to his right.

It isn’t as tall as Mike remembered it to be – he was new to the sport back then, and any ice seemed imposing and huge – but it was a good fifty feet or more, and very steep. Near the left side, a chute looked like it might offer a WI3 ascent option, to its right, a steep face might go at 3+. Farther right, the ice became quite steep; except for a few corners, it would all be 4 or 4+.

We laid out the rope, and I won the choice of lead, picking that 3+ face. It did indeed turn out to be well in that grade, pushing close to 4-. It was a pretty consistent 75 Ā° with very few features for rest. I had foolishly limited gear to 4 screws, and was wishing for one more by the time I poked a welcome pile of moss-choss and pulled to refuge on the top.

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MikeĀ ascends our initial line.

Mike cleaned the pitch, then rapped. I ran around the top, arranging directionals for a couple steep TRs, and we commenced dangling our way up those lines.

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The acrobatics here are due to the…
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…very stuck axe visible here. Ten minutes of hanging on to extract it!

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Mike takes a turn, climbing the notch between two vertical pillars.

After several runs, it was time to head home. We wound down the talus, clomped through moist woodland, found a faster way out, then trudged up the road to our cars. After a quarter hour playing with the irrepressible Mammut, impending darkness and other duties pressed us each to our homes.

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