Starbuck with Steve

Steve climbs the thin smear lying along the right edge of O'Ryan's Belt

Steve climbs the thin smear lying along the right edge of O’Ryan’s Belt

With a serious thaw between, I should add. The ice at Starbuck has rebounded well from the New Year’s thaw, and was better than ever when Steve O and I passed through last Thursday.

We were able to set up TRs and run down the line, right to left, skipping only Cool Beans. I managed to get up five runs, Steve made six, before our arms were shot and our time run out. That makes close to 350’ of steep ice for me, about 400’ for Steve, all in less than five hours car-to-car. Starbuck has certainly turned into a good choice for time-limited ice days.

We began on O’Ryan’s Belt, which has yet to see a lead; not surprising, since the pro would be sketchy at best. The initial ten feet is extremely sketchy, almost naked slab. Realistically, it’s the crux of the route, though the ensuing thirty feet to a first possible – and none-too-good – ice screw doesn’t seem easy, either. The small comfort of the bolt above the bottom slab wouldn’t help for long, though it might be backed up by a cam or sling in the slot above it, for an additional three feet of safety. In any case, we chose, like everyone else so far, to rely on a rope from above.


Tasting the delights of Taster's Choice. The rock route Aquarius lies to his left; this has not yet been led as an ice route.

Tasting the delights of Taster’s Choice. The rock route Aquarius lies to his left; this has not yet been led as an ice route.

Shifting down a smear, we were able to double-drape the rope, thus climbing both Taster’s Choice, which has been led, and the line of Aquarius, which has not been led as a winter route. While its wide crack might lend some place for gear, that crack’s icy interior wouldn’t keep a cam secure. While Taster’s doesn’t offer good gear, there is at least some faint reassurance that the ice is thick enough the entire way for decent pick-sticks, and even takes a screw or two along the way.

Getting skinny on Vanilla Latte

Getting skinny on Vanilla Latte

Another shift and we were able to climb one of Lucas and Ben’s sends of a few years back, Vanilla Latte. This fine line climbs up a short, fat flow that dead-ends below a ledge. A big step left gains a stance at the base of a left-facing corner, climbs to the top of that corner, then ascends a thin drizzle of ice to the left up and through a final thin curtain to the top.

Starting the steep face of Dark Roast

Starting the steep face of Dark Roast. Note the difference between this and the day with Paul and Mike.

A final transfer put the rope above Dark Roast. Both Steve and I top-roped that route, then Steve swapped ends and finished up on Banana Almond Bread. Both of these are more Lucas and Ben lines.

Another thaw has come and gone since we were there, but as bad as that thaw was to the capital district, I don’t think it had a major effect up here. My guess is, if you are looking for ice, you will find plenty at Starbuck still.

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