Another February Jammer Day

Tom on Provando's Direct third pitch

Tom on Provando’s Direct third pitch

Having just pushed over 700’ of ice climbing each of the two previous days, I still couldn’t pass up heading to the Jammer Wall on such a nice day as I awoke to on Wednesday. Calling Tom, we arranged to meet up there. I would provide the rope, he the rack. Racing through a minor amount of housework, I was soon on my way.

I had used snowshoes on my previous visit, but after a trial step or two, felt my broken trail would support my weight without them this morning. I risked leaving them in the car and set off, using only micro-spikes for traction. It turned out to be a good decision; my previous passage was firm enough to stay on top of, with only perhaps a dozen post-hole events on the entire walk up. I did have to stomp a trail the final few feet along the ledge below the Jammer Wall, as I’d not gone that way on my first trip. It took perhaps fifteen extra minutes to reach the base of my destination crag.

I climbed this ice the last time I visited it; a few days later it all lays on the ground

I climbed this ice the last time I visited it; a few days later it all lays on the ground

I noticed during my approach that someone has visited the area since I broke trail Saturday. Apparently, the rock-climbing bug is causing an itch in more than a few of us. They did not go across the ledge below the Jammer Wall, so I presume their climbing was limited to On the Fence and perhaps Stand Your Ground. I’d love to know who was hungry enough to make that arduous trek in deep snow to this crag!

The view from part way up Provando's third pitch

The view from part way up Provando’s third pitch

I began by soling up Provando’s third pitch, trailing the rope. At the top, I set a TR with each end directed to a different route; the left over Provando Direct, the right over Reproof. With time to kill, I stomped out platforms by these routes as well as reestablishing the path to Stand Your Ground around the corner.

Tom scopes the crux holds of Reproof

Tom scopes the crux holds of Reproof

I did not have to wait long before Tom joined me at the Jammer Wall ledge. It was so warm we were both in short sleeves, with a bright sun fast wasting away the ice and snow around us. Without delay, we both took turns on the routes ready to climb.

We had to take the left option midway up Reproof; the "normal" way was wet

We had to take the left option midway up Reproof; the “normal” way was wet

I made my way up the second line after Tom, and shifted the anchor to the right so we could both do Firecracker. The route’s upper crack was dibbling wet, so we both climbed the dry face to the right of it, working around a wee bit of moisture at the top-out.

Tom in the middle of the crux: changing shoes at the base of the route!

Tom in the middle of the crux: changing shoes at the base of the route!

Finishing that, we both felt warmed up enough to tackle a lead. Tom led up Stand Your Ground, making his way without difficulty up the crack to its end, passing the bolts on the crux face moves, and reaching the ledge below the fixed anchor easily. As he did so, I heard a hushed clattering above us. A large rock tumbled into view, almost silently hurtling toward us. I could see its trajectory would take it about fifteen feet to our left, so for an instant it was not a concern. But it crashed into the oak tree on the mid ledge of Provando, deflecting toward us. For another instant, I thought one of us would be killed, but the oak tree I leaned against saved us; the rock bounced off a stout limb and continued hurtling outward and down the mountain. Once again we were reminded of how dangerous this mountain truly can be.

I follow Tom's lead of Stand Your Ground

I follow Tom’s lead of Stand Your Ground

Without further incident, I followed, then came down and prepared to lead Action Steps. As I began ascending this route, another crashing noise drew our attention. An ice avalanche came crashing down the left side of the Amendment Wall a hundred feet or so to our left. Had we been standing there, or crossing the access path under it, we would have been injured or killed; yet more evidence of the alpine hazards that exist even on small mountains such as Crane.

Tom cleans Action Steps

Tom cleans Action Steps

The sun had passed behind Crane’s shoulder, and the temperature was dropping quickly. With that cooling came less risk crossing the open area below the Amendment Wall; that and our fatigue bade us end the day. We slipped and slid our way down the chute off the Jammer Ledge, across the Provando Ledge, clambered over the avalanche debris beneath First Amendment, and slithered down to the East Path, then out of the woods to our cars. It was shortly past 5pm, so we had made a decent day of it. Weary from five days’ activity, I holed up in my house for the rest of the night.

Tom heads up Firecracker

Tom heads up Firecracker

On the Fence: conditions are much improved since my first visit

On the Fence: conditions are much improved since my first visit

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