I wondered at Evan the other day just how much of our ice climbing has been done at night...it's gotta be up near 50%.
The Money Wall is a beautiful place, and it's always nice to go there during the daylight hours when you can actually see the abundance of ice available for a'whackin'.
The plan today was to zip in and do redpoint repeats on as many of the lines as we could (i.e. one of us would lead it and leave the gear up, and then we'd do laps) - much more rewarding than top-roping and gets one's head in the game with less danger than actually leading.
Coleman and I got into town a hair after 1pm and trundled into the Money Wall. It was warm today...like +4C warm...the snow was heavy on our feet and the ice was under attack! Down-climbing onto the frozen river, I was beyond stoked to see that the morning's warmth hadn't resulted in any catastrophic collapses. Not only that, but in the 2 weeks since I'd been there, an overwhelming fphatness* had occurred!
So we got to it. Warmed up on some of the shorter, easier lines - I led and Coleman cleaned on top-rope. Evan arrived around 3:30 and we moved over to some taller, more vertical ice. Once again I led - then Evan jumped on the TR for a warm-up, and Coleman the mega-badass redpointed the line - so proud!
Feeling fantastic, and buoyed by outstandingly plastic ice, I wanted to have a go at a line that I have been scoping for the entire season. It follows a small pillar straight up to an excellent ledge, where another pillar has spilled over the side of a tree and touched down. Very cool line combining two halves of delicate, super-heady vertical climbing with a dandy rest in the middle. It's hidden away and never seems to see any traffic, two of the appealing aspects, despite being so aesthetic...so I was admittedly a little motivated by first ascent dreams as well.
Following some silliness getting Coleman up into picture position (these things are important...) involving a good cerebral solo by Evan, we were ready to get underway. It would be my first time leading proper vertical ice but conditions were aces so I wanted to have at it.
The first section was vertical with tons of white-topped mini-mushrooms big enough for the first four-to-six points to rest on - excellent feet - but looked comfortably unstable because of their white tops (aerated or snow ice). Got a screw in the bottom about 7 ft up and then another one maybe 10ft above that. From there I just didn't feel there were reliable enough placements to be worth spending the energy...bring on the run-out! Pulling the bulge onto the ledge where snow-covered rock and sketchy crust awaited me, where a slip would mean 100% ground-fall, was a good time indeed!
Up on the ledge, alive and resting, time to get some blood back into my hands and suss out the next section...place a screw at face-height...no more ground fall! hooray!
The upper curtain was beautifully bonded and touching down on the ledge but was still only about 9 inches thick...so needless to say it was important to forget about this and just get to climbing! The plastic ice paid serious dividends and soon i was placing my final screw to pull the bulge at the top...a little more pumped than i would have preferred...swings becoming a little desperate...
Up high enough to hook a chunk of rock, pull a little more, hook a small tree stuck in the ice and i'm over! Such a fantastic feeling! I scrambled up a small snow slope and set a quick anchor and called for tension.
What followed was a dusk-turning-to-night epic involving a severe lack of headlamps, 50ft of WI3 solo'ing for me to retrieve my gear, and a small hairy solo for Evan and Coleman. Everyone made it out safely and the grins were huge on the brisk trot back to the cars.
End of the day I've got a small cut on my lip from a chunk of ice, and a first ascent (at least for this season, but likely for real!).
Moonlight Madness - WI5- M1 T1
- M1 for hooking the rock at the top-out
- T1 for hooking the tree at the top-out <-- quintessential Ontario Brown rating - more to follow on this
pictures coming soon!
*fphatness - referring to ice that is both fat (thick and abundant) and phat (pretty awesome)