Starstruck on Starbuck

No pics to speak of, sorry. But we kept the flame burning today, as five hardy souls marched in to Starbuck Mountain to climb ice. We split into 3 groups and each took one of the threesome of easy slab routes that sit up in the broad gully that separates Starbuck Left from Starbuck Central. These were all “gimmies,” admittedly; and none were outstanding.

I had the opportunity to hike to the top of the ridge. There are tendrils of ice here and there, but nothing notable enough to warrant the steep terrain to reach it. The view is nice, with open vistas to the southwest, west, and northwest. In better ice conditions – perhaps a low-snow, early January day – it might be nice to climb a line below, then link up to some of the better bits and pieces to finish with the vista from the ridgetop for an “alpine” climb.

Returning to my friends, they had shared TRs and were packing up to move along. We all headed toward Starbuck Left to see what was left to snag. Tom grabbed a chance to climb the short, steep ice route left of Ben’s first ice lead. I wandered over to the main slabs, which were a couple hundred meters farther along. These slabs form the right side of the main climbing of Starbuck Left. They had been fully covered with ice on our first-ever visit, but were now mostly open, wet rock. We’ll have to get to these early next season.

However, there was one line that looked feasible yet. A ribbon of ice clung to the slab, sheltered somewhat by the left-facing corner system it hugged as it curled upward to a final fat headwall, where the thick ice ran up just right of a gigantic hanging block at the top of the cliff. I set up to rope-solo this line, and had made it past the headwall when Todd and Tom arrived and offered a real belay. Good thing, too: the exit moves were tricky. But there is now a 160′ WI 3+ here. I just gotta name it!

Finally, we rappelled part way down the cliff to climber’s right of the new route, and TR’d a slab with a longer vertical headwall. That was a hoot. We each chose different paths to reach the headwall, because the slab at the start directly below was ice-free. Todd took the sensible approach, up a brushy iced corner/crack to reach the real ice. Tom wandered way right and climbed a short vertical ice wall. I dry-tooled my way up to the ice, using a crack beneath an overlap.

My goal for the day was mapping the currently-done routes on Starbuck. I did not succeed at doing this. But we did have fun, and put up a couple great routes having it.

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