Consolation Flog to the Northeast Cascade

Foul weather fouled up plans for our Catskill Ice Foray Tuesday, so Tom and I decided to try something close to home. After waiting out the worst of the weather, Tom slid into my driveway at noon. We packed up and headed toward the Waterfall Wall. A lot of snow covered the trail so carefully beaten clear just a week or so ago, but it wasn’t really too bad: what usually takes 25 minutes took us an hour, but the trail was once again, clear.

However, I had other plans for this excursion. Tom has only a few ice climbing trips under his belt, and so far, they’ve all involved the Waterfall Wall, so today I thought we would head to the Northeast Cascade, a low-angle flow with some vertical testpiece top-roping as well. We stepped off the remnants of the Waterfall Wall trail and immediately realized the next leg of our journey was going to be much tougher. What usually takes about fifteen minutes took us over an hour to accomplish: this was one of the hardest bits of trailbreaking I’ve ever done.

Still, two obstinate guys can accomplish with grit and guts what any sane person would quickly abandon, and we did indeed make it to our objective. Whence Tom began leading up the right side, clearing yet more snow as he did.

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Tom begins shovelling his way up the Northeast Cascade.

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The human snowblower nears the top of the Northeast Cascade.

Poor Guy: I doubt he ever imagined leading such low-angle ice could be so exhausting. The entire lead was a series of clearing a three-foot swath ahead, placing the picks, stepping up, and doing it all over again. I suppose it was a good learning experience, and in any event made the steep ice next door look ever more tempting.

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Tom tackles the overhanging corner.

We both had a run on each option, the overhanging corner and the vertical face, before impending darkness bade us head homeward. It would be dark well before we could get home, despite the fact that the path was now more trail than trial.

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Time to trot, it’s getting dark and cold! 

The last mile of our hike out was accompanied by enough moonlight to cast shadows, which saved us from needing the headlamps. And I might add, the entire trip back took less than an hour.

We’re still hoping for that trip to the Catskills before ice season ends. Stay tuned for that adventure!

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Shine on, you crazy diamond.

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