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Conditions update, 2/25/2007
More than two weeks have passed since my last update, and for good reason: there really isn't all that much to report. About two weeks ago the seasonal brew of warmer, rainier weather returned to the Pacific Northwest, and with it the propects of climbing new and plentiful ice around the state disappeared somewhat. Evenso, The Mountaineers Creek drainage has held out these last few weeks, and other lines have been climbed as well. Its snowing hard in the mountains again, so if you venture out high up, take the usual precautions.
Leavenworth:Most of the ice in the Icicle is now in not great shape or gone, however as of last weekend the ice in Mountaineers Creek drainage the was still holding up.
Banks, Lake Lenore, Soap Lake, desert areas: No report.
Strobach: No report.
Alpental: Jeff Street climbed Source Lake Line in faaaat conditions in the past few weeks. Its one of the few routes up there that is long enough to not get buried even in heavy snows.
Conditions update, 2/6/2007
The good ice conditions continued through the weekend, with lots of climbing happening all over the state and in the alpine. The snow conditions are another matter entirely, with a distinct crust over graupel and purty surface hoar on the East side of the crest. This last few week's high pressure has finally broken down, and more seasonal weather has set in again with warmer temperatures and a wetter forcast for the rest of the week and through the weekend. The temperatures are reagional, with warm conditions predicted even for Lillooet. With the warmer temperatures, plans for the coming weekend should include "plan Bs".
In the alpine: This past week's high pressure saw some very impressive climbs in the alpine, including young Haley and Mark Bunker's climb of the Index Peaks Traverse in 23 hours, and a long-standing objective on Three Fingers finally fell to locals Dave Burdick and John Frieh. A party made the hike into Dragontail, but did not climb.
Leavenworth: Drury Falls was attempted this past weekend. While fatter than usual, the party bailed from the upper pitches due to rotten conditions and warm temps in the sun. The Pencil is still gone. In the Icicle, Wet and Wild is gone, and indeed most climbs on the South side of the canyon are suffering. There is still climbable ice in the Careno area, near Icicle buttress, Alphabet rock, and elsewhere. Wayne Wallace and Gary Yngve climbed a route left of White Slabs Direct on Snow Creek Wall. In Mountaineers Creek drainage the ice is still fat and holding up great!
Banks, Lake Lenore, Soap Lake, desert areas: Some new climbs were reported around Soap Lake, and formed routes were still holding on through the weekend. At Vantage, Fugs Falls is in and in as good shape as it ever gets, while Frenchman's is not currently climbable (typical!)
Strobach: No report.
Conditions update, 1/28/2007
Not that anyone is counting, but we've now had a solid two months of ice climbing this year, with conditions the best they've been in recent memory. Its been a great year for climbing in Washington so far! El Nino is predicted for the remainder of the Winter; that means warmer-than-average temperatures and drier-than-normal hydrology. But it hasn't shown up yet so get out there while the good weather lasts!
In the alpine: Lots of stuff gets climbed during high pressure, and this past week and weekend was no exception. At Snoqualmie Pass, NY Gully on Snoqualmie, North Face of Chair, and other area north faces received ascents. In the Stuart Range the Haley brothers climbed the Ice Cliff Glacier route in easy conditions. In the North Cascades a party got as far as the summit pyramid on Shuksan! Nice efforts!
Leavenworth:The Pencil is gone, it doesn't last long with sunny conditions. The Drip is gone. White Slabs Direct on Snow Creek Wall is still there and got a repeat ascent. In Mountaineers Creek drainage the ice is fat and holding up great!
Banks, Lake Lenore, Soap Lake, desert areas: Desert climbs typically suffer in the sun, but the weather's remained cold enough for stuff to still be standing.
Strobach: A party of 5 went into Strobach this past weekend and reported great ice, with only the climbs left of Seperation Gully affected by the sun.
Conditions update, 1/22/2007
There was a flurry of route activity this past week as people continued to capitalize on the route build-out during the recent cold weather. The weekend itself brought the first seasonal temperatures again to the area, and freezing levels over the next few days will be high, which will affect ice climbs and snow conditions. Its great that so many people are getting out!!
Leavenworth: The Pencil was attempted by a strong party and also climbed this past week. An attempt was made at another route lower in the same drainage, but the route collapsed a short while after the party retreated. As of Monday morning the Pencil is still in, but the warm weather is bringing rain to the area.
Banks, Lake Lenore, Soap Lake, desert areas: Online report Most climbs are formed once again, including Champagne, Beer climbs, Children of the Sun, and major Banks Lake routes such as Zenith H2O2, and Salt and Pepper. Emerald is formed but spitting water. I don't have a report for Vantage, sorry.
Strobach: Click for image. Two parties were in at Strobach this past weekend, one on Sat and one on Sun. There are two snowshoe trails kicked in now: one from the 609 road, and one using the Split Rock approach, so if you go before the next significant snowfall, your routefinding will be easy. The ice remains as fat as its ever been, with some routes in easier shape than normal. Sad Ce'bu, Sudden Change of Plan, and Ice Dreams are all fat and moderate, coming in around WI3 or WI3+. Dropline was attempted once and climbed completely for the first time on Sunday. Additionally, another route, named Bleeder
Project, received its first ascent Sunday and offers a nice 2-pitch moderate with
a short stiff crux. On the left side of Seperation Gully, Primus Sucks is formed
and an unclimbed route second to the left of Seperation Gully, is touching down for the first time. It has a dual-bolt anchor at the top of the upper tier, for any enterprising hardmen looking to try it.
Mazama: Click for image. Josh reports Goats Beard is touching down, and other ice in the area is in.
Conditions update, 1/15/2007
The cold blast continues with daytime temperatures in the Seattle area not above freezing today. On the East side of the crest things are colder. Duh. Get out there.
Leavenworth: White Slabs direct on Snow Creek wall was climbed this weekend, as well as other lines. Jim reports Leavenworth is in pretty well. LOTs of ice but LOTS of thin ice. Careno is blanketed in ice and at least a few long, climbable lines. The Falls there are still looking wet and sickly. Climbed a fun mixed line on Cable Rock ([ed.]details to be posted here later...). Seems to be lots of new route potential in the Icicle in general. Drury is HUGE. Pencil in. Also saw some cave-looking thing across the river that was growing a curtain, east of Drury (I think) that would be an awesome little mixed crag...if it weren't for that pesky river.
Banks, Lake Lenore, Soap Lake, desert areas: Paul reports that things are healing up again. Should remain in one piece through the weekend.
Conditions update, 1/8/2007
The last week brought several wet and rigorous storm systems with higher than normal freezing levels, dropping alot of rain up to higher elevations in the mountains, creating very high avalanche hazard, and destoying alot of climbs in the desert. The coming week, starting Tuesday night, promises dry modified arctic air and extremely cold temperaturs across Washington though the coming holiday weekend. The predicted temperatures are significantly colder than anything we've seen yet this year, and probably as cold or colder than the extreme cold of late February 2006. What does this mean for ice climbing? Arctic air like this is good for some ice formation for sure, but also typically leads to challenging, brittle conditions while climbing. Most West-Coast climbers are just not used to leading ice or climbing in
-15C conditions, so if you venture out in the next week be conservative. Your best bets for climbing will initially be ice that didnt get destoyed by the recent warm cycle. The longer we go into this cold weather, the better the conditions will get for new route formation - enabling you to climb perennial flows that don't often form well such as Alpental Falls, John Pierce, Skookum, and other lowlands waterfalls. Check avalanche conditions before you go out in the mountains,
the recent rain crust with snow on top, and cold temps leading to hoar formation
will make for an atypical avalanche cycle here on the coast.
Leavenworth: The online report by Lworth local rat reports Drury and Pencil as in, lots of snow on north facing aspects like Rat Creek and Hubba hill, and Snow Creek Wall and Wet and Wild might be there for the more adventurous types.
Banks, Lake Lenore, Soap Lake, desert areas: An online report had most of the desert climbs badly affected by the recent warm weather, with just about everything except Zenith at Banks Lake destroyed.
Strobach: Word is that the moderate routes are thin and hollow,
and the hard routes are still looking hard.
Snoqualmie Pass: It rained to the 6000 foot level last a week ago, but was snowing again Sunday at the pass. Easily accessible ice wont be in until the cold gets here.
Conditions update, 12/31/2006
A very wet Fall, seasonal temps with a deeper-than-normal snowpack everywhere means that the ice is fat in some areas that are tall enough and snowpack fed, like Strobach, while in other areas where the flows are not so large, the climbs are pretty much buried, flowing, or both (Alpental, Chinook Pass). In the last two weeks we've had more snow and no significant warming, leading to a good building cycle. Avalanche hazard is high in the mountains!
Strobach: Climbs are in and fatter than they have been since the 1998 season. FA's going up in the past week.
Chinook Pass: Horsetail is flowing, other routes in various forming states but not leadable.
Banks, Lake Lenore, Soap Lake, desert areas: Wetter-than-average in the desert, but the temps remain mild, making for frequent build/fall-apart cycles. Zenith, Champagne, Salt and Pepper top sections in, bottom sections questionable. Punchbowl in. Cable forming. Scotch on the Rocks forming. Children of the Sun forming/thin. Some FA's going in in the past two weeks because some flows are forming up that have not formed before!
Conditions update, 12/15/2006
Banks, Lake Lenore, Soap Lake, desert areas:Stuff is formed. Champagne, Frenchman Falls, Zenith, and other routes all lead or TR'ed in the last few weeks.
Leavenworth:Hubba is in, perhaps some other stuff in the Icicle.
Lake Wenatchee:The climbs above Lake Wenatchee have been reconned and climbed recently.