A Summit Day

Aaron came out to Crane for a couple days of ice climbing. The weather hasn’t been conducive to great climbing lately, what with massive amounts of snow covering all but the steepest ice and making the approaches exhausting. Fortunately, the agenda was heavy on learning skills rather than quantity of ice climbing, so we made the most, of two of the most polarized weatherwise, consecutive days in memory.

Monday dawned sunny and astonishingly warm. The mercury slid above freezing for the first time since the end of that New Year’s thaw, and continued rising. We went to the Waterfall Wall, ran through the fundamentals of a mid-ice belay, worked a tiny bit with double-rope technique, climbed the Tempest variation to spice things up a bit, then slogged through the next two pitches and over to Fifi’s Frozen Fingers. There, we had a quick lesson in top-rope set-ups and rappeling before heading down and putting Aaron on a faux-lead of that steep ice route. Gotta say, he did swell. Wish I had remembered the camera!

Tuesday, I did remember the camera, but the weather forgot its warmth. Overnight, it became seriously cold again. We woke up and it was well below zero. By the time we packed and headed out, it was all of two degrees. And windy. At least it was clear. Aaron hasn’t had a lot of luck with visibility on his summit days in the past; today would be an exception to that rule.

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Aaron smacks what little ice he could find on Tablerock Corner.

We lugged full packs of gear upward, so when we reached Tablerock Corner, I figured we would climb it, if only to justify the effort. The previous day’s thaw had dumped a lot of snow down the route, so much of the climb was reduced to swimming upstream through giant snowcones, but we persevered to the top, proving once again how much stubbornness coupled with stupidity and accomplish.

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Aaron rappels to the left of Tablerock Corner, WI3-. 

 We continued to lug all that gear, but would not use it again. We did keep the crampons on our boots, which was wise given the steep, hard condition of the trail. Once over the lower ladder, we postholed a bit more often than I would have liked; not a lot, but enough to wonder if the snowshoes might have been worth bringing along.

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Onward to the summit.

Before climbing the upper ladder, we stopped for a snack and drink, and decided to leave the packs there. Thus unladen, we practically skipped to the summit. Bright, clear day, not nearly so windy as I thought it would be; we looked around a bit, took the obligatory summit shot, chatted with the one other soul passing by, then headed homeward.

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Successful summit, full visibility, fair winds.

Well, it was a great day regardless of the paucity of climbing. We both got plenty of “training” exercise lugging heavy packs up Crane, climbed a bit of ice (admittedly, a very little bit), and before Aaron headed out, managed to get a good lesson on TR setup avec static line, in the sunshine and convenience of my driveway.

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