Friday, December 23, 2011

Low Gravity Day

Pete Tapley on Roman Candle

I don't really get to excited about climbing individual pitches; be it rock, ice, or bouldering, but this last week I climbed a single pitch that was the exception.

Kyle Vassilopolus and I headed out to Hyalite canyon this past tuesday to work on some mixed climbing routes. This is Kyle's first real season on ice and he is already crushing it, granted he is a very strong rock climber (more on this later). We headed up to the bingo world cave, on the unnamed wall, where Kyle has been working "Northwest Passage" (M11). He roped up, stretched a little, then jumped right on the climb figure-fouring out a hrorizontal roof. He reached the lip of the cave, shook out, then climbed (bare handed) to the anchors and clipped the chains, it was his 3rd try at the route total!

Northwest Passage. photo by Adam Knoff

After Kyle sent his project we walked over to a route called "Roman Candle" (M9-) that was put up a few years ago by Whit Magro. I laced up my boots, stretched my arms, then climbed the route to the anchors (Whit bolted an extension to the top of the cliff, "The Roman" M10+, which I did not do).

myself on roman candle last year.

I couldn't believe that we both just walked up to our projects and climbed them first try of the day! I had been working on roman candle for a while and the route felt impossible when I first tried it, maybe this is why this route means so much to me, because I put a bit of effort into it and was able to make the subjective impossibility possible!

So I mentioned that Kyle was a strong climber. The day before Kyle climbed N.W. Passage (M11) he climbed "Montana Beef" V11. A V11 and an M11 within 24 hours of each other....has this ever been done before?

Anyway, it is great to see some progress in my own climbing and be inspired by watching Kyle climb!

***Kyle continued to crush this season, here's a write up on his mixed climbing from ROCK AND ICE.***

Cheers, Loren

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Chasing the Ice Dragon

I had a blast climbing with Daniel, Tanner, Chris, and Ari this past weekend. A long day out, sticky ice, great views, and hilarious partners made this a memorable day.

Ice Dragons is one of the best alpine ice lines I have been on; purely based on difficulty of access and position while on the face. It's a long climb (1,500 feet) and has a bit of everything thrown in, ice, snow, rock, neve... The best beta for this climb can be found here and here.

We started the day by leaving the trail head at 6:00am and hiked to the base in 3 hours. We climbed the route in 5 or 6 pitches (with alot of simul-climbing). We walked off the route to the north-west and arrived at the trailhead 12 hours later.

Cheers, Loren

Photo by Daniel Burson


Sunday, October 23, 2011

Black Mountain y-couloir

Winter is finally here. This past weekend Bridget and I chased the snow that accumulated high in the mountains of central Montana. We decided to climb the Y-couloir on Black Mountain (located east of Paradise valley). Bridget and I had been kicked off this peak with force this past spring by a strong snow storm that left us sprinting for the trail head, a rematch was in order. We figured that there would be ice somewhere on the peak and perhaps the Y-couloir would be in fine shape. We left Pine creek trailhead at 8:00am and made great progress to the beautiful Pine creek lake; one of the coolest high mountain lakes I have ever been to.

Bridget hiking up the 5,000 some feet to Black Mountain under perfect fall conditions.

Bridget on the approach

When we reached the lake we could just slightly make out the summit of Black Mountain as strong winds raked the summit and clouds swirrled around it. We climbed up snow covered boulderfields to the base of the route, passing beautiful blue marble (?) boulders that would be perfect to climb on in the summer. When we reached the base of the couloir we found the snow to be incredibly windloaded and a bit spooky. We decided to rope up, hug the rock to our right, and place as much gear as possible between us as we simul-climbed. We literally swam up the couloir as spin drift slides randomly cascaded on us. After looking at the left branch of the Y-couloir we decided to go up the right branch. We could see some ice bulges and the objective dangers didn't look as bad.

The bottom section of the couloir, spooky windloaded snow and strange pro.

Bridget is down there somewhere.

Bridget lead out as she got pounded by spin drift "slides". She climbed through the crux of the route over a fun 80' section of ice and neve. We topped the couloir out and both sat in the sun as we nursed the first screaming barfies of the year.

Bridget on the upper section on the couloir

just having fun

This whole section was composed of rock-hard ice, burried just under the powder snow.

Bridget nears the top of the couloir

Heading to the summit.

Bridget on the top

And this is why I love Montana.

This is another reason why I love Montana.

The only down side was the amount of trash we found at the lake, lame.

We scrambled against the wind to the summit then decended the North ridge back down to the lake. We hiked out to the trailhead in the dark and decended from winter back into autumn. The experience was about as good as it gets and a great reintroduction back to winter.

Cheers, Loren

Friday, September 30, 2011

Classic Routes for the Mortal man

La Sportiva Live and I collaborated to write a short article on "Classic routes for the Mortal Man". I'd like to thank all the folks at La Sportiva, Bridget, and Brad for being great climbing partners and for providing pictures.

to read the story click HERE .

Cheers, Loren

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Lines on a topo map

The back side of the Dog's tooth at sunrise

Scott Salzer and I ventured into the Crazy Mountains for our annual pilgrimage. We choose to explore a theoretical cliff located N-E of twin Lakes. The lines on the topo map made the area look promising. We started hiking at 5:00am and arrived beneath the mountain at daybreak, the problem was the cliff is located on the other side of the mountain. We climbed for 2,500 feet up following a rib of perfect pink granite. We hoped that this granite poked out the other side at the unseen cliff. It didn't. We arrived at the top of the cliff and looked down on a 600' cliff of choss. We decided to try and climb a line on the cliff that looked somewhat safe. It wasn't. After climbing around a huge chock stone I stepped to the left and placed a piece of gear, just as I did this half of the bottom of the chock stone fell off, the size of a kitchen table. Lucky I was out of the way, and Scott was hidden in a cave. Shaken I climbed the last 25 feet of 5.10- climbing to the top of the chock stone where, after finding nothing but rotton rock, I placed the only bolt I have ever placed in the mountains and bailed. The climb had a very sinister feel to it. The entire time we were climbing we had to brush off small bones from the holds. It turns out that the chock stone was home to a large owl (we never saw) and the ground was littered with owl pellets and bones. This is one cliff I don't think I ever need to go back to and honestly I don't recommend any climber going there unless you like bad rock. However, It was great learning experience and another 'crazy' climbing experience with Scott.

Cheers, Loren

Scott on top of the ridge before dropping down the other side to the base of the wall.

Scott splunk-climbing

Scott rappelling off the wall

I know this is cheesy, trust me.


A video of the day.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Ainger Lake

A climb with Nathan Cooper.

I cut back on the wording for this original post because it was to verbose for me. I had to include something about this haliarious day though.

1.) Nathan is not a climber. This climb "jump the gap" is 6 pitches of 5.10 climbing.
2.) We forgot to bring along 2 belay/rappel devices. I belayed with a munter hitch.
3.) Nathan had a baskeball sized rock fall directly on his head. He nearly blacked out, we tested the munter hitch belay.
4.) The runouts were real on this climb. Broken-leg country abounded. The tiny rack of draws and a half set of hexes were inadequate.
5.) We did a semi-blind, 60M, free hanging rappel off the formation. Nathan has never rappelled. We had only 1 belay device. I went first to make sure the ropes touched; I tied the belay device on the ends of the rope, Nathan brought the device up to him, and I coached him how to rappell, from 200' below.

it was a classic climbing trip with Nathan.
Cheers, Loren

Monday, September 12, 2011

Cowen Cirque

Mount Cowen from paradise valley. The NE arete is the left skyline.

Brad Stanton and I just returned from a fun weekend trip to Mount Cowen in the Absorka range of Montana. This beautiful peak (cirque) has great rock and breathtaking vistas. As Marko Prezelj has stated "Personal experiences in the mountains can't be transformed into a uniform creation that will copy and transmit the same feelings". Every single post in this blog is an example of this statement. Writing these posts I always feel a bit awkward as I try and hint at a deeper meaning to being in the mountains.

Brad and I's darker sides exposed at the start of the NE arete of Cowen

View from the NE ridge

Brad on the NE arete. We simul-climbed the fun route in 3 "pitches".

Lewis and Clark would be proud

On the descent we encountered a Ram who had fallen from cliffs high above.

Brad showed me "the world's smallest boulder problem". It works with any rock about this size and is actually wicked hard, similar to chair bouldering. photo by Brad Stanton

After climbing the NE ridge of Cowen we decided to climb "GO West!" on the Anacker Tower.

Brad on P1

P2 photo by Brad Stanton



Brad not finding much gear on P4



P6 photo by Brad Stanton

Brad on P7. An outstanding pitch of exposed knobby face climbing into a splitter hand crack, great way to finish.

Brad on the top, again Lewis and Clark would be proud.

Descent off the tower

The Cowen cirque is a pretty amazing place.

Cheers, Loren